Day 103: Manchester Center, VT

Day 103. Well, as usual, I gave in to the temptation of food. I blame my shelter-mates last night though, as they had a long discussion about what meals they miss the most out here … burgers, pizza, mozzarella sticks … well damn, those all sound great. So, I was convinced on this town stop before I fell asleep. And it’s not so bad, a very nice town to visit (as usual in NE), and an easy 25 mile hike to reach it. And, this means I have a WiFi connection and can finally post last week’s video. See above!

The only difficult part of the day was at the beginning, as I climbed Stratton Mountain’s nearly 4,000 foot peak. This is the tallest mountain in Vermont, and although it didn’t feel too bad, it was tiring at this high altitude. I haven’t been this high up in months! At the top is a fire tower and a very small cabin, where 2 caretakers live and support the trail/hikers. They rotate out every few weeks (like I’ve seen with other caretakers), and were very willing to share history and information about this part of the AT/Long Trail. It almost seemed like their job was simply to inform hikers on trail history, and nothing more. It isn’t, but that was definitely the focus of our chat.

They were a very kind elderly couple, and they shared cookies with me in exchange for showing them how to use the facility’s cell phone and radio. I couldn’t believe that they had been here for 3 weeks already and didn’t know how to turn either on! But now they do, and we all feel much better for them being in the know. We also discussed yesterday’s med-evac, as that was obviously big news for the area. I filled them in on the details and then (after a couple more cookies), said my goodbyes and hiked down the mountain. The rest of the day was smooth sailing. Easy hiking on very nice terrain and mostly downhill. I passed 3 nice shelters before 5pm (all of which were empty … where is everyone??) and made it to the road crossing for town just before 6pm.

I made arrangements to stay at a “hostel” earlier in the day, which is really just the home of a kind women (Jen) who rents out her kids’ empty bedrooms in the summer. But with how expensive hotels are up here, spending $35 to stay in a house was a great deal. Unfortunately though, first I had to get to town, which was 5+ miles from the trailhead. Jen told me to hitch a ride from the locals, so … I stuck out my thumb.

I told myself I wasn’t going to hitchhike on this journey, it feels uncomfortable and awkward to me. And standing there, I felt very dirty and vulnerable. But, Jen assured me that this was a very hiker-friendly town, and that I’d be picked up quickly. She was right. Within minutes, a nice family stopped and offered me a lift to town. It turns out their father and youngest daughter are thruhiking the trail southbound right now, so they were happy to help. I thanked them and said I’d look for the dad/sister in the weeks to come.

Then I had my long-awaited dinner. Chicken wings, beer, burger and fries … all were inhaled in minutes to a feeling of guttural satisfaction. Jen picked me up at the restaurant after I finished and brought me to her home. After taking a shower, I crawled into bed and evaluated the next few days. I have enough food now (thanks to this side trip) to get to Killington, VT in 3 days. But, now I think I will stop there in the morning to resupply, and then head out again in the afternoon (like I did in Dalton). Two expensive stops in 3 days is probably not in the budget this week, plus I still need to make up 15 more miles before the 21st to get back on schedule before going off trail again for the wedding. Easy peasy!

Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)

  • Start Mile: 1626.1
  • Start Time: 07:00
  • End Mile: 1651.8
  • End Time: 17:55
  • Miles Hiked: 25.7
  • Miles to Go: 539.1
  • Lodging: Jen’s Place (Manchester Center, VT)