Mon, Aug 19
I sleep ok and wake to my alarm at 6:30. Pack, eat, chat with Eyore. On trail at 7:45. Down 1.5 miles to Big Branch, over the bridge, and to the shelter where I find Wooby and meet No Hitch. Hike and chat with Wooby for a bit. We snack and chat with some overnighters at Little Rock Pond Shelter. An awesome shelter with great bench seating! I hike on.
Up to the rock garden full of little white cairns. White Rocks. I remember hiking past here with both Maggie & Mark and Andrea on two different hikes. Lunch break here with Sunshine. Up to Minerva Hinchey Shelter where I run into a father (Moses) with an external frame pack and his two daughters my age on a three day hike. They leave. I eat a bar. Supervisor arrives. I depart.
Down to Clarendon Gorge for a dip! I join Moses and the 2 daughters with the same idea. The water is surprisingly warm for a river, but refreshing and cleansing. I should be swimming in all the ponds and rivers.
Then time for the one very steep mile up uphill to Clarendon Shelter. I arrive at 6:40, set up camp, and filter water. Lots of folks here and more arriving – some overnighters, Moses and his daughters, Supervisor, Ambassador, Hat Trick, Tadpole, Survivor, Sorchi, Sunshine, No Hitch, etc. An overnighter cuts his foot on a broken bottle and is bleeding profusely. A few thru hikers hop in to bandage his foot. Dinner. Sleep. Tomorrow: up and over Killington! Maybe the Yellow Deli, a cultish group which I’ve heard questionable stories about, but everybody is going there..
Sun, Aug 18
Slept till around 8 in Renee’s Westy. I think my incessant night time peeing kept waking up Renee. Dorset Bakery for breakfast burrito, scone, coffee. Another cute little of Vermont village. Renee brings me to the trail and I start hiking around 10am.
3 miles to the top of Bromley. Day hikers and Otter are up there. Love the ski lifts at the top. This one’s running – can you ride it to the bottom? Down 2 miles to Mad Tom Notch where I run into Wooby! He tells me how he almost quit after a bad day yesterday. Glad he didn’t. Snack break. Up to Styles Peak for another snack with Wooby and Ambassador. Over to Peru Peak Shelter where Faceplant, Buttcheeks, Grandma Leya, Otter, and SOBO Joey Dabs are all having lunch. May as well have another snack and catch up.
Hike on up to rocky Baxter Peak where I rest in the sun, take in the view, try to dry my perpetually wet shirt, and listen to podcasts. The goal is to get to camp around 6 or 6:30. I get to Lost Pond shelter at 6 where a big college group is at along with a SOBO hiker. I set up my tent, get water, and rinse in the river. Dinner of Knorr pilaf and salmon. Another SOBO shows up. Then a group of four (including Eyore, Gandalf, For Fucks Sake, and co) who I’ve run into a few times. Into my tent around 7:30 and then the rain begins to fall. I write and go to sleep early.
Sat, Aug 17
Rest day! Bluegrass festival with Renee.
Wake at 7 to everyone quietly packed up around me in the hostel room that sleeps 4. Downstairs to make breakfast for myself – english muffin, eggs, sausage, pineapple. Pack up. Jeff brings me up town by way of the post office. Thanks for the great stay! I pick up a flimsy emergency poncho at Walgreens before chatting with Grandma Leya at a cute cafe in town.
Renee swings by to pick me up in her Westy, Lucia, and we head over to the Green Mountain Bluegrass and Roots Fest. We listen to the music, scope out the vendors, hang out with her parents Theresa and Paul, sweat and bake in the sun, take a dip in the river, eat their homemade garden food. I get a sunburn. Clouds give us respite.
After Mipsy when we plan to eat chili in the van they announce a severe thunderstorm headed our way, so there’s a pause on the music. We hunker in the van, eat chili, and watch the gray skies, sideways rain, and festival goers depart. The rain stops. A double rainbow! Lovely sunset. Music resumes. Renee and I stay until 10. Sleepy. We depart in Lucia, pull into the campground, shower, then sleep at 11.
Fri, Aug 16
Rain, town day, Manchester Center, and Green Mountain Hiker Hostel.
Lots of rain overnight. Wake around 7. Pack, breakfast, chat with the other hikers – Grandma Leya, McLovin, and others. Tales and I run into the caretaker on our way out and pay the $5. She tells us about the bear who broke into the privy for old Wonder Bread here. Yuk.
Down to Stratton Pond. Lovely. Gray day. Flatish, moderate trail with decent mud. Thunderstorm! Ponchos on. Tales and I trudge through the rain. The rain stops. Snack break on a rock. Finally to the road at 1:30!
A hitch after a few minutes. A woman who is a diver pulls over and we, plus 2 SOBOs and their dog, hop in. We talk about dogs. She drops us in town. McDonald’s stop, beer store, Price Chopper for resupply and fruit. I call Jeff from the hostel and he picks me up.
To the hostel where I find Grandma Leya, a NOBO couple, and a brother and sister from India visiting the US. Shower. Laundry. Tales and McLovin arrive, too. Write. Cook. Eat. Chat. Plan meeting up with Renee and her parents for the Bluegrass Festival in town tomorrow. Sleep.
Thurs, Aug 15
Glastonbury Mountain, Stratton Mountain, firetower views, and Stratton Pond Shelter.
Tales and I are some of the last out of camp after breakfast. A short climb to the top of Glastonbury. A break at Kid Gore Shelter. Then another break for lunch at Story Spring Shelter where I meet a handful of more NOBOs – Eyore, Gandolf, and others. And Buttcheeks and Faceplant arrive and we catch up before taking off again.
Some ups and downs, rocks and roots, mud and beaver dams. Tales and I take a Snickers break in the sun before climbing Stratton. 3 miles uphill and more mild than expected. The group of 4 NOBOs is at the top. I climb the fire tower twice – once for views, a second time seeking cell coverage and for pictures. Downhill. Water at spring. Down more. 4L of water at the creek where we meet NOBO Prometheus.
There’s no good stealth camp spot, so we head for Stratton Pond Shelter where we’ll pay $5. Plus there’s thunder which means rain and inside will be nice. Tales and I arrive around dark or just before to about 6 others there already and I get one of the last bottom bunks. Dinner. Let the rain commence! It pours and Tales generously takes both of our food bags to the bear box. Bear boxes are new in the area and rumor has it, the VT black bear population has tripled in the last decade. A few have been aggressive and one had to be put down at Goddard Shelter a few weeks ago. Sad. Write and sleep…
Wed, Aug 14
The first of three 20ish mile back to back days, trail magic, and hiking with Tales.
I wake around 8 at the fairly crowded shelter area. Several tents are already packed up and gone. Breakfast at the shelter with Tales, Ridgerunner and Tumbledoor. The instant steel cut oats plus granola is a good combo. I pack up, filter water, and am one of the last out of camp. Big day ahead. Lots of up. I’m slowish in the AM.
Snack break at Congdon Shelter where Tales, Squeaks, Buttcheeks, and Faceplant are breaking too. Hike on. Quick break on Harmon Hill. Tales helps me up reserve a night at the Green Mountain Hostel for Friday night because my reception is bad in Vermont. Leapfrogging with Buttcheeks and Faceplant and Tales. Tales and I eventually start hiking together as we’re on the same pace and schedule. It feels good and familiar to be back on the Long Trail that I hiked with Andrea in 2016ish. It’s less swampy this time around, thankfully. Still muddy in spots though. Ol’ Vermud.
A steep descent to Route 9 with lots of stone steps. Greeted by trail magic at the bottom! 2 generous souls are sharing donuts and candy and Gatorade and water and fruit. I eat probably too much. Tales and I realize it’s 3pm, there’s 10 miles left to hike, and lots of uphill to tackle. Let’s go! We’re doing it! We blaze up the hill, fueled by donuts and sugar.
Water break at Hell Hollow. Small break at Little Pond Lookout. Finally the last uphill push to Goddard Shelter. Andrea and I stayed here on the LT after a soaking thunderstorm. Tales and I arrive around 7:30 or 8, fill water, eat food, and sleep in the shelter along with 4 others…
Tues, Aug 13
A long and busy day! Help from MK to slackpack over Greylock, meeting up with Krista, then another 7+ miles into VT.
I wake at MK and Jason’s around 5:30, write a bit, then get up at 6:45. Thanks for the coffee and bagel, MK! Jason brings me back to the trail on his way to work. My pack is light and easy. On trail at 7:40.
I immediately run into Redline and we hike together to the top. We run into Fairyflower and Lukenbach on the way up! At the top see Tales and Ambassador. Soda, snack, hotdog. Rain. I start down. Down, down, down. Water water treatment plant. Pee-you. MK meets me at 2 with the rest of my stuff. Thanks for the slack pack! As I pack up, RR and Tumble appear and we hike together for a few minutes before I peel off to meet up with friend Krista, who is passing through.
Krista and I catch up over beer and snacks at a restaurant in North Adams before we swing by the grocery store and she drops me back at the trail at 5pm. Hike 2 miles or 7.7? We’ll see!
I’m feeling good and determined, so I plod on. Up Pine Cobble and into Vermont! Filter water. Am startled by a SOBOer. Podcasts get me there and I arrive at the Seth Warner Shelter at 8pm. Clean up, set up, and sleep.