First, a report on our hostel experience! I'm happy to say, it was nothing like the "hostel" movie experience, a horror flick that came out a few years back. This was just like staying at a good friend's very nice 2-story home, where they thought of everything to make you feel like it was your own home. And of course, this being Vermont, this is Ben & Jerry country, so the freezer was stocked, and you got a pint upon check-in. The lower floor of the home was kitchen, dining, living (TV) and computer rooms, and all of the bedrooms were upstairs.
Only one of the bedrooms was a private room (which Keith and I had reserved ahead of time), and the other two bedrooms slept four each, one with two sets of bunk beds, and one room with four twin beds in it. There was a washer and dryer that we had access to, free of charge, and opposite the washer and dryer was extra clothes that you could wear while you did your own laundry, that way you could wash EVERYTHING in your backpack! By the "laundry clothes" were extra toothbrushes, nail clippers, disposable razors, and just about any toiletry you might need.
That night there was a full hostel, so we had a total of twelve hikers staying there. Jeff, the owner, actually lived in the building right next door. He had come and picked us up from McDonalds in town after we had finished our shopping. He was very kind and upbeat, and you could tell he genuinely enjoyed hosting hikers.
We had a brief orientation meeting, at which time we all signed up for what time we wanted to go to the trail in the morning. We had a good mix of southbounders hiking the AT (Drifter, War Wagon), northbounders hiking the AT (us, Comanche, and Manfred and Rhino), a section hiker (Christine), and two Long Trail hikers (Muriel and Ben). We all enjoyed sharing information. The sobos and nobos really had a lot to learn from each other. We also enjoyed watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
We had a sad reminder at one point, of the dangers on the trail, and Jeff told us about it at our meeting. A 20-year old thru-hiker had gone swimming in one of the ponds in Vermont back in June, after hiking 20 miles that day. He was swimming across the pond, when he cramped up, and drowned. His friends could not get him out in time. His mom had contacted the hostels up and down the trail, wanting to make sure that all hikers were aware of this danger, so they would not do the same thing. Very sad.
We really enjoyed our stay at the Green Mountain Hostel, and slept really well. The next morning, we enjoyed actually getting to cook breakfast in the kitchen, and then Jeff took us to the trail, and sent us off, saying, "It's only 3 miles to the top of the mountain!" Ugh. Not the words you want to hear first thing in the morning! We started hiking, and it was a pretty challenging climb. When we reached the top, I couldn't believe my eyes, but the first thing I saw resembled a spaceship! I was expecting nothing but wilderness, but it turned out that there was a ski run on the opposite side of the mountain, and we had hiked up to the ski lift. Swamprat went over and visited with the operator, and he said we could ride for free if we wanted. We were ready for a break, and so that's how we spent it, riding up and down the mountain, and getting quite a gorgeous view from Mount Bromley of the entire valley.
After our free ride, we hiked on, and it wasn't too long before it began raining. At first, we were not getting too wet, but soon the canopy got saturated, and we started getting saturated too! Not wanting to get too drenched, we decided to throw up the tents, get inside, and wait out the storm. This took about 3 hours. Once again, I did not mind the extra rest at all, because we had stayed up much too late at the hostel the night before, and I was sort of dragging. Once the rain lightened up, we hiked on, and soon came upon these board walks that went on for hundreds of yards. It probably seemed like a good idea when the trail crews first put them down, but now they were wet and covered with green algae and mildew, and were like walking on ice. It wasn't long before my feet flew up in the air, and I landed on my backpack like a turtle on a road. Luckily, the backpack acted like a huge pillow, and I never really felt a thing. I hiked on, and we all hiked very cautiously from then on. We finally reached some really great tent platforms at Griffith Lake Tenting Area, and camped there for the night. It rained some that night as well.
(Camped at mile 1656.7)