June 23. Woke up in the hotel…let me tell you a little about the Autumn Inn in Bennington. When the owner picked me up yesterday and drove me to the hotel when I checked in I didn’t realize at first that my room cost was $98! I didn’t expect much from the room, it was a hiker hotel. It wasn’t as bad as The Doyle, but that only cost me $25 a night. This also wasn’t as bad as Ron Haven’s Budget Inn, but that only cost me $45 a night. I started thinking about past trips and I remember using Hotwire to get 4 Star hotels in Chicago for less than $98 a night! Once in my room I took a shower and realized there was no shampoo…only hand soap. I walked over to the grocery store and picked up shampoo there. The 2 mile walk back was tough and hot and my thermometer read over 100 degrees in the sun as I walked on the side of the road. I was glad I decided to do this walk before I did my laundry! Back at the hotel I started my laundry but had issues because the dryer was broken…the owner’s wife took my clothes and did my laundry for me on their own machines. When she brought them back to me they were still damp, but at least they were clean, mostly. This was also the type of hotel where you don’t want to sleep in the beds, I instead spent $98 to sleep in my sleeping bag on a hard bed. At least the hotel had internet…the sign out front said “AC – WiNet – Cable”…ha, no WiFi, but WiNet! In the morning I went to the office building to get coffee and the owner informed me that she couldn’t make coffee because they were doing construction on the building and the water was turned off. She said I could walk down the street “5 stop lights” to a great breakfast place for coffee and food. 5 stop lights was a good mile or so each way, no way! There was another guy standing outside the office and when I looked at him he shrugged his shoulders and said “I just moved in here yesterday. Trifecta! Several of the hiker hotels have been 1, in very bad shape, 2, owned by Indians (people from India, not Native Americans), and 3, had long term tenants living there. This hotel had all 3! I went back to the building that I paid $98 to sleep in and used the water to take a shower and wondered why they couldn’t use some of the water from here to make coffee…oh well, at this point I had given up. I ate the last 3 slices of cold pizza from last night, gathered my gear, and had the owner drive me back up to the trail. It had been a very interesting night in town and I wasn’t sure if I was glad I had even stayed there, but in the end it was a good story! When I got back on the trail at 10:00 AM and breathed the cool mountain air I was glad to be back in the woods. I hiked through the day and at 2 PM I stopped in a shelter and visited the privy. While in the privy I felt the air temp drop and heard the wind pick up. Walking back up to the shelter I could see a huge dark cloud moving in. I checked the weather on my phone and sure enough a severe thunderstorm warning with hail, lightning, and rain…lovely. I waited a bit and decided to walk the 4 miles to the next shelter. I passed a lookout tower and thought as much as I’d like to see the views, being in a huge lightning rod in a thunderstorm was probably not a good idea. The rain really started coming down about a mile before I made it to the shelter. When I got there I found 3 guys already set up and I took the last bunk. It was only 4 PM but I didn’t think it would be a good idea to walk the 4.5 miles to the next shelter in the rain, I could just hike that tomorrow. By the time I got my gear all out the rain had stopped and the sky had cleared…awesome. I could either hike on for another hour or so, or just wait. I had hiked 15 miles today and the trees, leaves, and rocks would all still be wet so I climbed in my sleeping bag, ate dinner, and tried to go to bed early to get an early start tomorrow.