Our stay in Manchester Center ended up being very restful but I still felt a bit sick. We bought a half gallon of OJ to chug, veggies & fruit to snack on, and wandered over to a local Mexican restaurant for a light dinner of chicken tortilla soup & salad. The next morning, Frank Sutton, our host, (http://www.suttonsplacevermont.com/) served coffee & scones, and we relaxed on the side porch.
|Gribley signing guest book|
After settling up & signing the guest book, we stopped by Mountain Goat Outfitters (http://mountaingoat.com/) so Gribley could buy a new pair of hiking boots. He started out with Merrells, which he loved, but they wore out really fast and Merrell only provides one free replacement. If anyone is considering a hiking shoe, especially for a thru-hike, I definitely recommend Saloman (http://www.salomon.com/us/). They've sent me two free replacement pairs without any hassle or questions, and when my younger sister, Cole "Bebop" hiked 400 miles with us and got an unusual tear in her Saloman boot, she was sent a free replacement pair.
We ran into Hop Along at the outfitter. We'd met him back in Gatlinburg, TN at the Grand Prix Motel. He's an older British fellow and had to get off the trail a ways back due to some minor injuries. He still wanted to travel north along the AT, even if he couldn't hike it, so he had been "supporting" Chameleon while she slack-packed, meaning he drove a car to meet her at road crossings so she could hike with a day pack. Lucky for us, he agreed to drive us over to the Post Office, which was closing in 10 minutes - no way we would have made it otherwise. Gribley mailed home his old shoes and some miscellaneous items. I mailed home a book and miscellaneous items of my own. Carrying all your belongings on your back - up and down mountains - keeps you constantly assessing how essential each item is, and if there are ever items that can be parted with to save weight, we love to get rid of those things. I've found this to be an ongoing process throughout the whole hike. For a few weeks I may love an item, only to realize it really isn't necessary and not worth the weight.
After the Post Office, Hop Along dropped us off at the supermarket for the next round of resupply until Rutland, VT. We bought groceries and then sat outside the store repackaging everything. This used to be a long process but I feel like an old pro at this point. All granola bars and oatmeal packets are removed from the cardboard boxes, Pasta Roni or cous cous dinners are put into ziplocks (by the way, ziplock brand, heavy duty freezer quart size are the best - they are the most durable and can be reused many times). If we buy a block of cheese, it is removed from the plastic wrapper and put in a ziplock. Plastic jars of peanut butter are opened to remove the seal. Basically, we look for any trash that we can dispose of in town. We all have pretty high "Leave No Trace" ethics, and packing out trash is important. Every wrapper or piece of packaging that goes into the woods comes back out and is placed in a trash can. We sometimes even become "eco-warriors" as we call it, when we pick up trash on the trail or at a campsite that someone else has left. It's upsetting that the mindset that so many people have is that someone else will come along and take care of it.
Anyway, after taking care of food & packaging trash in town, we still didn't quite feel like hiking out in the 90 degree weather and decided to see what movies were playing. We realized we'd seen all of them and were debating what to do when the ticket guy came out with a big bag of popcorn and invited us to come sit in the AC - such a treat! We made some phone calls and relaxed until the day cooled off a bit. Getting back to the trail from town is always an adventure, whether we stick out our thumbs or kindly ask for rides from people in parking lots. We saw a guy with a bright green Mexican soccer jersey wearing a cowboy hat get into a huge, super nice pickup truck, and Gribley asked for a ride. The man had no idea what the AT was but agreed to give us a ride. We explained that we were hiking from Georgia to Maine, and he was shocked. "For fun?!" he asked us. He told us that he had walked from Guatamala to the US, and it had been a scary, dangerous journey. He is now an American citizen and breeds horses and was in town for the big horse show. Crazy world! He wished us good luck and dropped us back at the trail head.
I still was feeling under the weather, and we only hiked a few miles up to Bromley Mountain where there was an abandoned ski hut. We were unsure if it was ok to stay there but found a hiker register inside and realized lots of hikers came by for a snack, and many had spent the night. No one else showed up that night, and we watched the sunset before going to bed early.
|Gribley at sunset on Bromley Mountain|
|Abandoned skit hut on Bromley Mountain|
|Daystar at sunset on Bromley Mountain|
The next morning I really wasn't feeling well, which was apparent to Gribley by how late I slept. Usually I'm an early riser on the trail, eager to get up and get moving. That morning I just couldn't get up so he let me sleep and made some sweet efforts to make me feel better: picking little flowers & arranging all my breakfast things.
|Gribley's arrangement of breakfast foods|
|Breakfast in the abandoned hut on Bromley Mountain|
We took our time eating, drinking coffee, and enjoying the porch before setting out. I made the mental decision that I just needed to will myself to get better, that I was in this for the long haul and I needed to buck up & get going. We hiked to a random stream about 14 miles away, not quite as far as we had hoped, but decided to call it a night around 6 (earlier than when we usually stop). Gribley and I both love camping by streams - water is easy to get at night and in the morning before leaving, and most important it is so soothing to fall asleep next to.
We agreed that, in exchange for calling it an early night the day before, we would hike some big miles the following day. We had some great trail and passed White Rocks Cliff, where many hiker's had left cairns. It was pretty incredible.
We hiked past Clarendon Shelter up and over Beacon Hill to a small, crummy stealth spot amidst a dense pine forest.
The crummy site at least was a good incentive to get up & get moving into Rutland, VT - our next resupply. The hike that day included a reroute as a result of Hurricane Irene's damage last August. The reroute was actually longer and went along a road instead of through the woods. Like most other hikers, we decided to hike the original section and check out the damage. We were really glad we did - that section marked 500 miles to Katahdin!
|Daystar signing register at 500 miles to go|
|Gribley crossing stream. View of Irene's damage ~ Aug '11|
|View of the NH Whites|
|Gribley and Daystar|