New Hampshire

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Sunday, July 19

Did not arrive in Hanover today. Arrived in Milford, New Hampshire: not the most popular trail town, but occasionally a hiker makes his or her way through the rolling hills of Hillsborough county to arrive in Milford. Especially if that hiker has parents that live in Milford. Parents who cook steak dinners.

I'm spending a week here -- I, Karl, the hiker -- before resuming my hike just short of Hanover next Sunday. Some may say that I am lazy; that I am taking a vacation from my vacation; that the reason I am home is not for love of my parents, nor for love of Lesley whose wedding I shall attend, but instead for love of creature comforts. Air conditioning, they might utter with contempt. Daily showers. Such people need not be answered.

Here's my plan for the rest of the hike: GO SLOW. I will revise my schedule to put me at Katahdin in early September instead of middle August. It's not that I want to delay finishing -- in fact, I grow more and more eager as I get closer to Maine -- but I want to hike fewer miles, day by day, so as to enjoy myself more, day by day. Ideas like "hike for twelve hours" and "hike in the pouring rain" lose their appeal over time; I don't really have anything to prove anymore.

Really, I'm at the high point of my hike, and it keeps getting higher. In Virginia, I hiked with a number of good trail friends who unknowingly carried me through my low period. (You can see pictures of them on the Front Royal and Harper's Ferry pages.) Since crossing the Mason-Dixon line, I have been enthusiastic, possessed by a good hiking spirit. In northern Pennsylvania I started hiking with a group of six guys my age. Somehow we picked up the name "Team USA," and whenever two or more gathered in the name of Team USA, slacking off was bound to happen. Our goal was Ghandi's house in Massachusetts, a base of operations from which we planned to slackpack about 100 miles (as described by my father on the Cheshire page). Somehow we followed the big-picture plan, even though it was composed of a chain of unplanned occurances. In short, it was Party Month.

After this break, however, I will be on my own again, and I'm looking forward to it. I want to go my own pace, and read some books, and finish when I get there. I've recaptured the feeling of privilege that I had when I started -- it's a good hike. I feel more relaxed (and more spacey) than I've ever felt before in my life.

Thanks for your mail. I was delighted to receive letters and packages, especially in the first couple months of the trip. I look forward to seeing all of you again soon. Also thanks for your interest in the web page, as shown by the hit count (though Ryan claims he is singly responsible for half the hits). Special thanks to ATB, KFO, JDSL, and TAW: you all managed to embarrass me, wonderfully, with your attention.

One more note: I'm still very willing to accept any short-term hiking partners, and because I'm slowing down, I'm more flexible than ever. Meeting up has proved to be easier than it might seem. All visits thus far have been great for me. New England is beautiful in the autumn. Feel free to contact me with a date and time.

Adam (high school friend and "Eggman" of 97) joins Karl for a couple days before driving him home; they pose at the Maine Junction, where the Appalachian Trail splits from the Long Trail of Vermont (7/16)

Karl arrives home . . . (7/19)

. . . and tends to cat Tucker and foster sister Brenda (7/19)

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