As we approach our 500 mile mark, we find ourselves treading over Vermont’s soft, pine needle coated trails. The hills become gentler, the elevation changes less dramatic, and our pace increases. We crossed the distance between Lincoln, NH and Hanover (right on the NH/VT line) in 4 days instead of 5, averaging 15 miles per day. We reset our personal record to 17.2 on one of those days.
People keep telling us: “Oh, you’re out of Maine and New Hampshire, so the hard part is over.”
However, while the terrain has gotten consistently less rock-encumbered and our strength and pace have both increased, I fail to see how anyone can consider the remaining 1,600 miles “easy”. There is many a mountain yet to be climbed, each holding its own unique trials.
The landscape aside, Vermont has been a wonderful change of pace for a few more reasons. Upon arriving in Hanover, we were greeted by Zach’s mom, Stephanie, and his Aunt Jinkie. After a month and a half away from home, we have both missed our friends and especially our families. The two sisters were a sight for home-hungry eyes!
Speaking of hungry, first things first after a happy reunion, we got our money’s worth at the All-You-Can-Eat Sunday brunch buffet. (Which included mimosas! I think we should hitch here every Sunday.)
After spending the rest of the day and half of the next relaxing in the comfort of Zach’s aunt’s hospitality and generosity, Stephanie joined our troop as we road hiked out of Hanover and through Norwich on our way back to the woods. Both Norwich and Hanover are two of the few small towns whose main roads directly correspond with the AT pathway. Which is why we were on this bridge when the three of us crossed the VT/NH border together.
Hanover and Norwich are truly phenomenal when it comes to supporting Appalachian Trail hikers. Everywhere we looked there was something for thru-hikers passing through town. In Hanover, there is an actual list of Trail Angels. These are people who give out their phone numbers in order to offer hikers free lodging, showers, laundry, etc. It’s the only town along the entire AT where Trail Magic hits such exponential heights! (Although, I think we had the best magic with Jinkie as our Trail Angel :D).
In Norwich, we got free GIANT ice cream cones at Dan & Whit’s grocery market. Then, once on Elm Street in Norwich, the road which would take us back into the woods, there were coolers lining the street full of hiker delicacies such as Coca-Cola and Bud Light, as well as watermelon slices and bags of Oreos.
We didn’t know it yet, but the next 40 miles we would spend with Zach’s mom along would contain a few of our AT adventure’s most serendipitous occurences yet.
But more on that soon.