The Appalachian Trail is a very social trail. We are meeting people all day every day. It's a lot of fun! As soon as we talk, people are interested in where we come from. It's surprising how many people know where New Zealand is compared to when we were here in 2000. Thanks to Peter Jackson for that!
Some of the people we have met so far.
Adventure, Crasher, Rocky, Antsy, Rugby, Not Bob, Blue Feather, Daisy, Mr Fix It, Juice, Monster, Veggie Stu, Jon & Jen, Flash 52, Whisper and quite a few more who's names we cannot remember.
When we walked 1500miles of the trail in 2000 we started in Georgia, the southern terminus and walked north. Due to the popularity of the trail now, quite a few people are doing what's called s 'flip flop' where they start somewhere in the middle and walk north to the northern terminus then head to the end and walk north to where they started, to finish. This year in a 3 week period around the end of March and start of April more than 3000 people started the trail in Georgia!! Imagine the campsites intended to cater for up to 10 tents trying to cope with 50 or more hikers. They all want water, a flat spot to camp and they all want to poop too! So, this year the flip flop was a popular and sensible option for many. It's been great for us too as we we are new on the trail along with a lot of other hikers. As we have already hiked 625 miles on the Bibbulmun Track, we really do have the jump on the new hikers with trail fitness too which is a really good feeling. We have however, been passed by some thru hikers that started in Georgia in mid March. These hikers are mostly 'ultra lite' hikers doing an average of 20 miles a day, sometimes more! But like I said, it's a social trail and meeting people and spending time socializing along the way is what it's all about for most hikers including us.
This week we crossed the state line from Massachusetts into Vermont. For the next 100 miles we will be walking on the joint trails of the Appalachian Trail and the Vermont Long Trail. The Vermont Long Trail (LT) runs the entire length of the state, around 260 miles. It's a very popular trail and the first night in Vermont was a big one at the campsite with around 15 new hikers on the trail hiking the same day as us. With all the LT hikers we had lots more people to talk to. That night we camped with around 36 hikers!
All the hikers on the trail brings up the topic of toilets... In New England it snows and in places the ground freezes during winter so the sort of composting back country toilets we are used to in New Zealand won't work here as its too cold. They have a quite different system they call 'moldering privies'. We are taking some time to get used to them... The toilet sits quite high up and has several steps to get in or are built on a slope. The underneath area is screened off with planks and the waist quite simply builds up underneath and is broken down naturally by the bugs and elements. They are often built so the seat can be moved along sideways to a new spot to allow some time to decompose. They smell and worse, can often be sited in the centre of the camping area. Still, it's better that 30+ hikers a day are all going in the same place. In some parts of the southern Appalachians Trail they only have 'areas'.
Today it's the 4th of July, Independence Day. The day America celebrates independence from British rule. It's quite cool to be in Bennington Vermont as it was a town that was central to the struggle with the British and some pivotal battles were fought very close to this town. Tonight we are expecting to see some great fireworks go off. The British EU exit has been big news here. It's been very interesting to read about it from an American perspective, after all the USA is a union of states like the EU is a union of countries. One thing for sure is that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are going to have a vote to stay in the union. It could be 'Little England' all alone in big bad Europe. They will be able to celebrate their own Independence Day with cups of tea and jam scones? Or maybe warm beer with kippers and chips? Either way I am sure it will be a day to remember for them, or maybe not...
it's Our Epic Trip...
David & Christine are from New Zealand and are embarking on a trip around the world the slow way, on foot and by personal vehicle. This could get interesting!