Week 16: The Green Mountains
Our feet took us 141 miles this week
Video of the Week
VIEWS VIEWS VIEWS! Vermont has blessed us with some amazing fire tower views! It is the first time since Virginia that we have been able to enjoy these above-tree-line scenes of the mountains.
I have absolutely loved the water sources in Vermont. As you know, it has been an extremely dry summer. There were 20-30 mile sections without water in Pennsylvania and New York. With the heat, and because of who we are as people, Danielle and I have experienced severe water anxiety for the last month. Vermont is a welcomed change of pace. Particularly, when we hiked over Killington, there was a gushing spring at the summit. That's about as fresh as it gets. The water was crystal clear and ice cold. Perfection. I'd take that water over a Poland Springs water bottle any day.
We got SO much love this week from our family and friends! Danielle's mama slack packed us and put us up in a hotel room our first two nights in Vermont. The next night, we stayed with the Houser family. We also spent one night in an amazing lodge. AND my Mama came up to do trail magic #blessed #thankful.
In Pennsylvania, I fell on my trekking pole and bent it a bit. As a result, it cannot retract, making it extremely inconvenient for hitch-hiking and other times I need to get my sh*t into a convenient bundle. Thankfully, Mr. Houser fixed my trekking pole at his store in Manchester, VT, The Mountain Goat. He even replaced my despicably worn down trekking pole tips. See "Trail Angel" below for more about our fantastic visit with the Houser family.
After a long day of hiking, Danielle and I came across a sign that said "Free pasta salad". For real?? It sounded too good to be true. We walked across this gorgeous property to the lodge at the top of the hill and were actually treated to bottomless pasta salad! Mountain Meadows Lodge is an adorable wedding venue that welcomes hikers on weekdays. Though we only meant to stop in and eat, we were quickly convinced to treat ourselves. There was a hot tub, sauna, hammock, bar, and breakfast buffet so obviously we couldn't resist. The best part was reuniting with Barnum, our trail BFF. He went home to Florida for a week and still managed to catch up to us. We haven't been doing small miles, but he can pull 30+ days like it's nothing.
The following day at the picturesque lodge, my lovely Mother drove up to bring us a resupply and slack pack us over a few mountains. The hike was an ass kicker. I refused to get water because I'm stubborn and didn't feel like carrying it up the mountain. Plus, Vermont had spoiled us with plenty of water, so I would be fine, right? WRONG. By the time I was thirsty, there were no more water sources until we met my mom. When I saw her waiting with watermelon, root beer and real beer, I nearly cried. Moms are really the best. Based on the condition I arrived to her in, she is still confused how I'm surviving out on the trail when she's not there. Sometimes I wonder the same. TG for Danielle.
Mama Sus met us in Bennington, Vermont where we ate dinner at a really fun brewery then enjoyed a lovely night of air conditioning. Sus slack packed us 22 miles the next day and thank GOD she did. The last four miles of the hike, it started thundering pretty ferociously. I picked up my pace to try and beat the rain. With two miles left, it started sprinkling and I started running. There were a lot of roots and it was pretty muddy, but I was wearing my contacts, so I felt pretty in control. When there was less than one mile left, I could hear the rain pouring in the distance, so I started sprinting. Just as I could see Susan's Subaru in the distance, the skies opened up and it freaking rained. I jumped in the car and Sus had a cold beer waiting for me. If you've never experienced pure joy, hike 22 miles in about-to-rain conditions but beat the monsoon, then drink a cold beer in an air conditioned car. It was such a blessing to not have to sleep in our tent- especially because this wasn't your average rain storm, but rather a month's worth of rain in one night. Sus treated us to amazing nachos and chicken wings when we got to our accommodation at Stratton Mountain. We ordered so many appetizers that we were (shockingly) too full to order entrees. Don't worry, we ordered entrees to-go because we knew our second wind would be arriving soon. THANK YOU, SUSAN!
The following day we hiked Stratton Mountain and ended up in Manchester, Vermont, home of The Mountain Goat, an incredible outdoor store owned by the Houser family. My brother, Ben, is dating Emma Houser, one of my classmates from Connecticut College. Though Emma couldn't be there, her family graciously welcomed Danielle and I into their home and fed us (Mrs. Houser makes phenomenal guacamole). We had a lovely dinner and went out to ice cream after. We literally fell asleep at 8pm and woke up to Mr. Houser's lattes. It was the best latte I've had in my life. And that's not just because I'm on the trail and everything tastes better. We then ate blueberry pancakes at this adorable breakfast nook before being dropped back off at the trail.
We only camped out twice this week because we have been showered with so much love. There's really nothing to complain about. If I HAD to pick a bummer I'd say it was the Vermont mud (they call it Ver-mud). There were a few full foot submersions that sucked. Especially when there's a big muddy section and I'm jumping rock to rock when a rock turns out is not actually a rock at all, but a stick that totally sinks but I've already put all my weight on it. Yeah. That being said, since it's been so dry, the mud has been minimal. I've really appreciated the cushioning the plush soil provides.
While I'm at it, another bummer: I rolled my ankles a bunch. Every time I twist an ankle, I let out a shriek similar to that of a dying animal because I'm extremely dramatic, but within a few minutes I can walk it off and forget it happened because, believe it or not, I'm also extremely chill now.