As I lie here in my sleeping bag, waiting for my pants to dry from sitting in hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps… I reflect on how much I hate this mountain, and the whole 17 mile section, and how much it hates me. Let me recount the why’s.
I already blogged about the aborted slackpack on Sunday, cut short by downpours and developing hypothermia. So yesterday, I was sooo eager, overeager, to get back on the trail; it took a different tack. Extreme heat. It was 95 in Rutland, maybe 10 degrees cooler higher up, when I set off at 2:30, having driven back from Westfield. I really was too eager, and tried to go too fast for the heat. I made it up the first rock scramble, and to the shelter a mile in, but the hill beyond, Beacon Hill, defeated me. This was one serious steep hill, the path was going up at a near 60 degree angle at times; you could almost touch the path in front of you, just by leaning forward a bit. I couldn’t make it up; too hot. I returned to the shelter. A one mile day. I was not happy.
Today I felt much better and much stronger, was up early and gone at 6:20. My plan was 14 miles, and I was confident I could do it. Mt. Killington promised a long, slow climb, but halfway up, the dirt path hugging the mountain turned into a path of rocks and roots hugging the mountain. Very much harder, but I reached the Cooper Lodge Shelter at 2:20. This was not my goal. My goal lay 4.5 miles further, and the really severe storm was not forecast until after 5, so I took a break until 3, then started down.
About a mile down, I started hearing thunder. I did not want to deal with another downpour on the mountain, much less strong winds and large hail, so I retraced my steps to get to the closest shelter. Unfortunately, this one leaks, and the rain was blowing in sideways, so staying dry was not 100% successful, for myself or my gear. It is 6:00 now, and sunny, and I feel like pushing on now that the rain has stopped, but I need to let the gear dry. l feel pretty foolish for turning back instead of going on.
It has been a very frustrating two days. Only 11 miles, over two days. I am more than ready to get to Rt. 4 in about six miles, and move on, so I can finally get out of the Rutland-Killington area! One bright spot tomorrow – the trail goes by the Inn of the Long Trail. More Guinness stew!
Tomorrow I will be in a better mood, I promise.
I hike on.