The theme for the past 10 days of this hike has been, "Nothing goes according to plan, and that's okay." It started in Dalton, Massachusetts when my original plans for lodging fell through, and I wound up at the house owned by a trail angel who lets hikers stay in his yard. Tom Lavardi has been hosting hikers for nearly 35 years. Purely by coincidence, Lemmy and I stayed at Tom's place on the same day as the Massachusetts craft beer festival. This led to an accidental zero, and what turned out to be one of my most fun days on the trail.
Two days after I left Tom's, I met RZA (pronounced "rizza"), the pizza enthusiast I mentioned in my last post. As you may recall, he suggested that I join him for some slack packing as we entered Vermont. Again, this was completely off the script. With the help of his mom, we managed to knock out over 100 miles in 4 1/2 days.
Even though it's still technically "the green tunnel," Vermont is surprisingly beautiful. The trees are now conifers, clear streams flow everywhere, and once again I am seeing and hearing birds and creatures which don't normally live near populated areas. The trail itself is wide and flat, and coated with a layer of soft pine needles. Strange flowers are blooming, and tall mushrooms abound. The entire place seems landscaped, and I keep expecting to see a Smurf or leprechaun emerge at any moment.
After four days of slack packing with RZA, and the help of his mom, we parted ways and I once again shouldered a full pack. As I walked that first day with my full gear I constantly felt as though someone was hanging on to my pack, pulling me down. It didn't take long to get used to the weight however, and after two short days I found myself in New Hampshire.
I crossed the border into Hanover yesterday, reunited with Lemmy, and by the time you read this I will be back on the trail. By Saturday night, I will have staged myself at the base of Mount Moosilauke, the second highest and second most difficult climb on this hike. It is the entrance to The Whites, and is regarded by most northbounders as "the beginning of the end." Approximately 30 days remain.