AT 2022 – Day 41: 12.5 miles (451.4 miles total)

I’ve been having a pain that I haven’t been telling you about. My left arm hurts and I think a nerve in my shoulder is getting pinched by my pack. I’ve been playing with different strap combinations and have a pair of socks that I use to diffuse the pack strap pressure, but it’s still an issue. I did get a confirmation of my massage happening tomorrow morning, and I hope, hope, hope it will bring me some relief. If anything I’ll live with it for another two weeks of the hike and then I won’t have to wear the pack again for a while. We’ll see.

There are always aches and pains on the trail. This time it has been a mystery rash and arm nerve pain. In 2002 it was a brown recluse spider bite and infected blister that made my whole leg swell up. Both required medical help…so I guess I’m getting off easier this time around…so far.

To the day….it rained again during the night. For a drought-striken land I sure have been getting rained on alot! The storm passed by morning, and we were walking in the cool, chill aftermath. Blissful.

The hiking was mild and the day milder. The miles ticked by and when we emerged on one of the many road crossings we would have today, found more trail magic! NEMO must be my lucky charm because I’ve had more magic since she joined me than all the rest of the trail…then again, I am out of the Whites and there are a ton of roads now. And fields! We walked through some beautiful fields today.

Ok, so we popped out on a road and find Bacon Wrapped, a trail angel, cooking up some pancakes. He has fed over 300 hikers this season and I happily accepted a plate and had a seat in a camp chair. The trail angels love these meetings almost as much as the hikers…the expense, time, and effort it takes to set up a feast and cook for us over and over is pretty incredible. The passion and inspiration the AT provides people up and down the east coast is really astounding. I love it.

Thank you Bacon Wrapped!

The last little bit before Hanover went steeply up and down a few times, and they threw in some rocks and roots to make sure we weren’t getting too comfortable with cruisy terrain.

We popped out at the Dartmouth sports fields and found a few hikers…since there are essentially no places to stay in town (pretty much ever, unless you want to spend big bucks on a fancy hotel room) most hikers camp at the edge of the woods…a large and beautiful food co-op is on the other side of the soccer field and I imagine hikers drop many thousands of dollars there each year.

NEMO and I wander the floor of the co-op adding things to our lunch baskets. I emerge with an artichoke salad, cold sesame chicken and rice frim the deli, and terrimisue (that spelling can’t be right). NEMO comes out with pickles, sushi, and watermelon. We chat with some nobos who are sitting outside as we eat our way through the treats.

I really want a shower. No, scratch that, I need a shower. I try a variety of tactics: going to the rec center that used to let hikers shower and do laundry (nope, not enough staff to offer that service), texting some Dartmouth outdoor club students who offer assistance to hikers (nope, no one responds), booking an expensive hotel room (nope, all booked up for three weddings, is $400 dollars, or is $275 in the next town and a $25 cab there and back). I even try chatting up a couple who talked to us while they were walking their dog, but no go, they ate going to the fair in Norwich tonight. I’d have to bathe in the woods.

I purchased some shampoo and filled my water containers with hot water at the pizza place where we had dinner, and then we walked back into the woods where we had emerged. Because the laundromat wasn’t open today either (are you kidding? What kind of college town is this?) I also bought a Dartmouth t-shirt at CVS so I had clean non-hiker stank shirt to put on….the goal was to be as fresh as possible for my massage tomorrow morning.

My time in the peace corps prepared me well for bucket baths where I would literally bathe by using a cup that I dipped into a bucket of water and poured over my head. Getting hot water was pure genius, and I got a decent washing in.

I do feel ragged and and I’m waaaaaay overdue for some tlc in a real hotel room with running water and pillows, but there haven’t been opportunities. The next time off I’ve got coming up this week with Carrie will be camping at a state park. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for a lodging opportunity before it gets too close to the end. I’m sure I can find something…

I set my tent up after the bath and then called Kirk to find that it’s going to be over 100 degrees again at home; I sure hope it cools down in September! Summers are a great time for me to take off work because it’s simply too hot to hike or lead volunteer trips in the summer. But 100? That’s next level.

I’m glad to be out here.

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