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Elm St. Norwich Vermont to Happy Hill Shelter to Hanover NH. VT/NH-AT

It's been a week here in the real world... I'm heading back to the trail to finish off Vermont on the AT. I've unfortunately come down with a big case of laryngitis but, that doesn't stop me from hiking. I lived in Norwich VT for a short time in the mid nineties but I had never known the AT was there (My life was focused on other things). So, I drove to the top of Elm St and I'm not kidding, it's a BIG hill. The road is a dead end and when I reach that, there is a policeman up there... I started to ask him where I could park but had to back track and explain my lack of voice due to the look on his face. My sense of humor wanted to say it was from too many protests BUT, my mind new better. He told me to park by the sign off road and to enjoy the hike. Nice guy, he even waited while I turned around and then drove off. Due to steepness, I parked off the road and nose in. It felt better that way. 

 Isis and I were off to Happy Hill Shelter again. It's probably 3.3miles from where we parked so, it was going to be a quick day. Heading away from the car, I notice all the leaves... Ankle deep in places and that hides most tripping objects. The leaves are slick too so, I'm slipping all over the trail. No views through the tunnel as we climb up a minor hill after a small water crossing. The temps are really nice today so, no winter gear is needed. I just wish that there was something to help with the leaves. Going down hill, I am almost glissading.

The trail is nice and wide in places and crosses a few old roads. There's a farm I can see through the trees and when we get to a junction, there is a sign offering water for hikers. I'm assuming this is a year round offer or at least a 3 season offer. I'm good on water so we keep walking. Not another soul on trail and it's super quiet now that we are away from any roads. I settle into a rhythm and enjoy the trail as my thoughts just pass through. That's how I like to hike... To escape and relieve stress. As we get closer to Happy Hill Shelter, I find some deer hair on the trail and then we run into two people out walking their dogs. I kindly explain my lack of voice and keep walking. I wished them a happy hike as I passed and hoped they heard me. Isis and I landed at Happy Hill well before lunch and had a snack of cheese and salami. Cheese for Isis and she was ready to go back to the car.

Half of our day is now complete as we head back to the car at the trail head, I am thinking of my trek to New Hampshire. My original plan was to drop my pack at the car and walk it to the border with Isis. The problem is the hill... Not really interested in hiking back up that thing to get to my car. So, I keep turning it over in my head. Isis and I are startled by two deer running away from us just up the trail... I got an eye full of White tail as they continued away from us but could not catch a sight again. They must have just kept going. Temps are now fluctuating so, I put my hat on but I'm still good without a coat. Since Isis has no rocks to climb on, we have some fun on logs as we head back.

Coming back over the last rise before the car, a mountain biker was coming towards us. Sun in my eyes, I almost didn't see him until it was too late. Mountain bikers need bells... Not for bears but so we know they are coming. At the car soon after that, I decided to for go some of the road walk. I drove down the hill to Main St., I found a place to park and hoofed it the rest of the way to the border.  From here, be careful of traffic as you are not only dealing with down town Norwich (it can be busy), you are also dealing with crossing the on and off ramps for the highway, and the underpass for I91. Thankfully there are signal lights to help a little. At the first post on the bridge, is the VT/NH sign... Isis and I get pictures in spite of being blinded by the sun. What a beautiful day to essentially finish off the State of Vermont on the trail.

What an amazingly confusing week this has been for me... Not feeling 100% and well, the state of the world had me craving the trails all week and come hell or high water, I was not going to sit out on a chance to hike. Saturday, I could not get myself out of bed which frustrated me... But Sunday (today), thankfully was a go. Soul cleansing and calming, my heart and soul stilled and some decisions were made. Content to not sit back and watch the environment sold off to the highest bidder, I'm going to fight with everything I can. Advocacy is the best weapon against negative results and that goes for causes outside of the environment as well. Please consider speaking out against the current state of the world to help preserve and protect our natural resources. We can fight for common causes together and be stronger for it. Isis and I want to continue to enjoy the AT in other states away from New England as well as to see some of the trails out west in our bucket list future. The next four years will hopefully be a wake up call that we need to fight for what we believe in or loose our natural resources. I'd encourage everyone who cares for the environment to become a voice for it through local and national advocacy groups. Step up and get involved.

We'll be heading back to New Hampshire soon too. It feels a little strange to say that, even though I have not been on those trail in almost a year. Hoping for a better experience from when I left and hoping the crowds have dissipated a bit with the cooler weather. I enjoy the solitude of the trails in Winter and that's what I'm looking forward to, some good winter hiking as well as chipping away at the remaining AT miles from Hanover NH to Mount Moosilauke.

Lots of big plans for 2017 too... My new ULA Catalyst pack arrives tomorrow to help me remain focused on original goals on the AT and LT. 

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