After our rest day in Warren VT, Andrea and I hit the trail the following day. We were met by sun and summitted Camels Hump and Mansfield. Getting close to the end!
Thursday, July 2 – Day 13
Back on the trail after a full zero day feels great. We hitched a ride from Deborah Whitmore – the sweetest Vermonter, if there is such a thing. She brought us out of her way to the trailhead.
The trail gets more rugged from here on out. Time for the real Long Trail. We hiked up through Sugarbush and Mad River Glen Ski Areas – up Abraham where it was windy and overcast. Then on to Lil’ Abe, Lincoln, and Nancy Hanks Peak. By now the sun was out. Over Cutts Peak, Mt Ellen, General Stark Mountain, Starks Nest (which was an awesome spot which housed the solo lift chair for Mad River Glen), down a crazy trail with metal rungs and a ladder, past the Theron Dean Shelter (which had a cute little rock love seat), and down to Appalachian Gap where the road crosses.
Up steep Baby Stark Mountain, over rugged Molly Stark Mountain, and past Molly Stark’s Balcony – a nice view point. Past Birch Glen Camp, a great shelter built in the 1930’s. Then over a rolling trail to Birch Glen Shelter – a nice little spot with space for 5-6, nestled on a mini-ridge with sounds of flowing water. We hiked a solid 17.7 miles today!
We share the shelter with southbound hiker Camille. Thanksgiving-on-the Trail (one of the best trail meals there is!) and Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine for dinner. Tomorrow we go to Montclaire Glen, which is supposed to be a beast. Friend Renee and/or Mark may meet us for July 4th.
Friday, July 3 – Day 14
We wake nice and early at 5:10 am! Up and over Burnt Rock Mountain – lots of ledge but beautiful and not nearly as horrific as Camille had described it last night. Eventually you learn not to listen to the horror stories of the trail. Good views, great weather.
Down ladder ravine (which actually has a ladder). Up to Mt Ethan Allen with it’s 4 annoying false summits, by way of Mt Ira Allen. Down to Montclaire Glen Lodge. We eat many snacks and chat with a pair of hikers – a guy from Georgia and a woman from South Carolina. Then through Wind Gap to Camel’s Hump – one of the LT pinnacles!
Camel’s Hump starts very steep with lots of scrambles. We run into a family – the father couldn’t seem to wrap his mind around the fact that we were hiking the Long Trail. All of it. All 272 miles. Andrea and I laugh about it down the trail. The rest of the trail is super steep too, but we make it! Camel’s Hump – check!
So many people up here, yikes. We eat snacks and drink an Oskar Blues Ten Fi’dy. Down, down, down to the lowest point on the LT. The trail just goes on forever… Lots of sunny, exposed ledge followed by woods. Not many people on this section of trail – it’s not one of the popular routes up Camel’s Hump.
As we approach the bottom we get giggly (we’ve been calling it “crazy pills” – around the same time each day where we’re just mentally and physically exhausted). We’re belting out some off-key song when a nice looking older couple passes us. Snack break at the view point called the “Duxbury Window”. Down switchbacks to begin the roadwalk that will take us over to the old section of the trail (the new section goes over a fancy new footbridge over the Winooski River. Because we want to sleep in a shelter soon, we opt to take the old portion of trail). Not long into our roadwalk – which is horribly boring – that nice older couple drives by us and offers us a lift! Ok!
They drive us past the shiny new $1.5 million footbridge and drop us off at the Old LT. We hike up 1/2 mile under power lines and along a poorly maintained section in tall grasses, then we push off into the woods again. 0.8 miles of ups and downs and then we’re there – the Duck Brook Shelter! A nice middle aged man named Dave from Hartford, CT is staying there too. It’s kind of nice to have the company. We haven’t had a single night without other hikers yet.
We spend way too much time texting with Renee and Mark to see if they’re coming to meet us tomorrow. Both bail, but it’s fine. It would have been nice to see them, but we can manage just fine hitching rides. Our new plan is to hike toward Bolton and Mansfield (the highest peak in VT). We’ll stay at the Taylor or Butler Lodge below the summit on the 4th, bag the peak on the 5th, then hitch into Stowe before our last resupply in Jonesville.
We drift off to sleep to the sound of fireworks
Saturday, July 4th – Day 15
We wake at 6 and are lateish to get going (for us!) at 8:15. Dave makes a ruckus trying to be quiet – hitting his head on the wooden beams way too many times and knocking over a cookpot.
We hike up hill then down to Bolton Notch Road past a few sweet Beaver Dams. Some are multi-tiered and very impressive. We pass a dude that we’d seen on Burnt Rock Mountain who is now waiting for his friend. STEEP uphill to the junction with Buchanan Shelter. Snack time. 3.7 miles to Bolton Mountain.
As we come downhill from Bolton we hear this loud “HEY-O!” call over and over…is it coming from the Puffer Shelter? We get to Puffer, and no, no it’s not – it’s from someone making their way up the trail still. We snack. Eventually the source of the call – Frank from Attleboro MA – makes it into the shelter too. Frank the Tank. He is amazing. Such a Massachusetts stereotype. Turns out, Frank is hiking the trail to calm down and relax. Not working well, Frank. He proceeds to talk a mile-a-minute and gives us his entire life story, chronicle his hike, describes his run-in with a moose (hence the shouting), tells us how he’s trying to relax but can’t stop and eat, and then falls over backwards mid-sentence. Oh, Frank the Tank.
We (sadly) part ways and continue over Mt Mayo and Mt Clark. Down to Taylor Lodge over slow-going technical trail up and down ladders and over jagged boulders. Probably one of the trickiest/slowest sections of trail. At Taylor Lodge we run into a Dad, Grandpa, and two young kids. I run down to the water source to fill up. More snacks. And sweet, sweet maple syrup (I don’t know if I mentioned this already, but now I’m carrying a 4 oz bottle which I occasionally swig syrup from).
We leave Taylor Lodge and immediately hear thunder. Shit. Storm’s a comin’. Good think I drank that syrup… I lead the charge and book it as fast as I can the few miles to Butler Lodge. We pause at one point – red faced and breathing heavy from basically running up the highest mountain in Vermont. Good thing the trail is not technical here. We continue to hear thunder. At the trail junction to Butler Lodge, 0.1 miles away, we feel our first drops of rain. Ah! But we’ve made it this far, just a little further to go… At one point my fast steps turn into an actual run, Andrea says “yep!” and we do just that – run all the way downhill to Butler Lodge. We make it with a few drops of water on us, just before the sky opens up and dumps rain everywhere.
Butler is awesome – quite the chateau. The caretaker, Daley, charges us each $5. The lodge fills up. We get the last bunk. More people filter in and they have to sleep under the stairs to the loft. We hear more fireworks as we drift off to sleep.
Sunday, July 5 – Day 16
Late start. On the trail at 9:30. No rain, but the sky is overcast and we’re socked in by clouds.
We scramble up ladder and boulders to the “forehead”, around the “nose”, and to the visitors center (there’s an auto road leading to the top of Mt Mansfield). We hang our for 30 or so minutes and charge our phones. The sweet caretakers up there give us peppermint patties! We chat for a while.
We meander the 1.5 remaining miles to the actual summit/”chin” of Mansfield! Woooo hoo! We made it! We hang out for a few minutes. Snack. Then make our way down the trail. The clouds immediately thin out as we come down from the summit and we get nice views of the valley below. Near the bottom we meet a nice woman with a tiny dog who offers us a ride into Stowe. We take her up on her offer and she drops us off at the only laundromat in town.
The owners of the laundromat are excessively rude, but eventually warm up after they realize we’re hikers, not homeless (or so we think). We eat icecream while waiting for our clothes to wash and dry. I’m hangry. We walk to Umiak, an outfitter in town, which doesn’t actually sell fuel. Lame – they sell the stoves! But we luck out when one of the men working there happens to have a mostly full fuel canister and donates it to our cause – thanks dude!
We hitch to Mac’s Convenience Store where I have food fears and buy way too much (eventually I’ll learn), then hitch to the Stowe Motel. Shower. Burger at the Blue Donkey – Heady Topper and Focal Banger (both of the Alchemists beers!). We watch women’s soccer. Try the beer at Crop. Then sleep. Mileage today – only a wee 5.3. Tomorrow: Johnson!