Breakfast at the Sunset Motor Inn included items that resembled scrambled eggs and sausage which catapulted the motel into the top 10 motels I have stayed at while on this journey. After O2 and I had our fill of breakfast, it was time for O2 to return to the trail so I drove him to downtown Hanover, dropped him off at a bank with an ATM, said goodbye, and watched him walk away. O2 has a great sense of humor and I really enjoyed his company, but since I planned to take a true “zero” today, I figured that I would never see him again. Such is life on the trail.
Other than working on my trail journal, my big project for the day was to process the items in my resupply box that I had picked up yesterday from Zimmermann’s (along with the warranty replacement shoes that had been mailed to me by Merrell). This job was more than the usual repackaging of food items because I would be doing a complete swap of my clothing and some other gear in anticipation of colder weather at the higher altitudes ahead. Much of the stained and tattered clothing that I had been wearing since Bland, VA, went in the trash to be replaced by the clothing (some of which had been factory treated with Insect Shield during the intervening weeks) that I had worn when I started at Springer Mountain. My worn-out shoes were swapped with a new pair of mid-height Merrell hiking boots and my raingear, down jacket, knit hat, gloves, and sleeping mattress were traded for more robust versions. I boxed up the replaced items that were still serviceable, along with my warranty replacement shoes, drove to the Post Office, and mailed it all home. Because of the gear exchange, my backpack was a couple of pounds heavier, but I now had the items necessary to survive below freezing temperatures.
Way back in my blog “Day 65 on the Appalachian Trail” I introduced you to my mentor and Class of 2016 thru-hiker Travis “BevoHi” Hildebrand. While I was corresponding with him, I discovered that he was an active Boy Scout leader and in the past, had volunteered several times to work at the Chemistry Merit Badge booth at the BSA National Jamboree. A few weeks ago, I sent Travis a text asking if he was going to work at the Jamboree this year and, if so, to please stop by the Jamboree Trading Post and introduce himself to my wife Kate. The response that I received exceeded my expectations by light years.
Not only did he volunteer for the National Jamboree Staff and meet Kate while he was there (as evidenced by a wonderful selfie he sent me of the two of them), but when he left the Jamboree, he flew/drove to White River Junction on business. Travis works for an IT company that travels around the country performing security audits of the computer systems at VA hospitals. White River Junction is the area between Hanover and Lebanon, and Travis and his team arrived there last night. I have been working my hiking schedule for the past couple of weeks to coordinate my arrival in the area with Travis’ and, because of my “zero” today, I was finally going to meet “BevoHi” in person and I couldn’t be more excited.
We arranged to meet at a place called Murphy’s on the Green (across the street from the Dartmouth Green) at 5:00 pm for dinner. Travis told me that he had also invited another thru-hiker to dinner that was from his hometown and, through an amazing coincidence, was also in Hanover. He had been following her hike on her “Tracie on the Trail” Facebook page, but I told him that I hadn’t met a Tracie. At 5:00 pm, I walked into the restaurant and finally got to meet Travis and his boss Steve. A short time later, in walks Blaze (Tracie) and Naps and I had a good chuckle. The evening flew by as I enjoyed a wonderful dinner while sharing trail adventures with new friends. It was simply amazing that this gathering even happened and I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to spend some time with Travis. Thank you, Travis and Steve, for a fantastic evening!
On the way back to my motel, I stopped at a convenience store to pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia as sort of a capstone to the perfect evening. The Osprey backpack that I’m currently carrying is slightly smaller than the pack that I started with, so I had to spend some time trying to Tetris in my winter gear. Just like moving to a new home, it is going to take a while before I have everything stashed into the appropriate nooks and crannies. Tonight, I’m enjoying the comfort of my last motel room for a couple of weeks. Tomorrow, it is back to the trail and onward to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Date: July 25, 2017
Starting Location: Hanover, NH
Ending Location: Hanover, NH
AT Miles Today: 0.0
AT Miles To Date: 1,747.7