August 7, 2015
Wow…I just realized that it took me almost 2 months to do the last 500 miles.
Killington took me all day to conquer. I hit the 500 miles marker in the morning and cried for ten minutes. It felt real. It felt close. I could get there if I took it easy. I left Earth a silly picture in the logbook as he was keen on sleeping a lot these days.
As I started the long climb a fuzzy, lanky south bounder came striding down the trail. As he got closer I realized it was a familiar face. A very familiar face covered in a lot more hair than I remember. Miami Vice and I yelled each other’s names and immediately gave each other a stinky hug. I think my favorite part of trail was seeing old, friendly faces after being apart for what felt like forever. Miami Vice was staying with the twelve tribes, so we made a deal to catch up in town.
I hiked the mountain hard, hanging off of uprooted trees and crawling up bits of eroded trail. It felt longer than it should be. The mountain flattened out after many miles and off in the distance I could see the ski lift. I thought “No way it could still be that far.”
I was exhausted when I got to the side trail to the top, but I wanted to sit at the top of the mountain. As I started to climb the steep, rocky face I began to hear singing. It sounded tribal, but I couldn’t place the language. A man came down the blue blaze trail and said “You are about to experience something truly surreal.” and he walked on without another word.
I climbed hand and foot up the cliff trail to the top. I pulled myself up and gave a little, embarrassed wave to the large group of tourists on top. Some of them walked over and curiously look down trail that I emerged from. I sat down and watched a large group of Orthodox Jews perform a traditional ceremony. Everyone was wearing traditional dress and singing in Yiddish off the top of the mountain.
I ate the remainder of my food and took in the view for a few hours. JP was hanging out on the mountain waiting for Mina. We explored a little and tried to yogi some food off of the tourists by the ski lift. No luck.
After awhile I walked down towards town. Just before the road I called the Twelve Tribes and asked if I was too late to come in for the night. They invited me to their Sabbath dinner, so I ran the remainder of my trek to the road and hitched a ride in with a local.
A truck pulled over and offered me a ride. The kind stranger bought me a doughnut and dropped me off at the cult’s hostel.
I was immediately welcomed. I ran upstairs and washed a little, but quickly returned as to not be late for the ceremony. Evidently my hiker attire was offensive to the tribe, so I was dressed in a floor length plaid dress and long sleeve black velvet blouse. I was embarrassed and offended at the same time. But house rules are house rules and to be honest…I was made very uncomfortable by the men in the cult. After living in California for so many years, I had forgotten the absolute power of sexism. As a guest…I kept my mouth shut and cherished the new outfit as a form of armor.
I drank mate’ and chatted with a south bounder named slugbait before the ceremony. I told him I was done making friends on trail. He told me I wasn’t as he got up to dance with the tribe. Part of me wanted to dance and part of me knew that the tribe was especially geared towards converting young, productive women. I was sat at an important table with the elder’s many daughters. We discussed life and I asked questions about the tribe as we feasted on delicious, home-made food.
The hostel had a closet on beautiful loaner clothes and fresh towels. Each person had a bunk and a welcome basket. The entire place was restored and finished with the finest craftsmanship. As nice as everything was, I couldn’t help but wonder where they got the funding for the finest materials and food. As kind as everyone was, there was an undercurrent of darkness that kept me reserved and removed from the tribe.
I found Earth lying feverishly in a bed in the men’s dorm. I told him to see a doctor the next day and went out for drinks with Mina and JP. We crashed a birthday party at the local bar and took shots. renamed Mina, Whiteflower, a name I am unsure if she kept as we parted ways the next day. After Rutland the Long Trail and AT go separate directions. I hiked with them more than any other hiker, so they were feeling a little emotional. It was nice to have hiking buddies again, even for a brief moment.