We’re sitting at the very hoity-toity campus of Dartmouth at the moment. I certainly feel out of place, especially when we went to a college where flip-flops, shorts and pj bottoms were the haute-couture of the day and spending time between classes at the beach were the norm. Yes, my friends, we have made it to New Hampshire.
We made a pit stop in the town of Norwich, VT, just on the other side of the Connecticut River to get some day old and free sandwiches from Dan & Whit’s General Store. Mmmm! We also benefited from two trail magic’s during our road walk from the trail head!
Yes, my last post was very despairing. Chris wanted me to delete it but I felt that I should leave it because I didn’t want to misrepresent any feelings that are out here. Everyone has their bad days, sometimes others show it more. Yesterday, in fact, we ran into two southbounders at a shelter and one came bounding in and threw his poles off into the woods, walked off and then came back and said he felt better. We were noting that sometimes southbounders seem to be walking on clouds and everyone is perfect for them, so it was nice to know they are having it rough sometimes, too.
As for the rain, it did rain. We left Rutland and went three miles to Gifford Woods State Park where we paid $5 a person for a primitive site that was not unlike anything we hadn’t already seen for 1700 miles, and enjoyed a shower and relaxed. The rain came later that night and continued on during the early morning. We decided to sleep in, hoping it would stop. Our friend Merf was with us but we thought she was long gone when we went down to the park office at 9:15 and she had been down there all morning as well. Luckily the rain kinda petered out for awhile, did some more spitting and the day ended up being overcast for the rest of the day.
I think for the most part is that everyone is just beat now. We are tired, tired hikers. We have done 80% of the trail but the hardest 20% is still in front of us. I’m trying not to be scared @*$%less of the Whites but I am. All I hear is this steep, slick descent down Mt. Moosilauke and it makes me stomach knot. Though I am looking forward to cooler temps in the high elevations and maybe the bugs will disappear. Maybe. 😉 I doubt it! hah!
Vermont: well, it didn’t leave the best impression on me. I thought the last 40+ miles from Rutland were rather crappy and poorly maintained. It seemed like the Green Mountain Club only cared about the Long Trail section. The Dartmouth Outing Club maintains some of the trail in Vermont and much of it is overgrown and there are mud spots that definitely need boards. I have felt since we left the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference that the trail maintenance has been lacking. Perhaps I got spoiled by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club who maintained the trail so very well during their section.
Also, the trail in this section did this very annoying up and down every low ridge and hill thing, very similar to New York and Connecticut. Blech.
So, where to now? Well, we have another 9 miles to go today after a resupply, shower and laundry, something like 18 tomorrow, and then slowing down a lot to go through the Whites. I think we’ll do between 13-15 depending on the stops. The other problem I have with the Whites are the shelter and tenting issues. It is run by the Appalachian
Money Mountain Club, and they have huts which are like $80 a person and if you get there at a particular time you can do work for stay, or you can pay at the limited shelters and campsites $8 a person. Now, this probably doesn’t sound unreasonable to many people, but after hiking 1700+ miles without paying a dime at a shelter or tent site, it’s pretty ridiculous that a trail club gets the right to do this. And then they have rules about where you can and can’t stealth camp. So, yes, combined with the terrain, the locations are all a worry for many people. I’m just going to be glad to get through this state!
We are around 440 miles left….I can’t wait to step foot into Maine!!! It’s going to feel so good!
Your bro, sis-in-law, and your favorite niece.
So, we’re getting a cool front tonight/tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to it—well, sorta. The cooling off part I can handle, I can’t handle the rain that is coming with it. I hate rain. Or rather, I hate rain that I have to walk in. Being wet in clothes isn’t too bad, but I hate, despise, and sneer at having wet feet. It makes me really grumpy.
Last year apparently there were 30 straight days of rain. I would have bailed after the first few days. Not to mention I’m getting all antsy about the Whites and am not going to be happy to have rain and bad weather going through them. It makes me nervous and frustrated. I wanted to enjoy that section, difficult as it may be.
We’re in Rutland, VT resupplying for the day. I kinda wish we’d just packed a few extra days of food and skipped coming here because it was a hard-ish hitch and we have to take the bus back to the trail head. Yes, the bus goes to the trail head. So…anyway, we’ll be heading back out as the rain comes this way. I’m not too pleased. Oh well, such is life I suppose. Can I just call this my cranky post?
We have less than 500 miles left now. I’m guessing sometime between August 12-15th is when we will be done, which will put us at approximately 5 months. Next week is our 4th month on the trail! People….that’s a long time. I can’t even imagine being out here for six months. It really is a long time walking and walking and walking. There aren’t weekends on the trail unless you take them, zero’s, but then you just extend your time out here by doing that! I’m glad we put in all of those miles in late May and June so that we could do this thing in 5 months.
Vermont hasn’t been the most impressive state, or at least what I imagined it to be. The mud has been mimimal, except for some spots yesterday when we got an afternoon shower, but the flies are driving us bonkers. gah, it’s annoying to have them burrowing into your hair and flying in your ears. There haven’t been too many scenic vistas here, either. And really once you approach 3,000′ do you start seeing conifers. I really love that section up there, but below the flies are worse and it looks like any other green decidious forest we’ve been through. I suppose I’d appreciate it more if it weren’t hot and I wasn’t trying to make miles. Sometimes I wish I could take my time, look at different scenes and take photos; but I can’t.
yes, this is a Debbie Downer post. Sorry. I can’t wait for a pedicure, massage, not carrying 30 extra lbs wherever I go, washing daily (though I can see not taking a shower every day if you don’t smell), having clean and soft hair, cuddling with a pillow and sleeping in. Oh, and so much more than that. You certainly learn to appreciate the smallest things out here. Trail magic soda and apples yesterday were an absolute delight despite the rain shower coming down.
Alas, I am going to walk to Hanover, probably in the rain (am going to be pissed if it rain’s on my birthday) and then we’ll start tackling the Whites and hopefully get out of there unscathed.
I’ll stop complaining now.
Patrice: I got your message. I will call you in Hanover.
Another on the ground video. Pennsylvania.
At a shelter in New York. Chris watched this ‘fella/gal’ go into its nest for awhile and decided to set the camera down and see what happened next! Feel free to skip ahead to about 25 seconds.
Ah, taking another nearo here in Manchester, Vermont. We went so many weeks without doing anything, mostly because through NJ-MA there weren’t any good places to stop. Everything gets expensive and hostels are few and far between. Last week we stayed at Tom Levardi’s house in Dalton, MA. It’s this guy who has a house on the trail and basically lets hikers camp or stay inside his house for free. You get a shower, laundry and ice cream at the end of the night. It’s a pretty sweet deal and I recommend everyone stopping in when you go through Dalton.
We left Dalton on Friday and stopped in at Diane’s Twist, an ice cream store in Cheshire, before heading up to Mt. Greylock. The hike was not nearly as bad as I was expecting for our first time over 3K feet since the Shenandoah’s. It offered beautiful views and was an overall nice day. On Saturday we resupplied in North Adams and then took off for Vermont. WOO! Vermont was where we had been looking forward to going, or at least the start of where we had been looking forward to visiting. However, I haven’t been as impressed as I thought I would. I think I’ve discovered I enjoy Fall hiking much better. I think the scenery is much better, nevermind the sweat and bugs. That isn’t to say it hasn’t been awesome. There are more lakes and ponds and the vegetation is changing. Once you start getting towards 3K in elevation the conifers start taking over and the smell is incredible. It reminds me so much of the pine hammocks in Florida. Mmmm, love me some warmed up pine needles!
So, for the first 100 miles or so the AT follows the Long Trail, which is the oldest long distance trail in the U.S. The Long Trail splits off at Maine Junction just north of Killington Mtn and goes north to Quebec and the AT turns east and heads for Maine. Maybe one day I will come back and finish the Long Trail.
On top of Stratton Mtn, probably our biggest climb in awhile. Wasn’t too difficult. That is our friend Merf’s friend Jim. He just started for a two week stint and managed to climb up following our thru-hiker pace!
It starts getting light sometime way before 5am and the sunrise is at 5:15 these days. It blows. It makes it easier to get up at 6, but geez it’s annoying. This was from the Kid Gore shelter. Normally we are nestled in the trees and don’t get to see views like this.
It’s supposed to be hot for the next few days, which is not my idea of fun. But, it’s better than being rained on so I’m not complaining. We’re expecting to hit new Hampshire on Monday! I am trying to stoked for the Whites and not be so afraid of the initial ascents. I was also concerned about keeping higher miles, thinking that in the Presidential’s we’d be down to 12-15 but several people have seemed to say that thru-hikers can do 15-20 easily. We’ll just see I suppose.
It’s getting exciting!!!!
From our days hiking with Caboose and Spark and Merf.
Alright, finally some time to do the best of #2! This is from Mile 501 on Pine Mtn to Harpers Ferry.
-Chestnut Knob Shelter, Va: 561.8, elevation 4,409
-Rice Field Shelter, Va: 633.2, 3,375
-McAfee Knob: 703.0, 3,197
-Cold Mtn: 802.7, 4,022
-Rock Spring Hut, Shenandoah: 917.7, 3465
-Crescent Rock, WVa: 996.9, 1,312
-Va606 to Wapiti Shelter: Miles 602-609.8
-Hazeltop Mtn, Shenandoah: 909.7
-Sky Meadows State Park: 977.6
-The Barn: Atkins, Va. Cheap, very good hiker food. Right on trail.
-Exxon station at Atkins, Va.
-Ming Garden, Waynesboro, Va. Best Chinese buffet out there.
-Trents Grocery, Va: Cheap, cheap burgers….good pulloff for a burger.
-3 Little Pigs BBQ: Daleville, Va
-Big Meadows Wayside, Shenandoah: worth stopping in to resupply and get dinner before heading to the next shelter.
-Cannonball Deli, Harpers Ferry: affordable, good deli food.
-Secret Six Tavern, Harpers Ferry: lots of history, good view, good food.
-Woodshole, Pearisburg, Va. So much history with this hostel, excellent homemade food, very comfortable setting.
-Bears Den hostel, on the rollercoaster section of Va/WVa. Owned by the ATC, run by the PATC. Stopped for a rest, but one of the cleanest hostels I’d seen.
-The Relax Inn, Atkins. Very much a low down motel, but the people are very friendly and it is on the trail.
-Waynesboro, Va. There are Trail Angels galore to shuttle you around and everything is in decent walking distance. Very friendly town.
-Apple Orchard Mtn/Guillotine, 760.1/760.4
-Audie Murphy Monument: 681.7, 3,100: just, up up up and up. ick.
-Johns Hollow Shelter to Rocky Row Trail: 777.6-779.6. was humid and practically straight up.
-Chimney Rocks/Three Ridges: 3190/3870, 828.1/829.4: A nearly 3,000′ elevation gain from the Tye River. Long, steep and annoying…not very well blazed either.
-Rollercoaster, Va/WVa: this really isn’t that big of a deal, it is just annoying.
-Partnership Shelter: 527.3: You can order pizza and there is supposedly a shower. What more can you want?
-1/4 mile north of Jenkins Shelter in Va: You will cross a small stream and there is a campsite on a small little island. Worth camping here instead of the shelter.
-Seeley-Woodsworth, Va: 811.7: Just a pretty little site. Loved the lighting here.
-Blackburn Trail Center: 1001.6: Run by the PATC. If you catch it right the caretaker sometimes makes dinner for the hikers. The shelter is an enclosed cabin with bunks.
-Harpers Ferry Outfitter
-Outdoor Trails in Daleville, Va.
Slowly, slowly are are making our way up the eastern seaboard. We’ve arrived in upper Mass. and are taking our first full trail zero since Damascus, Virginia, which is well over 1,000 miles south of here. That is if you don’t count our five days at home. We’ve been experts at taking nearo’s and half days, but we’ve been feeling the tiredness and beat down lately. It seems to be rampant among many hikers. The big push to do huge miles this last month has left everyone a little ragged and if we’re going to start hitting real mountains soon (Mt. Greylock tomorrow. Our first 3K peak since the Shenandoah’s) we’d better rest up.
The past few days have been rather exciting and fun. We’ve interspersed longer days with a few shorter days in order to relax and enjoy the scenery. We left Kent, CT and did a big mile day to Limestone Spring shelter where we ran into Caboose and Spark, another couple we’d only met a few weeks ago but had been following in the logs for awhile. Since then we’ve hiked with them and our friend Merf (who we met in Harpers Ferry). The following day we had planned on getting up at 5:30 in order to get our miles in before the late afternoon thunderstorms. It was only a 17 mile day and so instead of booking it and getting to the shelter we ended up loafing around the entire day, stopping at Lions Head right out of Salisbury for a break and to talk to locals, then a short-ish lunch, and then up to Bear Mtn, crossing the CT/MA border and then everyone took a very, very chilly swim in Sages Ravine. Then we kinda meandered up to Race Mtn where we took a break at a false top, then found a HUGE blueberry patch where we sat on the real top and enjoyed blueberries for about thirty minutes…and what did we end up hearing with three miles left to camp? Thunder. Crap. So, we started hoofing it and had to climb Mt. Everett and what happened while we were on top? The storm decided it wanted to pass right on top off us so we’re running down the rock face mountain to get away from lightning. We ran down the mountain to see Caboose and Spark had jumped into a port o potty at a trail junction and though we’d just gotten wet three minutes before we jumped in with them and a British-American bicyclist (who gave us his chocolate bar to eat) and then we had .5 a mile to the shelter. So, that is what we got for trying to get up early to beat the rain, then enjoying the entire day and still got wet. Oh, well.
We had another nice day on Tuesday with only 14 miles so we could go to the Upper Goose Pond cabin and relax for the day. This is a must stop on the trail. We arrived an hour past lunch and were completely starving so when we saw the leftover pancakes from the morning we all scarfed them down in about half a second. We lounged around the entire day, had blueberry pancakes for breakfast and then took off for the last shelter before Dalton yesterday.
Chris and I left before the other three so when we met up with them later they came up and told us of their plan. About two days before we’d run into an older man named Make Time who was two days away from completing his thru-hike (must be done 365 days to be considered a thru-hike). He started last year at Katahdin with his wife and hiked to Dalton and then started at Springer and was going to end at Dalton this year. He’d been on the verge of quitting for the last 200 miles or so and was even considering quitting at Great Barrington only 50 miles south of here. Well, they’d come up with the plan that we should if we could pass him sometime that day we should go into Dalton instead of to the shelter before, buy a bunch of beers and sit at the end of the trail before it comes into town and cheer and clap for him. I mean, this guy has been plodding along, one foot in front of the other. Also, interestingly enough we ran into this guy Cob who we started with and hadn’t seen since Hiawassee, Ga. He’d taken a few days off in Boston and we saw him at Upper Goose Pond. He’d been hiking with Make Time for a long time and his goal was to basically walk him into Dalton so he wouldn’t quit. Now…let me talk more of the story…it’s a bit more round about too…
So, halfway through the day yesterday we stop at the Cookie Lady’s house, where a lady supposedly has cookies and you can fill up water there. No one was home but we had lunch there. We were kinda lingering and about to finish up when two other hikers come up. My first impression were that they were true Southbounders. We’ve been wondering when we would see real Southbounders, people who have started at Katahdin this year. Sure enough we were correct! We chatted with them for a bit and then marveled that they’d bounded down here from Maine in a month and they’ve been booking it through some tough terrain. Hit and Miss thru-hiked NOBO a few years and are making a SOBO trip this time. We left them, hiked down the trail and finally overtook Cob and Make Time at a view where we got our first look at Greylock. Somewhere about half a mile or a mile later just while we were talking about Hit or Miss and their insane hiking prowess they come running up behind us breathless! We all did a double take and thought we’d been played. But no, they decided they’d liked our little group so much and decided to turn around and follow us back into town! We let them know of our plans for Make Time and loved it so much they joined us!
So, we finally made it into town about 4:30 to this guy Tom Levardi’s house. He basically lets hikers either tent or sleep in his house, do laundry, shower and hang out. He had bikes to use so the guys ran to the liquor store to get beer and we relaxed for a few minutes and then we all walked back to the trail head to wait for Cob and Make Time. They came about thirty minutes after we’d been sitting there. It was such an emotional experience, too. I can’t even explain it. Make Time had talked a couple days ago about how he liked tallboy Budweisers in the red can so we bought a special can for him. The problem with the end there was that he really ended at the middle of town, so we all walked with him the next half mile or so through Dalton to the intersection where he and his wife got off last year. When he called his wife to let her know he had finished…well, words can’t even explain. All of us girls had tears in our eyes.
When you’ve been on this crazy, insane trail for so long the ending is bound to be emotional. It’s so much beyond physical. And we have 5.5 to six weeks left until our journey. No one will be sitting there with beers for us, but it doesn’t matter. We’ll have walked from Georgia all the way to Katahdin, been through ups and downs, met so many different people.
It’s quite an adventure.