Down Under

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Can you imagine walking every day under leafy foliage for the past four and a half months. Sunlight filters through the leaves. The wind gently rustling the leaves sounds so calming. Hikers fondly refer to this canopy as the green tunnel. It sounds lovely, doesn’t it.

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When I started hiking on April 2, 2016,the foliage hadn’t arrived on the trees yet. The rhododendrons seem to always have leaves. I could see sunrise and sunsets. Now though, the foliage has been here for a few months. Hiking through Massachusetts was really like walking through a underground tunnel. Literally there were times during the day I thought, “Did I just wake up from a hikers trance and hours have gone by and now it’s evening and I’m still hiking? ” I would look at my watch only to discover it was only 9:00 in the morning.

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Then came Vermont. Add mud to the equation and rain and you have the state of Vermont.

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Okay, in all fairness to Vermontians, we did hike through a few nice fields.

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I did see how maple sap was collected on a larger scale. I did see chunks of their famous marble. The woods though are covered in moss of every kind and variety. They don’t call this the “Green Mountain” state for no reason.

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Ten Bear and I have been able to avoid some of the recent rain by staying in a shelter or some hostels.

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All I can really say about that is I stayed dry. Ten Bear want so lucky in the Cooper Lodge Shelter.

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The roof leaked. We ended up using all the florescent green duct tape I had wrapped around my hiking poles for just this type of thing or gear repair. That green tape had been an identifying marker on my poles. Three days later I forgot my poles outside a country market. Good thing I only had a tenth of a mile hike to go back and retrieve them.

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Two days ago was my last full day in Vermont. I woke up at 5:17 a.m. to heavy dew under the rain fly off my tent. I got up before it managed to rain down on me inside my tent and all my gear. Oh, don’t get me wrong, thing have been damp for months now. I just didn’t want them soaking wet. Even though I tried to wipe off as much dew as possible, my pack still felt heavier than usual. Though it could have been because the day before I was able to slackpack 19 miles thanks to the help if Miss Janet.

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I entered Vermont in the rain and I left Vermont in the rain.

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I was never so hap put that one of my great grandfather’s lief this state when he emigrated from Finland!

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I’m now in New Hampshire. My husband Tom has sent back my winter gear. Ugh! The extra weight is killer. I look forward to entering the White Mountains and getting above tree line. There is unpredictable weather there, but hey, I may finally see a sunrise. As for the canopy, all I can say is, see you again in Maine.

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Dog Ass Tired

It’s 6:30 in the morning and I’m sitting in the laundry room in the Vermont town of Bennington.

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My first thoughts upon waking are how many more weeks until I can go home. Most people would tell me I can go home any time. I miss my family, my family misses me. It’s almost as if now Mt. Kahatadin stands in my way. I try not to voice it on the trail because such thoughts can become a norovirus and spread like a disease on the trail. I can’t go home until I stand like hundreds of others at the hand made wooden sign to mark the completion of the journey.

Other hikers have begun to talk of jobs, where they will live, what is next in their lives. I don’t have much to say because I live in Northern Minnesota, in a house my husband Tom and I built. The next epic thing in my life is our son, Kevin’ wedding to his beautiful fiancee Leslie and her precious daughter Audrey. Our daughter Whatever Works, Andrea, who hiked 423  miles of the trail this spring is busy re-establishing her life. She had sold her car to hike the trail and where we live there isn’t mass transportation. As for my job part of this, I have a few ideas.

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Wiley Shelter

Now back to the trail. In a very short time from now, I will be heading into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The weather can be unpredictable. Winter gear is a must.

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Cyclops my backpack

The weight of the pack is a concern. It feels heavy now. I have begun to struggle with the uphill climbs. I can handle the flat and I have learned how to jog downhill even when there are rocks and or roots. I have 5-6 weeks to hike less than 600 miles. The elevation changes a few thousand feet a day. My feet have healed from the 12 blisters from my old worn-out boots. I have the hiker hobble after every rest and especially in the morning. The hiker hobble is trying to walk on stiff, sore feet. My hiking poles become canes. Yes, we have aged our feet to the age of 90 years old.

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Chair to rest my 90 year old feet

So, by now I’m sure you are asking yourselves, why do I continue? There is something magical about walking in the woods. The sound of leaves moving on a breeze, chirping frogs, singing birds. The smell of flowers and decay of leaves. Being able to see the sun dancing on the water or filtering through the leaves. Every day I encounter something I haven’t seen before.  Whether it’s a rock, plant, or critter.

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Fern shadow

The trail isn’t very remote from civilization. I can hear the noise of cities or homes as the trail winds it’s way up the Appalachian mountains. So I  will leave you with this vision.

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Heading into Dalton, Massachusetts

You are in your tent after a 20 mile day. It feels so good to crawl into your tent for the 128th night. Anything soft in your backpack is stuffed into the sack for your sleeping bag to make a pillow. Your socks feel damp and even though they smell real bad, you put them underneath you, in your sleeping bag so that they will be dry by morning. You then remember that you forgot to go to the privy and so you crawl back out of your tent.

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Privy 128

When you get to the privy you try hard not to shine your light down the hole. The stench in the privy is so bad you try to hold your nose. You also hope that no spiders of the wolf family are present. You rush back out into the night for a gasp of fresh air and head back to your tent. You crawl back in and with a deep sigh your whole body relaxes. That’s when 3 fighter jets zoom right over your tent and you think your about to become wreckage in an aerial crash. Around 4 am you wake up to the smell of cucumbers and know a copperhead snake has just entered your airspace. You hope it isn’t close and you roll on it and get bitten. In 1 hour you wake up and start packing up everything that once was in your pack. Your day has begun. Now wasn’t that a restful night’s sleep.

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Hiking through a swamp