Welcome to New England. A place where pine trees dominate the forest, the air is slightly cooler and brisk, the hills are once again mountains, streams are charmingly called brooks, and the people are pleasant. They have cool accents again, too. This is where we are. It's beautiful. And magical.
Since our last post, we have seen the states of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts come and go and have entered the Green Mountain state of Vermont. We are now into the last three states. It's such a surreal feeling knowing how fast time has flown by. It feels like it was yesterday that we took our first steps from Springer heading into the unknown. With 500-something miles to go, we are starting to feel Katahdin's gentle pull. We're refraining from over-exerting ourselves to reach our goal as we have some really tough terrain ahead of us. The "White's" and Southern Maine are due to jab a few punches into us. The common phrase for this section of the northbound thru-hike is that we have completed 80% of the trail but have put in only 20% of the effort. Shit.
Going into New York, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had this picture in my head that New Yorker's are hardy, always in a hurry, and somewhat cold. Hardy they were. Uncaring they were not. We experienced so much trail magic in this great state. This was predominantly is the form of gallons of water at each road crossing. New York is very dry during this time of year so this magic is literally a life-saver. At one such road crossing, the trail angels left a business card with their information on it. It stated that they permitted hikers to stay at their place for the night, would feed them a hearty meal, would launder their clothes, and let them shower all at absolutely no cost. With such a great offer on the table, we of course gave them a call. We were somewhat weary of what to expect but the trail angels, John and Susan, were really kind. They had a beautiful homestead with a large garden, chickens, and nice forest out back. After eating Chinese, we lounged around drinking beer and wine, watched the Olympics, and crashed. It was very rejuvenating.
A couple of days later, we passed through Fort Montgomery, NY. Rob and I were sitting on a bench debating whether to walk the couple of miles to resupply or hold off until the next town. It was starting to get dark so this endeavor would be slightly more difficult. We were reluctantly about to decide against the resupply when Kevin walked up. He is from the area and talked with us a bit about some of the history. He was walking back to his car from the car show he was at and offered to give us a ride. By the end of the night, he drove us to the next town over because the grocery store had more to offer, brought us to McDonald's for dinner, and dropped us back off at the trail all the while refusing to take any kind of retribution.
The genuine kindness from these people is simply astonishing.
We made it through Connecticut in a few days as it was only 50-something miles long. The towns were cute and quaint but there was a slight stuffiness in the air. Most everybody appeared to be pretty wealthy and we quickly felt like outsiders. Nevertheless, we enjoyed good eats regardless of the stench we probably gave off.
The Massachusetts state line was crossed not too long after reaching the 1,500 miles milestone... and it greeted us with a huge climb up Mt.Everett. After 18 miles for the day, we reached a road crossing where some trail angels named "Bearwalker" and "Buttons" left a cooler of soda. Along with the pop, they also had their information about the up-and-coming, donation-only hostel that they offer to the hikers. Former thru-hikers themselves, they knew exactly what hikers needed. They let us have free range in their kitchen/grill, shower with all the toiletries available, a hiker room with a high-speed computer, shuttles around town, and, most importantly, extremely cheap slackpacking. After a good nights sleep, they drove us 20 miles up the trail. Using the small backpack that they provided, we were able to walk the 20 miles southbound back to their house with only water and snacks on Rob's back. Our first time slackpacking, we felt so free and weightless. It is so pleasant being able to walk the trail, enjoy nature, and not having a 20-30 pound pack on our backs.
The rest of Massachusetts flew by as well. We stopped by the infamous "Cookie Lady's" house where we were treated to free cookies, a pop, and 10 hard-boiled eggs. We ate them all hastily and enjoyed good conversation with the couple who has been doing this for hikers since they moved to the area 28 years ago.
A couple of days later on August 20th, our first wedding anniversary, we climbed Mt.Greylock, Massachusett's highest peak. We packed out some boxed wine so that when we got to the top, we could toast to an amazing first year together and reminisce over all the great happenings during it. The next day, we crossed into Vermont and passed 1600 miles!
To celebrate our anniversary, we ended up taking a "nero" day and a "zero" day in Bennington, Vermont. We spent our "nero" day getting everything around so that we could stay off of our feet for our entire "zero" day. It was so refreshing that we are having a hard time leaving this strange town. We also received our cold weather gear back so our packs are extra heavy.
In the end, we will leave Bennington. We will continue North where the Green Mountains, the White Mountains, Maine, and Katahdin are all waiting for us.
Hello. We are Robert and Candice Fox. We created this blog for people who want to follow us as we thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. If you don't know what the Appalachian Trail is, we will let our favorite online resources tell you most anything you need to know. Just click on the blue stuff.