Upon leaving Barbara and Wally, I biked my bike up the last 1/4 mile to the top of the infamous "Sharon Hill." After reaching the top, I had a pleasant ride coasting down hill along a river for about 4 miles.
At lunch, Dobby slipped completely out of his harness and was running loose, but thankfully again seemed more concerned with finding me than running off. Nonetheless I clearly needed to keep tweaking his tether.
I also started to notice some cramping and muscle weakness in my hands, which made writing in my journal a little difficult.
As I was nearing the Green Mountains of Vermont, Wally had suggested that I take an alternate, less steep pass than the one The Northern Tier route prescribes. Due to his vast bike touring experience and familiarity with the area, I had no qualms with taking his advice. Unfortunately, it turns out this road was in the process of being repaved, and so was a dirt road covered in gravel the size of golf balls. This, of course, made biking nearly impossible. Concerned I may puncture one of my 4 tires, I dismounted my bike to walk alongside it. After a few minutes I realized that Dobby was probably getting his brain shaken to pieces from the trailer traversing the rough ground, so I got him out too. I'm sure we made quite the scene; the bike, the trailer, Dobby, and me, walking along a road I wouldn't even want to drive down. We hadn't even reached any sort of rise in elevation and it was already exhausting. I kept hoping that maybe only a portion of the pass was unpaved, that any minute I would be able to see the beginning of the pavement. We didn't walk far, maybe a mile and a half, wistfully watching cars pass by, when a large white van slowed down next to us. The woman asked if I would like a ride and I responded without hesitation with a "yes please." My newest road angel was Lisa, the editor of a Vermont sports magazine. Ironically her delivery van was full of their most recent issue, the cover story of which was about... bikepacking! Lisa asked me where I was spending the night and I told her some vague idea I had of the location of a campground just over the pass. She offered to let me stay with her and her husband, Angelo, in their lakehouse on Lake Dunmore. I wasn't sure if they lived anywhere near my route, but as soon as Lisa said "swimming," I was sold. We packed Shrek (the trailer) and the ogre into the van and Lisa drove me over the pass. The entire east side of the pass was completely unpaved all the way to the top. How quickly I had forgotten the speed and ease a motor vehicle adds to travel, even on an unpaved road!
I attempted to get Dobby to swim, but he still hasn't really gotten the hang of it, so I went swimming while he barked at me from the dock. Lisa and Angelo joined me. They had their equally kind neighbors, John and Kathy, over for dinner and included me in the festivities. I had such a wonderful time speaking with them and enjoying the delectable meal.
In the morning, the hospitality continued as Angelo made me pancakes and coffee while Lisa and I listened to loons call from the back deck. She even offered another night in their house should I like to take a rest day. I was severely tempted by this offer but I did not want to impose and felt I should keep going. I may have never wanted to leave. Lisa and Angelo advised me on how best to proceed back to the Northern Tier from their home. Not only did they load me down with brownies and Mountain House meals, (lightweight, dehydrated camp food that only requires the addition of boiling water) and a Lucilux (inflatable solar-powered lantern) they informed me that I could come back to stay anytime and I would always have a room. This sort of kindness still surprises me, every time, but the world is not so dark as people sometimes think.
We had traveled 495 miles.