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
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