Vermont is dreamy. We crossed the border from New Hampshire on a perfectly sunny day, walking down a paved road, having already passed through the heart of Hanover. We stood on a bridge, fluffy clouds overhead, marveling over a beautiful stone slab that marked the entrance to our third state on the Appalachian Trail. From there, we encountered picturesque fields, cows, and skies, and not a raindrop in sight (until we neared southern Vermont, which is explained in a whole different blog post…).
Day 44 (Random spot past South Jacobs Brook to random spot past Moose Mountain Shelter)
Experienced our first fire tower! The views were incredible, and the wind was intense. Definitely gave us a different perspective of the trail.
Miles hiked: 17.6
Hours spent hiking: 11:45
Day 45 (Random spot past Moose Mountain Shelter to Norwich, VT)
The trail literally walks right through Hanover, New Hampshire, home of Dartmouth University. We had an incredible day, hiking from the middle of a forest to the middle of a town; starting our day with pop-tarts and ending it with authentic Indian food. We were lucky enough to be taken in by a local family, who allowed us to shower before joining them for a beautiful dinner on their enclosed porch.
Day 46 (Hanover & Norwich zero day!)
A day spent exploring Hanover. We visited the art museum, bought items from the local farmers market, and watched as Dartmouth University freshman received their orientation. We were also able to have dinner with my good friend Casey, who I deployed to Afghanistan with in 2010.
Day 47 (Norwich, VT to random spot past Cloudland Road)
Had our first run in with bright orange salamanders on trail, and continued the excitement by getting lost in a cow pasture (seriously!). We also learned about some of the devastating effects that Hurricane Irene bestowed on Vermont, flooding towns and destroying buildings containing local businesses. Luckily, a lot of those deli shops/libraries/markets are just now starting to make a comeback.
Day 48 (Random spot past Cloudland Road to random spot past Mink Brook)
Beautiful day of hiking, with a beautiful campsite near a water source. What more could we ask for?
Day 49 (Random spot past Mink Brook to Rutland, VT)
Rutland turned out to be quite a unique experience. We hitched a ride with two contractors who were friendly as can be, but took us on quite a few of their personal errands in town before dropping us off at our hostel. That hostel was the Yellow Deli Cafe, a place we had heard mixed reviews on since Maine. Without going into too much detail, the hostel is run by a group of 50-60 followers of a minor religion, who don’t quite seem to see men and women as equals. We were quite happy to get back onto the trail.
Day 50 (Rutland, VT to random spot past Governor Clement Shelter)
When a day of hiking is uneventful (like today). we’re at least thankful for good weather and easier-than-Maine terrain.
Day 51 (Random spot past Governor Clement Shelter to random spot past Greenwall Shelter)
Magical fairy towns exist! And we found two in the form of cairn fields. It’s nearly impossible to describe in pictures or words what it felt like to be surrounded by so many intricate structures, but we made sure to enjoy our time surrounded by the enchanted scenery.
Day 52 (Random spot past Governor Clement Shelter to Bromley Mountain)
A few northbounders gave us a tip on a warming shelter at the top of this mountain, and it turned out to be our most beautiful evening on the trail so far.We reached the top just before the sun set, and ate our dinner as it dipped behind a ridge. The warming shelter was an empty, clean cabin that we set up in, safe and sound from the 30 degree weather that descended that evening. Incredible.
Day 53 (Bromley Mountain summit to Stratton-Arlington road)
Hiking in 100 percent humidity and 90 degree weather is never enjoyable. But what makes it worse is when you know a lightening storm is on it’s way. We finished the day and decided to get off the trail to avoid what turned out to be a severe thunderstorm with flash flooding and hail. Lucky us.
Day 54 (Stratton-Arlington Road to random spot past Goddard Shelter)
Fruit hunting has become quite a habit of ours on the trail, as we’ve seen blueberries in Maine, blackberries in New Hampshire, and now apples all over Vermont. It’s always worth it to shake a branch and see if we can get a free snack.
Day 55 (Random spot past Goddard Shelter to Seth Warner Shelter)
We don’t normally stay in shelters (since they are often crowded and there was a Noro virus scare earlier in the year for northbound hikers that originated in the shelters), but it had rained so much the past few days that we didn’t want to pitch our tent on the soggy ground. We ended up sharing the shelter with two college kids from the next town over, and a southbound hiker that told us people had been starting the hike as late as August 14th! It was great to hear that there were more southbound hikers than we knew about, but we were also sad to hear that a lot of the people we met in the first week were already off trail. All the more motivation to be part of the 10% of southbounders that finish!
Total miles hiked: 589.7