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Of course my tramily and I were sucked into town and we ended up staying the night in the backyard of the VFW in Manchester, Vermont. The bartender there was amazing, she let us use their bathrooms and gave us about 15 chocolate chip cookies. Since we were delayed we were able to reunite with a long lost tramily member. Life is good. I once again experienced horrible stomach pains during my hike leading to Manchester and while in town. Upon reviewing my journal I noted that I have had these intermittent stomach pains this whole trip…in Hot Springs, Erwin, Hampton, Pennsylvania, etc etc. No other hiker I have talked to has had the same issue. I decided to add a probiotic pill to my diet to help things out. I also am making more of a conscious effort to eat more vegetables on trail. I felt great while hiking today. Before leaving town we stopped at a breakfast joint, “Up for Breakfast,” I had salmon on a slice of sourdough bread covered in Hollandaise sauce and two poached eggs (yum). For snacks I ate green beans and an apple and for dinner I added coconut protein powder to my mashed potatoes. I really do believe that if you feed yourself better food and ingredients, then you will feel better and hike better.
Vermont has been absolutely beautiful! Lush green forests at lower elevations and quiet pine forests at higher elevations with hidden ponds everywhere. We even received trail magic today. Our goal was to make it to Long Branch Shelter but many locals told us it was a dump due to its close proximity to the road. Since we weren’t sold on the shelter we looked for stealth camping spots along the way and decided on camping next to a roaring river. I got to fall asleep and wake up to rushing to water.
Happiness is getting your winter gear back. It was a great hiking day. The trail wasn’t too steep and we crossed multiple suspension bridges. We read our AWOL guide and noted that there were two exits for Rutland so we decided to hitch into town when we reached the first exit. By night fall we ended up at the Yellow Deli and stayed at the donation based hostel where I got my two packages (winter gear and new shoes!).
Well, the hostel at the Yellow Deli was super nice so we decided to slack pack 18 miles over Killington Mountain and stay a second night at the hostel. The hostel is divided by gender, women’s area and men’s area. The women’s area was recently renovated a month ago. The shampoo and conditioner smelled like marzipan and we were given welcome packages of cookies and juice.
I find myself in a flowery skirt that extends way past my knees. I am cutting up lettuce next to Yael, a 12 Tribes Member as she tells me how it was growing up in East Germany. Our day turned into a zero and I desperately wanted something to do besides scrolling on my phone all day. This is my thru-hike. I am still hiking yet I am immersed in such a unique cultural experience. Many of the hostels down south were run by the Baptist Churches and here I am at the Yellow Deli hostel which is run by the 12 Tribes. I feel like I have been on this Odyssey sort of adventure. There is the main goal or adventure (hiking to Katahdin) however along the way I am making side trips and adventures that only add to the experience like swimming in ponds, attending the Blob festival, going to Mass MOCA, and attending Vermont’s State Fair (which I was able to squeeze in today).
When I was with Riff Raff they bad talked the Yellow Deli and the 12 Tribes hard. “They are a cult that hurts women!!” Is all I heard but I met them at Trail Days and decided that I wanted to make my own opinion about them. Honestly they are pretty harmless. The members of the 12 Tribes seek religious freedom in our beautiful country the same as any other groups of people Christians, Jews, and Muslims. They do resemble more of a commune. They all live and work together and the money they earn goes to one pot. Their religion or culture was started during the peaceful hippie days of the 60s-70s which is obvious in their decor and the way they dress. They all dress the same because they believe that no one is better or worse than another. This doesn’t shock me as I went to college along the plain people, Amish and Mennoite who had even stricter protocols for dress. Yes the women wear clothing that is very modest and hides their shape. I think any solo female hiker would be perfectly safe staying at this hostel, of course solo women should abide by their gut feelings anywhere.
My tramily and I helped the 12 Tribes members make breakfast every morning to pay for our hostel stay. They would love for you to come join them but I did not find them to overbearing. Any and all religious groups that we have stayed with are more than willing to tell you about their ideology but I have never felt preached at or made uncomfortable. The folks at the Yellow Deli showed us nothing but kindness and generosity because that is their doctrine, to help those in need. When I was at Trail Days, the Baptist Church offered free foot baths because they too were following their doctrine. Kindness and generosity are two things I have seen over and over with any group of people who want to help hikers.
Bye-bye Yellow Deli, somehow we left that little hiker paradise and hiked to the privately owned Overlook Cabin. I weighed by backpack before I left, 38 lbs. I felt pretty badass all day knowing that my pack was the second heaviest of my group yet I don’t fall behind them. The zero at Yellow Deli was definitely needed. The climbs are getting steeper and steeper but the views are getting better and better.
Today was a bit rough, I somehow tripped over something and flew forwards. There happened to be stone steps there and I fell down the steps and ended up with my backpack around my neck. I was a bit shocked. I slowly moved each joint to check myself out. I ended up with badass scratches down both shins and knees and one bent pole. The rest of the day consisted of stopping at 3 different farm stands and climbing multiple steep mountains. I enjoyed trying different local sodas and my tramily members took advantage of the ice cream. It was definitely a more relaxing day – farm stand hopping but after my fall, I needed something positive. We also even stumbled upon trail magic. We managed to get to camp and set up before a torrential downpour started. The universe is looking out for us.
When walking into West Hartford we were beckoned to a front porch and met Trail Angel Linda. She offered us sodas and bagels. From her porch you can see the bridge where locals and thru-hikers alike jump to cool off. My tramily members took part of this tradition but I did not. I was still pretty shaken up over my fall. I could have injured myself in that fall so I certainly was not going to engage in any activities that increased my chance of injury.
After Linda’s we walked into Hanover, New Hampshire. Hanover is full of freebies for thru-hikers.
I have been so lucky to have family members all up the east coast who live along the AT. My cousin, Timothy grew up in PA on the AT and now he lives 7 minutes away from it. He picked me up and he and his girlfriend cooked me and a tramily member an awesome homemade dinner of steak and potatoes. I got to play with a cat and dog all night long.
Thank goodness I got my winter gear sent to me just in time for the temperature to rise back to 90 degrees! It was very difficult hiking out of Hanover. I had a great night with my cousin (food, drink, entertainment) but little sleep. He works at a burrito place in town and we packed out burritos for dinner. They were so good! I moved as slow as molasses up to Moose Mountain Shelter and then talked with my boyfriend over the phone for two hours as I watched the sun set. It still hits me, I cannot believe that I am in New Hampshire. It is already hard and it will get harder but the views are incredible. You smell pine all around, you can see off far into the distance, and there is a nice calm at night. Wow, I am in New Hampshire.
Stay wild and stay safe,