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Do you need rain where you live? - Part 1

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
Sometimes I wonder if Iím a weather shaman, able to bring rain to whatever part of The Trail I happen to walk on. Remember in April of this year, when I said that (near Harpers Ferry) I hiked in the rain for the first time? Iíve since made seven treks on the AT Ė and gotten rained on every trip! If your part of the country is in a drought, feel free to pay me to hike there, so that youíll get a minimum of a centimeter of rain in a matter of days.

This trip was still another to Vermont (youíd think Iíd learn!), with the hope of getting from the Iron Bridge to Rutland in four days of hiking. Wimpy? Of course Ė that was my PLAN. I tried to arrange some way I could ride Amtrak to either Rutland or White River Junction, hike between the two without walking more than twelve miles a day, return to Philly via Amtrak, and get back no more than six days after departure. No matter how I tried, I couldnít find a way to do this Ė I either needed more time or faster walks, neither of which I was prepared to do. I had no intention of repeating my trips earlier this year, involving fifteen mile days and more misery than I am ready to endure. I refuse to finish my miles on The Trail just to prove that Iím a masochist.

The trip to White River Junction went quite well, simply because itís a no-transfer Amtrak ride from Philly to there. Iíve long said that riding a train is the best way to arrive relaxed at oneís destination, and the addition of 120V outlets and free wifi only add to an enjoyable ride.

I admit I got turned around at the station, and started to head for the parking lot. The following photos should help ensure that nobody else makes my mistake:

Hereís my info about staying at the Coolidge:

My hope for my first dayís hike was EXCEEDINGLY easy: taxi to the Iron Bridge, hike the paved roads NORTH for a couple miles (a long story), return to the bridge, then hike to south to Thistle Hill Shelter. All told, less than eight miles with a lot of flexibility. Two problems arose before I took my first step, but they (almost) cancelled each other out:
1) It took two and half hours to get a cab.
2) Rain came pouring while waiting for a cab.
Iíll say it again: cabs in small towns arenít like those in large cities; you donít get one by calling a dispatcher, you find out if one is even available that day. And Iíll say again: just because weather reports give cool temps and a 10% chance of rain for a time you intend to be on the Trail, that does NOT mean a warm front wonít come up to New England and change everything.

And, unfortunately, I had to remind myself ONE MORE TIME: donít leave your walking stick when you sit down Ė this can cost you almost half an hour of MORE back-tracking!

Despite the rain, the trail was in good shape, and I made it to Thistle Hill Shelter with over an hour of sunlight left in the day. I thus told two NoBos, relaxing at the short trail to this shelter, that this would not be a bad place to spend the night. Big mistake!!

These two guys were, by far, the worst people Iíve ever shared a shelter with. Not only did they make deliberate attempts to annoy the other three people staying in or near the shelter, they clearly took delight in their success. Knowing full well that I was trying to get to sleep as soon after dark as possible, they blew off their air horn both at 8pm and 9pm Ė laughing as they did so. They took delight that this action caused me to jump. They hassled a person they knew from the trail who was sleeping in a tent near the shelter; again, clearly joyful in doing so. But this idiocy was only the start.
Decades ago, as restaurants and bars began to designate sections for smoking and no-smoking customers, the same people who committed perjury about their knowledge of smokingís dangers, started to run ads against this idea. ďAll we need is common courtesy,Ē was their cry; stating that all we needed to know was politely ask each other if smoking within an enclosed area was acceptable. What these purveyors of legal poison conveniently ďforgotĒ is that the people, who care nothing about their own health and comfort, are going to care even less about the health and comfort of those around them. In other words, a person who ingests smoke into his own lungs is NEVER going to ask other people about that same smoke going into their lungs. In forty years of having to put up with smokers who light up, NOT ONE has ever asked me if it was okay if they did so Ė even in areas that were designated for no smoking!!
ďCanít handle one cigarette?Ē Iím sure some of you are asking. Actually, I can Ė and have. I can even handle marijuana joints, having smelled plenty at Cal-Berkeley (where do you think I got my nickname?). But I will not be convinced that using a bong pipe for twenty minutes, within the enclosed space of a shelter, does not produce an excess level of smoke. Their own throats and lungs, right after they inhaled, were speaking VERY clearly about the effects of this smoke Ė if they had bothered to listen to their own hacking. Unfortunately, because I was breathing the same air as these dopehead stoners, had to endure that same stuff in my lungs.
ďA bong pipe? On the trail?Ē
Yes Ė which, along with the air horn for making annoying noises after dark, is not exactly ultra-light thru-hiking.
I was anything but subtle about wishing they would just leave if they were going to pests. Fortunately for these dopeheads, (1) Iím not a violent person, (2) there were two of them and only one of me, (3) each of them was bigger than I am anyway. So the stuff causing them to hack out their lungs will get them before I could.
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