Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We Reach New Hampshire!

I slept like a baby last night, until about 3:00 in the morning, when we got a big surprise.  Our hosts did warn us that a train came through about 3 in the morning, but they forgot to tell us that it came THROUGH THEIR BACKYARD!  We heard the train blowing its horn, and saw the headlight, and it seemed to be coming straight for the tent.  As it turns out, we had our tent about 6 feet from the green space that borders the back of their yard, and just about 25 feet beyond that was the railroad tracks.  You certainly would not be able to tell that they were there, unless someone told you.  We laughed about this, and went back to sleep, and sure enough, a second train came through right at 5:00.  Another "My Cousine Vinnie" moment on the trail.  Of course, we all had a good laugh about it once we all got out of our tents in the morning.
After we got up and packed up, we walked back down, about 4 houses, to the Full Belly Deli, and had a really great breakfast.  We told them it was Swamprat's birthday, and while we were eating, one of the cooks, a lady from London, came and sang "Happy Birthday" to him, and she had a hard time pronouncing "Swamprat," so that was kind of cute and funny. 
We went back down to the Hartford Sign Co., put on our boots, and got our packs, and began hiking towards Hanover, New Hampshire with Sunkist and Roller.  We walked almost a mile along the highway, before the road finally entered the woods again. 

Today was only a 10 mile walk to Hanover, and after one initial, very gradual climb, the rest of the day was pretty much easy going, with what we call a few bumps, which translates to, mostly level, but with a lot of  rolling hills, all with less than 100 feet change in elevation.
After 2 hours, we took our usual mid-morning break (we call it "shoes off break" now), at a shelter that was sweetly named, the Happy Hill Shelter.  Why don't they all have such cheerful names?  It was actually one of the cutest ones that I've seen, and when I saw it, I was glad we hiked in there .1 of a mile.  Swamprat decided to get rid of some granola he was carrying that he did not care for, and sprinkled it around in case there was chipmunks there.  Soon enough, one soon showed up and began stuffing his little cheeks.  He'd stuff as much as he could, and then run back behind the shelter, only to show up again in about 2 minutes, with empty cheeks, to begin stuffing again.  He must have made a dozen trips back and forth!  It was quite entertaining.  Swamprat decided he was going to catch it!  Of course, he was kidding, but he did want to feed it or at least touch it, so he began crawling around on all fours, trying to tempt this chipmunk with handfuls of granola.  The chipmunk would just keep gathering it from the ground and avoiding him, running circles around him.  He finally did get to touch it (from behind), and the chipmunk really didn't seem to mind.
Soon, Keith decided to get in on the action, but his strategy was very different.  He just sat very still and talked to the chipmunk, waiting for it to decide to come to him.  It didn't take long, and it took food right from his hand.  It was a lot of fun to sit there and watch that cute little guy, and of course, the various attempts at feeding the chipmunk.  We ended up staying there almost an hour because we were so entertained.

At one point, right before we reached the road to Hanover, I was crossing about a 50 foot wide easement under some powerlines, which was very grown up with bushes, about shoulder-high.  Keith and Swamprat were just ahead of me, as I had stopped to take care of something (ahem).  I never saw him coming, but running in the opposite direction was a college-aged boy who was trail running, and he was right in my face before I knew it!  I screamed, and I think I scared him more than he scared me.  He was embarrassed and apologized, and I said, 'Oh, you scared me to death!"  He laughed, and kept running, and I said, 'Have a good run,' and he replied, "You too.''
We then arrived at the road heading to Hanover, and met a young man riding his bicycle up the hill.  As it turned out, he was not as young as I thought.  He looked to be about 25, but he was 32, and had just gotten hired as a new Engineering professor at Dartmouth.  It was his dream job and this was his dream town to live in.  He had first passed through when he thru-hiked the AT in 2004, trail name, Sugar Daddy, because of his love of candy.  He said, at that time, he fell in love with Hanover, and told himself, if he did everything right in grad school, he could end up here someday.  He ended up riding his bike along side us and visiting with us all of the way into town. He could not get over the fact that we had internet service right from our tents most nights.  The technology had changed so much in just 8 years.
We soon were hiking over the Connecticut River, separating Vermont from New Hampshire, and spotted the state line right in the middle of the bridge.  We had all been anticipating this moment for several days, but at this particular time, it was about 11:30 and very warm (90) and sunny, and we were on hot pavement with about another mile to walk to town.  This can sometimes shorten celebrations on the trail.  lol.  We quickly took pictures, and admired the lovely water, noticing a "rowing camp" that was meeting on the far bank. 

We crossed and headed for the shady side of the street, and stayed on that side, all the way up the hill to Dartmouth College, and one of the restauranst we had been told was really good, called Molly's.  We went in, and had a great lunch and Swamprat got a free birthday dessert.  While we were sitting there, Lighthouse texted me (he stays in touch), and it turned out, he was in Hanover already.  He had gotten a ride to the hospital because he hasn't felt well in a while, and he fears Lyme Disease.  I actually think he has been fearing this more than anything, well before he started this hike.  After listening to him, we told him he was most likely dehydrated, as we all have been having problems with this over the past month, and had to greatly increase our water intake, especially on the really humid days.
When we asked him where he stayed, he told us he got into town yesterday, and started visiting with some Dartmouth students, and they ended up taking him back to their fraternity house, and he got to go to one of their parties, and spend the night in the fraternity house.  He, being from Scotland, was not familiar with the whole greek system, and wanted to hear more information about it, as he could not get over the fact that these kids were living in a mansion!
We walked down to a small grocery store and resupplied, and the manager of the hotel we are staying in tonight came and picked us up.  While waiting for him, we visited with Lighthouse, and also ran into Secrets and Shenanigans, Einstein, Sunkist and Roller.  When you are surrounded by hikers, you don't feel so much like a misfit in Hanover, New Hampshire. The Sunset Motor Inn, where we are staying, actually backs up to a really beautiful lake.  We are looking forward to relaxing and hopefully watching some track and field on the Olympics tonight.  Tomorrow we begin heading for the White Mountains, and we are both intimidated and excited!

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