Walken’

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

New Hampstah!

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Day 144

Location: Hanover, NH

Miles hiked today: 10.2

Miles from Springer: 1,734.3

Miles to Katahdin: 441.9

Elevation: 520’

At last, I feel like I have come home. New Hampshire is kind of like a third home state to me, and my heart has long been attached to this place. I have done a lot of hiking in the White Mountains before, and it is one of my favorite places on earth. “Live Free or Die” is one of the most beautiful mottos of American history. To have walked here from Georgia is an incredible feeling, and now with just two states left it is indeed starting to feel like the end game. The mountains ahead are big, steep and exciting. The terrain is about to get more difficult, and the views more rewarding. To me, there is no better reward for hiking all this way.

But first, Tailgate and I needed to get to the post office. We woke up in a soup of wet fog, with tents drenched and lots of gear getting damp. We were in the White River valley, which we could see yesterday sunrise from the Lookout because the fog covered the entire valleys of both rivers. We packed up quickly; breakfast was calling.

The West Hartford general store did not disappoint. As I put down the big ‘everything’ breakfast, it occurred to me that my food bag was still mostly full, which I had carried all the way from Rutland. Oh well, nobody told me I wouldn’t need it!

10 miles is not that far to go in one day, but it is if you need to do it before noon. We were off by 8:30. There was nothing especially hard to climb, just some rolling hills between here and there, and as it turns out, an extensive road walk coming into Hanover. We passed over Podunk Road and Podunk Brook, and stopped for about 20 minutes to talk to a woman who was hiking southbound. We started to realize that we were out of time. Missing the post office would strand us in Hanover until Monday, which is never a good feeling. We started to walk faster.

The trail dumps out on Elm Street of Norwich, Vermont a full 3 miles before reaching Hanover. It turns out this was the hardest part of the hike, since it was hard, unforgiving sidewalk and blacktop. We stopped for a quick picture at the state line on the Connecticut River Bridge, and then started the double-time. We saw lots of hikers we knew at a pedestrian crossing downtown, only to wave and blow past them on a run to get to the P.O. We were now down to minutes. Falling behind, I let Tailgate run ahead and get a foot in the door. By the time I got there, the guy locked the door behind me. We were the last customers.

It was like Christmas. I had ordered a new tent and sleeping pad and had it sent here, so I opened it right on the sidewalk out front and unrolled it. I got a whole box of cold weather stuff, including my down jacket and cold weather sleeping bag. My pack instantly put on about 4 or 5 additional pounds. We set out in search of food, the outfitter and a computer. Laden with gear and wet tents, we decided to group up and get a hotel. Tailgate and I got a room with a hiker named Zero Zero, a name which also describes his vision. He is legally blind, carries a white stick, and has hiked here from Georgia.

Hanover is home to Dartmouth College, one of the Ivy League schools. This makes for a pretty interesting contrast of hikers and students in town. We hit up a pizza place that gave a free slice of cheese pizza to all thru-hikers, so it still seems to be a pretty hiker friendly place. At some point I picked up that the name of the state was actually New Hampstah, which I thought fit pretty well. It made me think of a giant hamster. While walking around afterwards, we ran into some friends, NoAmp and Spidey, who invited us to come out to a cabin where there was a huge hiker feed and general relaxation going on. Since they were going to be there all weekend, the decision was made to take a zero tomorrow. It is rare for me to actually know I am about to take a zero the next day, so this was a great sensation.

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