I left Dalton, MA on the morning of August 22nd. On the 23rd, I climbed the highest point in Massachussetts, which was my 5th high point ever!
Hearing of some discounted Mexican food, I hitched a ride into Williamstown, MA to eat dinner at Desperado’s. A nice couple, Zizi and Ric, pulled over and offered Rebel Yell and I a ride. They were heading to have dinner with Zizi’s family when they saw us thumbing a ride. Being adventurers themselves, they understand how a real bed is overly welcomed by thru hikers. After some small talk, they graciously offered us a place to stay in their home. Of course, we accepted! They dropped us off at Desperado’s and picked us back up on their way back through. Thank you again, Zizi and Ric, for your amazing hospitality!
It never ceases to amaze me how giving complete strangers can be. I can’t wait to pay it forward.
The day I left Zizi and Ric’s I finally crossed into the next state–Vermont! It was in this state that I began to feel my second wind kick in. The weather had begun to cool…the scenery no longer looked like I was still in Georgia…the scent of the forest smelled of Christmas! It finally dawned on me that I was making progress. Not only on the trail, but also in the fact that I marked another state off my list. Vermont was my 37th state visited.
Crossing another state line was exciting in itself, but just a few miles past the Vermont border, I completed my 1600th mile of the trail.
Surrounded by the beauty of the forest and elation of completing milestones, did my feet suddenly feel less tired? Or my pack less heavy? My body stronger?
No. However, it really sank in for me at this point that the end of this journey will be what I want it to be. As in other situations in life, it is often what you make of it. Your attitude. Your thoughts. Your mind. Yes, I was achy and weary. But why focus on those negativities and allow the allure of the forest to be disregarded?
The next few days I spent taking in the sights, smells and sounds. As the terrain became more demanding, the views were increasingly rewarding. I noticed my hiker hunger kicking in full force again. I began eating two meals at dinner and double the daily snacks. It’s interesting to actually notice my body functioning as a machine. I can literally feel myself running on fumes if I don’t eat enough.
In addition to a hunger for food, my mind hit a point where I began craving knowledge. For most of the trail I have had no desire to read or take in information. Someone once explained that “the trail is a place for expression and creativity more than consumption of knowledge.” I held true to that statement until Vermont. Suddenly, I began to desire the consumption of abundant amounts of knowledge. I began listening to podcasts and audiobooks. In particular I was repeatedly drawn to The Survival Podcast (TSP). Although I’ve been a listener for a few years, Jack Spirko never ceases to inspire me and help me live a better life “if times get tough…or even if they don’t.” Listening to episode after episode while hiking in Vermont, I finally realized what I was craving. I needed to answer the daunting question: “What’s next?”
The very simple answer is: make money. I desire to be debt free. Before Sugar’s surgeries and death the only debt to my name was in the form of student loans. I will now re-enter the real world with a hefty load of vet bills piled on top of a platter of student loan debt. However, with my thoughts clear and soul at peace (thanks to this wonderful journey), I know I can do anything I set my mind to. Upon my return, I’m challenging myself to pay off my debt in its entirety. I will alot myself a specific time period and annihilate the chains that bind me. But, is that all I will do? Is that my only goal for the future? No way! I also plan to start my own business on the side. Although I haven’t finalized the details, I have time to ponder before summiting Katahdin. So, stay tuned. But, let me say, I highly recommend y’all check out TSP (www.thesurvivalpodcast.com). I will warn you, though, once Jack wakes you up…you can’t go back to sleep!
So, returning to trail talk, I must make mention of a stellar hostel I stayed at in Manchester Center, VT: The Green Mountain House.
Jeff Taussig keeps the place in pristine shape! There is a kitchen available for hiker use in addition to all the comforts of home. I prepared a country style rib dinner with asparagus, salad and sweet potatoes. Being able to relax in a “homey” atmosphere and feel like a real person for a day was priceless.
Well, I think I will end my ramblings here folks. Thank you again for stopping by and checking up on me. I can’t thank all of you enough for your amazing support.
Until next time–
Happy Trails 🙂