Day 119 – Wednesday, July 6: Manchester Center, VT, Zero Day, 1,650.7 total AT miles.

The three of us woke up early – I walked down to the office and grabbed a cup of coffee and a muffin. I also confirmed that we’d be staying another night. The Palmer House is a cool place – not only do they have a stocked trout pond, they also have a 9-hole golf course. When I found out it was free for guests to use, I got excited. Black Santa and I would have to play a round later.

I headed back to the room and the three of us set off. Black Santa needed to accomplish all of the same things Greyhound and I did yesterday (laundromat, outfitters). He set off – Greyhound and I decided to head down to the grocery store for our resupply.

I was very serious about never eating tuna anymore. That meant cans of meat. I know its heavy, but I seriously think it tastes a whole lot better than tuna or salmon packets. I stocked up on regular chicken, buffalo chicken and BBQ pork. I also bought a loaf of rye bread – it seems to last just as long as tortillas or bagels and tastes great.

Greyhound and I were loaded down with bags and tried to find a shortcut through town. We ended up following a small path that followed a creek – and terminated in the side of a dirt hill, probably about 100 feet below the sidewalk we were shooting for. As we made our way up the hill, I stumbled on something sticking out of the mud. I reached down and pulled an old horseshoe out of the earth. It was definitely old and very cool. I decided to keep it.

We returned to the hotel and hung out, waiting on Black Santa to return. About an hour later, he arrived with his purchases and the three of us walked across the parking street to enjoy a round of golf. While we were heading to the first tee, Greyhound watched as something furry fell from a tree. She ran over and called for Black Santa and me to come over. It was a hawk or falcon of some kind. It still was downy in places – it probably fell out of its nest trying to learn how to fly or something.

It hopped around in the grass, flapping its wings – it was definitely frightened of us. I called Vermont Fish and Game to see what I should do. It was determined that, as long as the baby raptor wasn’t in immediate danger, we should leave it alone. So we played golf.

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Black Santa destroyed me – I couldn’t seem to hit the green to save my life. Even Greyhound admitted it was a bad beat. After golfing, the three of us headed back down to Gringo Jack’s for dinner. Black Santa informed us that he wanted to stay at the hostel tonight – there apparently was a hiker he wanted to catch up with.

After dinner, Black Santa headed off to the hostel and Greyhound and I headed back to the room. As soon as we got back, Greyhound connected to wi-fi and received some bad news – her credit card info had been stolen. She spent the next hour talking to her mom, trying to get the fraudulent charges removed. In the end, over $2,000 had been recently spent all over North Carolina. She hung up, knowing she’d have to spend extra time in the morning getting all this cleared up.

We both went to sleep fairly early – I was pretty tired, but excited to start hiking the next morning.

* * *

The burn on my ankle looks horrible. It’s not healing yet either. I’m doing my best to keep it clean and covered.

I think I like these new Montrails. But I’ve said that before about shoes.

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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