The rest of the hike through Vermont was pretty brutal. A massive heat wave had descended upon all of New England and times were rough. The days were long and hot but at least there were a few things to help out.
It seemed for a few days in a row that we kept coming across small markets and delis that had cold drinks and many times ice cream. We would walk up to one of these establishments here and there only to find nearly ten hikers lounging in the grass under some tree already taking a siesta.
By the time we crossed the state line and walked into Hanover, New Hampshire I was dangerously dehydrated. I could feel the resistance behind my eyeballs when I looked anywhere but straight forward and little did I know that it would only get worse. Evan and Katelyn were coming in to meet us and take a zero day with us at the family vacation home of one of their friends. It was incredibly nice to have a nice big space to relax and hang out and feel like a proper member of society for a little while.
The day after we walked into town and they picked us up, I was still feeling absolutely terrible, even when just lying around the house and despite having drank a ton of water. I have a strong aversion to going to the doctor, particularly when the only option is the Emergency Room at the Dartmouth Medical Center, and honestly had a gut feeling that nothing serious was wrong with me. Still, after being ruthlessly hassled by Gonzo and after Evan and Katelyn both agreed that they thought it was best, I went to the ER. Thankfully, Hanover is a very upscale area where most people can afford personal doctors, so it wasn't nearly the ordeal I remember the ER being every other time I've been to one. I was in and out very quickly and for the huge expense of a $150 copay, I officially knew that I was hot and thirsty... Not news to me, but at least it satisfied the peanut gallery.
That night we cooked dinner and watched TV and I slept in a bed and was very happy to be normal for a night. In the morning we found Java Man in town and the three of us hiked to Bill Ackerly's house. He is "The Ice Cream Man", an 86 year old who loves to have hikers stop off at his house for ice cream, lemonade or a game of croquet.
A few days later we found ourselves at the base of Mount Moosilauke, the first of the White Mountains, which is a huge range of very rugged mountains that span through most of New Hampshire. We had lunch at the base and then started the four mile assent with looming clouds over us. The little line in our guide book looked wickedly intimidating. Straight up forever it seemed. When we finally made it up the rocky trail to the top it was just like it was down south, a huge white/grey cloud holding us in. A sight we know well.
We stayed at a shelter just down below tree line and talked with two south bounders. We have been getting lots good information form our SOBO counterparts and they are finally coming through in droves. In the morning it was pouring rain and had been for many hours so we set out on our separate ways, us down the very steep yet short side of the mountain and them up over the top and down the less steep, longer side.
We got to the bottom of the mountain and called for a shuttle, as it was still pouring rain and we were on a very desolate road. We stood under a wooden sign with a small over hang and didn't say much. Gonzo and I hadn't said much to each other over the past few days and what we had said was mostly hostile. We stood in silence until I asked him of he wanted to stop hiking together. He said yes and I was glad because I was tired of feeling like I was reprimanding a four year old all the time and I am sure he was tired of me being his mother. It was a mutual split, though not very amicable, because of the four year old tendencies, but I think it is for the better, for both of us.
I feel good about it and have gotten several indications of it being a good direction for me. One is an email I got from a good friend. We haven't spoken since I left for the trail and naturally go long periods with out communication but fall right into the important things as soon as we are together. So I was surprised to hear from her but when I read what she had to say, I knew that there was some force behind her that drove her to give these words to me. This is what she said:
"The future will find you as it always does - took me forever to believe and trust that. Now, instead of worrying or manipulating, I simply wait for things to unfold in their own beautiful way. Life comes to us on its own terms - we have to keep stepping out of the way and open our hands and hearts to receive the gifts being offered."
So now I walk into the toughest section of the trail thus far, by my self. It is possible that I will find the rest of our group we were with. Nonetheless, I am invigorated for the rest of the trail and hoping for good weather through these high mountains!