I am so glad that I listened to myself and stayed in bed Saturday. As many of you are aware of, we had some big storms move through up North and a grand total of 7 tornado warnings went out. Today however, was a totally different day. I drove up to Hanover NH and parked at the Dartmouth Food Coop and hiked from Velvet Rocks to 3 mile road. Another small section of the AT done for me. Just enough of a trip to return me to sanity.
The trail actually takes you through the town of Hanover to the Coop and then you hike in the corridor between the ball fields to where it narrows down to a trail. Today, it's wet. The grass is spongy and I believe my feet will always be a degree of wet now. Duck into the woods and it's a nice walk, gradual up hill through the conifer forest. You do have to navigate a few rock formations but nothing crazy here. I am using one of my trekking poles now and loving having 3 point of contact with the ground. I am much better able to balance on rocks through some of the mud and wetness on the trails. Isis on the other hand as seems to be desensitized and plows through... A shiba that doesn't mind getting dirty??? Say it isn't so.
It was not long before we hit the spur to the Velvet Rocks Shelter. It's only .1 off the trail so, I head down for a snack and a rest. Cute little shelter with a nice looking fire pit. Ample places to camp too. There is a privy, although I did not visit it. Ran into two hikers on our way back to the trail to continue heading North.
Another good mix of forests in the next section. Passing through an area that reminded me of Devil's Gulch on a small scale and a rain forest too, I began navigating through the wetter trail section. All water is able to be crossed if need be. No raging streams or rivers to deal with here. But there is a lot of water on the trail. After one small crossing, you climb with the assist of a rope so, it looks like I'm rappelling again on the way home. Boy there are a lot of LT reminders here today. As we continued, we moved from hard wood and back to conifer forests and ran into Winter who gratefully took some grapes and some Propel drink packets from me. There has not been any real significant elevation gain this trip and I was thankful for that. Little pushes here and there but over all nice and mellow. In the time we met Winter, we also met up with a traveling nurse from Colorado who was amused when I asked what road I was coming too (as if he knew!). Isis and I also ran into the one man show of trail crew for this section. Offered him some fruit as well but was told to give it to the Thru's. We came down to Etna Rd and continued back up the other side. Came to a small crossing that was bridged and was able to navigate the bridge which was damaged in the storm last night. More of the same terrain followed and the trail continued to be wet and muddy. We turned back at 3 mile rd as planned and faced the same conditions in reverse. More Thru's on the way back... Guys mostly except for one woman from Quebec doing the 500 mile section from Manchester VT to Katahdin. She gladly took the last of my Propel drink packets and a nectarine. Both of which she looked at in the Coop this morning but decided to save pack weight. Her day was made.
As usual, even without a summit, we made it back to the car quicker than the trip out. This always surprises me since there is no big down hill to push me faster. Towards the end, we began running into people who were just out for a walk (no hiking). And then once we got back to the kiosk at the start of the trail before the ball fields, I ran into the best conversation of the day. I gentleman in a thick italian accent and a thick Italian Belly, said:
"Scuse me? Is this a trail? A trail I can walk?"
"Yes Sir. This is the Appalachian Trail." I told him
"How... How far does it go? Like can I walk it and turn around?"
"This trail goes all the way to Katahdin in Maine." I smiled
Totally dead serious, "Oh, I... I don't want to walk that far. Can I turn around?"
"Yes sir, you can turn around at any point. It's your hike. But be careful. It's super wet!"
"Thank you. I will." He was grinning from ear to ear as he went up the trail.
Back at the car we headed to Lebanon for coffee... It was sadly disappointingly cold when she poured it (as the Decaf often is). I didn't want to go back so, we just kept driving. I'd reheat it at home.
When I woke up Saturday morning and saw the 100% chance of showers and Thunder Storms and then a 1% chance on Sunday, there was no temptation to get moving. I rolled over and went back to bed. Sunday, was such a different day after the storms. I hiked just enough to restore my sanity, after a crazy week. Came to some pretty good decisions about directions and began cutting out some dead weight as well as purging some negativity. I also cleaned out a fair amount of junk from my home while I was waiting to hike (made a lot of donations so, I hope things get reused). Might as well be productive, while I wait. This also meant that I hiked another section of the AT and I'm getting closer to my goal of finishing New Hampshire. My vision is to hike all of New England since I live here. Day hikes are good but I'll probably do some longer over nights too. Day hikes are easiest for me since I live here in New England, although it's a lot of out and back for short miles, it makes the most sense to me as a solo hiker. Just depends on how I feel and what I have going on at the time. From there, I will take vacations to the areas that have caught my eye and plan longer trips. I have officially begun planning my first post LT vacation for the Virginia Triple Crown hike and I am excited. McAfee Knob, Tinkers Cliff, and Dragons Tooth will be a challenge but I am gearing up for it, next year. How sad though that I realized in gearing up, I'll only need to buy food this go around. I have settled all my gear into what I need for myself and the dog. Our set up fits us perfectly with no replacements needed. I am excited for the future and can't wait to share it with everyone.
My recovery from the LT continues after a month away. Mentally, I miss the trail so, there better be an over night for me soon... As of this morning, I was down two toenails and after todays hike I am down three more and a ton of dry skin on my feet. Hopefully, there are no more toenails to loose and then I'll have nice new toenails once they grow back. I'm rough on my feet so, maybe next year I'll get a Pedicure. ;) All's well though and I am still in awe of that experience. Seriously, if you have not yet, check out my video for it. Find your trail and get out there.