The Blue Barn to Moose Mountain Shelter
Miles Hiked: 20.5
AT Milage: 1760.8
This morning I woke up sometime before 7am, ate breakfast and hit the trail. On my way out of town on the roadwalk I got water at a spigot from a local business that lets hikers camp there. There was about 7 miles of hiking before I hit a long 3 Mile road walk into NH. Nothing eventful happened during my hike expect taking breaks with my shoes off because my feet hurt so bad, but what’s new? I had a brief moment of panic when I thought I left my rain pants and sitting pad at the barn and thought I was going to have to hike backwards five miles to go and get them. Luckily, they were found shoved in the bottom of my pack after I dumped the whole thing out on the side of the trail. Last night Ohaí who is a massage therapist helped me out with my knee swelling a little bit and I woke up this morning with pretty much all the swelling gone! By the end of the day however, it returned.
After about 7 miles of hiking I hit a 3 Mile roadwalk starting in Norwich VT, and ending in Hanover, NH. Right out of the woods, I got trail magic in the form of a piece of candy from a mailbox and a granola bar that the local residents left out for hikers knowing that the trail goes right in front of their house. When I crossed over the Connecticut river on a bridge into NH, I had a stranger walking by take my picture. In the town of Hanover, NH the trail walks straight through Dartmouth college campus. I was not prepared to be in such a preppy town with so so many people walking around. Everyone was wearing J Crew or LL Bean clothing while smelling like Laundry detergent and here I am walking around with a cloud of dirt following me like pig pen from Charlie brown. I’m kidding about the dirt cloud but that’s how it feels when you walk out of the woods, days without a shower, and mingle with clean people. I went to the post office to pick up my beanie I ordered to replace the one I lost hitch hiking in the last town. Having my winter gear is going to be super important the next two weeks as I make my way through the white mountains. I heard it was 15 degrees on mount Washington earlier this week. Yikes. At the post office I ran into a group of three NOBO men who wondered how on Earth they hadn’t met me yet and why I wasn’t hiking with anyone. I explained that it was because I took 3.5 weeks off the trail and when I got back I barely saw anyone so I hiked the entire state of VT alone, camping with whoever showed up. After the post office I got lunch at a local pizza place who gives thru hikers a free slice. I tried a “Moxie” soda that I have been wanting to try since I heard it was a New England thing, but it wasn’t that good. I began to head back to the trail but I passed a community center on the way that offers hikers a $3 shower so I spent about an hour there getting cleaned up. I wasn’t sure when my next shower would be so I figured it would be nice to get clean. Maybe Maine? After my shower I bought some food for the trail at the local grocery store. I think I’m probably carrying way more food than I need right now but I’d rather have a heavy pack than feel like I’m starving this week. Being hungry on the trail is a helpless feeling because sometimes you can eat upwards of 800 calories in one sitting and be hungry an hour later.
I finally left town around 3pm, alot later than I had planned. My camping options were a shelter 1 mile away (too close) or a shelter 10 miles away (kinda far) with a potential opportunity to stealth camp 7 miles away. I hiked up velvet rocks which was so steep that there was a rope tied along the side of the trail to help you climb up. I didn’t need it but I could see it coming in handy if it was raining. I kept playing leap frog (passing each other back and forth) with another hiker named Blaze. After one of my breaks, I met a new NOBO hiker named Luna and we hiked the last 6 miles together. She talked alot and it was SO NICE to have company while hiking. It was the first time in a very long time that I hiked with someone. She had a fast pace and kept me distracted from my foot pain which is exactly what I needed to make it to the shelter 10 miles away. At the end of the day we climbed Moose mountain as it was getting dark and my last 0.6 miles were done in an almost pitch black forest. Neither of us wanted to stop and get our headlamps from the bottoms of our packs because we were so close to camp but hiking in the complete dark was a bit challenging for me. I’m so thankful that the color of the trail blazes are white so it makes them a lot easier to see in the dark once your eyes adjust. We finally made it to the shelter where a man named “little hill” was camping all alone. We both set up our stuff in the shelter and I tried not to eat way too much food for dinner. I swear if I didn’t make myself close my food bag after a certain amount of time I might just keep eating until a lot of it was gone. Long days of hiking like today, especially with a fast pace up a mountain at the end, make anyone ravenously hungry.