I woke up at 7, and as forecast, the weather outside was pretty miserable, with a light rain and cloudy skies. Hiking today wouldn't be fun.
The Yellow Deli Hiker Hostel is "free". It's donation-only, but they also accept work-for-stay. Besides helping out around the hostel, this can also include helping in the deli (e.g. doing dishes, of helping with breakfast), or going to their farm and helping out there.
The Yellow Deli generously offers free breakfast to hikers who stay at the hostel. Today's breakfast included eggs, rice, toast, and collard greens, and was very delicious.
As we planned yesterday, Papa Monkey hiked the section between VT 103 and US 4, while Rainbow and I hung out at the hostel. It'll be a few days before I get to fill in this section, so I'm not terribly happy about leaving a gap in my hike, but today seems to be a better time to take a zero than later.
I struck up a conversation with Two-Pack, another thru-hiker who was zeroing there, and as lunchtime approached, we went to the deli for lunch. I'd seen her a few times before on the trail, but it turns out we have a slightly more interesting connection than that.
Back in mid-May, after I had injured my leg, Beast and I got a ride into town by "hiker trash" couple Cabana Boy and Dutch Tape, who were at that trailhead to hike up to the Audie Murphy monument. They had also just dropped off Two-Pack, who continued north, shortly before we got there.
It also turned out that she also lives in Silver Spring, MD, the first other hiker I've met from there.
The rain stopped before noon, and the rest of the day was nice out. Two-Pack and I took a little stroll around town, stopping by a number of places both of us needed to go to. In particular, I picked up some toe separators at Rite Aid, which should help with my toes overlapping and hurting on many downhill steps.
Back at the hostel, we continued to hang out, until dinner time. The Twelve Tribes community had a "Gathering" tonight, and any hikers who wanted to attend were welcome. The lure, of course, was free food, but I wanted to learn a bit more about exactly what our hosts' beliefs were, and this was a good opportunity.
Two-Pack, Rainbow, Papa Monkey, myself, and Dago piled into an SUV and arrived rather late to the opening prayer ceremony to the Gathering. When that was done, one of the members of the community sat with us at our table, and we talked, getting to understand the Twelve Tribes a bit better.
I really don't want to say they're a cult, but they do have some cultish aspects to them. They believe in communal living, which makes a certain amount of sense (from an efficiency standpoint, anyway), but they take it to an extreme I'm not particularly comfortable with. They're also patriarchal, which was especially evident in that it was only the women cooking in the kitchen, while all the men sat at tables and waited for the food.
I should stress: in all my interactions with deli/hostel staff, they have been nothing but generous and giving, and hardly made any effort at all to try and convince anyone to join them. That undercurrent was always there, though, waiting to grab people who wanted or needed their particular brand of community.
To make our slackpacking more efficient, we need a second car. Rainbow's had been prepped for long-term storage, so getting it in any timely manner was not likely. I made an effort to get mine up here. My friend Matt had previously indicated wanting to hike with me, so I asked if he'd be willing to drive my car up to meet us (offering to pay for gas and return transportation). Unfortunately, the timing didn't work out for a few different reasons. Thanks anyway, though, for even considering helping out!
Tomorrow: a short day, then return to Manchester Center to stay at Green Mountain House.