Dear Herm’s Hikers,
Greetings from Tigger’s Treehouse! No sign of Pooh, Eyeore, or Christopher Robin. I guess I met them on the trail. The Treehouse is the name of the hostel just north of Hanover, New Hampshire, home of Dartmouth College. Needless to say I am glad to be done with Vermont. Last year’s fall is now a distant memory. As I was hiking up and down the mountains, I was constantly thinking about last year’s end to the hike. Ouch! If I could make it out of Vermont, that would be a big step to a successful hike. Now there are only 2 big steps left, New Hampshire and Maine. And as they say on the AT, as the miles grow shorter, the mountains grow taller.
The hike in Vermont was designed to put in shape for the Whites, and put me in shape it did. Last year was the wettest year in 100 years; this year it’s the hottest. Just my luck! Walking in the Vermont woods was like walking in a jungle. Ver-sauna I nicknamed the state. Temperatures were in the mid 90’s and the humidity was extremely high (I believe around 40%+). Man, was it hot. How hot? A couple of times a day I would stop and wring out my clothes. A few minutes later, I would be soaking wet as if I fell into a swimming pool. Nude hiking was not an option, but the thought did cross my mind one or twice. One day we had beautiful sunny weather (perfect hiking conditions) and that night it rained a wall of water from 8 p.m to 5 a.m. I had to get up three times in the night to move my sleeping bag because the shelter roof was leaking. One hiker who slept in his tent woke up to find his hiking boots filled to the brim with water. Now that was wetter than wet! Overnight the rains transformed the woods into a primordial soup. As the temperatures rose the next morning, so did the clouds of flies , gnats and mosquitoes. A nightmare of insects that followed you every inch of the way! Amazingly, in the evening there was always a gentle breeze which stopped the bugs dead in their tracks. At least, I was able to get a good night’s sleep.
For two days, I saw no NOBO’s (northbound hikers) and I was worried that I would be hiking the Whites alone. But that has changed in the last couple of days as the early migration of NOBO’s has caught up with me. I am once again into the flow of the trail. It’s nice to hike alone in the forest where the only sounds are the the breathing of you and Mother Nature, but it can be scary. And as usual, there’s the Whitman’s Sampler of trail characters, heroes, villains, and everything in between. Two night ago, I met Tadpole who parents had worked with Willie Nelson. Tad, who is now in his early 30’s, worked as a roadie for the band in his early 20’s. Needless to say, he had some great stories to tell. And in return, I told him of my roadie days with the Baltimore Marching Ravens, the NFL’s premiere marching/show band. Hey, Marching Ravens, there’s a hiker on the trail named Ponytail Dave. Haven’t met him yet, but I am curious to see if he resembles our Ponytail Dave. Hope to see you in September if you and the Z Man want me back.
On the spiritual journey, I spent a night at the Back Home Again Cafe and Hostel which is operated by the Twelve Tribes of Israel. They are a religious community who embrace the Jewish traditions of the Old Testament but embrace the core beliefs of the New Testament, namely that Jesus Christ is the world’s salvation. I was invited to attend a morning prayer service. Since they were such gracious hosts, I accepted the offer and was glad that I did. I must have made a good impression because I was invited to attend their weekly observance of the Sabbath. My special thanks to a community of faith that reaches out to the hiking homeless.
Have to run! Time to eat and sleep, two of my favorite pastimes on and off the trail. Hope to reach Glencliffe,NH, by the end of the week. Glencliffe is the AT hiker’s gateway to the Whites. After that, it’s about ten days through the Whites. As always, hike with your angels and hike in peace. Please keep me in your prayers. Have a great week!