Roundtop Shelter to Waterville,VT 4.5 miles.
Things on this day-before-Irene worked out.
In the end, we wisely bypassed hiking 18 miles today over 6 mountains in hot ultra humid conditions.
Instead, we hiked 4 and 1/2 miles over a mile of actual downhill trail and then three plus miles on a gravel road all the way to the village store in Waterville. We three ( Lee, Weatherman, and I) agreed to get off the Long Trail for a couple of days to take our first zero day and wait for the rains and wind to pass through. The weather Monday and later looks clear and cool/ sunny so we then can take 4 days to finish.
No need to rush at the end. These thru-hikes don’t happen often, never for some, and I want to consciously enjoy each of the few days that I have left. I may never come through the end of this National Scenic Trail again, so I’ll savor the end of this difficult, all all-encompassing ride.
The store in Waterville was nothing special, and had none of the cooked products we craved- breakfast sandwiches, or even bakery items. So we craved something else, but had no idea or viable path to do so. There was no place to rent a room in this village, setting up a need to hitch either north or south on Route 109. But then I was sitting outside the store eating a cup of yogurt and container of pineapple when the boys and I struck up a conversation with a power company lineman who told us that dozens of crews were already driving into Vermont from several middle American states in anticipation of interrupted electrical service due to downed power lines.
We quickly shifted our plans and accepted a ride from the lineman, who put us in the back of his truck and drove us south to Jeffersonville, where he headed directly for the Deer Run Motel (“That ‘s where you guys will go.”), clearly the low budget alternative to upscale places like the Phineas Swann B& , where a high end bedroom lists for $499!
When a diminutive, very much aged woman shuffled out of the back room to the desk with the aid of a walker, we anticipated that a discounted deal would be forthcoming. No. Lillian was tough- quietly declining our request for a discount- “Dear, our prices are so low already.” She also imposed on us a unique pricing structure- “The price is $75 for one person $85 for two, and $95 for three, plus tax of course.” $110.50 and we’re in, but our host continued on, “I’ve also had a call from the Red Cross requesting we hold rooms for evacuation cases , so if you plan on staying, then I’d suggest you reserve right now for tomorrow night to guarantee a room!” Wisely, Lee advised us to think about it a bit.
Fortuitously, we immediately received a text from our hiking pal ( now also elevated to high status of trail angel) Two Dinners, who offered to take us in back at his condominium again. He’s so nearby that we’ll rendezvous with him for some beverages later today.
We walked to town to buy some drinks and snacks to bring back to our room ( full- sized fridge, clearly bashed up but functional, and a microwave). Lots of folks about, but we survived and are now doing nothing but watching TV, taking baths, eating, sleeping, and zoning out.
A strange situation surrounds us where in real time it is sunny and hot outside, while the American TV machine is pumping nonstop looping images of destruction to fuel the anxiety as well as the morbid need to turn our eyes to look at what we most fear from Nature.