Day 3 – Stewartstown to Colebrook
If you had said to us on the morning of Day 3 that we had to walk the entire length of New Hampshire in the next 13 days, both Griffin and I would have curled into a fetal position and refused to get out of our beds. Nope, not gonna do it. But instead, if you said to us that for the day –
For the day-
We only had to walk a little less than 10 miles, we would have reacted the same way we did that very morning when we woke up and realized what was in front of us. “Bring it on.” We were rested, our joints didn’t hurt -as much, and our morning Motrin was working its magic.
Seen from the beginning, a huge goal is impossible. But a goal broken down into its bite-sized steps is highly achievable.
Today’s 10 miles was definitely bite-sized.
Bring. It. On.
Which is why the night before, we had decided to sleep-in (relatively speaking) until 8 o’clock. Our plan was to have a nice breakfast of leftovers from last night’s dinner (best food ever) and be on the road by 9 o’clock.
We had a solid walking plan for the day. We’d break every two miles (that’s only 5 breaks!) and stop for a long leisurely lunch at roughly the half-way point. We’d be at our hotel so early this afternoon, maybe we’d even be able to do some poking around when we got to the next town.
The possibilities were endless and exciting. Today was going to be fun.
We practically sang as we put our supplies into our packs. The laundry I had washed in the shower the night before was still a little damp but in it went. It would be dry by the time I needed it tomorrow. We were learning the skill of packing the things we wouldn’t use or didn’t need during the day (toiletries, extra clothing, my Alfred Hitchcock magazine) at the bottom of our packs and the items we would be using (phone, rechargeable bricks, snacks) at the top.
Oh what a great day it was going to be.
Assuming that it would be cool like it had been yesterday morning, before we left Griffin put on his windbreaker and I wore my hi-tech wicking jacket. We stepped out the door of our room, down the steps that had seemed so huge last night and which has returned to normal size this morning and started walking up the street back into New Hampshire.
Goodbye motel. Goodbye restaurant across the street. Goodbye crosswalk. Goodbye correct bridge. Goodbye Vermont.
And hello New Hampshire my good friend.
By the time we reached the New Hampshire border (all of about a quarter mile from where we had stayed) Griffin and I were covered in sweat. It was certainly warmer than we had expected. We stopped to take off our jackets.
A vague recollection of my conversation with Marc the night before floated into my brain. Something about a record-breaking heat wave? Nah, we wouldn’t have to worry about that, we were in the mountains, heat waves happened down south.
And besides we only had 10 miles to walk. How bad could it get?
A mile later we found out. (Mistake – always check the weather.)
In order to build a road in New Hampshire, first you have to blast away mountainous walls of granite (we are, after all, affectionately known as the Granite State.) Once that’s done, you have to clear the path of trees. All trees. We do trees in our state almost as prolifically as we do granite. Only after the trees have been removed can you pave the road. What you end of having is lots of open roadway with very little shade.
Here’s a fun fact for you, we do get heat waves in northern New Hampshire.
And on a hot day with a blazing sun, it can be tortious. The dark road pavement absorbs the sun’s ray so that soon you can feel your feet baking in your shoes. Walking on coals might have been easier than walking on the hot roads that day.
The pavement also super heats the air that then rises and enters your lungs when you breath. More than once we had to stop so I could find and apply some Chapstick. My lips were roasting.
And of course walking in the sun, without shade makes you sweat.
We quickly had to modify our break schedule. From stopping every two miles, it changed to breaking every mile and drinking a third of a liter of water at each break.
“Don’t wait until every mile to drink water” a Facebook friend had commented when I updated our status. “Instead drink continuously.” (mistake – listen to those with experience – a little water often is far better than a lot occasionally.)
Griffin and I continued. Every mile we stopped, we ate a little, we drank our water, and then got back on the road again. Even with rests, in just a few miles the road became nothing but a quagmire of molasses, pulling at our feet with each step, slowing us down to a snail’s crawl. It was so very hot. We were so very hot.
On one stretch with nothing before us and nothing behind us, a jogger came out of nowhere and ran right by. He was plugged into his earbuds and keeping a good pace. HE carried no water.
A jogger! In this heat! Where the heck had he come from?
Griffin and I looked at each other, our mouths hanging open, as we watched the jogger quickly outdistance us.
“Show off,” I heard Griffin mutter as we continued to plod along our way.
(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
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