One of the goals of my hike was to raise money for my friend Abby, to help pay for travel to doctors in Cleveland, Ohio. When I told her mom, Lauren, about my plan she seemed surprised and a little confused. She didn't really know what the Appalachian Trail was or what it all entailed. As I hiked on she began to realize what it was all about, and it turns out she has family up north near the trail that could maybe help me out!
First up was Abby's cousin Angie in Massachusetts. She works for Gould Farm, mainly with the dairy cows. I got to stay the weekend in Angie, Amanda, and Nathan's home, use the farm's sauna, eat wonderful farm food, and get a glimpse of what farm life would be like. Thanks to Angie, Evan, and Rev. Liz for shuttling me around town too.
Then when I got near Rutland, Vermont where Abby has many aunts and uncles, I got to stay at Abby's aunt Nancy's home. I hiked over Mt. Killington & Pico the next day and then got picked up by aunt Julie! Julie wanted me to come back for church on Sunday to talk about my hike, so a few days later I expected to get picked up again near the New Hampshire border.
To my surprise, it was Abby and Lauren who arrived to pick me up!
Sunday morning I spoke about my hike in front of Julie's church, and they all gathered up a big donation for Abby. So now I was way past my original goal of one dollar per mile, so I'm now counting Kooper's miles too! I spent the rest of the day hanging out with Abby's family, and rode back to the trail Sunday night.
Instead of hiking into the thunderstorm at night, we decided it would be best if I stayed in a hotel or hostel near the trail. The only thing available near Hanover, NH (that would allow dogs) was the Norwich Inn. By far the nicest accommodations I've had yet. The dog room even had dog pillows and dog paintings on the walls.
Sadly, this is probably the last life-line I'll have until I get to the end (just one month away!). These last miles through the White Mountains and Maine are the toughest yet (terrain, weather, logistics), but I think all my experiences have me prepared and all the encouragement and love I have recieved have me motivated!