I awoke while the fog still lay thick over the pond and Skyline Lodge. I packed up outside so as not to disturb the others and watched the white morning sun chase away the fog and mist. Still hiking through Breadloaf Wilderness, the forest was awakening with me as I breathed in deeper and deeper with each step. The trail went through seemingly endless stands of pine and spruce. I was alone on the trail. I left a little after six, nearly guaranteeing a day of solitude. The clouds and fog came and went and suddenly I walked out onto a most beautiful outcrop. The bare mountain top gave view to mountain after mountain, a sea of dark green, wise trees, nothing but one farmhouse far off in the distance. My two days in the Breadloaf Wilderness were by far some of the most magnificent hiking I have ever done.
A bit past noon or 12 miles later, I walked out onto the road and hitched a ride into Lincoln for laundry, a shower and internet. But Lincoln had none of those amenities, I found out in the country store. At this point, my shoes had been wet for at least four days and my shoelaces began to rot and most of my things began to smell strongly of mildew. I mentally could not continue without at least doing my laundry and a shower. The woman in the store looked at me with pity and offered me the number of an inn in a nearby town. Then a neighbor walked in and she told him my story. “Well, why don’t you just take her to your house then,” he suggested? She explained that she had to make a trip to New Hampshire and since I was just “all by myself, not with a group of gangly guys,” it wouldn’t have been a problem. The neighbors exchanged looks and I was told, “Go with him! I’ve known this man for many years, he’s a middle school teacher! Go with him!” So I went and I showered and I did laundry at the farmhouse Richard and his wife, Susan, live in on their herb and chicken farm. It was an act of pure kindness, as pure and natural to Vermont as maple syrup. Richard dropped me off by the trailhead when my shoes were dry and wished me well. This was by far one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had and will have in my life, such grace.