Souhtbound: episode 7
October 26th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White
It has been about 10 days since we began hiking in Vermont , and tonight we will camp just a few miles from the border of Massachusetts . Vermont has been such an amazing and unique state in comparison to Maine and New Hampshire . Vermont didn’t have all the spectacular views and glorious climbs, but it had simpler gratifying aspects. Much of the trail has passed through farmland, open fields, cattle ranches, and maple syrup harvests. To us they seemed like rolling hills, but somehow we found ourselves exhausted and stopping after a dozen miles two days in a row. Our expectations to push out serious miles were perhaps too great to live up to just yet. With rain both days we would call it quits and hang out in our shelters for the remainder of the day.
It was then we had met “Stitch”, a 19yr old from Chicago , he is finishing his thru-hike down to Hudson river . It was nice being alongside another hiker for a few days and share a few laughs while jammin’ out to our new transistor radio. Ice Man and Stitch would take part in the first ever Winturri Shelter Putt-Putt Classic. Despite the early lead with a shot off the top of a water bottle, Stitch took the prize with a shot up a ramp from the farside of the shelter. The next day the three of us decided to push harder and go 18 miles to get to an irish pub and grill just off the trail. The day flew by and the miles were well worth the hot sandwiches and cold soda. It was too dark and we were too tired after dinner to hike to another shelter, so we camped just across the street in the woods. The night was warm, but it rained non-stop. Not only was the tent soaked, but somehow so were our sleeping bags.
The four different weather forecasts we were picking up said anything from on and off showers to flash flooding all day. That’s all it took. We decided to go into Rutland and stay at the Back Home Again Cafe and Hostel. It is a “work for stay” hostel operated by the 12 tribes religious community. Their hospitality was unbelievable. We took the day to dry out our gear and relax. Later that day we helped them paint some woodwork and hang drywall in exchange for our stay. The following day, we enjoyed some donuts and bagels before going back to the trail.
The trail immediately started with a climb up Mt. Killington . Nearly the entire 12 miles up and over the mountain was in 2 inches of snow and ice. It was really exciting to finally get a taste of what was to come. The following day just got us a little closer to our resupply point in Wallingford , so the following day we could just go in and out of town. We picked up our package and got a ride back to Rutland to resupply at the store. On the way back to the trail, Tom, the gentleman that took us into town, offered to pick us up after we finished another 8 or 9 miles to the next road and take us back to the hostel for the night. We couldn’t pass up the offer, but we would end up semi-regretting coming back to town.
After dinner, we helped in the bakery until close to midnight, so we didn’t really get all the sleep we were hoping for. The next 3 days were long and cold. We ended up at 60 miles in those 3 days even through the snow. We picked up another layering of clothing to sleep in, so now we just have to keep our feet dryer and warm. We came into town last night because the road wasn’t too far from the shelter, all of our socks were soaked, and we had heard about a free place to stay. It was actually a barn that was renovated into basically a nice little hang out with a pool table and radio. We hit up the outfitter, the laundromat, and now the library.
I think that is everything in a nut shell. I wish we had more time to write these journals. I feel like we leave some many details out. We can’t upload pictures this time, but hopefully soon enough. Oh, I almost forgot. We are now 578 miles in, 51 days, and more than 25 % completed. Luckily, we only have 11 miles to push out today because its already 1 in the afternoon. We will cross into Mass. tomorrow and pickup our package in North Adams .
This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.Epilogue: by: Bryan Wolf
Stitch had found the plastic putt putt inside a shelter and had been traveling with it for a little while. I gotta say it was one of the more fun, and unexpected moments that we would have. The day that we had met Stitch we had only sat at the side trail that goes toward the shelter to eat our lunch. It was one of those days where you just didn’t want to do anything. Off in the distance we heard a loud commotion, there was banging and screaming that seemed must of been from a group. We took the side trail to the shelter to find that only one guy was there, and that’s how we met Stitch. He had been going crazy in his loneliness and just started jumping around hitting the broom against the shelter walls and shouting. This isn’t unique to Stitch however, I wouldn’t expect many individuals could hike alone for days none the less weeks or months and not get a little whacky sometimes.
Hiking is a true test to mental health more so than physical health, especially when you hike south and it’s winter. We only hiked with him for a few days before he was swallowed up by the Back Home Again Hostel. There was a “creeper” there that convinced him to have a spa day and stick around, the poor kid just wanted to lay in a hot tub for a while. There are not many trail creepers but you’ll know them when you see them. This guy liked to walk around naked in the hostel and treated the place more like a homeless shelter or hideaway than a hiker hostel. Needless to say we took off.
We know now that the barn shelter is one of the favorite hot spots during the peak season for hikers. Camping space, electricity, and walking distance to a Friendly’s is all the more reason you need. He was actually closed for the season and we were lucky to catch him in town for a place to stay. These were trying times for the two of us. The rain was cold but not quite snow most days so staying warm and dry was hard, the worst case scenario really for hypothermia, and this was just our first taste of it. The rolling hills were deceiving because they made you expect too much of yourself. Just because the terrain looks easier doesn’t mean that it will go buy twice as fast. I think I was still struggling with the new idea of time and distance that wasn’t marked by peaks.
The tyranny of distance…..