(Pics in another post)
This past section flew by – 50 miles in 2 1/2 days. Mostly sun, only rain at night, boyscouts stealing shelter space, a porcupine sighting, nearly getting lost in the woods, summiting Killington…
Wednesday June 24 Day 5
Andrea’s aunt Sandy and Uncle Jim meet us at our hotel and we have amazing breakfasts at Up For Breakfast – hungry hiker specials. Sandy and Jim are awesome and shuttle us to the post office and trail head too.
We’re on the trail around 10:45, fueled by high powered caffeine. What did they put in our coffee?? The miles fly by. Beautiful sunny, not humid weather.
Hike over Bromley – love the chair lift at the top. Over Styles Peak and Peru Peak. We see the same trio of older women that we met at Harmon Hill – the “Grandmudders”! We pass the magical Peru Peak shelter and go through the enchanting Griffith Lake area, complete with Lilly pads, swimming newts, and wild orchids.
Over the exposed ledge of Baker Peak. Past Lost Pind Shelter. We get to our destination – the Big Branch Shelter- only to find it dominated by BoyScouts. They’re teeming in the river, roving the trail, and the leader tells us he plans to put 7 boys in the shelter. No thanks. We hike on.
We stealth camp in the Big Branch picnic area, 0.5 miles of trail, bringing our mileage to 17.7 on LT plus 0.5 bonus. Beat our tentative 2 mile goal for the day!
We don’t see the aurora that Jared told us about. We hurry to set up Andreas (well, Joanne’s) tarp tent for the two of us. Ramen dinner. Sleep.
Thursday June 25 Day 6
We left the picnic area and ran into a porcupine waddling up the road! We stomp and clap and it stands up on its little hind legs before waddle/running off.
We bump into The Dude and his wife who is supporting him in their Eurovan as he slack packs his way up the upper AT. Past little rock pond shelter – also a magical place. Through rocky terrain. Past these amazing rock cairns. We each build one of course. We meet Buiscuit, an AT through hiker. It’s sad to leave our new semi hiking companions at Killington when the AT veers east while the LT continues north.
Across Route 140. Up chipmunk ridden Bear mountain. Down Patch Hollow with 6 foot tall yarrow. Drinking from the spring at Minerva Hinchey shelter. Past airport lookout, Clarendon Gorge, over Route 103. We weave our way through what seems like between property parcels and across small dirt VT roads – over barbed wire fence stairways, UP to Clarendon Shelter, Beacon Hill, across Lottery Road, Keifer Rd, Cold River Rd, Upper Cold River Road, and Gov Clement Shelter Road.
Hey – bright idea – let’s follow the road that looks like it will dump us out at the shelter! Save time with a road walk. Lesson learned the hard way…. Don’t trust a trail map with road directions! We hike what seems like too far up a dirt road. We seem skeptical when we turn right at a junction. We go uphill. It must be here though, right? We reach a junction with a gate and private property. Hmm. The Guthook app shows us off track but it’s about 2000 feet east through the woods. Bushwhack? Ok, let’s try it… Andrea says this is how people die in the woods. Hmm lets hope not… Using my compass and our app we push our way into the woods. It gets darker and darker and more overgrown and now it’s going downhill. The app doesn’t seem to show us getting closer. Or maybe it does? We can’t tell. Uneasy feelings. After what feels like a long time Andrea abruptly says “this is stupid. We should turn around”. I say “yep! Let’s turn around” overcome with relief and skeptical feelings about our return journey through the woods at the same time. “Just follow bearings west” I say to myself as the little sky light gradually wanes. We push our way through branches and over stumps. At last we recognize things. And eventually we find the dirt road again. We run the 0.75 miles of road. We find the familiar and comforting white blazes, hurry down the trail, find the shelter with Biscuit and Scout and her dog Salomon. Relief. Unroll our sleeping bags, quick dinner, bed at 10. Lesson learned-stay on trail.
20.9 LT miles plus ~2 mile bonus
Friday June 26 Day 7
It rains all night and we’re happy to have the shelter. It’s a bit dark inside and we don’t wake until 7:30. Breakfast, pack up, farewell to Scout and Salomon who are the first southbounders we’ve met – they’re ahead of the pack. Scout is taking Salomon to a vet tomorrow, his doggy pack is rubbing his sides raw.
The trail is muddy again from rain but the sky is clear. Our first 4 miles are up hill, toward Killington, the second highest VT peak. Not a bad climb. The 0.2 mile spur trail is straight up. Great views from the peak.
Back down, past weekenders, along the ridge toward Pico, down the 3 miles to VT 4, 1 mile hitch to the Inn at Long Trail where we meet Andreas mom, Jackie.
Jackie is great! She brings us to the Killington post office to get our resupply and then the 10 miles to the Long Trail Brewery. We eat great food, drink great beer, tell stories, and laugh. To the market for Cabot cheese, PB, and packets of VT maple syrup which I’m very excited to add to my trail oatmeal. Goodbye Jackie, thanks so much!
Shower, laundry, sleep in real beds. Tomorrow we’ll see if we can make the 19 miles to Sunrise before the rain comes! Next stop – Waitsfield