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

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