The sky darkened as the sun should have been starting to rise over the mountains. Without saying a word, Matt and I got busy doing our morning ritual. Pack up clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping pad. Take down tent. Mix carnation instant breakfast packet with two spoonfuls of instant coffee. Eat something. Anything. This morning, it was left over olive and sausage pizza from the night before. There was no resupply spot yesterday, so we had to save a few slices to get us through the morning. I am eating everything and anything. The pains of hunger tug at me throughout the day. Within the last week, my ability to devour huge quantities of food, without ever feeling full is impressive. My adrenaline and metabolism know the mountains are here.
We shifted tiredly onto our bikes before 7am. We followed a beautiful Blue Ridge road up and down the sides of Sand Point and Hoffman Mountains. Quiet held us both for most of the morning as the sky shifted from lighter grays to darker grays. 100% chance of rain was in the forecast. We had 60 miles to do, and both of us we drawn to make it to Middlebury.
Today the road led us past a bison farm and store filled with jerky and filets. Of course being Sunday, everything was closed. I stopped briefly to watch and say a silent hello to these animals. We rode highway 74 through North Hudson and Paradox, only stopping briefly to fill up water and snap a few photos at the lake crossings. Realizing our elevation, I started to see two downhill truck signs that warned trucks to use caution and switch to a lower gear. The Adirondacks had shown many of those signs, prompting a false hope and expectation that would end too abruptly and leave me with a feeling of wanting and needing more. The switch to a high gear would only last a few seconds, before the start of a new climb. As soon as I noticed the sign, I saw two bikers pedaling westward fully loaded and I gave them the wave. Quick enough, I noticed the mountain ranges toward the east open up and the road quickly drop downward. Three miles of intense downhill was enough of a farewell into the last city of New York. For all of the beautiful campgrounds, lakes and small hills of New York, this impressive descent into Ticonderoga was enough for me to leave with a memory of admiration for the Adirondacks.
We continued on 74 which dropped us right on the ferry that would take us across Lake Champlain. We paid our $4 and enjoyed the strong southeast wind as we floated the 7 minutes across the lake. The clouds continued to build to the west and we quickly hopped off the ferry, took a brief photo at the Welcome to Vermont sign and quickly pedaled up the hill entering our 13th state. The green mountains were all around us, and it was such a sigh of relief to enter into a state that only 9 years ago, I had hiked through on the Appalachian Trail. ‘Welcome back’ I could hear the wind whispering through the corn fields.
At around 3pm we arrived into the town of Middlebury. That night we were going to tent for free outside of the Swiss House Inn B&B that was mentioned in the guide book. We pulled up to this amazing old Victorian House with full wrap around porch with rocking chairs and checked in. It turns out that the owner is an avid kayaker and cyclist and gives bikers free rooms when they stop through. Completely without words, I was struck by shear excitement as the girl at the desk handed over keys and showed us to a suite and told us to be sure to come down for breakfast in the morning. A few days past my birthday, but this was the perfect gift. I looked at Matt hardly able to contain my joy. After taking our panniers to the room, we quickly went to the local co-op to resupply and get dinner. On our way back, the sky opened up and the rain began to fall. After a long hot bath, I sit by the fireplace, enjoying the A.C. and sipping a chilled Vermont Hard Cider. I gaze out the window at the flooded streets, in a warm white robe, and day dream about the few days left of this journey.