Live Free or Die

Mile 1757

Live free or die from mosquito bites. Just kidding that would be horrible and the bugs really haven’t been bad, tonight was the first time I had to apply Deet. But seriously, live free. I crossed into my 13th state today, New Hampshire. The thing is all states aren’t equal, there’s different lengths of trail in every one. If I remember I’ll try to include the mileage to each state at the end of this post. New Hampshire and Maine make up about 450 miles total and are supposed to be super tough, especially the White Mountains. I’m familiar with the trail through the Whites and I know they’re no joke but I really don’t know what to expect from Maine. I just better see some moose up there.

Last week I finished up New York and there was definitely some good hiking there. Plus you’re never far from civilization so you can get to a deli everyday and stuff your face with Italian subs, that’s what I did anyway. The trail passes through Connecticut for about 60 miles and it was pretty and everything but what stood out was how expensive the towns were, especially for a cheapskate like myself.

I had to go to the PO in Salisbury, CT to pickup some new sneakers. While I was there I went to the market and into a couple stores and let’s just say I won’t be taking any dates to Salisbury, CT in the near future. Massachusetts, no doubt,has the best people on trail. And I’m not just saying that because I’m from there.

First of all, earlier on the trail, every  time I would tell somebody I’m from Mass they would be like, “Oh you’re walking home?” Then I would think to myself, “No, dummy, I’m walking to Katahdin where I’ve been just about as many times as I’ve been to the moon.” And then I would feel like I owed them a geography lesson and explained where Lynn is and how the trail slices through the very western most section of the state. Anyway the trail through Massachusetts is pretty awesome and the people were great.

My first day in the state I was walking along and it was pretty cold and all of a sudden the skies just opened up. I mean it was raining cats and dogs and this went on for a couple hours. My rain gear was soaked through, I was cold, and I was a little miserable. When I finally got to a road I stuck my thumb out just hoping to get somewhere dry. After just a couple minutes, Brenda and Joe pulled over and asked me if I wanted to eat some food and warm up. This was awesome. I really can’t put into words what an incredible turn of events this was. They took me to their house where I showered and they fed me pastrami sandwiches. Brenda, Joe and their daughter Rachel invited me to a graduation party that afternoon and gave me an open invite to stay in their son Ryan’s yurt.

It cleared up so I decided to get back on trail but I’m sure it would have been fun. Brenda told me they look out for hikers and take care of them in memory of their late son who was a hiker and a traveler. It was so nice to have someone looking out for me that day.

The following day I stopped at the Cookie Lady’s house right off trail. This is an older couple who sell hard boiled eggs for 40 cents and the chocolate chip cookies and their stories are on the house. This has been going on for like 30 or 40 years and it’s awesome. That night I got into Dalton, MA where trail angel Tom Levardi lets hikers crash in his yard and then cooks them breakfast before they move on.

Leaving Dalton I prepared for altitude sickness summiting Massachusetts high point Mt. Greylock and then made it into North Adams where my parents came out to visit me for the night. What’s cool about my parents coming out, besides putting me up in a hotel and buying me a few meals, is that they’re super supportive. When I tell them I’m going to live in the woods for awhile and walk really far they’re like, “Oh cool! How can we help?” So they’ve been very helpful, which has been great.

I’ve spent the last 5 days in Vermont. I did this section last September and once again it was beautiful. It’s green, there’s good climbs, mountain lakes and refreshing rivers for swimming. The AT coincides with Vermont’s Long Trail for about 100 miles so I met a bunch of people doing that. Supposedly the northern half of the LT, which I haven’t done yet, is the tough half. At least according to my sister Molly, a former Vermonter and Long Trail alumnus.

Last night I walked about a quarter mile off trail in Woodstock because I had heard about this ice cream shop. Turns out the place closes at 5:30, even on a Friday night in June. Bankers hours I guess. So I’m walking back to the trail and local trail angel Dan Quinn offers to let me stay in his barn. I declined and told him I was just hoping to get a soda at the IC shop. He said he’d help me out if he could but he doesn’t have any soda. Then he tells me to wait a minute, he runs into his house and comes back with a 2 liter of ginger ale. He told me how his friend and Appalachian Trail legend ‘Baltimore Jack’ left it there a little while back and told Dan to hold onto it. Baltimore Jack hiked the trail a bunch of times in the past and had been a fixture in the AT community for years. He died earlier this season before I had the chance to meet him but I feel like he provided me trail magic from beyond. I shared it with the couple staying in the barn and it was just what I needed to get through the last few miles of the day.

Again today I had some great trail magic. I stopped at Randy Hart’s house in West Hartford, VT and he cooks pancakes for hikers passing through. And across the street from him is the ultimate swimming hole! For real, there’s a bridge with a 30 foot drop into deep water with a sandy beach on one side and a big rock to chill on across from it. If you’re ever in the area on a hot day like today, find the bridge and take the leap. At your own risk of course. Alright if you made it this far through the post I’ll keep my word and leave the approximate miles for each state. This is what I remember anyway.

Georgia 70, the trail runs the border of North Carolina and Tennessee for awhile so I’ll say 400 miles combined, Virginia has the most at 550, West Virginia 4, Maryland 40, Pennsylvania 230, New Jersey 80?, New York 120?, Connecticut 60, Massachusetts 90, Vermont 150, New Hampshire 150, and Maine the final state and second longest 270.

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