I left The Green Mountain House on August 28th and only hiked a few miles out to the first shelter. The following day, August 29th, was my 5 month anniversary on the Appalachian Trail. I hiked an easy 14.5 mile day and stopped at Big Branch Shelter for the night. A group of us built a fire and it dawned on me…I couldn’t remember the last time I had sat by a fire. Sometimes us thru hikers get lost in the labor of hiking and forget to enjoy the tranquility of camping.That night I journaled by the fire and just enjoyed being encompassed by the woods.
The next day I hiked to the road leading to Rutland, VT. I had been hearing about The Yellow Deli Hiker Hostel for a few weeks and I decided to see what it was all about. As I hitch hiked in, rumors flew claiming the Yellow Deli to be a cult.I’m not much on hearsay, so I decided to check it out and form my own opinion. The Yellow Deli is run by the Twelve Tribes Community. My experience with them was essentially no different than the 1st Baptist Church folks in Franklin, NC. Both groups brought hikers in and offered them something (food, lodging, etc) to present a brief opportunity to tell others about their religion. Neither group forced their spirituality on anyone else, but instead displayed significant gernerosity. I am very appreciative of the Yellow Deli hostel–I don’t care to join, but my experience with them was great. I would suggest the donation based hostel to anyone! Don’t let rumors and fear of the unknown keep you from going. Often times people use harsh words to describe something they don’t understand. The deli is open 24 hrs a day (except for the hours of their sabbath). They serve food grown on their farms, and let me tell you…it is phenomenal! From the sandwiches and chili to the fruit salad and tea…mmmmhmm.
Not only was I able to enjoy a real bed, they also had a washer and dryer. Their loaner clothes were very–well, modest. But hey, when in Rome… Just another interesting experience to add to the list thanks to this amazing adventure!
During this stretch of trail, one of the most challenging climbs and prettiest views encountered was Killington Peak. Topping off at 4229 feet in elevation, it was the highest point I climbed in Vermont.At the top of the peak, there is a gondola that offers free rides to hikers. A chance to kick my feet up and enjoy the scenery? Of course I’m going to jump on the opportunity! As if the gondola ride wasn’t exciting enough, I also passed the “500 miles” to Katahdin sign and crossed over mile marker 1700 the same day.
I hitch hiked back to the Yellow Deli Hiker Hostel just before dark and stayed for a second night. After a wholesome breakfast the next morning, I set out on a mission. I was determined to reach Hanover, NH in two days to watch college football. I about wore myself out, but I made it! You can take the girl out of the south, but good luck taking the south out of the girl… I enjoyed a double zero in Hanover which included a lot of college football, of course. Hoping Dartmouth might be playing at home for the weekend, I went by the stadium to find their season had not yet begun. I was able to spectate during their practice, though. Watching Bill Bryson’s “A Walk In The Woods” was also on my radar. So, before hiking out of Hanover I stopped by the local theater and indulged myself with laughter and air conditioner for a couple hours. The Appalachian Trail definitely isn’t a simple stroll. It is significantly more difficult than the movie portrays, but it was funny anyway. A lot of thru hikers have been critical of the movie. But it’s a comedy…and after all, comedy shouldn’t be taken so serious!
My time in Hanover was a much needed relaxation period. As I crossed into New Hampshire, I knew the White Mountains were looming only a short distance away. I had been warned that they would be tough, but I don’t think I could truly comprehend the difficulty of the terrain until I was smack dab in the middle of it. Kind of like a toddler can be told a stove is hot, but doesn’t fully understand until he or she places a hand upon it and feels the scorching heat. But, I’ll have to tell you more about that next time…
I saw many beautiful sights during this section of trail. Below is a little taste of the splendor I witnessed: