This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

Category Archives: Vermont

New Hampshire to Vermont

Coming down off of Mt. Moosilauke was the end of the most difficult section of the AT. Despite the rain, I felt a tremendous relief being out of southern Maine and the White Mountains. These mountains were beautiful, and the views from the peaks extended for miles in all directions. For almost 400 miles I had persevered through the most daunting part of the AT, and I was ready for a kinder, gentler path.

After resting for the afternoon at the Hikers Welcome Hostel and meeting Saint and Soynuts (whom I had not seen in a few days), we continued on for a few more hours to a campsite. We crossed the road, found the trail and began a mild uphill walk over the next ridge. It was surprising to me how drastically the terrain changed from one side of the road to the other. The rain had stopped, the woods were welcoming and the trail was easy to walk on. There were no huge boulders to crawl over, or slick roots to avoid. It was just a simple path. I alternated between the usual tense anticipation of another arduous climb and wanting to trust that I could relax, simply walk and just take in the beauty of this new environment.

This was the Appalachian Trail that I knew and loved. There was great satisfaction in working hard and successfully navigating the mountains of the northern region, but now I sensed that I had truly returned to the trail that had been calling me the last few years. I felt pure joy and excitement to be walking, practically gliding, up the trail. Adding to this elation was the awareness of how strong I had become in the last month. I felt like I was flying up the mountain. My pack was not a burden, my feet were not in pain, I was not breathing hard. I was moving with a light step, easily and smoothly.

This is a physical benefit of going southbound. You get your trail legs quickly. Every day, beginning with the climb up Mt. Katahdin, is an intense workout, and if done carefully, it allows the hiker to become trail hardened early in the journey. Any subsequent hill or mountain after Moosilauke feels tame. Although there will still be plenty of mountains to hike, there will be nothing like the Bigelows, Wildcats, or Kinsmans to climb.

I love this beautiful trail.

I love this beautiful trail.

 

Later in the evening, Soynuts and I found Saint at the campsite and set up our tents. A couple hours later, Forger showed up (we thought he had gone ahead since he did not stop at the hostel that afternoon) and our original sobo bubble was reunited for the first time in 300 miles (since Monson). Our reunion would be short-lived, but we enjoyed hiking together for the next couple of days.

View from Mt. Cube.

View from Mt. Cube.

 

The next day we summited Smarts Mountain which has an abandoned fire tower at the top. There are many fire towers throughout this region and on clear days they afford wonderful views.

Fire tower on Smarts Mtn.

Fire tower on Smarts Mtn.

 

Our original sobo group in the fire tower on Smarts Mtn.. Soynuts, Deja, Saint and Forger.

Our original sobo group in the fire tower on Smarts Mtn. Soynuts, Deja, Saint and Forger.

 

Views from Smarts Mtn. fire tower.

View from Smarts Mtn. fire tower, looking north.

We looked back on the distance we had covered over the last month. Katahdin was long out of sight. Our legs and determination had brought us this far. Then we looked south. It seemed there was nothing in our way. The land was calm and inviting. Again, I felt a peace come over me, knowing that what remained of this trek, while still challenging, would be more about the commitment to get up every day and walk, rather than to face a rock wall that intended to block my way.

 

Looking south to where we will go.

Looking south to where the trail leads.

 

The next day, we made a stop at the home of Bill Ackerly, the Ice Cream Man. Bill is a retired Harvard professor who lives just off the trail and has been providing ice cream and sodas to hikers for several years. He has a croquet set and invites hikers to play during their visit. We spent two hours with Bill, talking and playing croquet.

Bill Ackerly, the Ice Cream Man.

 

Bill showing hikers how to play Croquet.

Bill showing hikers how to play croquet.

None of us knew how to play croquet, so Bill had to tell us every move to make. We had a blast! Eventually, we pulled ourselves away and hiked on.

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Home of Bill Ackerly, trail angel, ice cream man.

 

Hanover, New Hampshire was just a few miles away. This would be the first town in which the trail went right through. No hitchhiking necessary. Hanover is the home of Dartmouth College and is very welcoming to hikers. It’s an odd mix. Ivy League meets Hiker Trash. The community center provides showers and laundry facilities to hikers for $5. Several businesses offer freebies to hikers, such as a free doughnut at a bakery, a free pizza slice at a pizzeria, and a hiker discount on a brown bag lunch at a general store. People were kind and a few stopped to ask about the hike.

Getting close to Vermont.

 

Just beyond the outskirts of Hanover, on a bridge extending over the Connecticut River was the border of NH and VT. I crossed the river, and entered state #3. I love Vermont. It’s often referred to as “Vermud” because of the normally wet and muddy conditions on the trail. But there was no rain at all and virtually no mud during my time there.

Crossing into Vermont on the bridge over the Connecticut River.

 

Soon after leaving Hanover, beyond the river, I went through the small town of Norwich, which had a wonderful old general store where I bought snacks for the hike out of town. I had a hard time getting away because several people, other hikers and locals, wanted to chat. I really love talking to anyone about the trail. People are curious and I love to answer their questions. It’s a nutty thing, this long distance backpacking. And yet, it’s mysteriously fulfilling. Explaining why it’s fulfilling will always be a struggle for me. Hopefully, I can address that aspect as I write this blog.

Beginning a few miles before Route 4/Sherburne Pass, the AT shares the path with The Long Trail, which runs the length of Vermont from Canada to Massachusetts. (I hiked The Long Trail in 2013 and those posts can be read here and here.)

About four miles before Route 4, I saw this sign, which always makes a hiker’s heart sing.

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Two couples had tables set up with barbecued pork sandwiches, fruit, salad, sodas and cake. I stayed for quite some time, eating their food and talking with them. They asked about my experiences and shared their own. They had all hiked Longs Peak in Colorado, which is about two hours from where I live. But the trail doesn’t hike itself, so soon I had to get going. That is the unpleasant part of trail magic like this. Eventually, one has to walk away from it.

Trail angels and their awesome trail magic!

Trail angels and their awesome trail magic!

 

A couple of days later, I needed to be in a place to do my online lessons, and I had made reservations at the Green Mountain House Hiker Hostel in Manchester Center, VT. I made my way there via Wallingford on “The Bus,” a local shuttle bus that connects several small communities in the area. The Green Mountain House is run by Jeff Taussig, and is a popular place to stay for AT and LT hikers. It’s impeccably clean and quiet. I stayed here during my 2011 hike and knew it would be the perfect place to rest and work.

Green Mountain House Hiker Hostel.

 

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Jeff Taussig, owner of the Green Mountain House Hiker Hostel.

Two days later, Jeff took me to town where I caught The Bus again and retraced my route through Wallingford and back to the trail.

The AT travels through some interestingly iconic places along its 2,189 mile path. This rock garden, also known as the “hoodoos”, is one of them. Rocks are piled in various forms, on the ground and on nearby tree branches. It’s tradition to add a rock to one of the piles. Or maybe I made that up, but I’ve added a rock to a stack on each of my hikes through here.

Hoodoo rocks.

Hoodoo rocks.

 

Adding a rock to the collection.

Adding a rock to the collection.

 

The trail also crosses a few ski areas. It crested Sugarloaf, way back in Maine, and here it goes over the summit of Bromley Mountain. This is a popular destination for day hikers and there were lots of people at the top. Soon the hikers will be replaced with skiers.

Bromley Mtn. Ski Resort.

Bromley Mtn. Ski Resort.

 

Stratton Pond is one of my favorite places in this area. It’s set in a beautiful location and is incredibly peaceful. The shelter is well-constructed and roomy and is a good place to spend the night or take a break before hiking up to the summit of Stratton Mountain. I arrived mid-morning, so after a short rest, I continued up to the summit.

Stratton Pond.

Stratton Pond.

And since this is Vermont, where there is a mountain, there is another fire tower. Hikers love fire towers!

View out of the Stratton Mtn. fire tower.

View out of the Stratton Mtn. fire tower.

 

In many places in this region, there are old, low rock walls. These fascinate me. I believe they divided property long ago. I love to think about what this area was like when these walls were built. Who lived here? Where did they come from? What were their lives like? I rarely see remnants of homes, although sometimes rusted machinery is lying around. I love to think about what life was like for the people who constructed these walls and what was happening during that time period.

Old rock walls.

Old rock walls.

 

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I spent nine days in Vermont, including my days off in Manchester Center. Every day was beautiful and hiking was exhilarating. I passed a few northbounders in southern Vermont, but those numbers were starting to diminish. Nobos have to summit Katahdin by October 15, when Baxter State Park closes.

On my last day in Vermont, I passed the sign for the southern terminus of the Long Trail. I remembered my excitement when I finished the LT two years ago, and also the tinge of sadness I felt that my hike was over and that I could not continue on the AT.

Now, I touched the sign, noted the blue-blazed side trail that led me off the mountain two years ago, and with renewed energy and happiness that this trip was far from over, I followed the white blazes down the AT. And then, after walking 592.5 miles from Katahdin, I entered Massachusetts, the fourth state on my southbound journey.

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Backpacking the Long Trail: In Photos

(To read about this trek, go here.)

Nachita, Truly Blessed and Deja, three seasoned thru-hikers.

Betsy, Jan and me, aka Nachita, Truly Blessed and Deja, seasoned thru-hikers.

Truly Blessed drove Nachita and me to the northern terminus of the Long Trail. Thank you, Truly!

We're ready to go! Nachita and Deja.

We’re ready to go! Nachita and Deja.

"O Canada..." At the Canadian border.

“O Canada…” At the Canadian border.

Betsy at the northern sign.

Betsy and the sign.

Officially at Journey's End - our beginning.

Officially at Journey’s End – our beginning.

First white blaze and we're off! These blazes will lead me all the way to Massachusetts.

First white blaze and we’re off! These blazes will lead me all the way to Massachusetts.

Whut...

Whut…

Ah-ha.

Ah-ha. We’re already rule-breakers.

Hiking up Jay Peak.

Hiking up Jay Peak.

Out of the woods, onto the slopes.

Out of the woods, onto the slopes.

From the top of Jay Peak.

From the top of Jay Peak.

Resupplying for the next section from stash left in Nachita's car.

Resupplying for the next section from the stash I left in Nachita’s car.

Last pic with Betsy. My hiking buddy has to go home now.  :(

Last pic with Betsy. My hiking buddy has to go home now. :(

Spruce Ledge shelter. Most of the shelters on the Long Trail are more like cabins - fully enclosed with a door and windows. They used to have wood burning stoves, but most of those have been removed due to the fire hazard.

Spruce Ledge shelter. Most of the shelters on the Long Trail are more like cabins – fully enclosed with a door and windows. They used to have wood burning stoves, but most of those have been removed due to the fire hazard.

Stone fences are common in some areas.

Stone fences are common in some areas.

A rare "calm" section of the LT in the northern section.

A rare “calm” section of the LT in the northern section.

The double blazes mean there's a change in direction.

The double blazes mean there’s a change in direction.

Had lunch at Bear Hollow shelter on my way up the Whiteface Mtn.

Had lunch at Bear Hollow shelter on my way up to Whiteface Mtn.

Some of the steepest terrain on the trail led to this peak.

Some of the steepest terrain on the trail led to this peak.

Typical section of trail.

Typical section of trail. Argh.

View from Whiteface. Then it was an arduous hike down the other side.

View from Whiteface. Then it was an arduous hike down the other side.

The trail crossed over several ski areas.

The trail crossed over several ski areas.

View of Mt. Mansfield, which I'd climb the next day.

View of Mt. Mansfield, which I’d climb the next day.

Coming to the summit of Mt. Mansfield after a steep hike from Smuggler's Notch.

Coming to the summit of Mt. Mansfield after a steep hike from Smuggler’s Notch.

At the top.

Mt. Mansfield summit.

Caretaker at the summit. He hiked the AT in 2011 also and we think we may have met at a break. Trail name: Turtle.

Caretaker at the summit. He hiked the AT in 2011 also and we think we may have met at a break. Trail name: Turtle.

This is a two-mile ridge walk to a summit house and tram line. It was a weekend and there were many tourists here (even though I managed to get a picture without any in it.)

This is a two-mile ridge walk to a summit house and tramway. It was a weekend and there were many tourists here (even though I managed to get a picture without any of them in it.) Camel’s Hump is in the distance.

The climb down the “Forehead” was very steep and tricky, involving several ladders and a slabby rock climb section. If the weather had been bad, it would have been interesting. I was thrilled to done with that part.

Puffer Shelter, one of the old ones.

Taking a break at Puffer Shelter, one of the old ones.

View from Puffer, looking back toward Mansfield.

View from Puffer, looking back towards Mansfield.

Another view toward Mansfield from an uplifted rock formation.

Another view toward Mansfield from an uplifted rock formation.

After seven days on the trail, Jan hiked in five miles to meet me (and hiked the same five miles out again). I took a night off the trail at her house, resupplied and resumed hiking the next day, ready to take on Camel's Hump.

After a week on the trail, I needed to resupply. Jan hiked in five miles from Rt. 2 to meet me and took me to her house for a night off the trail. I bought more food, enjoyed a wonderful dinner which she made, washed my clothes, showered and repacked for the next section, which started with Camel’s Hump.

The road walk on the LT to Camel's Hump trail head.

The Duxbury road walk on the LT to Camel’s Hump trailhead.

Old barn along the Duxbury Road.

Old barn along the Duxbury Road.

The seven-mile ascent up the Bamforth Ridge to the summit of Camel's Hump is long but beautiful.

The seven-mile ascent up Bamforth Ridge to the summit of Camel’s Hump is long but beautiful.

My tent site near the Bamforth Lodge, three miles up the ridge.

My tent site near the Bamforth Lodge, three miles up the ridge.

Summit of Camel's Hump.

Summit of Camel’s Hump.

Another hiker and the caretaker (right), also an AT (and PCT) thru-hiker. Trail name: Samwise.

Another hiker and the caretaker (right), also an AT (and PCT) thru-hiker. Trail name: Samwise.

Summit views.

Summit view.

Coming down the south side of Camel's Hump. Reminded me of Katahdin, very steep and rocky.

Coming down the south side of Camel’s Hump. Reminded me of Katahdin, very steep and rocky.

Camel's Hump in my rear view.

Camel’s Hump in my rear view.

Steep, rocky down climbs...

Steep, rocky down climbs…

...and more...

…and more…

...and it just keeps going. Slow and tedious.

…and it just keeps going, slow and tedious.

But charming Montclair Glen Shelter was a nice place to take a break.

But charming Montclair Glen Shelter was a nice place to take a break.

Burnt Rock Mtn.

Hiking over Burnt Rock Mtn.

I am Amazon Shadow Woman. Burnt Rock.

I am Amazon Shadow Woman. Burnt Rock.

Having our moment. The owl at Huntington Gap.

Having our moment. The owl at Huntington Gap. This was really cool…

Beautiful evening at Birch Glen Lodge. View from my tent site.

Beautiful evening at Birch Glen Lodge. View from my tent site.

Mad River Ski Area.

Mad River Glen.

Mad River.

Ski it if you can.

Doesn't look too scary...

Doesn’t look too scary…

But this sign warns otherwise.

But this sign warns otherwise. Those N’s mean business.

View from Mt. Abraham.

View from Mt. Abraham.

Met Lisa and John and their dog, Clark at Skyline Lodge. We all got there at the same time and then it started to rain hard.

Met Lisa and John and their dog, Clark, at Skyline Lodge. We all got there at the same time and then it started to rain hard. This is one of the nicest shelters on the trail. Well-built and sturdy.

This was Lisa's first camping trip and she was having a great time. Skyline Pond.

This was Lisa’s first camping trip and she was having a great time. Skyline Pond.

About to hike out together. Great company.

About to hike out together. Great company.

Just to remind  you where we are...

Just to remind you where we are…

The trail becomes a little kinder... beautiful morning.

The trail becomes a little kinder… beautiful morning.

The Inn at Long Trail is a favorite hiker stopover for Long Trail and Appalachian Trail hikers. These trails merge about a mile north of the Inn and are the same for the next 104 miles south to the MA border.

The Inn at Long Trail is a favorite hiker stopover for Long Trail and Appalachian Trail hikers. These trails merge about a mile north of the Inn and are the same for the next 104 miles south to the MA border.

The night I arrived, the Inn was full, but they allow free camping across the road in this grassy area. My view of the Inn from my tent site. I got a room the next night. I spent the day resupplying in Rutland (down the road - a bus stops in front of the Inn), doing laundry and relaxing.

The night I arrived, the Inn was full, but they allow free camping across the road in this grassy area. View of the Inn from my tent site. I got a room the next night. I spent the day doing laundry and resting. I resupplied in Rutland which is nine miles down the road. A shuttle bus stops in front of the Inn. This was my only full day off.

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And then it was onward and up to Killington Peak.

Go that-a-way.

Go that-a-way.

I met Andrew, an AT southbounder near the Inn. We hiked together for a couple of days. On the Clarendon Bridge.

I met Andrew (trail name, Fives), an AT southbounder, near the Inn. We hiked together for a couple of days. On the Clarendon Bridge.

Clarendon Gap.

Clarendon Gap.

It's not all rocks and steepness.

It’s not all rocks and steepness.

Fall is coming.

Fall is coming.

"Welcome to the magical stone village of rock castles and fairy houses."

“Welcome to the magical stone village of rock castles and fairy houses.”

There are many beautiful ponds along the way.

There are many beautiful ponds along the way.

The AT and LT are the same trail in this area. Mileage for the AT, shown here.

The AT and LT are the same trail in this area. Mileage is for for the AT.

Fives leading the way.

Fives leading the way. Near Griffith Lake.

Bromley ski area.

Bromley ski area.

Bromley.

Bromley.

Fives and I met up with Potter - a recent high school graduate who's delaying starting college by hiking the AT.

Fives and I met up with Potter on this morning and we all hiked for the day to Manchester Center, a short hitch from the bottom of this mountain. They were taking a day off and I continued on after resupplying. Potter is a recent high school graduate who’s delaying college by hiking the AT. The trail is his lecture hall…

Potter checking out the warming hut.

Potter checking out the warming hut.

View from Bromley.

View from the Bromley slopes.

Stratton Pond. I had been hiking hard in the rain for two hours trying to get to the shelter before dark. By the time I got water and hiked up to the shelter it was dark and everyone in the shelter was appeared to be asleep.

Stratton Pond. I had been hiking hard in the rain for two hours trying to get to the shelter before dark. By the time I got water and hiked up to the shelter it was dark and everyone in the shelter appeared to be asleep. It was the 2nd time I stayed in a shelter (I stayed in Skyline with John and Lisa earlier). The rest of the nights I slept in my tent.

Fire tower on Stratton Mtn. This was the last big mountain on my hike..

Fire tower on Stratton Mtn. This was the last big mountain on my hike.

Caretaker's hut on Stratton. I met the husband-wife team a few miles down the trail as they were clearing brush.

Caretaker’s hut on Stratton. I met the husband-wife team a few miles down the trail as they were clearing brush.

Very cool spider web.

Very cool spider web.

Trail Magic! No one was around but the note said, "You know what to do!" The cooler was full of sodas, muffins and brownies. Awesome!

Trail Magic! No one was around but the note said, “You know what to do!” The cooler was full of sodas, cookies, muffins and brownies. Awesome!

There are many trees along the trail bent in this fashion. Supposedly, Native Americans would bend the saplings along their routes in order to mark their paths. The trees grow into these odd shapes.

There are many trees along the trail bent in this fashion. Supposedly, Native Americans twisted saplings along their routes in order to mark their paths. The trees have grown into these odd shapes. (I don’t know if that’s the case for this tree, but it is for others, especially along the AT.)

And then, one evening, I came to the end of the Long Trail.

And then, one evening, I came to the end of the Long Trail and stepped into Massachusetts.

At the Massachusetts border.

At the Massachusetts border.

Last morning before hiking out.

Last morning before hiking out.

Three more miles along the Pine Cobble Trail (a feeder trail to the LT), and down the the road.

Two more miles along the Pine Cobble Trail (a feeder trail to the LT), and down to the the road.

I went to Williamstown, MA where I stayed in a motel and figured out my plans for getting back to Boston. This was a fantastic trek, challenging in every way. Everything worked our extremely well and other than a bunch of blisters, I stayed healthy and strong (and got stronger!). And yes, I’d do it again. But not anytime soon.  :)

Backpacking the Long Trail: In Words

(To see pictures from this trip, go here.)

More than a month has passed since my last post, and quite a bit has happened, all of it good. As I type, I’m sitting in my apartment in Nagoya, Japan (waiting out a typhoon!), where I’ve just begun my fourth term with Westgate.

The break between the spring and fall terms was six weeks and I realized a few months ago that this would be the perfect time to attempt to hike the Long Trail (273 miles) in Vermont, which, while merely a fraction of the distance of the Appalachian Trail (2,185 miles), is still considered to be one of the most challenging among the established trails in the U.S. So I spent the last few weeks in Japan making plans for this hike and convincing a few friends (it wasn’t hard) to be a part of this adventure. I set aside three weeks to hike the trail. As it turned out, I finished it in 18 days.

On August 11th, I flew to Boston where I met Jamie, a dear friend I’ve known for many years, from our time working at a medical facility in Boulder. Jamie now lives in Maine and drove down from Portland to meet me at the Boston International Hostel. We spent the afternoon and evening walking all over Boston, talking, and enjoying the best Italian meal I’ve ever had at one of the many restaurants just blocks from the Old North Church. We walked along the Freedom Trail, through the historic Beacon Hill and North End, along the Charles River and the Theater District. The weather was perfect and it was a great time to reconnect.

We were up early the next morning since I had to catch a 7:00 a.m. bus to Montpelier, Vermont, where I would meet two other good friends, Jan and Betsy, who would be part of my trek. So Jamie and I said our goodbyes, she drove back to Portland, and I donned my backpack and walked to South Station to board my bus.

As we pulled into the small town of Montpelier, I received a call from Jan and a text from Betsy – they had both arrived at the same time (but separately) and had seen the bus come into view.

I met Jan (trail name: Truly Blessed) on my ’98 AT thru-hike. She lives in Vermont and has also hiked the Long Trail. I met Betsy (trail name: Nachita) on the 2nd half of my 2nd AT hike in 2011, when she thru-hiked with her husband, Pancho. She is from Atlanta, Georgia but was in New Hampshire conducting a leadership training course for the Appalachian Mountain Club. The end of her course lined up perfectly with the beginning of my trip and she was able to hike with me for 2 1/2 days and 35 miles before making the drive back to Hot-lanta. Jan was not able to hike with us (she met me later for part of a day), but was our blessed Trail Angel and shuttled us to the remote environs of the northern terminus of the Long Trail. (You can read Betsy’s version of our trip on her blog, right here.)

Background on the Long Trail:

The Long Trail is situated in the Green Mountain range and is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the U.S., extending 273 miles through Vermont from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts border. The northern half is considered to be the most rugged part and requires careful footing, long days and patience. Much of the trail is very rocky, wet and rooty with incredibly steep terrain. There are many muddy sections giving the state the nickname “Ver-mud” along the trail.

The Long Trail in Vermont.

The Long Trail in Vermont.

There are also some significant mountains that have to be climbed including Mt. Mansfield, Camel’s Hump, Mt. Abraham and Stratton Mt. The southern half of the trail becomes more gentle, compared to the northern part, but nothing about the this trail is easy.

The LT can be hiked in either direction, north or south. I chose to go southbound for two reasons: 1) I wanted to get the more difficult northern section over with first. I reasoned that since I hadn’t backpacked for a couple of years, I’d be going slow anyway and would get my hiking legs built up quickly in this section. 2) Logistically, it would be easier to get back to Boston on my own from the southern end where there were more transportation options available. Jan was able to take us to the northern terminus (called Journey’s End, since most people traditionally hike northbound), which, besides just being fun for all of us, allowed Betsy and me to avoid the inconvenience of finding transportation to Journey’s End.

These two reasons played out as I expected and I’m very glad I went southbound. I’d do it the same way if I were to hike the trail again.

And so, after meeting Jan and Betsy in downtown Montpelier, getting some last-minute supplies and trail food for the first leg of the hike, we set off for the Canadian border.

We arrived at Journey’s End in the afternoon on Monday, August 12th. After taking pictures and making sure we had everything, we hugged Jan goodbye and began hiking south at 4:30 p.m.

18 days later on August 30th, at 6:40 p.m. I touched the Long Trail sign at the Massachusetts border.

Facts and Figures:

I took one day off at the Inn at Long Trail, near where the LT and AT merge, a favorite hiker stopover.

My shortest day was 5.7 miles on our first day of hiking. My longest day was 24 miles on my last day. I averaged 15.2 miles per day, not counting my day off.  In the more difficult northern half, I averaged 13 mpd and was able to increase the daily mileage in the southern half.

Without food and water, my base pack weight was 22 lbs. That could have been lower, but since I was traveling by plane before and after my hike, I had to carry additional flight-appropriate clothes and a few other items. With food and water, I estimated my pack weight went up to about 35 lbs, but I never had a chance to weigh it.

I resupplied four times: from Betsy’s car when we finished the first 35 miles (I left food there so I could hike with only three days’ worth at the beginning), in Barre while staying the night with Jan, Rutland and Manchester Center.

I had great weather most of the time, with only five days and/or nights of rain. There were some precarious sections on Mt. Mansfield that could have been very sketchy if it had rained while I was going through those areas, but happily the weather was sunny and clear and I didn’t have to worry about rain-slicked rocks.

Since most people hike northbound, I crossed paths with a lot of those hikers. I met about 25 thru-hikers (people hiking the whole trail in one attempt, like I did), and many section and day hikers. I don’t know how many southbounders there were since we were moving in tandem, although I heard of one hiker who was about a week ahead of me, and met another southbounder on the first night of the hike. But Betsy and I hiked aggressively the next two days and I never saw that person again.

Would I do it again?

While I was hiking during the first week, my answer was: no, not necessary, too tedious, too this, too that. By the end of the hike, I knew that if I had the time available, I would have tagged the southern sign, camped for the night, then turned around and begun hiking north. (That’s called a ‘yo-yo’.)

But instead, I continued hiking to the parking area at the trailhead and was met by the proprietor of the Williamstown Motel where I had a reservation for the night. (The motel is listed in the Long Trail guidebook as one of the lodging options in Williamstown, MA.)

From here I figured out my transportation back to Boston (which involved a detour through Providence, Rhode Island, simply because it was the only state in the East – and one of four in the U.S. – which I’d never been to, and I also wanted to see Brown University. In a future post I’ll write more about my time in Boston, Williamstown and Providence.).

Then, so fast I couldn’t believe it was already over, I was flying back across the country to Colorado, with one week to spare before I would again board a plane, this time, for Japan.

(To see pictures from this trip, go here.)