AT NH Day 1: Terra incognita

VT/NH border – Mile 1750.4
~1.4 miles
Well, this trip started out in possibly the most classic way possible – with grief caused by the United States Postal System.
Our original plan had been to leave home early Saturday morning and drive most of the way to our starting point in Hanover, New Hampshire, stopping just an hour short for the night at an Airbnb, and continuing on to Hanover early Sunday morning. However, while getting ready for work on Thursday morning, I was suddenly struck by a thought. We had packages at the Hanover post office. And we would be arriving in town on a Sunday. The post office closes up for the weekend at 12:30 on Saturday.
We scrambled to come up with a new plan, which had us leaving after work on Friday and driving into the night, stopping at a rest area somewhere in Maine a little after midnight. We initially parked our car directly in front of a “no camping or overnight parking” sign, but then moved to a spot farther from the sign, but where overnight parking was definitely no more allowed. However, my logic was that since it was already early Saturday morning by the time we arrived, it was just a long break where we happened to nap.

Our ability to adapt to the sudden changing of plans brought me right back to the PCT. I definitely have my journey there to thank for the way I can now go with the flow with relatively small amounts of worry. Changing plans, jumping into new things, exploring new places… Terra incognita.

I got some surprisingly high quality sleep in the leaned back passenger seat of our hatchback, waking up at 5am to make the rest of the drive. We made fantastic time and ended up arriving in Hanover at 10am, with plenty of time to spare before the post office closed.

First meal on trail : breakfast at Lou’s! They also have thru-hiker-worthy sized pancakes.

We successfully retrieved our packages (a new hip belt for Gummies and some important paperwork for importing our car to Canada), and then headed straight to Lou’s Bakery for our first real food in quite some time. The town of Hanover is super cute, and it almost felt like fall which was kind of shocking after the heat and humidity we’ve been experiencing at home. After our delicious breakfast, we headed to the nearby town of West Lebanon to resupply. It feels so luxurious to have a car to transport us through a trail town.

We first stopped at Eastern Mountain Sports to pick up fuel canisters and some electrolytes, which was a great little gear store, and then headed to Walmart for our full resupply. It was so much fun getting to buy food for a long hike again, in an American grocery store, which for some reason have way better hiking food than Canadian grocery stores. It is entirely possibly we have way too much food for the 5 days ahead of us, but I’m very excited to eat everything.

On the way out of Walmart, we saw two hikers sitting outside, and offered them a ride back into town. They gratefully accepted, and it felt sooo good to be able to give a little bit back to the hiking community after the incredible generosity and kindness we received on our PCT journey. Their names were Lucky Penny and Snake Eyes, and they were thru hikers from Kentucky. It was so much fun getting to talk trail with them on the ride back to town, and we might see them out on trail since we’re all planning to hike out tomorrow!
Once we were back in town, our Airbnb host let us check in early which was super nice. We’re staying in an old house just a few minutes down the street from where the trail goes through town (featuring an adorable dachshund named Fitz). At the Airbnb, we took a much needed nap, showers, and organized all our gear and resupply. Once everything was ready to go, we headed out for an adventure through the printing system at CVS to try and print out some more paperwork for importing our car. The library had closed and this seemed to be the only option in town for printing. It was a bit of an ordeal, but we got it done. So, note for the future, if you’re in desperate need of printing services, CVS will allow you to print documents on fancy photo paper.

Following that, we headed to Ramunto’s for some well-deserved pizza and beer. They apparently offer a free slice of pizza to hikers, but we felt better leaving that for the thru hikers. We did have some absolutely delicious salad, pizza, and local beers though.

We’re on the AT!!!

Once our tummies were satisfied, we decided to “slack pack” the first section of trail from the Vermont border to where the trail heads out of town. We were originally planning to do this tomorrow morning, but thought we’d save time in the morning by getting it done now. It was a nice walk through the town of Hanover, which is a super cool classic little college town. We walked down to the bridge, got our starting photos at the border, then walked the trail through town, stopping briefly to admire the ivy league campus.

We are now back in our Airbnb watching the IndyCar race on Gummies’ laptop (the luxuries of a section hike), and excited to start really hiking tomorrow. We saw so many hikers while walking around town today, and I’m excited to wander out in all my gear tomorrow and feel like I fit in. It does feel a bit like we’re the new kids at school, starting out on our section hike in a bubble of thru hikers, but I’m definitely really excited. It feels like such a relief to be getting back on trail. Life has been crazy since we got off the PCT, with navigating a long distance relationship, trying to get Gummies relocated to Canada, planning a wedding and getting married, Gummies starting grad school, moving across the country, job hunts, etc… Heading into the wilderness again makes me feel like I can finally breathe. For the next two weeks, the only thing I need to accomplish is moving from point A to point B, putting one foot in front of the other, following the trail north. Even for just a short time, returning to the simplicity of the trail feels so right.

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