At 7:00 am I started walking across the motel parking lot to the office when Max sees me, comes outside, and pops the trunk of his car. As we are heading towards the trailhead, I told Max how much I enjoyed my stay at his motel and thanked him for his hospitality. He wished me “Happy Trails” and rushed back to set up his “free” breakfast.
The trail started by crossing the Hoosic River on a really cool bridge. I couldn’t find a sign with any information on the bridge, but it is cutely decorated with paint handprints. Just after I crossed the river, I crossed railroad tracks on an interesting iron walkway. Then, just when I thought I had seen everything, the trail goes straight up a residential driveway! At least the folks that live in the house were nice enough to provide a picnic table for resting and a hose for getting water.
After walking up the driveway, I entered the woods and started the 1,500 foot climb back to the ridge line. At times, the trail was very rocky and still slick from yesterday’s rain. The trail was so rough at one point that there was a bad weather bypass, but I continued on thinking that this was nothing compared to Pennsylvania.
In four days, my wife and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary apart. While I’m hiking the A.T., she is working on the staff of the BSA National Jamboree. I’ve been walking down the trail and wracking my brain trying to think of something special I could do for an anniversary surprise, and I decided that I would try to send her flowers. Now you may be thinking that flowers don’t seem that special but what you don’t understand is that the National Jamboree site, near Oak Hill, WV, is guarded like Fort Knox. If I was able to pull this off, it would have to be an inside job.
Shortly after I reached the ridge line, I reached the sign marking the border of Vermont. I know some other states call themselves New England states, but I didn’t feel like I had arrived in New England until now. This also marks one of the termini of the Vermont Long Trail which runs north for 273 miles to the Canadian border. The Long Trail is the oldest long distance hiking trail in America and the A.T. follows it for the next 105 miles.
At the Welcome to Vermont sign I dropped my pack, checked for a cell phone signal, and called my inside person, cousin David. David lives minutes from the National Jamboree site and if anyone could help me, he could. When he didn’t answer his cell phone, I called his home phone and spoke to his wife Susan. I explained the situation to her and asked if she would do the ground work to find a florist that had the credentials to penetrate the fortress at the National Jamboree site. She told me that she would be happy to help.
Immediately upon crossing the Vermont border, the state demonstrated how it came to be called Vermud by the hiking community. I hoped that this would be as bad as it got, but as soon as that idea popped into my head I knew better. The beaver ponds along the way were very pretty, but I suspect that the moisture they provide contributes to the mud.
After slopping through the mud for a few more miles, I arrived at the Cogdon Shelter. There was already a crowd gathering at this old shelter but McLovin was the only person that I knew. He pointed out a flat spot near his tent, so I went there to set my tent up before someone else grabbed the space.
When I turned on my phone, there was a message from Susan waiting on me that listed a name and number of a florist in Oak Hill, WV. I immediately called and the first person I spoke to wasn’t sure they could help, so she turned me over to the owner. When I explained the situation to her, she said that it just so happened that she had two other deliveries at the National Jamboree on the 18th and that if I could tell her how to find my wife, she would make the delivery happen. The owner seemed to be even more motivated to help me out after I told her my budget. Thank you Susan for finding this florist for me!
Later in the evening, Bird Song showed up, as well as a variety of day and section hikers. One of the thru-hikers in attendance was Jingo who had recently graduated from a small college in Roanoke, VA. Perhaps more interesting, however, was a mother and her eight year old daughter who were hiking the entire Long Trail.
After having dinner by the shelter and meeting all the folks that were there, I retired to my tent. My campsite is right next to a gurgling stream which usually makes for a good night’s sleep. I can’t believe that I have actually walked to Vermont.