The Trail: Day 1 

Sunday Afternoon, September 25: Finding Our Way 

As always, a last minute flurry. Despite all the planning and laying things out there is the return to questions. Do we really need this and why not that? As always, I’ll take too much food, a few too many bars and a few too many extra meals in the belief that if they are there, that energy will somehow get in me, recall me to life. We spread out our gear on the living room floor. Pick up our packs, moan. Ponder the weight. 

What about an extra shirt and and pair socks? (Yes to both.) It’s projected to be a wet week and I think of everything getting soaked. Do we bring the crampons in case we hit ice or snow? (Me – yes, Pat – no) We don’t even discuss taking a chair. (No, too much weight.) 

On Sunday early afternoon we are still deciding and pondering decisions and then it’s time to go. We take the gorgeous winding road from Franconia to Kinsman Notch where we park the car and meet our shuttle driver Steve who drives us south to Hanover. Wow is my pack heavy. I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever carried such a heavy pack.  

Steve drops us at a dirt parking lot on the Vermont side of the bridge to Hanover. Reminds us that he’s around all week if we run into trouble and we need him to pick us up.  

Sprinkling and not quite raincoat weather until it is. I drop my pack to put mine on. After winding through downtown Hanover, we head out of town. At the crossroads we see the Co-op across the street. Just what I was looking for – the chance to pick up a few more things I forgot – some tea and decongestants. I was leveled by a nasty sore throat and virus the past week and though I’m feeling better I’m still recovering and delighted to cram my additional supplies into my pack.

By now it is just plain raining and we are eager to get off the road to the shelter of the woods. All too eager it seems as we follow the white blazes on the telephone poles away from the Co-op and up the hill and then further up. We are full of chatter until we realize we’ve lost track of those white blazes on the telephone poles that mark the Appalachian Trail. When was it we last saw one?  

There – one ahead! Alas, it’s not a blaze, and we turn around and trudge back without the spring in our step that carried us up the hill. Back down the hill to the crossroads, to the Co-op. I pull out my map. Pat pulls up her trail app. The trail’s here – but where?  

We follow the white blaze on the telephone pole again, step around the orange tape marking off the road construction on the dirt road, start up the hill again but slowly this time.  Where did the markers go?  

Its not until we turn around, step out and around the orange tape and puddles on the dirt road one more time. that we happen to look back and see right there, right in front of us, the sign – “Appalachian Trail, Velvet Rocks Shelter”, an arrow to the left. It’s the picture I never took of those puddles on a dirt road under construction and all that bright orange tape. All that kept us distracted from noticing what was right there in front of us all the time – the way.   

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