Vermont has to be one of the most beautiful places I have been. I guess if helps to find green spaces and forest beautiful because that's most of Vermont. I'm sure you wouldn't know the capital city of Vermont. In fact I'm betting you wouldn't have even heard of the state before this years USA presidential election race! Am I right? Yes, Vermont is where Bernie Sanders comes from. Talk to anyone from this state and they are all smiles when they mention him. He made there state famous not just in the USA but around the world. Love him or not, he's well known and now so is Vermont. I'm also betting it won't last for too long though. It looks like he won't be the next president, how long would someone in their 70s keep trying for that sort of job anyway?
So then Vermont will go back to just being a green state in the north east of the USA. How green? Well, a whopping 75% of the state is forest. Some of it is for logging but most of it is just for.. well just the birds and animals. Like almost all of America the forest is far from virgin. When the settlers arrived in the 1500's they started on the coast and felled every stick of wood right across the country, more than once. We often pass what looks like stone walls and wonder what a stone wall is doing in the middle of a forest. Fact is, it was once a field. When I say stone wall, I really mean collection of old rocks that are to straight to be natural, I did some research on the stone walls of New England and found that in the late 1700's each wall had to be certified by an accredited stone wall inspector or your neighbor couldn't hold you liable for damage to his crop from your stock or vice versa. To me as I walk through the forest and see this its like the land has had another life before and has some scars to prove it. Although they stopped farming the land we are walking in many many years ago, we seldom see trees that are more than 75 years old. I have to say, it's not obvious at all and if I hadn't researched it I would be none the wiser but for many years, trees were the main commodity throughout most of eastern USA. Vermont at one stage had almost completely deforested the entire state, up to 80% of the state was clear felled.
Sadly like a lot of places around the world, the trees in the USA are not taking to globalization at all well. The story of the American chestnut is a very sad one but one that sums it up. In the 1930s the entire Appalachian mountain range was covered in an estimated 4 billion giant chestnut trees. They were a source of pride, food timber and wonder to the people. So were zoo animals it turns out and to feed some exotic animals in a California zoo, feed was bought in from Asia that contained a blight. Within 40 years it had spread through the entire country and their are now no America chestnut trees at all. (In places, the root system still lives on and sends up shoots but they soon die) it's a good lesson and a reason that boarder security is so important in places like New Zealand and Australia.
Some Vermont fun facts that might surprise you.
Vermont has the least populated capital in the USA. Montpelier population is less than 8500
Billboards are not permitted in Vermont and sign advertising is strictly regulated.
Montpellier is the only capital city in the USA to have no McDonald's restaurant.
Vermont was the 1st state of the Union and the first state to abolish slavery.
It's really like another country, it feels and looks so different to the rest of the USA!
We walked to a busy highway crossing that led to our overnight stop in a town called Manchester Centre. We crossed the road and stuck out our thumbs for a hitch. The second car stopped for us! Great, but we hadn't had time to cool off so we were still literally dripping with sweat. We got into a nice new looking Subaru and headed off. Within 30 seconds of taking off, the driver put all 4 windows down. Yep, we must smell pretty bad! They dropped us right in town by the supermarket and we did our shopping. We were asked if we needed a lift anywhere while we were shopping and later at the post office a lady asked if we needed to go anywhere! We were told this is normal for Vermont.
We stayed the night at a hiker hostel run by a guy that had such a good time when he hiked the trail that when he finished he went from town to town looking for a place that needed a hostel. It was really great at the Green Mountain House hostel. Included in the $35 each was laundry, a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and a can of soft drink each, wifi, a bottle of Vermont Long Trail beer, breakfast and a shuttle back to the trail! What's more, the bed was excellent and I slept really well. Oh, and he had a New Zealand flag flying while we were there too (international guest are special..)
We headed back out on the trail the next day to the first full day of rain we have had. Actually it's only the second full day of rain we have had to hike in since we left New Zealand so we have been pretty lucky really. Still, it wasn't too much fun and it rains for two days straight. That night we stayed our first night in a shelter since we started on the AT. It was a good change to be in the shelter .We shared with 3 of the people we had spent the night with at the hostel. One was a lady who's trail name is Show Cub. She has a dog called Ollie and they are hiking the Vermont Long Trail. We had been on the same day with her for a few days and her dog had gotten used to me and that evening we had a good snuggle together. That's Ollie and me, not Show Cub and me! It was good to have a pet to pat and made me miss my cat a bit...
We have now walked more than 200 miles. We are heading into Rutland for a quick resupply and a night in a place with a shower tomorrow. I'm hungry because I didn't buy enough food so I am really looking forward to some food that was not dehydrated and rationed. We pass by a restaurant in the afternoon. It's on the top of a very high mojitos of course! What else would you build up there? Soon we will have finished Vermont. Shame, it's been great!
Some people we met this week
Boulder, Instigator, Bubbles, Ass Captain, Ben, Show Cub, Leprechaun, Jitterbug, Phoenix, Two Socks, Luau, Forrest, Hoosier, happy, BoDangles and many more we cannot remember
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!