June 18, 2018
Destination: Moose Mountain Shelter Today's Miles: 16.80
Start Location: Happy Hill Shelter Trip Miles: 1759.70
When I woke I could see the mosquitos waiting for me outside my tent. I had to pee pretty badly, but I didn’t want to get eaten alive, so I kneeled in my vestibule, popped my torso out of the tent, and let it fly while waiving one hand around my head to fend off the waiting horde.
This actually worked pretty well, and I succeeded without any spillage. One mosquito got in the tent, so I had to find it and kill it, of course.
I got ready to go pretty quickly. I was keen to get into Hanover, or Ivy Town as I like to call it, so I could do all my business there as well as eat and chill out somewhere for a while, charge my phone and battery pack, etc. The trail goes right through Norwich, VT on the way into Hanover, and there is quite a bit of road walking. The neighborhood on the outskirts of Norwich was awesome. It was beautiful with cottagey-looking houses, and several of the houses had coolers with trail magic at the end of their driveways. I stopped at one and drank a coke. I should have stopped at the second one, but didn’t. I later found out it had banana bread....
I walked in through the Norwich community green, stopping to chat with a lady who was walking a very excited puppy only a few months old. I then walked under the I91 overpass and crossed the Connecticut River into New Hampshire. Just like that, beautiful Vermont became memories and I entered the next to the last state on my journey. I reflected on this as I walked along. New Hampshire and Maine have been two of the states I’ve been looking forward to the most. I have a vision of them being, or at least feeling, more remote, wild and free. One of the reasons I wanted to thru hike was also to feel more wild and free. I really had no idea at the outset just how possible that was going to be. I didn’t know that I would feel and experience a pure freedom, that I would be able to shake loose the shackles of conventional ways of living, of the way I was living. I will be leaning on New Hampshire and Maine to give me my final lessons, to help me come away from the trail with something more than just an ephemeral notion, something more akin to a complete metamorphosis of thought. I hope the trail can free me from myself forever, so that I remain wild and free and not slip back into the patterns of my past and the conventions of society that have stifled my true human nature.
I thought of these things as I walked past the Dartmouth green and into Ivy Town, but mostly I thought of getting my post office chores done ASAP so I could eat! As I walked down the main drag I passed Lou’s Bakery. A girl standing outside asked if I was a thru hiker. When I said yes, she gave me a free donut! It was a big maple donut. I thanked her and shoved it in my mouth like a heathen. At the post office I had three packages - a new Sawyer filter, a new pair of shoes, and some Canadian chocolate trail magic from Whitewater that she had sent a while back. It was an amazing stash of Canada’s finest and she wrote me a little note along with it - super cool, or as she would say in Canadian speak, “it’s a banger!” I wish she were still on the trail.
The shoes are the Altra Olympus 3.0 and I think the sizing was right, though ideally I could try one half size smaller. Anyway, I bumped those to Caratunk, ME in case I can’t quite finish the trail in my Lone Peaks. I also sent a few things homethat I can do without to lighten my load, including my camp shoes that I haven’t really been using. Dude texted me and said he was with Rivers, Gandalf, and a few others at Lou’s having breakfast. I was excited about this as I hadn’t seen Rivers since Damascus, and I had never met Gandalf. Gandalf was so far ahead of me for so long, but I would always read his log entries and he would always draw a pipe in them. I guess he smokes a pipe. I went over to Lou’s to see.
They had finished eating, but I did catch up with Rivers and a guy Snuggs, as well as met Gandalf, Zoom Zoom, and a British guy named Mumbles. I had just bumped into another Hiker named Green Grass, also from the UK. For whatever reason, meeting Gandalf meant something to me. I had been reading his logbook entries for so long, it was almost like he was a trail legend, always elusively ahead of me. He didn’t look at all like what I expected. He definitely didn’t have a Gandalf beard! They were all heading out, so I sat at the breakfast counter diner style to eat. I got a breakfast quesadilla and coffee. The food was delicious, and I had been craving a breakfast burrito, so this was close. I talked to a Dartmouth kid who sat next to me for a while. He was quite sociable and friendly. After the food, I heading onward and saw Dude’s pack outside a Starbucks. I stopped in to say hi and also to charge my electronics for a bit. Starbucks is always good for outlets and WiFi....
After a bit, I walked through town on the trail to the grocery coop and handled my resupply. I drank some Vermont apple cider there, then started my hike out of town. It was hot in the mid 80s and you could cut the humidity with a knife. It was at the point where it needed to rain. And rain it did. It rained on my walk in, and after that first rain the humidity was still hanging on strong. I set up my tent at Moose Mountain Shelter and then proceeded to get my rock sack to hang my food line stuck in a tree. Sadly, I had to cut my line and leave it in the tree.... I went up to the shelter to eat and Gandalf, Green Grass, Snuggs, and a Hiker named Vinegar were there. We chatted for a bit. I retired to my tent just before the big storms started sweeping through. It rained heavily at night and I knew it would be a soggy morning pack up.
I was grateful for the kindness of strangers and the community of the trail today, as well as the great city of Hanover and all its charms and conveniences. The weather is supposed to be better tomorrow!