Next time, I will go through the mines of Moria…
How do I even begin to sum up? A lot of it, I already have. But my day was shaped by a single phone call made after the storm, from the top of Mt Killington, 3908 feet up, to the Inn at the Long Trail, elevation 2440 feet.
“Hello, do you have any rooms left for tomorrow?”
“Yes, actually we have one room left at the hiker rate $69, but it’s nonreservable; if you make it here before 11 pm, you have a good chance of getting it though.”
Score! I fell asleep, dreaming of a mega celebration, with Irish food, drink, and a comfortable bed to collapse into afterwards. You see, tomorrow, 7/16, marks 3 months on the trail for me, and also would have been my mother’s birthday. Surely celebrating a day in advance was allowed.
Awake was I at 5 am as usual, and eagerly on the trail at 6 am. I fell in step with British section hiker Trailmouse and, having a similar pace and outlook on the world in general, we chatted as we hiked for a good stretch; it made the hiking seem a lot faster!
It was 2.5 miles to the intersection of the old AT and the new AT trails. Once I reached that point, I officially completed the 17 mile section of Mt. Caradhras… I mean Mt. Killington. Once again, I took the blue blaze trail to get down to the Inn quickly. Why rehike a section you don’t need to?
The path was a lot more forgiving this time – ie, it was an actual path, not a river. I made good time and reached the Inn about 10. But… NO ROOM AT THE INN! In fact, the receptionist said there never had been, that they had been fully booked for days, but I was welcome to stay around the lobby as long as I wanted. Ziptie retired to a chair to sulk, and wait for the restaurant to open at 11:30, and sulk. And sulk some more.
Somewhere before 11:30, I stopped sulking, and started thinking. While I could not shower (and I stink), I could at least do laundry, and charge the phone. This place caters to hikers to an amzing extent. Laundry was done, phone was charged, and a grilled Swiss cheese sandwich and bowl of beef stew was hungrily devoured. What next?
Well, next I crossed back over Rt. 4 to their free, overflow tenting area, and set up my tent. Okay, maybe I won’t have a soft squishy bed, but I will have the live Irish music and hiker conversation tonight, and some fine food, and a tent to relax in after!
Feeling much better, I had a rum and coke, then caught the bus out to the Killington outfitters; I needed more purification tablets and a new pair of shorts; the ones I have are getting too big. I will blame this on the rum and coke, but my sole purchase was a Steripen that uses UV to purify water, instead of chemicals, or manually squeezing water through filters. The Steripen pouch hooks onto my hip belt, so I don’t have to make room for it in my pack, and it will eliminate some weight – I will not have to carry so much water all the time, plus it will purify water in a tiny fraction of the time the filter or chemicals took. So I think it a good investment. But I will keep the backup squeeze filter for a bit, just in case.
With some time to kill before dinner, I spent some time with the maps. I estimate that I will be spending my birthday at Kinsman Notch, near North Woodstock, NH – the day after climbing 4800 ft Mt. Moosilauke, the gateway to the White Mountains. Yes, they are looming into my mental view now. Less than 100 miles away. I’ve decided to let myself celebrate my birthday here tonight with a fancy 3 course meal and live Irish music, because … Well, because.
Tomorrow I will hike on in earnest, having escaped this black hole section of trail, and I am eager again. This time I will be more careful in my eagerness! While I am apprehensive about the Whites, I am also looking forward to the challenge! 46 miles and 3 or 4 days to New Hampshire! I will miss Vermont, but I have stalled here way too long, time to kick it back up again. Tonight will be much fun though.
Bear with me.
I hike on.