I got a later start than planned, due to some excellent blueberry pancakes at Inn of the Long Trail, plus a missing steripen, which fortunately did not stay missing. The thing has proved to be worth it’s weight in gold.
I shared the breakfast with four LT hikers; one was majorly depressed and ticked off because he fractured his foot hiking down from Mt. Killington, and had to drop off the trail. Empathy was all we could offer. That and maple syrup and fresh fruit.
Due to the late start, I took the blue blaze trail up from the Inn to the AT northbound, and cut off about a mile of trail. No guilt. The six miles of old AT I hiked made up for the mile of new AT I did not.
The biggest obstacles on the trail this day were Mt. Quimby, and getting lost on a disc golf course while a tournament was in progress. One of them at least had switchbacks. I escaped the other one unscathed; it was a lousy shortcut to the outfitters shop anyway!
The hike itself was pretty nice – a lot of soft pine needles underfoot. Also a lot of mud, which was pretty soft, too. The hike took me by two waterfalls – a smaller one early on, and Thundering Falls later, which was really impressive. I lost the trail at the top of the cliff overlooking the falls, and as a result, climbed down a sandy and pine-needley cliff right next to the waterfall. I got some great pictures, and let me tell you, the climb down was exhilarating and quite terrifying! I relied very heavily on use of pine tree roots as handholds and sometimes on the hiking poles. Going down without a pack would have been more fun; going UP would have been the most fun of all. But I really loved the climb down, and the trail was dutifully waiting at the bottom; I got back on it and went on.
When I got to the shelter, I stank so badly, I couldn’t stand myself! Seriously! All I was craving was some privacy, so I set up the tent, then gave myself the closest thing to a sponge bath that I could, using wet wipes. Something. Anything. Just to feel even somewhat cleaner! I also finished off the peppermint schnapps – after all, I was celebrating my third month in the trail, plus my mother’s birthday!
I awoke to the sound of rain drumming on a tent wall. Oh, no. There was a bit of thunder, but the tent cover performed to expectations, and everything inside stayed dry. Again, it made for a late start, 8 am, because I could not pack up and be gone until the rain stopped… The rest of the day was beautiful, but the tent cover was soaked, and needed to be dried, if I could find a place to stretch it out and dry it.
Yesterday was 14 miles to a shelter; today was 13 miles to a town, Woodstock. There is a trail angel there who has been letting hikers camp on his property for 23 years, right next to the trail. I would like to have met him, but he was on vacation, and Miss Janet was filling in for him while he was gone.
A word about Miss Janet – She is a trail icon, and a very popular person on the trail! She used to run a hostel down in Tennessee; now, from all I can gather, she travels the trail, helping out other hostel owners and hikers, mostly living out of her van. I never expected to find her up in Vermont! But it was likely meeting a living legend, and the woman is just incredibly *nice*!
Once I got my tent up, I stretched the cover out to dry while I made dinner, and chatted with Trailmouse, who I last saw at Killington. She’s thru-hiked before, and is finishing a section hike of VT now. I turned in about 8 or so, I think.
Today was another milestone! I hit 700 miles at the end of the day! The miles are beginning to blur together in my mind.
A very cranky start to the day; a combination of really bad dreams, and a tent cover that was again soaked, this time from condensation. Trailmouse noticed my bad mood, and suggested a remedy: slackpacking. Miss Janet was going to be driving her pack to our next stop, a trail angel’s house in West Hartford, again about 13 miles, so I piled my gear in, too, and only took food, water, and toilet paper. In the end, there were six of us who did this. It made for a much easier day!
Up, down, up, down, the trail bumped along. It clouded over at one point and I heard thunder, but no rain fell, and the rest of the day was very pleasant. I reached West Hartford about 4:30, but did not stay there – essentially, Trailmouse and I caught a ride into Hanover, the next town stop (yes, I am town hopping now), and I will hike to cover the 10 miles between West Hartford and Hanover on July 19; it will be a melancholy hike, as I leave Vermont behind *sniffle*.
Right now, we are staying with Bill Schults and Betsy Maisien, who have organized an entire network of trail angels in the Norwich/Hartford area who are willing to take on hikers. There are eight here now, and the basement with INCREDIBLY SOFT AND SQUISHY CARPET is a sea of air mattresses, laid end to end. We arrived late, but in time to finish off the stir fry that was what was for dinner!
I want to take the carpet with me. I do. It is just that good! And a shower, a real shower!!! And clean clothes! After days of rain or heat, or rain AND heat… A ripe tomato had nothing on me!
Much refreshed, I hike on.