Last July, after walking nearly 300 miles over the past three weeks, I was on top of Jay Peak, a little more than ten miles from the Canadian border. The wind was blowing 20 miles an hour and up, and rain on the way. I hung my tarp and hammock from the base of the ski area patio, and started dinner. Seven people clustered around three stoves, assembling dinner from food bags with a great view of the ski area unfolding below. In a protected spot between the top of the chair lift and the maintenance shed, we stretched out and ate, discussing the day ahead.
A realization came to me. This was not backpacking in the wilderness. It was hanging out at the top of the mountain out of season. I was a vagrant, living outdoors with other people who felt the same way. A deep sense of well being overtook me. In the night, wind and rain rattled my tarp, but I felt completely at peace in the hammock. In the morning, I got up early, had a cup of coffee, and walked toward Canada. It started raining about noon, and I reached the border close to two.