It’s a slow morning. I’m moving slowly getting our gear repacked. I eat the lentils and mung beans left from last nights uneaten dinner for breakfast. The body is still not wanting much in the way of food, though I know I need calories. Sherman eats this morning. His first breakfast since we left Bristol.
As we’re walking my legs are very sore. Each rest, Sherman plops right down to rest. No exploring. We’re tired.

I was thinking about staying a second day in the next shelter, but now explore the possibility of getting off the trail for a day in a nearby town. I get out the map and End-to-Enders guide to see what’s available. Montgomery Center and Lowell are both a bit over 5 miles from the trail. There’s a ski lodge that rents rooms in Montgomery Center. I hope I have a signal when we get to the road. We pass a woman resting that was at Hazen’s Notch Lodge the night before. I tell her what I’m thinking. She says, “Why not? You don’t have anything to prove do you?” And I see that I’d promised Sherman to be sure to take care of him if he needs to slow down, but hadn’t included me in that promise. I was in the battle between what the body said it needed and the progress I’d projected before ever seeing the trail. It was time to add my needs to that promise. So, we are going to Montgomery Center.
At the road I do have cell signal. I get out the book and call Grampa Grumps Lodge. The book says inexpensive and funky. Works for me. I call, a very friendly woman answers and says there’s plenty of room. They’re mostly busy during ski season. Has room for 60 skiers. Usually college kids. We start hiking toward town assuming we’ll hitch hike. This is VT 58. A maintained dirt road. Not much traffic.

After a mile and a half dozen waves with no stops, I sit and get out the End-to-Ender’s Guide. I call the Green Mountain Club to see if they have any numbers of supporters in the area. She sends me their updated list. I look at the list with descriptions of where they are, where they’ll go and I don’t know the state well enough to understand the logistics. I call the GMC back. She says, “I can’t help much. I’d suggest you just start calling people who don’t have a specific “ride between these two points” listed.” So, I do. The first call is to a Jim, who lives in Stowe. I tell him who I am, where I got his number, and what I’m asking him to do. He asks, “Do you mean on a future day or today?” “Today,” I say. “In fact, pretty much now,” I add. He says, “OK. Let me get your exact location and how I’ll recognize you.” I tell him. I ask how far away he is. He says, “Well, I’m about 45 minutes from Montgomery Center. So, I should see you within the hour.” To which I say, “You’re sure you want to drive an hour up here? I could try to find someone closer.” He says, “No. Happy to help you out.”
Sherman and I walk on a little, passing these attractions.

I heard there was a really big flood in VT in 1927. But the boat looks newer.

And these bright blue tubes… How are they related to cross-country skiing?
A bit further, we find a nice grassy entrance to what looks like a pretty big estate up the mountain. We sit here to wait for Jim.

Jim arrives about 90 minutes later. He’s missed us on the way by and was backtracking. I say to him that I’m blown away by his generosity. Driving for over two hours to drive us about 5 miles. He says, “When you called I asked myself if I had anything important to do? Only mowing the lawn. I’d rather take a drive through the countryside and give you a ride.”
In hiking circles people who do these kinds of things are called Trail Angels. I told Jim he earned his wings today.
In less than 10 minutes we’re at Grumpy Gramps Lodge. It’s an old wood drying building that was purchased and repurposed for a ski lodge about 40 years ago. Grumpy Gramps kids are now running the place. It’s clean, friendly, inexpensive, and very homey. Karie, a daughter has moved in here to be the available manager. Two siblings also assist and take turns when needed. She’s fabulous.

Next door looks like a retired dairy farm
She says I have the choice of two rooms. The Honeymoon Suite and another room. Both have their own bathrooms. The other rooms share 4 bathrooms down the hall. I choose the Honeymoon Suite. It has only one bed and so has more room space. Sherman and I move in, unpack and take a nap. I lay down and notice there’s a mirror over the Honeymoon Bed that shows me and Sherman stretched out together. LOL and more LOL…
Karie shows me the laundry in the lodge and I wash my hiking clothes. Since the shirts are wool I usually hang them to dry, but decide to try the damp dry on the Maytag commercial dryers. It works! When done they are very slightly damp. Awesome!
I go to the market and get some snacks, 2 Fancy Feast cat foods and some sliced Turkey for Sherman, and 6 vitamin waters for me. I drink three of them when I get back to the room. I do some writing and then order dinner from a new restaurant in town. The Spout. A Chicken Fajita wrap, Veggie Quesadilla, and Garden Salad. I then proceed to eat most of it. So good. So hungry. There’s a thing called hiker’s hunger. I haven’t been hiking long enough for it to hit, but the early twangs are here. It hits about 2 weeks of expending more calories than you’re taking in. A ravenous hunger when in town. I had in for the last two stops on the JMT last year. It’s a primal energy that is amazing. It just arises from some ancient survival depth and runs things for awhile.
I ate. Sherman ate. We sleep like logs.