Pictures Updated

30 09 2008

check it out:

http://picasaweb.google.com/vermont.mafia

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the Bears and the Bees

21 09 2008

Flamebo here. Trying to jot down a few thoughts before we head out into the woods again. I wish someone would have told me how difficult it would be to keep up a blog while living out of a tent and walking up and down mountains all day! Alas, here are just a few snippets. As my hike-mates will tell you, I’m good at synthesis, while others are better at the details (as you’ll see below). Hence, an outline of the last 3 states:

MASSACHUSSETTS

Trail not bad. A lot like Vermont, which we naturally love. Mt. Greylock was a fun climb and has a “lighthouse” at the top that serves as a war memorial. More importantly, they had port-a-potties, a true luxury that came just when we needed it!

Default was in recovery from a sprained ankle for a few days and missed the 50 miles between Bennington, VT to Dalton, MA. She didn’t miss much other than watching the sun set under a thundercloud from the firetower on Glastenbury Mountain, tea and cookies with our Israeli friends, the best trail magic cooler ever…oh, sorry Default. I mean, we cried all day and night in her absence!

MA had amazing shelters. They were clean, new, had picnic tables and many had second-story lofts that fit all four of us. Nothing like hiking 20 miles and getting to stay in a five-star lean-to!

The one thing Massachussetts can keep to itself are its bees. On our last morning of hiking without Default, Beef walked right into a bonafide bee convention – the trail happened to house the Fenway Park of beehives – and got stung on the ankle. After walking a mile, she swelled into a scary monster and had to get rescued via ambulance so as to avoid an early demise. We quickly learned an important lesson: don’t leave the first aid supplies (ie, epi pen) with the invalid off-trail (ie, Default)!

Finally, Maria got a trail name! She is now Exacto-knife Kristmas Girl (EKG). I like to think that there are multiple meanings behind the name… She is Exacto-knife Kristmas Girl because she opens her Christmas presents with an exacto-knife so as to keep the wrapping paper in tact for re-use. This is a phenomenon that explains much of Maria’s precision-oriented personality, which is needless to say quite unlike mine 🙂 EKG is not only a better acronym than EKCG, but it also refers to Maria’s superior life-saving skills. When Beef was stung by a bee, I kind of froze and moved in slow-motion, while EKG sprinted to the gas station for ice and found a mechanic that was also an EMT/volunteer fireman. She looks out for us all!

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut can be quickly summed up as follows: Trail = Bad, Aunt Nancy = AMAZING!!

The trail in CT tried to be like Maine in its difficulty but failed to measure up in its rewarding views. It had bad signage, lame shelters, and a deplorable lack of trail magic. Basically, we were unimpressed.

After our first ever slack-pack experience (hike without your packs and pick them up via car later), Default’s Aunt Nancy rescued us from the rain and shuttled us back to Bristol, CT for a weekend of sheer pampering. Pampering to the tune of roast chicken, steak, lasagna, pies, beer, coffee, waffles, ice cream, hamburgers…I could go on, but you get the idea. We felt more than loved.

NEW YORK

Again, a quick judgment: Trail = meh, people = TOTALLY COOL.

Similarly to CT, New York’s trail contained a lot of PUD (pointless up and down) and was pretty rocky and felt poorly maintained. Blazes were sometimes non-existent, and mileage signs were few and far between. The shelters in NY were the worst we’ve seen yet: uber dirty, animal-eaten, and small. Also, in NY they don’t believe in privies or water sources near shelters. To put it bluntly, we did a lot of pooping in the woods and drinking out of frog ponds.

As for the people, we were pleasantly surprised. Being so close to NYC, we expected people to be stand-offish and preoccupied, but we found them to be quite the opposite. On the top of Bear Mountain, which has road access and a view of Manhattan from the summit, we met some fabulous folks. They invited us to their high-class picnic and fed us NY deli sandwiches and beer. Along with the beavers at the trailside zoo and the pileated woodpecker we saw in the woods that morning, it made for a pretty incredible day!

We also received some amazingly generous rides and some freshly picked apples on our final day in the state, in addition to having the pleasure of eating homemade ice cream while watching twin one-year old girls playing and laughing with their parents. Yeah, life is good!

NEW JERSEY

So far, so fantastic.

This morning, we crossed the border into the state that was my home for a year and which I’ve grown pretty fond of in spite of its reputation. Just a couple miles in, we ran across a 400 POUND BLACK BEAR in the middle of the trail! He looked at us, and then just casually meandered into the woods as we stared with our jaws on the floor. So crazy. So cool.

At the minute, we are enjoying a posh stay in the basement of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Vernon, NJ. The people here are incredibly generous, and honestly we couldn’t ask for a nicer place to stay. May the rest of New Jersey continue to woo us with its wonders!

Thanks again to all our trail angels – soon we shall make a place to acknowledge you by name on our blog, but until then know that we are eternally grateful, and YOU are above all what has made our hike worthwhile.

Flamefully yours,

Flamebo





Calendar Updated

14 09 2008

Hi everyone,

We’re headed out from Bristol this morning in just a little while but I wanted to let you know that I just updated the calendar so you can track our progress and sign up to mail us some love in the next month.   There’s even an address where we will be on my birthday.  Check it out- in less than a month we will be in Virginia! 

peace,

Default





More Pictures!

14 09 2008

Flamebo reporting from Default’s Aunt Nancy’s in Bristol, CT. We’ve done about 720 miles now, which means we’re one third of the way to Georgia!! Despite a few health mishaps in the last couple weeks, we are still quite alive and moving along at a great pace. Of course, there is never enough time, and in this case not enough connection speed, to do all the blogging we’d like to, but I did manage to upload some more pictures to our Picasa album.  Many of them are still awaiting captions, but here they are nonetheless.  Thanks again for all your support, everybody!  We feel SO loved with every step we take.

http://picasaweb.google.com/vermont.mafia

and a preview of what can be found in the latest albums…





Many Graces

2 09 2008

Hi all, it’s Default.   You have our apologies for our seemingly long hiatus from blogging.   As you will see below, we have had many lovely days and incredible times with strangers-turned-family as well as our already wonderful family and friends.  The weather has been glorious, the trail sublime in comparison to the challenge of Maine and the Whites.    My compadres have said it all much better, so I strongly encourage you to scroll down and read their posts!!

This week was probably the most “connected”  we have ever been on the trail.   Every day brought either Trail Magic or a planned encounter with an amazing restaurant, a beautiful little sister, our Middlebury sistas, and the nicest hostel on Planet Earth.

Yay for:

The Inn at the Long Trail’s amazing Guinesss on tap and sublime cheeseburgers.   They made the climb up Killington seem so blissfully easy!

My sister Ally picking us up and cramming 6 incredibly nasty thru-hikers and their packs into her Subaru already relatively full with china dishes and college supplies.   She seemed relatively unfazed by our nastiness as she ferried us around Rutland, from Ben and Jerry’s to post office to EMS to grocery store to Quizno’s and back to trail.   We had a blissful night of Quizno’s and S’Mores with her in Clarendon Gorge and loved having her hike with us the next morning.   Al, all the girls agree you’re super cool and that we should be able to have you as our “AT Intern” this semester instead of you being at Colby.   Beef assures you that we know everything there is to know about International Relations.   Besides, I miss you dearly!

Meg, April, and Beth driving hours from upstate Vermont to come all the way to a little unpaved Forest Service road and pick us up and take us out for an amazing dinner.   We were truly blessed to be able to share that time catching up with all 3 of you.    It renewed my spirit just to be present at that table again with all of you.

Aunt Jude and Juliet for brightening our spirits and amazing us with their strength, hiking 18 miles with us on Saturday!   Aunt Jude, we love hanging out with you.

The Green Mountain House for being quite literally the most amazing hostel on the AT.   We have been so blessed.   Yesterday I came down with a very yucky plague and they were so gracious letting us stay an extra night in this Hiker Heaven.   Free Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer?!  Free Internet?!  Free Amazing Beds?!  Free Laundry?!!   We are so grateful!

Tomorrow we head out for the week until Saturday when we will hit Dalton, Massachusetts and visit my friend Allison at UMass.   Then just a few days after that we will be in Connecticut, and then New York.   These Southern New England states are fabulously short 🙂   New pictures will be up this weekend, and we promise to continue the frequent posting as much as possible.

Check out our “Platial” Map on the side of the blog- it should hopefully show you just where we’ve been these last 538 miles!





Pics from Hanover

2 09 2008

Celebrating our entrance into VT with a Vermonster from Ben & Jerry's

Celebrating our entrance into VT with a Vermonster from Ben & Jerry’s

As part of Maria's hazing, she had to drink the liquidated mush at the bottom

As part of Maria’s hazing, she had to drink the liquidated mush-cream

The Mafia with Midd friend and Hanover henchman John Lee

With our favorite family, the Feigers!!

With our favorite family, the Feigers!!

Heading back to the trail with an extra spring in the step!

On our way again.





Hospitality in Hanover

2 09 2008

The day we approached Hanover was the longest day the VT Mafia has seen yet – we achieved a whopping 22 miles. Yes, we sang alright but the singing in the last four miles was more for endurance’s sake rather than shared euphoria, at least for me. Thankfully, the girls had started me out with an 8 miler, a 10 miler, and a 15 miler for my first few days, but I must say that even so my feet protested such a slog. We got in to the empty Velvet Rocks shelter (just .1 mi north of Hanover) after dark around 8:30 pm: a thirsty, sweaty, tired and hot group with no water source in sight. We chowed down on our leftover dinner-stuffs sans stove and hied ourselves into our tent which we set up in the shelter because of the mosquitoes and the hour. We figured we would be there alone that night. Not long had I turned on my side to chase after sleep when three other hikers joined the shelter area. The couple tented a ways away, but the younger lone male NOBO cast about in the dark. Catching sight of our tent-in-a-shelter camp, he uttered a rude insult and preceded to vent his requisite feelings in the shelter register and smoosh himself into the one-person space remaining on the shelter’s floor, just outside our tent door. Needless to say, as I lay wide awake in the tent, hidden from his view, my nerves were on red-alert-guard-dog-mode should he decide to do anything more courageous. He did not. (And good for him, too, for his sake.)

Happily, however, the next day dawned our early morning arrival into Hanover, traipsing across the well-groomed, dew-covered athletic fields of Dartmouth in the fog. The AT blazes led us through the main street of town where we availed ourselves of a Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast and bathroom facilities before we awaited the opening hour of the post office.  For lunch we met up with our Midd friend John L. at Bolocco Burritos, catching up and enjoying the New Hampshire sunshine and friendly atmosphere of main street college town Hanover. Through John we had arranged to stay with a family he knew from his church, the Feigers.

With wide open, friendly and loving arms, the Feigers welcomed our smutty selves into their wonderful home, directing us to showers and laundry amid the beautiful chaos of four excited children (ages 1, 3, 5, and 8). Because I am new to this experience, dear friends, I must impress upon you the glory, nay, the quite mystical experience that is taking a shower after six days of hiking. Oh the salt and dirt that was washed away! Oh the beauty of warm running water and fragrant soap! A washcloth! Fresh towels! Lotion! Rediscovering the feel of smooth skin and non-oily hair! ‘Tis a dazzling time, and one to be relished, which, you can know, I most certainly did.

Beyond the shower were such wonders as clean clothes, a delicious grilled chicken, baked potato, salad (oh salad!!) and ice cream dinner around the table with the Feigers. They repeatedly assured us that we, in our traveling, dirty, smelly, awkward and imposing state were blessings to them. And indeed, beyond their words, it was their encouraging smiles, curiosity, gentle providence and open armed love that spoke volumes. We also thoroughly enjoyed playing with their adorable children. The oldest one, Andrew, observed me tending to my blistering and wart-infested feet with tender concern and curiosity. He kept asking me whether they hurt and how I had come by such unsightly lesions. Several minutes after I had finished tending to them, he ran up to me with a paper covered in red crayon that read: “hop you fill bettr”  ❤ Andrew. Truly, I have never received a get-well-soon card to rival such.

The next morning, after a late night watching the Olympics and sleeping on delightfully comfortable beds, we awoke to a tasty eggs and hash browns breakfast, followed by church in town with them and John. A huge shout out Thank You! to the Feigers and John in Hanover, NH!

Dear Readers, I must say, hiking is wonderful, my excitement is un-squashed and the days continue to be sunny and beautiful, but town stops do allow some particular celebration and joy. I would note, however, that they are such only in conjunction with the long days of sweaty labor. Most of my extra-hiking thoughts are occupied with figuring out how to live out of a pack and joining my dear friends in the VT Mafia.

I do not yet possess a trail name, and though I’ve been a little more than 2 weeks now upon the trail, it seems much has happened, as time must be measured differently in the woods. Greetings to all and best hopes to my connections on the Gulf Coast during this hurricane season.

-maria