Walken’

Powder River’s Appalachian Trail Journey from Georgia to Maine 2008

The Hills of Vermont

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Day 143

Location: West Hartford, VT

Miles hiked today: 18.8

Miles from Springer: 1,724.5

Miles from Katahdin: 451.7

Elevation: 390’

I woke up to the most spectacular sunrise I can remember. There had been no dewfall last night, and the sky was perfectly clear. When I opened my eyes I was facing the east, so the first thing I saw was the sky already turning pink. What a great place to sleep! I reached down and pounded on the roof with my fist to wake up the others downstairs, and started setting up my camera. There was low hanging fog clinging to the river valleys of the White and Connecticut Rivers, the Connecticut being the border of New Hampshire, and the 13th state of my journey, less than 30 miles away.

First order of business today was to get to a farm stand that was advertised being just .2 miles off the trail. Since there was another one just a bit farther down the trail, say 3 or 4 hours walk, we reasoned that we could hit the first one for breakfast and the other one for lunch, and then be in West Hartford by dinner. It was like we were back in New York all over again, but instead of monster deli sandwiches it would be homemade pies and jerky, and of course monster deli sandwiches. It is funny how some sections of the trail provide lots of places to eat, almost too many to visit all of them, and other sections don’t. I guess as a thru-hiker I can recognize a rare day when I see one, and take full advantage.

When we reached the road, there was already one other hiker hanging out there, waiting for the farm stand to open at 10 am. We had about an hour to wait, so we decided to walk over and wait on the porch. The place turned out to be much more than a farm stand. It’s called On The Edge, and the place was a full-on store full of locally packaged meats, jerky, cheese, honey, ice cream, locally made cola and of course homemade pie. Since we were early, we got to witness the vanload of fresh, hot pies pull up and get unloaded. I had a cherry apple, which was unbelievable. I also got enough food and Vermont soda to make me want to take a nap then and there. If there were ever a heaven for a hiker this place would be it.

We pushed on, eventually. This part of Vermont is a real treat to hike through, taking us up and down rolling hills, pastures, past farms, creeks with names like Gulf Stream and Barnyard Brook. We went through a section of maple trees that were fitted with taps for syrup, which at first seemed very bizarre as I had not seen anything like it before. Each and every tree was fitted with a plastic spigot with a grid of hoses running to each tree, stretching far into the forest. There were gentle climbs, views of rolling countryside and entire fields of wildflowers. At one road crossing, someone had put a bucket full of fresh zucchini and squash, with a note for hikers to eat them. (Admittedly, such things are not in my diet, even as a hiker)

Soon we arrived at the Cloudland Farm Country Market, which was actually just a farm, with a small store set up to sell ice cream, soda and jerky. They had a beautiful front lawn with a picnic table under a huge shade tree, and a hammock. If you needed something from the store, you knocked on the door to the house and someone would come out, unlock the store and sell you something. The weather was very beautiful; I would not change the temperature a single degree if I could.

Tailgate and I pushed on after a very nice break at the farm, still at this point aiming for the Happy Hill Shelter, which would take us to within five miles of Hanover, NH. We both have mail drops to pick up by noon tomorrow, and trying to race the P.O. at the last minute is never fun. There were still several ups and downs to go over, including one called Bunker Hill which had a brilliantly placed porch chair at the top of the mountain, with an unobstructed view to the east. Finally we came down onto some town roads and crossed the White River, which signified we were in West Hanover. (Later I would learn that it is popular for hikers to jump off this bridge into the water, which I have to admit is not a thought that usually occurs to me when I see a bridge). We planned on eating dinner at the general store, but missed it closing by about 5 minutes or so.

Tailgate noticed a benefit dinner that was going on this evening at some elementary school, and was suddenly animated by the thought of free food. We flagged down a car and asked where it was; only to learn that it was a half hour’s drive away. At this point we knew we were not going to make the shelter by dark. The driver of the car graciously offered his back lawn for us to pitch tents on, as long as we stayed out of view of his landlord who lived nearby. It turned out to be perfect, as it started raining within the half hour. Happy with our coup of finding a beautifully manicured lawn to sleep on, we couldn’t help but notice our fortune that we would wake up near the general store tomorrow morning, which is fabled for its hiker sized breakfasts.

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