In Vermont

Well folks,

There have been so many things going on in the past month or so to talk about.  I’m not even sure where to start.  To sum things up in one sentence I guess I would say:  We still are walking north covering every single step of  the Appalachian Trail since we last updated in VA or PA depending on if you read Dormouse’s last email.
For those of you hoping to see us while passing through the NJ, NY and CT we lost a week of hiking in Delaware Water Gap, PA when we both acquired Giardia and were recovering.  So we’ve been trying to make up time and breezed through 4 states in quick succession.  Dormouse was having problems with the medicine prescribed for Giardia and lost all of her appetite.  We were hiking in the highest temperature we will probably ever experience on the trail (102 degrees) while taking this medicine and walking through NY which has very little water.  We actually walked through the lowest elevation on the trail during the hottest heat wave of the year.  We resorted to significantly lowering our mileage standards.  We tried to hike only during the extremely early morning and late evening.  We would do this by waking up at 4:30 in the morning and to start hiking at 5 when it was barely light enough to see.  We tried to hike until we couldn’t bare it anymore which happened around 1 in the  afternoon.  At that point we tried to set up our tent in the shade for a nap.  We quickly found out that we couldn’t sleep because we were just baking in our own juices.  Luckily we were close to a place with water and spent the rest of the unbearable hours of the day pouring water over our heads and drinking water constantly.  In the evening we decided to hike 4 more hours in order to make it to a road crossing where there MIGHT be a hotel.  The next day we went into town and found out that there was indeed a hotel for us to stay at and we spent 26 hours in an air conditioned hotel room!  We continued on our way and try different strategies to keep us moving.  The forest was looking very thirsty during this time of drought, and we took pictures of shriveled up leaves, and piles of perfectly green leaves that had fallen off trees.  We’re glad it has started raining again from time to time.
Green leaves were drying up and falling off trees from the drought

Green leaves were drying up and falling off trees from the drought

By the time we got to Kent, CT Dormouse was completely fatigued having barely eaten anything due to the medicine.  We were planning on hiking through town to a shelter 13 miles from where we started that day.  By the time we got to town Dormouse was completely exhausted from doing less than 8 miles of hiking.  We went to a doctor in town thinking she had Lyme’s Disease.  After talking to the extremely nice doctor for 45 minutes bouncing questions back and forth about what could be wrong.  The doctor wrote a prescription for an antibiotic for Lyme’s Disease, but told us she thought Dormouse was very dehydrated.  She told us to make it our job to drink as much water as possible because Dormouse had lost 8 lbs of weight in one week.  A couple days later Dormouse was back to her old self and finally gained her appetite back- so no Lyme’s Disease!
Dormouse walks at 3mph (when not sick).

Dormouse walks at 3mph (when she is not sick).

Also in CT, we saw our first rattle snake!  Most thru-hikers we’ve talked to have seen them in PA or NJ, but we were starting to think we wouldn’t get to see one at all when we found some day hikers huddled over something in the woods.  We asked them what they had found, and this guy brought the 5ft long rattle snake right up to us.  He had a pole he was using to hold its head away from us, and he had the rattle in the other hand.  We got a few good pictures, and went on our way.  Note to self: rattle snakes are BIG.
Since then, we’ve gone through MA, which had more bugs than the mind can comfortably comprehend, and we would slap each other in the head trying to kill dear flies in particular- which love to dive bomb you in the head while you’re hiking.  We took to almost running down the trail to run away from the bugs.  We felt like we were slowly going crazy… nothing but BZZZZZ in the ear all day long.  We started naming them: Max is the name of the small gnats that love to hover around your ear, and go for dips in your eyes; and Bob are the dear flies that have given us headaches from slapping our heads so much trying to kill them.  Mosquitos are just mosquitos, and they’re actually the least annoying, although we wind up covered in their bites too.
Just two days ago were walking on our first misty morning in VT and saw a moose!  It was slowly stomping along in the woods just off the trail right in front of us.  This was an experience we weren’t expecting until Maine.  We are excited to get real mountains for the rest of the trail with  nice big climbs and breezes at the top.  We haven’t had any mountains above 3000 ft since VA.
Right now, we are staying at my mother’s cousin’s house (I think that makes her my second cousin), Carol.  Here we are feeling more than welcome.  Carol and Mark have even given us the nicest bed in the house to sleep in.  Up here its like a little family reunion my Aunt Alice and other cousin Alan/Buzz/Ted (a man of many names) are here visiting as well!  Aunt Alice just turned 91 so I’m very happy to see that she is doing well.  Around here we are catching up with the relatives and enjoying the cooler VT weather.  Its the first time since VA where we have had nice home cooked food to eat (pancakes and brownies, mmm) and for that we are grateful.  There also has been an abundance of blueberries around the house, yum.  Thanks to all of them.
Now we’re about to hit the trail again, so we’ll be in touch again soon!
Cheers,
Dirt Stew and Dormouse
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