June 24. We woke up early and started out for a 28 mile day. I was hiking with Rat Bucket and Rayo and our plan was to get to mile 1,648 by evening. The morning started tough for me…I slammed my knee on a rock and banged my shin on a log. Not long after I slipped on some roots and fell down. We hiked up Stratton Mountain before noon and took a break. There was a fire tower and we climbed up for some great views. There were a bunch of people at the tower and they had taken the gondola from the ski resort at Stratton Mountain. We heard that hikers could get a free ride down to the resort where a yoga festival was taking place. We hiked over and took the ride down and found tons of people and vendors everywhere for the Wanderlust Yoga Festival. Single guys, I used to think a John Mayer concert was the place to go to meet girls (today it is probably a Justin Beiber concert), but I think a yoga festival might place a strong second. But, being very happily married and a very hungry hiker I was much more interested in the vendors giving away free food! We walked from tent to tent and tried organic energy bars, teas, drinks, yogart, and made it to the Ben and Jerry’s truck and had multiple cups of ice cream! Everyone was talking to us…I think our backpacks gave it away that we weren’t there for yoga. As soon as we got off the gondola Sunshine, a woman who did some event planning at the resort, talked to us and said she and her husband house ski instructors in the winter and they had a few rooms open if we wanted a place to stay tonight. The three of us guys walked down to the pizza place and ordered a beer and talked about our options. Another past thru-hiker came and invited us to a slack line yoga class later in the afternoon and that sounded like fun. We later leaned that people had paid something like $400 to attend the 4 day festival and take the classes and such, and we got in for free! The woman caught back up with us and we worked out a plan where we would finish the next 14 miles and find a way to their house 10 miles from the trail. She gave us the option to slack pack, where she would take all of our stuff and we would carry our packs, water, and a little food. I haven’t slack packed yet, not that it is a bad thing, but I decided I would carry all of my gear and the rest of the day’s food and give her my next 3 days of food, that was the heavy part. We took the gondola up the hill and started trail running just before 3 PM. We made some fast progress and took a break every 3 or 5 miles when we came to a side trail or shelter. We hit the final road crossing around 6:30 PM, a very fast 14 miles! We took a break and tried to get a ride with two hikers in the parking lot but they were going the wrong direction. We made it out to the road and put out thumbs up and the first car that passed picked us up! That may be the easiest hitch I have had so far! She drove us to the middle of tiny Londonderry, VT and we visited the shopping market and then walked to the house. We arrived and met up with Sunshine, her husband Nick, and another hiker Josh. We sat outside and had some beer and snacks while we took turns taking showers. Once we were clean we had dinner, some great leftovers from a catered event at the yoga festival as well as some home made rice and veggies…awesome! I got picked for dishes duty and as I did the dishes I thought about being back at home…Amy typically cooks the meals and I do the dishes. This was the first time in over 3 months I had done dishes but it was nice and it reminded me that I am getting ready to be home, back to doing the normal things in life. I really enjoy being on this adventure, but sometimes it is the little normal things in life, like doing the dishes for your wife, that make life worth living. I had a nice cup of tea after dinner as we relaxed in the living room. Sunshine had told us that the past few nights a fox has been getting into the chicken coop and stealing her chickens…we were going to stay up on patrol tonight and get the fox for her, but we were all exhausted. We split up the rooms and I slept on a very comfortable couch…probably one of the most comfortable nights of sleep I have had on the trail! It was a very random day…fantastic trail magic, and another great story from the AT!
June 25. Woke up on the couch after a great night’s sleep. I checked the weather and it looked like rain for the next 8 days…fun! I headed downstairs and sat in the living room and Sunshine brought me some fresh french press coffee. I drank my coffee while she made me scrambled eggs. The breakfast was gourmet…fresh eggs from the chickens in the back yard! Sunshine told us that the fox got another chicken last night…maybe we should have stayed on patrol. We were not in a hurry so we sat around and talked with Sunshine about starting a hiker hostle. We actually were the first hikers to sign her hiker log book! It was a very nice change of pace for a morning on the trail and we enjoyed our time off with french press coffee! We still wanted to hike a few miles today…but in the meantime we enjoyed being off our feet! It would be hard to get back on the trail, but I was still looking forward to getting to Maine!