Week 17: Hometown Homies
Our feet took us 99 miles this week
Video of the Week
Upon arrival in Woodstock, Danielle and I hit up the library to access some free wifi. Little did we know it was BOOKSTOCK weekend. What better weekend to be in town? I fricken love books. I actually bought a Lonely Planet book about Thailand for $1. It'd be great to get educated about my next adventure, right? I felt like I was stealing! Danielle was a bit more rational about buying the book: It weighed like two pounds and was published in 2007 so was pretty outdated, but I can't resist knowledge or a bargain. Since Danielle was so convinced I would be too tired to read it after hiking all day, I stubbornly opened it every night in our tent. Our friends from high school, Claire and Dylan, are living in Woodstock and took us in to their amazing home for the weekend. To make an ideal situation better, my absolute favorite boys made it to Vermont for the weekend too! See "Trail Angels" for more about this wild weekend with my hometown homies.
On one of the rainiest days- just before we officially entered the White Mountains, we were as miserable as can be (see "bummers"). We got to a road crossing and stood there for about 20 minutes. We were hoping there was a hostel or motel near by that we could hitch a ride to in order to get out of the rain. However, with no cell service, it was impossible to search. I'm not sure why we didn't hike on, I think we were hoping cell service would magically appear. It didn't. But an amazing couple did! The female hiked the Appalachian Trail several years ago and her boyfriend hiked both the AT and the PCT. They were on their way to a family lake house and decided to do trail magic along the way despite the pouring rain. They served us burgers, hot dogs, guacamole and chips, and, of course, beer. They set up a tarp so we could sit down and get out of the rain for a few minutes. It was such a blessing that they arrived. It was the boost we needed when we needed it the most.
HUGE shout out to my amazing Aunt Karin who went shopping for Danielle and I. She went way over the top and bought us enough snacks for two re-supplies! She's amazing. She also bought Danielle and I matching Alex and Ani bracelets with a small "godspeed" charm to "bestow good fortune and safety" on our journey!
Mr. Wilson surprised me with a new Camelbak after seeing how moldy and disgusting mine was. He also bought Danielle and I cleaning supplies for our sleeping bags and back packs! We got the hint, Mr. Wilson- we smell really bad and have terribly hygiene. Dehydrated meals are also a lovely treat that we honestly look forward to all day, so thanks again, Mr. Wilson!
Claire and Dylan hosted us on Dylan's family property on Cloudland Road. The Appalachian Trail literally crosses Cloudland Road! Their house is the definition of #goals. The beautiful farmhouse sits on a hill overlooking those gorgeous Green Mountains. My favorite part was their chickens. Since I've been on the trail, I've become obsessed with sustainable farms. Chickens will surely fulfill that part of me if I can't own a farm. They're so easy to maintain and you get free eggs every day. They're kinda cute too! Claire and Dylan also make their own Kombucha (a fermented tea drink with live bacteria- if you haven't tried it, you need to) and grow their own vegetables. Life seems so happy in Vermont. We drank tons of beer, ate tons of food, and played tons of games. There's truly nothing better than sitting around a fire (in a chair!!) making s'mores and drinking beers with good company. The following day, Claire, Danielle and I went to an antique store and visited the book fair but the best part was cheese tasting. Thru-hikers should have to pay to go to a cheese tasting. There were at least 40 different varieties of Cabot cheeses and I tried them all. I probably ate an entire block of cheese...I felt kinda guilty and kinda still wanted more cheese, so I bought a nice block of artisan special reserve cheddar cheese to "share" later that night. When we got back to the house we played Polish horseshoes, made birthday cake rice krispies (just add fun-fetti cake mix...mind blowing), and ate a lot of cheese. The boys contacted the Woodstock fire chief and got permission to light the biggest bonfire I've ever seen. I was so happy to be reunited with some of my favorite people! Big love to Claire and Dylan for making this happen!
People always say "the trail provides" and this couldn't be more true. Danielle and I got to Hanover, NH (yay! New Hampshire!) and treated ourselves to Thai food. When we finished dinner, it was dark and we still needed to find a place to camp. Official campsites were 2-3 miles in either direction and we couldn't bear to walk any further. We called every inn and hostel but none could (or wanted to) accommodate thru-hikers. As a last resort, we stopped into a church to ask if we could stay for the night. There, we met two amazing people, Kelly and Sally. Having kids of their own, they insisted on helping us find a place to camp. They drove us to a spot they thought would work and walked us into the park to make sure we felt safe. Turns out, there was a homeless or drugged out or something person that gave us all really bad vibes. Had they dropped us off, we would have felt totally unsafe and freaked out. Sally and Kelly took us to their home and let us camp out in their yard (even though they offered us a roof to sleep under, we felt like they had already done so much for us and we were exhausted). Kelly picked us fresh raspberries and black berries for breakfast to enjoy with coffee before taking us back to the trail. I don't know what we would have done without these generous parents. Truly trail angels!
You can probably guess. RAIN. It poured relentlessly for three days. There were no opportunities for us to get off the trail and dry off so we trudged on. My stuff smelled like crap, I smelled like crap. Our packs weighed like five pounds heavier with a water logged gear. Thighs were literally bleeding the chafe was so bad. Morale was in shambles. There is literally nothing worse than waking up in a damp sleeping bag and putting on a cold, wet sports bra. We had to hike Mt. Moosilauke, the first mountain in the White Mountains and one of the toughest. The rain was relentless the entire climb up. There were moments we thought we should turn around because the descent on the north side of Moosilauke is dangerous in bad weather. We pushed on and when we got to the summit, the skies opened up and we got our first view of the White Mountains. This was one of the best moments ever. Soaked and exhausted, we began the tricky climb down. It was as insane as people described it. We were parallel to a water fall the entire time, so the steps (wooden blocks drilled into rock slabs) were slippery AF. It took us forever and our knees took a beating, but we made it down. When we got to the parking lot, we were surprised to find my Mom, younger brother, and Mr. Wilson!!!! My favorites were there to save us when we absolutely needed them. It was amazing. We drove an hour to the Wilson's ski condo on Attitash to get cleaned up, then ate an enormous steak dinner at my favorite restaurant in North Conway, The Red Parka. They drove us back to the base of Mt. Moosilauke the next morning to slack pack us over the Kinsmans then met us near Lincoln, NH with burgers and beer. This bummer could not have turned out to be more magical!