From there the trail continued for nearly four more miles before reaching a highway. We had heard this was an easy spot to hitch a ride into town, and that turned out to be true. We didn’t have to wait long before a woman stopped and offered to take the three of us. She said her son had completed a thru-hike a few years ago.
She agreed to take us directly to Mountain Goat Outfitters so that I could look for a new pack. I spent nearly an hour there looking over the inventory of packs and trying on a couple. Unfortunately, the store didn’t have the right pack in the right size for me.
I was able to buy a sit pad, though. It was a replacement for the one I lost in Pennsylvania.
Manchester Center is just one part of the town of Manchester. Several citizens, including the owner of Mountain Goat Outfitters, have been working to gain designation from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as an Appalachian Trail Community.
It seems to be a good fit, and in fact, it's surprising Manchester wasn’t already an official trail community. It has a natural affinity to outdoor recreation, thanks in part because the fishing and hunting retailer Orvis was founded here in 1856.
Another large business located here is Burton Snowboards, which originated in Jake Burton Carpenter's barn near Manchester in 1977.
An unverified statement in Wikipedia says the land around Manchester was originally "better suited for grazing than tillage, so by 1839 about 6,000 sheep roamed the pastures and hillsides." That may have been true then, but today the only flocks you'll see here are those of tourists. They come here to graze at trendy outlet stores and restaurants.
We didn’t. After we left the outfitter store, Stick, Becky and I walked a few blocks to a Price Chopper grocery store.
I called Green Mountain House Hostel to see if there was room for us to stay there. They were already full, but the owner told me about a woman who has recently started renting rooms to hikers.
When I called Jen, she told me she wasn’t a true hostel. She rented bedrooms in her house while her kids were away at college, but she didn’t provide laundry facilities or meals. This seemed sufficient for our needs, and Jen agreed to pick us up whenever we were ready.
After shopping for our next few days on the trail, we lugged our groceries to McDonalds. We hadn’t yet had a real lunch, so this was an opportunity to get something to eat and organize our purchases.
Then in a surprise text message we got word that Pippi and Mechanic were in town. We agreed to meet for dinner in a few minutes at the Firefly Restaurant.
Yes, we had just eaten at McDonalds, but now we were walking to another restaurant to eat again.
We thought nothing of it.