June 29. Woke up before 6 and thought about getting an early start on the day. Around 4 it had started to sprinkle so my tent was a little wet…so I talked myself out of the early start and rolled over and relaxed. Then, before 6:30 the skies opened up and it poured rain. The tent was completely wet by the time it stopped raining and Rafiki and I both got up and put away our wet tents and started hiking by 8. It was a tough morning…some big uphills, lots more walking through itchy tall grass, and pesky bugs. At one point a few miles into the day I decided I needed a privy…now! I looked down an old side woods road to find a flat spot to hike into and noticed an old outhouse some 50 yards away. I have no idea what it was doing there, I was in the middle of nowhere, but it was operational and I took advantage of using it! I made it to West Hartford, VT and walked right past a deli and stopped in. I needed a soda and a danish! I couldn’t believe it when I saw Rafiki walk up, I thought he was in front of me! He had taken a break for breakfast at a shelter and I passed him. I also ran into a section hiker from Indiana who I hadn’t seen since Virginia! He was out for a few weeks there, he said he went home and headed up to Maine and was now heading south. Rafiki and I left the town around noon and pushed for Hanover. We hiked a good 8 miles and stuck together the whole time. We dropped into a country road leading to Norwich, VT and found some trail magic outside a house, a cooler of fresh baked bread and watermelon! We hiked down the hill and hit the center of Norwich. I told Rafiki that I needed to find the Theta Chi monument and that I would see him in Hanover and as I started looking up the directions to the monument I looked across the street and found it! We went over and I got some great photos with the monument dedicated to the founding place of my social fraternity, Theta Chi.
From there we hiked a good mile or two on roads to Hanover and walked directly into the middle of Dartmouth. While crossing the Connecticut River we left Vermont and entered New Hampshire! Less than 450 miles and only 2 states to go! Rafiki went to the post office and picked up his resupply box and I hit the local grocery store and bought 2 days of food. We walked around and visited the outfitter and got free Snickers bars then we hit the Ramuntos Brick Oven Pizza place where thru-hikers get a free slice of pizza! After that I ordered a BLT wrap and a local beer. We finished dinner and made our way around campus. At one point Rafiki had found an outlet under a tree on the curb of the road and was plugged in, sitting down, talking on the phone. One thing about thru-hikers, we are always looking for an outlet! Someone had told Rafiki that a fraternity opened its doors for thru-hikers. We didn’t find it the first time around campus and we made a pass back to the main lawn and set up our tents to dry them out a bit. Several people thought we were part of the local Occupy Movement because they had been camping across the street recently. Since the sun had gone down the tents really didn’t dry so we walked down to the gas station, Rafiki picked up some ice cream, and we took another stab at finding a place to stay. We walked down the road to the Phi Tau house and someone let us in and introduced us to the President. Let’s put this into perspective first…the person downtown that told us about the frat house said “They are a bunch of nerds, you should be able to stay there.” We got the rundown of the house and hiker rules from the President and headed downstairs while he went back to doing “logistical work”. The President said that all of the brothers were downstairs for Movie Night…every Friday night is Movie Night at the house, and tonight they were watching one of the Star Trek movies. We got downstairs to a huge party room with a pool table and 2 ping pong tables (beer pong tables) but all of the brothers were in the TV room watching Star Trek…on a Friday night. Yup, we were in the right place! I quickly checked the Phi Tau website and found this on the homepage… word.for.word. “We’re a fairly eclectic bunch. You’ll find us playing board games, reprogramming microwaves, disseminating lawn decorations, solving mysterious challenges, throwing dance parties, being pirates, being mad scientists, keeping dragons, and of course baking lots and lots of cookies.” I’m not kidding…it really does say that…don’t believe me? Look! (https://phi-tau.org/public/index.php) But anyways, I digress…they were very nice people to let us stay in their house for the night. Since it was movie night though it seemed that they would be up late in the movie room watching Star Trek while we wanted to fall asleep under the stars so we could trek out early tomorrow. We asked one of the brothers where the hikers normally sleep and he said in the TV room where it was nice and comfortable, and at the moment occupied. We asked how late they would be up and he said in a nerdy voice “We are college kids, we will probably be up until 1 or 2 AM! Haha!” He was also a very nice guy…it was just a very funny interchange. We looked around the party room at the sticky, hard tile floor and Rafiki opened a door to find a side room with a bar, a few booths, and some floor space. Rafiki took the floor, I took a wood booth, and I found some beer in the fridge and relaxed for a while. Life was good, we made it to New Hampshire, Rafiki and I were having fun, and we were talking about the Whites and possibly trying to finish in the next 18 days! The AT has been a blast, and it is days like these that make it all worth it!
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