Lesson 1456 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 7 (Up, Down, Up, Up, Up)

Day 7 – Whitefield to Littleton

Griffin and I got up with the now familiar beeping of our phones, there had been no fitful night, no tossing and turning for us, when our heads hit the pillows at night, we slept until our alarms awakened us the next morning. A pleasant departure from the insomnia that Lyme Disease can sometimes bring.

I opened the curtains to be rewarded with a view of woods, mountains and another overcast sky. The worst of the rain had moved and it looked like the heat did as well. Forecasts called for slow clearing with a cool, sunny afternoon.

When we were done packing (I snagged the half empty bottle of that wonderful shampoo to keep for future laundering – wasn’t going to be caught without soap again) we went to the main living area of the Inn where breakfast was served.

Bagels, cream cheese, muffins, cereal, fruit, coffee and orange juice. This time I stayed away from the coffee, but took full advantage of everything else.

One of the owners came over to us, “I have these oranges for you,” he said presenting us with two plump oranges. “I figured you’d enjoy them on your walk.” Such a touching gesture.

Indeed we would, we had discovered that it wasn’t easy finding fresh vegetables or fruit (we had a lot of sandwiches and chips the first few days.) I also took two of the bananas for the day’s journey.

A group – grandparents and their grandson sat at the next table.

“Say,” said the elderly man, “Didn’t I see you two walking yesterday?” I guess it wasn’t difficult to miss us, as we were wearing the exact same outfits we had worn the day before.

I told him that we had been walking on Route 3 to this Inn and so there was a good chance that it was us he had seen.

“I saw you waving and I was going to stop and see if you wanted a ride but then I saw you waving at the car behind me.” He paused for a bit and then asked “Why do you wave?”

I was momentarily flustered. We waved because it was a fun thing to do. I finally answered with the only reply I could think of – “We wave because we’re nice people,” I smiled. “Why wouldn’t we wave?”

I told him about our trip, about how we had discovered that waving made others happy, and how although we were 7 days into our journey, we still had miles to go.  Like so many others we had met along the way, he, his wife and his grandson has many questions. Were we doing this for a cause? Were we collecting money?

Not really and no.

I told him about our Lyme Disease and how although we couldn’t hike in New Hampshire we still could walk.

He wanted to know if he could do anything for us.

“Just wave back if you see us,” I said.

He agreed to and we left to get our packs back in our room.

We had been told by the teen, the day before that to get out of Whitefield, we’d have to go up, then go down, then go up, up, up. He had done the journey many times on his bike. “It wasn’t that bad.”

Ah so we hadn’t quite gotten away from the mountains of the north and if this teen, this scout who could carry both of our packs without a grunt described it like that, then it looked like we had a day’s walk cut out for us.

Griffin and I went back our rooms for our equipment, said our good-byes and went out the front door leaving the  comfort of the Inn to enter the challenge of the day. The Inn has a wooden walkway, painted white and surrounded by towering purple blossoms and sunny yellow blooms poking through the fence.  It welcomes you when you arive and wished you well when you leave. Griffin and I, content with a good breakfast and ready to face our day walked down the ramp toward the road.

Sure enough, as we were warned, our walk began with an incline. It wasn’t the worst we had encountered but it was constantly upward. We were passed by a car that beeped and waved. “That was the guys from breakfast.” Griffin said as we waved back until they drove out of sight.

After a few miles we began to walk down the other side of the mountain into the town of Whitefield.

There is something special about New England towns, the white spire of a church, the stores clustered around a town square, the red brick seen everywhere, and the inevitable bridge that crosses a river. I breathe easily when I find a town like this. I was born into a family descended from the Burrs (Yes *that* Burr.) History and tradition is in my blood. I love country fairs, Fourth of July gatherings, and church suppers. There is such wisdom and strength in our little New England towns. As we entered the town of Whitefield I could hear it calling me home.

Even though we were full from our breakfast, at the local deli we ordered subs to pack for our lunch later on (get food when you can.) We sat across from the town square and I noticed a woman working in the town’s information booth. I walked across the street to talk to her. She knew that I was interested in information about the area, told me about a town celebration that was just around the corner. “You should come!” she told me.

Oh how I would have loved to attend, but our walking schedule had to be kept and by the time the celebration came about I’d be far from Whitefield.

“Perhaps next time,” I told her.

Sandwiches in our packs and fortified with our first cold drink on the road, Griffin and I put our gear on and started out of town. We crossed the Connecticut river, the same one we had been following for most of our walk and continued on our way.

Let me just say that when someone describes a walk as up, up, up –please don’t take that description lightly. What they really meant when they said that is that you’d be traveling up another friggin’ mountain. Man, New Hampshire has a lot of mountains.

Griffin and I spent the next few hours walking up and up and up. And then we walked up some more. Occasionally we’d turn around to see our progress. There far below us lay the town of Whitefield, in front of us only more up.

At the mountain’s plateau we stopped for a celebratory break to eat the bananas gifted to us by our new friends. The final remains of the clearing rain were falling and we raised our faces to feel the last few droplets on our skin. Both of us looked back north to the wooded land rolling with blue mountains from which we had started. Far, far in the distance we imagined we could see our starting point, the Canadian border.

We had made great progress and had come a long way. In the past 6 days we had already climbed many mountains and this morning we had successfully climbed yet another. We had gotten this far by way of nothing more than our own bodies’ power. We had become champions.

This walk wasn’t easy. It wasn’t what we had expected it to be.

It was so much more.



(Here’s some information on why we took this trip.)


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Lesson 1455 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 6 – cont. (Walking as Medicine)

Day 6 – North Umberland to Whitefield (Continued)

Barron Brook is, from its pristine painted white exterior surrounded by flower gardens to its charmingly decorated interior, a storybook place for a respite. The living area had full couches in front of a fire place surrounded by primitive country style decorations that invited you to stop, rest, and get to know others.

Sunny and bright, it is a place that welcomes all.

When we made it to our room (down the stairs, down the hall) we found high beds, warm blankets, large windows looking onto a wooded back yard, a TV (for catching up on that day’s political news) and some of the best soaps and shampoos I had ever smelled. We took showers and I did our laundry. Our dinner of sandwiches was next and after our stomachs were content, we kicked back.

I had originally thought that we’d spend our evenings discovering the night life of each town we stayed in. I had even (although now I realize how crazy this was) had thought about packing a nice shirt and skirt to wear in the evenings. My ooh-la-la “going out” clothes.

It would have been a complete waste. Our evening attire consisted of a long lightweight tee shirt that served as a nightgown for me and a pair of shorts with a tee shirt for Griffin. Of course it had never occurred to me that in some of the places we stayed there would actually be no nightlife, but even if there was, by the evening we were pretty much tuckered out. Continue reading

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Lesson 1454 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 6 – cont. (Waving and Cookies)

Day 6 – North Umberland to Whitefield (Continued)

We were well fed and had even gotten a few cold drinks (and used the restroom) at local gas stations, life was looking pretty good. Because people had been following our walk online some of our readers had decided to support our walk by contributing money for our drinks. We made sure to post a toast to each of our supporters online to thank them. At least up in the north, there wasn’t a gas station that we didn’t stop in to buy a drink for toasting (and can I just say that when you walk for hours each day – cold  Orange juice tastes mighty fine.)

With the reduction of pain (muscle pain from walking, the joint and foot pain left over from our Lyme Disease was ever present) we had the extra energy to joke, and laugh, and talk about whatever we wanted.  We talked about books we had read, movies we had seen, how the changing of the seasons still amazed us and who would win if Superman fought Batman.

Because we were following New Hampshire’s road system, we had to walk facing traffic – at all times. For the most part, after Day 1 when there hadn’t been any traffic, we walked in single file, Griffin ahead, with me following his pace behind. Griffin would be the first to see any cars approaching and he was the first to wave.

Once I noticed he was waving, I doubled the wave behind him. A mini Congo-line of happy travelers waving to everyone who passed by.

It started off as almost a joke, let’s wave at the cars and see how many wave back, but we soon realized that without fail not only did everyone wave back but they also smiled when doing so. It didn’t take much to encourage us and soon waving at each car became an important part of our walk.

Why not? Think of how powerful it made us feel – with the simple wave of a hand we could make people smile (which then of course, made us smile.) IN our own little way, and in our own little corner of the world, we were contributing to world happiness. Because I was using my trekking poles, I either had to wave with my pole in the air or move it to the other side so that I could wave with a free hand. Continue reading


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Lesson 1453 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 6 (Polar Fleece and Bathrooms)

Day 6 – North Umberland to Whitefield

Each night, after we’d get to our hotel and once we had reliable cell service, we’d use our phones to look at hotels in the next town we’d be stopping in and then I’d book a room with the hotel that was at most 16 miles from our starting point (we had painfully learned that 16 miles with packs on roads was pretty much our daily limit.)

The stop for day 6 was Whitefield. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t even been aware that New Hampshire had a town called Whitefield (or a North Umberland for that matter) but it did and that’s where we were going to stay – about 15 miles away according to our calculations.

We went to sleep knowing that our next day was not only a reasonable distance to walk, but that we were assured a clean, safe bed at the end of the day. .

Our alarms, as usual, were set for 6:30 in the morning. We wanted to get going early to avoid the worst of the afternoon heat (this was of course before we drew back the curtains and saw yet another overcast sky.) Donning our freshly laundered shampoo washed shirts and underwear (side note we had gotten wrong underwear, if you want your underpants to be dry in the morning, get sports style – no matter how early I washed our clothing our underwear was always damp in the morning.) we went through our morning routine.

Griffin carefully wrapped his many blistered feet while I covered mine in HikeGoo. We put our peds on, then wool socks (which were also washed each night – and alternated between the pair that had had a full day to dry) and we went to see Oli and Gerry in order to check out.

True to their word, the owners had opened the office early and the coffee machine was ready to go. I filled a cup to the brim, wrapped my hands around for warmth and inhaled its aroma. I ignored Griffin’s glare indicating he was well aware that me having coffee meant that we’d (I’d) be taking a lot of “woods” breaks along the way.

Didn’t matter – sometimes the indulgence is worth the trouble it may bring.

I talked for a bit with our new friends and then it was time for us to begin our day. Still overcast, still drizzly, perfect walking weather.

A bit down the road we came across a Job Lots – a store that sold odd lots of things gotten from essentially fire sales. “Let’s go in,” I told Griffin, “at least I can use a real bathroom there.”

Griffin sighed.

“When you’ve had 6 kids then you can complain,” I reminded him, “until then if I need to pee, and if there’s a bathroom I’m using it.”

Griffin stayed outside with my pack while I went in. In order to get to the rest rooms, I had to walk through the men’s clothing section.  Displayed were the remainders of the summer stock as well as the beginning of the fall/winter stock. I passed by some jackets and then a rack of polar fleece shirts.

The rain that had continued for 2 days (even though it followed the record breaking heat wave) had me a little concerned. I had lived in New Hampshire long enough to know that weather could turn on a dime. Even in the summer.

I knew we had just dropped a lot of weight from our packs, I knew that we had learned the lesson of not carrying things we didn’t need or wouldn’t use, but the mom in me was compelled to buy the fleece. When I came out of the restroom I picked up two of the lightweight polar fleece shirts and a pair of flipflops (I had ditched them with Trevor and had realized too late that it left me with nothing to wear if I took my shoes off in the hotel – bare feet on a hotel rug is not my cup of tea.)

I paid for the items and brought them out to Griffin.

Who then wrinkled his nose at my purchase “Really? More clothes?”

“Just take it,” I told him and handed over the shirt.

“You’re not my mom,” he grumbled, a little rankled at being told what to do and letting me know that this decision was bordering on an unfair advantage.

I laughed at his remark, his perfectly delivered humorous warning that I was close to crossing a line. “As a matter of fact I am. So take it.” I countered.

When Griffin felt the weight of the shirts (feather light) and realized they wouldn’t take up much room or weight in our clothing bag (a large Ziploc bag that we’d place our clothing in and then sit on to force the air out before we put it in our packs) he acquiesced. “Fine.”

We repacked our packs, got rid of any trash from our purchase (we had learned to take advantage of garbage containers when we saw them) and put our packs on our backs.

“Ready to go?” I asked.

“Wait a minute,” Griffin said as he unhooked his pack, swung it off his shoulders, and put it on the ground next to me. “I need to go.”


(Here’s some information on why we took this trip.)


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

Leave a comment

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Lesson 1452 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 5 (Abandoned Houses and stonewalls)

Day 5 – North Stratford to North Umberland


It is remarkable how many abandoned houses we saw on our walk and remember, we were walking on the main road, if this was representative, there must have been so many more that we just didn’t come across. These weren’t good, functional houses from which people had simply walked away – they were houses with roofs and walls crumbling in. The “good bones” of the home had long lost the fight and were well on their way to becoming insect dust, sides had given up and said “go for it” to the persistent climbing ivy, and windows – the eyes into the house’s soul were punched out and shone light no more.

My work here is done, I can’t hold back the years any longer.

Granite is abundant in New Hampshire (all you have to do is look at the stone walls everywhere) as is clay for making bricks (at least in the southern part of the state where huge mills were built along the river.) Griffin and I would look at these once majestic and now decrepit houses and we’d wonder why no one had used more substantial building materials.

Why didn’t anyone use something sturdier than wood? Wood is organic, wood eventually breaks down, wood certainly does not last the ages.

But of course the answer is that wood is available, abundant, and it’s cheap. The cost and effort to transport building materials must have been astronomical back “in the day.” Why pay for building materials to be shipped up north when you literally have what you need in your own back yard?

With wood, you build a house, it lasts for a few generations and when it starts breaking down, you build another one. It’s a cruel fate for houses, but it’s the way of tough love – you either do your job or you don’t get to keep the job.

If we are anything, we, who live in New Hampshire are a no-nonsense bunch. Continue reading


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Lesson 1451 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 5 (Superheroes and sidekicks)

Day 5 – North Stratford to North Umberland

When you are not in an uncontrolled high level of pain, your body starts to unwind from the tight coiled protective position  you had been in and it allows you to expand your boundaries. When pain decreases, you start noticing what’s going on around you. Outside of your body.

Such as it was for both of us on day 5. Being able to trust our legs and feet from not giving out on us, our heads rose and we were able to look around and really see.

What we saw was amazing.

Undergrowth that grew right to the side of the road threatening to reclaim what had once belonged to it.

A deer watching us watch it until it turned and bounded back into the woods. Continue reading

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Lesson 1450 Border to Border New Hampshire Walk – Day 5 (Canned beans and dental pics)

Day 5 – North Stratford to North Umberland


You can tell a lot about an area by the trash (or lack of it) you find on the side of the road.

When we had walked way up north where no one lived and there wasn’t much traffic, we didn’t see any litter. Nada. None at all. The land was pristine.

Once we started to get closer to civilization the litter began to appear, and then after we left the towns, it dropped off again. But even when we saw litter in those first few days, there wasn’t much.

I’d like to think that when you don’t have access to a disposable culture (fast food, coffee in paper cups) then you aren’t as compelled to indiscriminately dispose of much. After all if you don’t have the wrappers in the first place, then you don’t have to find a way to get rid of them. In fact, in the first few days of our walk, litter was so occasional that when we did see it we felt compelled to take notice.

Once on the side of the road we saw an intact large mason jar of canned yellow wax beans. It was a sad sight to see. A grandmother (wiping her hands on a worn cotton apron) probably picked those beans from her garden out back and then canned them on a hot summer afternoon knowing it was a way to provide for her family during the upcoming cold winter months.

And then someone decided to throw all that work (literally) out the window. Continue reading

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