8/21 Manchester Center (18.4)

September 25, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Today we climbed to the top of Sutton Peak, the mountain that ostensibly inspired Benton MacKaye to create the Appalachian Trail as the cross country trail we know.

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Here’s the famous view from the firetower itself:

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It felt a little anticlimactic after a summer of views, but then again, our experience this summer hasn’t really been about the panoramas but about the overall balance of struggle and reward.

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One of the many Green Mountain Lakes we pass by.

We spent some time exploring the tower, discovered that the Green Mountain  Hostel, which we’d heard really good things about, couldn’t take in a group as large as ours (understandably), and made a reservation at a different hostel, Sutton’s Place.

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Speaking of views…

We resolved to stay in Manchester Center regardless and ran the last section into town but unfortunately had some of our first bad trail luck regarding people in the town there.  We couldn’t seem to get a hitch, perhaps because it was dusk or because we were such a large group, but after an hour passed we called Sutton’s Place and asked if they could pick up hikers.  The owner sent a taxi which unfortunately took another half hour to reach us and cost an arm and a leg to drive the five miles, but we made it! 

We discovered pretty quickly that not only was the hostel we had called a dumpy residential building, but no one was there to check us in!  After calling the owner and getting his voicemail we followed our stomachs downtown.  We found a good restaurant, but were called back in the middle of dinner by the owner of Sutton’s who explained that he was charging us whether we came back or not.  We decided, mostly on principle but also because we have a serious aversion to bedbugs, that we were going to find other lodging and take the experience as a lesson that you should never give out your credit card number, even as a means of reservation. 

Fortunately we were traveling with a Day Trader, British Army member, and Software Developer who bravely marched back to the hostel to give the owner a piece of their mind while Zeke, Damselfly, and I meekly scouted for camping within town limits.  The guys came back having reduced the cost of our naivete slightly and bearing apples, and we camped in a wooded area behind a price chopper.  After several cross country trips, I am not ashamed to say this is definitely not the weirdest place I’ve camped.

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Yes, that is a drainage culvert next to Zeke’s hammock.  We set up in the dark and were all very happy in the morning that it hadn’t rained…

The morale of our story is: don’t stay at Sutton’s place.  But also, with a good group of friends any day can still feel fun and even successful.  We talked late into the night and realized that we didn’t really need the comforts of civilization after all.