Moving into month #3! Somewhere along the trail, I passed the 600 mile mark; more than halfway done the northern section now. I anticipate greater mileage days in the southern section; it being easier, it should go a lot faster!
But July 1 was all about getting up, over, and down Stratton Mountain. The elevations are increasing; Stratton is the highest mountain in southern Vermont, at 3940 feet. It was a 15 mile day; the first 8 were just to get to the mountain from the shelter I stayed at. A fair amount of up and down, but I still felt pretty energized when I hit the Stratton road, beyond which the mountain climb began. From the map topology, it looked like a long, steady, but not steep climb, with a steeper descent.
It was immensely frustrating! At first it was easy, the trail got harder, but the really annoying part? You would see light through the trees, and think, “Ah, I am approaching the top.” And the the trail would veer off in some completely other direction, and keep climbing… It did this at least eight times! And then there was the man who assured me the top was ‘just around the corner’. Uh, huh… He must have meant a corner some 1.5 miles away, because that is how much more there was to climb!
Finally, the top. The only way to get a view was to climb another fire tower. I passed on that. I did stop to read the plaque – Stratton Mountain is where the person most responsible for making the AT a reality first thought of the idea. That part was pretty cool… But is was 3:45, and clouding over; bad storms were forecast, and it was still 3.2 miles down to the shelter. I couldn’t linger.
Truth to tell, I practically ran down the mountain. On the way, I passed a couple that had decided to stealth camp along the trail, and I considered it myself, but I really wanted to be in a shelter that night. Continuing on, I was hearing distant thunder, which spurred me on – I made 3.2 miles in about 1 hr 45 minutes, which is very fast compared to my usual speed.
No more than 10 minutes after I reached the shelter, two things happened – the clouds really let loose, and someone’s phone went off with a tornado warning. Well, we never saw the tornado, but it stormed and downpoured an insane amount of water over at least the next three hours, possibly more; it was still acting out when I went to sleep. I was concerned about the tenting couple, but they turned out okay; they were concerned about ME, whether I’d reached the shelter in time or not. I turned out okay, too.
Oh, yes, there was a group at the shelter with a dog. There have been many dogs hiking the AT, I have no problem with that, as long as they are well-behaved, and most are. This one was not. The good night’s sleep I hoped to have was often interrupted by the dog barking. It was quite frustrating!
I have a lot of mosquito bites. I just thought I would mention that. Also, Vermud is an apt name, given trail conditions.
I hiked on.