I quickly wrote back to Roy and said I'd be stopping at Katahdin. That's
enough for me!
I didn't even realize the international version existed for hundreds more
miles, and, if completed as planned, would more than double the length of the
Trail from Georgia to Maine.
Roy would like to do the entire AT/IAT someday. I hope he can; that would
make for quite an adventure! He sent me this web link (which I haven't had time
to check yet) for those of you who think 2,175 miles aren't enough:
Today's 24+ mile section was a study in contrasts: some of the nicest,
smoothest trail I've seen on the AT in the morning, then some of the rockiest,
rootiest (is that a word??) in the afternoon. Wilderness solitude and noisy
freeways. Rustic trail shelters and classic New England architecture in two
upscale towns. Wedding guests out of Vogue magazine and a hiker who
looked like a drowned rat.
Um, the "drowned rat" would be me!
That's because it rained most of the day. When it wasn't raining, the trees
were dripping so much it was hard to tell if it was raining again. When I'd get
somewhat dry, I'd have to go through another high meadow with water-heavy
flowers and other foliage hanging into the Trail, making running through the
gauntlet feel like going through a carwash with those flaps that slap your car
clean - whop, whop, whop!
Not that I'm complaining. I've pretty much lucked out weather-wise on this
adventure run. There really hasn't been much rain on my parade so far. The
hikers who started at Springer in March and April had a very wet spring, but
most of the rain was gone where I was running when I started April 30.
Jim and I were awakened by the rain at 4:45 AM, more than half an hour before
we planned to get up. Once I'm awake and know it's about time to get up, it's
hard to return to sleep. At least I wasn't worried this time about the Trail
being wet (like last week). I hadn't read anything in the AT guide that made me
think it'd be dangerous today, like precarious rock outcrops above steep
No, today's course was more tame.
Still, it's a bit tough getting out of a nice, warm bed on a rainy day. But I
did get up and managed to remain enthusiastic all day on this varied,
never-boring section. It was warmer this morning (60s) and I stayed comfortable
all day in just my singlet, sports bra, and running shorts as I chugged up each
mountain and ran down the other side.
There was considerable elevation gain and loss again today, despite not
getting any higher than 1,900 feet - about 4,600 feet up and 4,700 feet down.
The lowest points were the White River in West Hartford, VT and the Connecticut
River between Norwich, VT and Hanover, NH.
I was in running heaven this morning for the first nine miles with all the
nice trails between Pomfret Road and Vermont 14/White River. The climbs were too
steep for me to run but I ran most of the ridges and downhills (carefully, as
everything was very slick).
The next eight miles to Norwich were a little less runnable but still good
by AT standards. Some places were badly overgrown in the woods with little maple
trees gone berserk; otherwise the trail was well-maintained.
On the outskirts of Norwich I popped out of the woods onto a long paved
downhill, the beginning of about three miles of pavement. I passed beautiful
traditional New England homes with nicely landscaped yards, then had to run
along a busy road that passed under I-91 (I'd already gone under I-89 in W.
Hanover) and dropped down to the Connecticut River.
I enjoyed watching several Dartmouth students rowing toward and under the
bridge as I crossed into New Hampshire, my thirteenth state! Only two more to go
. . .
I felt more comfortable walking through Hanover and the Dartmouth College
campus than I thought I would. This is one upscale town, but one that hikers
seem to enjoy because of the college-town atmosphere. I was surprised in August
to see so many students milling around the campus green and the businesses on
the streets where I walked (too many people to run, and too much to see).
Dartmouth, an Ivy-League school, offers many cultural events for hikers and
residents to enjoy, so I imagine a lot of thru-hikers stay here for a day or
more to enjoy those opportunities.
Across the street from the green, right next to a white AT blaze, a wedding
had just ended. Six bridesmaids in long pale gray satin gowns stood outside the hotel
with six tuxedoed groomsmen and guests. A limousine hovered, waiting
for the newlyweds.
I watched a bit from the green, then followed my white blazes right past the
ritzy wedding party and guests, feeling a bit out of place but holding my head
high. Students enthusiastically returned my smiles and hellos, while most older
folks just looked the other way. I wasn't dirty (with all the rain) but I was
still drenched and looked like a nomad.
I was pretty amused by it all, yet mighty glad to get back into the woods on
the east side of Hanover.
My joy soon faded, however. I faced one of the gnarliest climbs on the Trail
so far, a rocky, rooty, use-your-hands climb up an unnamed "hill." I had already
called Jim to say I'd be early at our rendezvous point, assuming naively that
I'd have more runnable trail after Hanover.
At the top of the mountain I tried calling Jim again. When he answered, there
was a strange echo, like he was nearby on the Trail. Then I burst out laughing
as I saw him with Cody around the corner, not more than fifty feet away from me,
pretending to be at the camper! He'd run over three miles from the end to meet
me, which was such a nice surprise. The last three miles were not as good as the
first seventeen, but much better than that climb he missed.
We passed by an area called "Velvet Rocks," house-sized boulders covered in
soft green moss. Very pretty, and we didn't have to climb over them!
There were lots of blackberries in the meadows today, pretty purple heather
(first I've seen), wild turkeys and chattering squirrels, and interesting fungi
Today I got to meet "EM," who Jim met back at Gifford Woods when
he put out the goodies for thru-hikers. EM was doing a south-bound slack today,
back to Hanover, with just a fanny pack. I saw several other NOBO and SOBO
hikers but didn't stop in the rain to talk with them. I didn't recognize any of
them. EM said I was the 24th thru-hiker he'd seen so far today. It's fun to go
"backwards" occasionally so you can see more hikers.
So, here I am in New Hampshire. I have a long day tomorrow, over
27 miles, with climbs up the north and south peaks of Moose Mountain, Smarts
Mountain, and Mt. Cube. Ready or not, here come the Whites!