It’s been a weird couple of days. But right now I am sitting in a McDonald’s in Chicopee, MA, waiting for sister, brother-in-law and father to arrive. So I will update this blog; it deserves updating.
Yesterday was only a seven mile day, from a shelter into Rutland. I did not sleep in thougb; I was so restless, I was up and gone by 7:30.
Bear Mountain was the first obstacle… This is the third Bear Mountain I have climbed, btw. NY, CT, VT. Some originality, please! Anyway, this is one of those mountains that went on forever, and, in fact, because it had no clear summit with a view, the only reason I knew I had passed the top was when the path began descending!
After Bear Mountain, though, it was pretty easy, though I still had to be careful on the climb down to Clarendon Gorge – layers upon layers of pine needles made the steep slope incredibly slippery. The hiking poles were invaluable here! Along the way, there was a great view of Rutland Airport from on high. Oh, and somewhere along the way, while cleaning sweat off the glasses, I lost one of the nose-cushions that hold the glasses firmly on your nose, so I had to switch to my backup pair – the raw metal would have rubbed my nose raw. I need to get them fixed.
The Mill River is what cut the gorge, and it had many swimming holes, though I did not take advantage – yet. When I reached that point, I was only .1 miles from the parking lot, but one final obstacle – the swinging suspension bridge above the gorge. It gave me a very bad case of vertigo, but I got across! Go me!
At the parking lot, I contacted a former hiker who did shuttles to the hiker hostel in Rutland for just $3, which is an incredibly cheap price for a shuttle! Grateful to be sitting on solid ground until his arrival 15 min later.
Okay, how do I describe the hostel? It was… It had a truly unique vibe. There was a hiker lounge, a broad deck, a deli downstairs, separate men’s and women’s bunkrooms, and it’s run by a cult. But I was assured by reputable hostel owners before that if I did not open the door by bringing up religion, nothing would be said, and that proved to be the case. They were extremely hospitable, offering a complimentary cold glass of tea the minute I walked in. It was very good, too! Stays were paid for by willing donation, or work for stay – they have an organic farm that hikers will often do a day’s labor on as a zero day and break from routine, in lieu of money. That was not an option for me, though it was an intriguing idea. Their deli had some great food, too, and a complimentary breakfast was offered at 7:30 – eggs, rice?, excellent homemade pumpernickel toast, homemade carrot cake, fruit, and coffee. I ate way too much for a day I was not hiking in, but the food was good! Even the rice. 🙂
It was so tempting to go back to sleep after that big a breakfast,but I had things to do. By 10:30, I was at the car rental place, filling out forms for a car way bigger than I needed, but it was the smallest they had. Then I headed south, and it felt all wrong from the beginning. I hadn’t driven in almost 3 months, I was passing towns I had hiked past or through, and it just felt wrong. Too fast, too easy. Eventually that feeling wore off, but really…
About 15 miles from my destination, I could see a storm getting ready to break, and I was about 3 hours early, so I pulled over at a Barnes and Noble bookstore, had some hot soup, and hung around for an hour or so, while the storm raged outside. Eventually, after getting lost a few times (no GPS), I made it to the motel where I will crash tonight. Once everyone arrives – looking forward to seei,g them so much!
The next couple days are going to be very confusing. Tomorrow I will be in Amherst, attending my brother’s retirement from the AF ceremony; Saturday I return to Rutland and turn in the rental car, then the plan is to hike about 18 miles over Saturday and Sunday, either to Killington or the next Rutland road crossing. If Killington, I will take a bus back to Rutland; if not, I will catch a shuttle back to Rutland, rent a car again on Monday. I plan to head north, nearly to the Canadian border, to visit my little sister Meg and stay a few days. Truthfully, a week off the trail before I hit the hardest states (NH and Maine), is something I sorely need. Pun intended. It will give my feet a respite, and renew my strength and will to keep going! The last few days have just felt like going through the motions, no real enthusiasm.