Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Day 123: Exploring Hanover, NH!

July 8: It didn't rain during the night, but the morning was dark and cloudy. I had a big day ahead of me today and wanted an early 6:00 AM start, but because it was so dark, I didn't get moving until 7:00 when it became light enough for me to start getting photos of the trail. The delay was enormously frustrating for me!

Notice the grasshopper on the flower? The grasshoppers were everywhere but getting a photo of one isn't easy!

When Caroline (Banana Bread) woke up, she got out of her tent and made breakfast in the shelter, so we chatted a bit more before it was light enough for me to go. It was a little sad splitting up again. I'd known her for less than a day but after chatting one-on-one for six hours the day before and another hour this morning, I felt like we'd been friends for years. But it was time for me to continue north and for her to continue south, our paths likely to never cross again.

The day's hiking was remarkably easy, almost entirely downhill or flat down to the Connecticut River which marked the Vermont-Hew Hampshire state line.

There's a fair amount of road walking as the trail approaches the state line. Although the day started dark and dreary, eventually warm blue skies prevailed and temperatures grew quite warm, and along many of the roads, there wasn't even any shade. Ugh!

One road the trail goes down had three different homes with trail magic set out in front for passing thru-hikers. Talk about a friendly neighborhood! I ate some cold watermelon from an ice chest which really hit the spot.

The friendliness was undone, however, by a driver who slowed down as he approached me and rolled down his window.

"Walk on the other side of the road!" he told me.

"Umm... okay.... why?" I asked. It was a small, quiet road. Not busy at all busy, through a residential area. I didn't see any obvious reason why it mattered where I walked, but maybe he knew something ahead on the trail that I didn't know.

"So you'll see if any cars are coming. It's a safety thing. Even our 1st graders know that."

Seriously? I was stunned at the insult, but he drove off before I could think of a snappy comeback. Yeah, well, where I'm from, we have this neat invention called a sidewalk and teach our kids out west not to play in the street at all. And really, whether a car hits me from the front or the back, it's gonna hurt either way.

Not to mention that the road is so narrow it didn't even have a center divider. If a car is going to hit someone, they could be coming from either direction because they more-or-less drive down the center of the road then slow down and squeeze to the edge whenever two cars need to pass each other. That's the kind of road it is.

I chose to walk on the right side of the road because that's where the shade was on this warm and sunny day. I don't listen to my iPod while I'm walking on the street so I can hear cars that are coming regardless of the direction. And if the road had been a particularly busy one, I'd have walked on the left side where I could step off the road whenever a car approached. But on this road? It was a waste of time.

The guy managed to really annoy me and I hoped he ran off the trail and crashed. Then I could rush up to him and say, "You know, driving is perhaps the most dangerous things you can do. Far more people die in car crashes every year than pedestrians being hit by cars."

But, alas, I never heard any car crashes so presumably, the man got home safely.

It hadn't actually rained, but the day started dark, gloomy and wet.

The trail meandered through the small town of Norwich then over the Connecticut River and into New Hampshire. Vermont was done! Two states to go!

Just over the border is the small town of Hanover, NH, probably best known for being the home of Dartmouth College. The trail runs right through the downtown core. My first stop was at the post office since I had my mom send my cold-weather gear here. I'd be entering the White Mountains soon, and I knew from my 2003 thru-hike, I'd want all of my cold weather gear again. Those Whites can be brutal and cold! It was time to switch out my warm-weather gear with my cold-weather gear.

Except when I tried to pick up my maildrop, I was told that it wasn't there. What do you mean it's not there?! *#&@! I froze my butt off in the Whites during my first thru-hike and swore I wouldn't let it happen again this time around, and now I have to let it again happen?! What the heck happened to my gear?!

I called my mom, who assured me that she did send it long before and it should definitely have arrived by then. She had a tracking number for the package as well, although it wasn't readily available when I called her, so she said she'd send it to me as soon as she got back home and could look it up. If it was at the post office here in town but they had just misplaced it or put it in the wrong bin, I wanted to know it and say, "Look, your own records show it's in THIS post office RIGHT NOW. It's somewhere here and go back and keep looking for it until you find it!"

But for now, I had none of my cold-weather gear. Not my cold-weather sleeping bag, not my warm gloves.... nothing! I could freeze to death in the mountains up ahead!

I walked further into town where I stopped at the Brick and Brew Pizzeria. Pizza sounded good, but my guidebook also said that thru-hikers can get a free slice of pizza there which really sold me. =) I took the free slice of cheese pizza, as well as a drink and a slice of the supreme pizza. I also plugged my smartphone into an outlet to let it recharge.

Later, I would learn that my maildrop with cold-weather gear was at a post office in New Jersey, going to a zip code that was off by one digit. I'm not sure why the zip code was off. Maybe I told my mom the wrong one by accident, or maybe she misunderstood the zip code I read off. Maybe the person at the post office who took the package typed in the number wrong. I don't know, but it meant that for the time being, I'd still have none of my cold-weather gear because it was hundreds of miles away in another state. I gave my mom a new maildrop asking if she could get it forwarded to another location along the trail for me.

At the edge of town, just before the trail leaves Hanover and re-enters the woods, there's a co-op where thru-hikers typically go to resupply. It was undergoing a huge remodel and one aisle was so narrow, they installed signs for people to go through in one direction only. The place was a wreck! But I bought enough food to get me through the next several days on the trail.

I repacked it all into ZipLocks at the front of the store, then headed back onto the trail. I'd stopped for several hours in Hanover and it was a wonderful place to stop and rest, but I had no intention of quitting for the day. Nope, I still had more miles to hike!

I wound up cowboy camping a little ways behind the Velvet Rocks Shelter, after completing 17.6 miles. Which is an extraordinary distance when you consider my one-hour delay in the morning due to the darkness and the several hours I spent in Hanover. A good, solid day!

However.... I was about to walk into the fearsome White Mountains without my cold-weather gear. I was a little concerned about that....

We can only hope!

I'm totally sick and tired of those invisible cows getting in the way!

Along this road, three different houses had trail magic set out for thru-hikers! I ate some of the watermelon that I found in this ice chest. Yum, watermelon! =)

I was so disappointed that I'd be missing the puppet show!!!!

Lots of road walking today!

The Connecticut River marks the boundary of Vermont and New Hampshire.
Twelve states done, two to go!

Lunch! Thru-hikers got a slice of cheese pizza for free. =)

Velvet Rocks Shelter


Karolina said...

Omg! The infamous White Mountains are getting closer! I mean, Ryan is getting closer to the infamous Whites...without his cold weather gear!

Mary said...
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Mary said...

I loved the photos of the grasshopper and the frog. I love ALL the photos but love the wildlife. I didn't see the invisible cows though - possibly because they're in Hawaii! I googled invisible cows and they're dark colored cows that are hard to see in the dark and fog. Why are they roaming around on the roads? They should wear reflector vests if they're out at night in their dark cowhides. Silly invisible cows.

Anonymous said...

I think maybe we should all meet in Hawaii and not leave until we actually see an invisible cow.