Appalachian Trail Mile 1700.8; Rutland, VT

Friday, September 1, 2017 (Day 122)

I began at 9 am. It was so very cold. I had just enough fuel to make a hot cup of coffee. I clutched the hot pot with my glove covered hands and sipped, warming my body from the inside.

I began my hike. I was happy, motivated; I felt the miles I covered yesterday pushing me forward. I felt the momentum. I felt high with accomplishment, with freshness, with the simplicity and gratitude of being. I began to overflow with happiness, eyes watering, so grateful for life.

I made it to Route 4 quickly. I crossed the road and walked a little ways east to a home with a gravel parking space. I stood between the road and the parking area and stuck out my thumb. I got a hitch quickly. The driver was in the area for a wedding and took me four miles out of his way to drop me off at the front steps of the Yellow Deli Hostel. I thanked him kindly, and made my way up the stairs of the building.

The hostel was very nice. The dorms, assigned by gender, were clean and cozy and warm. I was greeted by a kind man who showed me around. I told him that I did not plan on staying. He said I could choose a bed to rest in even if I don’t stay the night. He said that I would want to stay, however, as they were holding their Sabbath festival that evening. At that, he left me to get situated. I felt extremely welcome! The hostel was buzzing with positivity.

I opened the wooden wardrobe that stood at the corner of the dorm room. It was filled with peasant tops and long skirts with floral patterns and loose linen pants that bunched at the waste and ankles. I selected a top and bottom combination, based on comfort. I removed my filthy garb and stepped in to one of the two showers in the clean and airy and well-stocked bathroom.

After bathing I put my clothes in the wash, and assisted in folding some of the hostel laundry. I dried and gathered my clothes and walked down the street to the Wal-Mart to resupply. Upon my return, the man who had greeted me was asking the hikers, variously sprawled about the living room, if anyone would be willing to help with dishes in the deli. I agreed to help. At that point, it did appear that I was staying after all.

I was led down the stairs and in to the Yellow Deli Cafe. There, a manager directed me to “work with the women”. I proceeded to help with the cafe’s closing tasks. I worked closely with a young women who had been hiking southbound this year. When she reached the Yellow Deli Hostel, she got off trail and joined the community. She said it was exactly what she was looking for. The Yellow Deli is run by the 12 Tribes, a Christian community that lives communally. I was curious. I asked her how it worked. She said that they all work and live together and share a communal wallet. She went home shortly after our conversation. She seemed very happy.

Then a lady led me to where they were preparing the meal for that nights Sabbath. How long would they keep me here? I peeled garlic and marinated some almonds and helped with some other random tasks, all the while watching the time. I had yet to write at all. Finally, I excused myself and returned to the hostel.

It was not long before the Sabbath commenced. I was very curious. I went down stairs to the large hall where all had gathered. There was live music and singing and Israeli Circle Dancing. The dancing was spectacular and raised great amounts of energy. Following the dancing, was informal liturgy and praise by any who wanted to speak. Then, dinner. Before I could make my exit I was offered a seat at a table and felt I could not refuse. I nibbled on bread made by the young girl who sat beside me, and ate salad with the provided chopsticks. ┬áThe breadmakers younger sister, who sat at my left, was very inquisitive. She asked me about my favorite desserts as she slid an open bible across the table and proclaimed “read!”. I refused the main course, and soon excused myself. I stated that I was very tired. This was true, I was exhausted. I also felt over-questioned and over-socialized with an overwhelming urge to retreat.

I returned to the hostel living room, and chatted with the other hikers. I was procrastinating. I was fighting sleep. The hostel manager entered the room and sat in the arm chair beside me. He began asking me about myself. He told me of the many other locations where the 12 Tribes community had hostels and farms. He smirked “I think it’s nice that you labeled your drink with your name. People don’t normally listen. Obedience is a good trait.”

At this last statement, I was taken aback.

“If it is logical, sure. But I don’t just blindly obey”, I responded.

The conversation continued, in a broken matter. I was not interested in talking. Eventually he retired. I should have done the same. Instead I sat, and listened, and talked with other hikers until long after midnight.

I finally stumbled in to the female dorm and collapsed in to a sleep.

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