Nobody was more shocked than I; I managed to climb two New Hampshire peaks mere days after declaring intent. Plans, lately, seem to be fleeting idealisms that I wave at as they fade into the distance. In this case, however, things worked out great. I spent a quick week in Hull, MA, riding around on the bike and triple-checking my gear.
I had my first experience with a bike chain that was lacking a KMC Quick-Link. Nobody mentioned to me that you couldn’t use a chain tool to replace a pin once you pop it out, but this is clearly the case. I stopped by the local REI (a sacreligious experience for someone who praises local bike shops, but beggars can’t be choosers) and was let into the shop to grab Shimano replacement pins, since nobody on staff had the faintest idea what they were or where to find them.
I met up with my old touring buddies, Max and Jimmy, in Burlington, MA and prepared for a quick 9-mile day-hike over Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln in New Hampshire, about an hour and a half away. I’m sure almost anyone going hiking would have hated the fact that the entire mountain was blanketed with a cloud, with a visibility line of about 100 feet. I, however, was enthralled; it’s another experience I haven’t had yet, and I have a soft spot for foggy pictures. We spent the entire day hiking in a group of eight. Two of our party, Ping and Courtney, were professional ballroom dancers and absolutely smoked us going up the mountain and coming back down.
The hike was delightfully punctuated by an awesome 40-foot waterfall. A lot of wet weather was around the corner, so I bet it’s even more impressive today, since some storms just rolled through.
I realized that my “Emergency” bag for hiking was massively over-equipped for day hikes on trail. Max and I both carried way too much, but I guess it’s better to be over-prepared than unprepared.
I broke vegetarianism in a big way. I’d been off-and-on, since the only reason I do it is to reduce my carbon footprint. It sounds stupid, but people do worse in pursuit of a sense of purpose. I kind of liked being veggie, but if you go veggie for 3 weeks and then eat a hot dog, it’s considered pretty sacreligious. After the hike, I went to Five Guys Burgers and Fries with the crew and matched Max’s order by asking for the largest burger with all the toppings. It was delicious. Sue me. I’m now on Day 2 of my vegetarianism again, and I suspect I’ll keep cyclically breaking and re-establishing it the entire tour.
Later, Max and I went mapping for a route out of Burlington with no success. I ended up tossing the bike in Jimmy’s car as he crossed back over the state to Mass, and spent a day with my brother in Amherst. It poured, I rode, I got dirty. Torrential rain all day long. I did get a chance to get a great deal of work done in a coffee shop, which is starting to feel homey to me. A good sign for the tour.
I’m stopped over at home for a day waiting on a tent to replace a torn hammock. Then it’s off to New York City. See you in a couple of days!
P.S: Carrying so much hiking equipment while touring is turning out to be obscene. I don’t know how anyone bikes with 40lbs of stuff. I’ll be departing from North Adams ultralight.