THE END OF THE LONG TRAIL! WE’VE DONE IT! WE FINISHED! SO LONG, LONG SWAMP!
Tuesday, July 7 – Day 18
We wake for breakfast at 7:30 and gorge ourselves on the most delicious homemade food: strawberry pancakes with butter and maple syrup, ham and cheese omelet, and coffee. So. Full. We chat with a couple from Arlington MA over breakfast – she’s an artist with landscapes on display at the Brian Gallery in Burlington.
Marsha gives us a ride to the post office, where we pick up our resupply and a care package from Jared filled with chocolate, tanka bars, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Yum. We send TWO boxes BACK to Exeter. A rude man in the post office gives us shit for having our resupply stuff spread out, and I give it right back to him. Marsha brings us back to the trailhead, and away we go!
On trail a bit after 10. It’s sooo hot and sooo humid. Yuck. We run into two men hiking immediately. They’re in front of us but going the exact same pace on the uphill, but slower on the downhills. I ask to pass – we do – and then they work hard to keep up with us (enough to kind of sketch me out until I realize they don’t want to beat by girls. Ha too bad suckas.)
We push up to Prospect Rock – a big, hot, humid climb. My legs are burning already. One of the men who was on our tails on the way up pauses at Prospect Rock but the other guy we meet back on the trail – he’d taken a detour around the view somehow. Strange. Another mile or two later we ask him where he’s going…Prospect Rock…well he missed it! Oopsies. Maybe he should think twice before trying to race Andrea and Jean!
We hike uphill to Roundtop Shelter. It has skylights – so cush! Snacktime. Downhill to Plot Road, up and down a small hill, and down to adorable Codding Hollow. Barking labs. Then up, up, up Mt Laraway. A few sprinkles after the summit. Fast hiking to avoid rains. We pass a man with 3 kids who we think are the family of the woman who gave us a ride from Mansfield to Stowe – nice!
We make it to our end point at Corliss Camp around 4 pm – early for us. We settle in and change out of our ridiculously sweaty hiking clothes. I managed to drench my shirt in sweat completely. After a little bit two women, sisters section hiking the trail over 14 years, with their dog join us at the shelter. Porcini risotto for dinner. Yum. We chat and chat swapping LT tales. Eventually sleep.
Wednesday, July 8 – Day 19
It rains overnight but we stay dry in our 4 sided shelter. We hike a moderate distance from Corliss Camp to Tillotson Camp in good weather. We get on trail around 9:45 am and say our farewells to sisters Missy and Diane and dog Rudy. I’m overcaffienated and scatterbrained.
Climbing up Butternut Mountain I immediately shed my wind pants and poncho. Andrea falls in the mud and slides downhill. Amazing. We meander the 6.7 miles from Butternut to Bowen Mountain – somehow the longest unbroken stretch – and eventually make it to Spruce Ledge Lodge. The lodge has nice skylights and it overlooks the Devils Perch Outlook to Belvidere Mountain – our next destination.
We hike down into Devils Gulch, which is pretty cool: flowing water, mossy rocks. Near Ritterbush Pond, up and over a knoll, across Route 118, then up up up Belvidere Mountain. Seemingly neverending. We take the 0.2 mile spur to Belvidere. I climb the windy firetower. I talk to Nancy on the phone, then to Jared. I’ve had such little service so far!
Then up the trail comes a young, tall guy wearing running shorts and Brooks Cascadias. Classic thruhiker. We hadn’t seen him before, so I ask him if he’s southbounding. Nope, northbounding. Something clicks in his head, then he asks, “Wait, are you Lady Luck??!!”. He’d seen our notes in the trail journals along the way and was trying to catch us for days! Awesome. His name is Sporkless. We’ll meet up at camp tonight. For now – back on the trail.
We hike quickly along the swamp trail, at one point having to crawl on hands and knees under a downed tree. We joke about being on Vermonts longest swamp. I’m starting to wonder if it IS really just a long swamp – so much much and roots!
We make it to Tillotson Camp at 7:30 and stay in the shelter with Sporkless – a nice kid! I drink Starbucks hot chocolate and eat my Thanksgiving-on-the-trail dinner. Good chat time, lots of laughter. A good way to end our 14.1 mile day. Sleep.
Thursday, July 9 – Day 20
Second to last day on the LT! We’re so ready to finish tomorrow! Today is long and emotionally tough (that last tough push before I can coast to the finish).
We share hot water with Sporkless who has been stoveless – eating his Idahoans and oatmeal packets with cold water. Yuck. He’s off to finish today!
On the trail just after 8 am, we hike 14.3 miles – up Haystack Mountain, down to Hazen’s Notch, up past a sign for Hazen’s Notch Camp. We see a sign that says 17 miles to Canada – awesome! It seems real now. Up Buchanan Mountain. I led the climb then immediately started falling behind. I’m tired, ready to be done, annoyed be the constant thwacking of overgrown tree branches and mud pits to navigate. Over Domey’s Dome, over Gilpin Mountain, then down to Jay Pass/Route 242.
We sit on the pavement for a few minutes before climbing Jay. We heard it was tough. I’m out of water, but the thought of getting more fuels me on and we race up the mountain in 45 minutes! So easy! The well maintained trail without swamps or branches to the face make the hike a breeze. People take the chair lift to the top and it’s a popular tourist destination, so there’s a cafe at the summit.
The cafe is closed, but we get to go inside, warm up, fill water, get TP, and use real toilets before the building closes at 5:15pm. I buy a gingerale from the soda machine and it pushes off the hanger for a while.
Downhill less than an hour more to camp at Laura Woodward Shelter. Our last shelter of the trip – it’s just us! Our only night that we didn’t meet another person at a shelter! I wash my feet. Eat dinner. I’m tired. Sleep…
Friday, July 10 – Day 21
LAST DAY!! We wake at Laura Woodward shelter – it had rained overnight. So much humidity means everything is soaked with sweat and never dried, as per usual. I eat granola, drink coffee, and finish the last of my coveted maple syrup. We start hiking around 7 am.
Up Doll Peak – so much fog! Eventually it starts to burn off and there’s sunshine. We shoot past Shooting Star Shelter, up little Burnt Mountain, then down to North Jay Pass where there’s road construction. It’s the last road crossing and we’re in the home stretch! I know I can make it, but I stop for a snack of nut butter and a probar to ensure I’m not hangry – I like to finish a trail on a full stomach so I’m happy. Andrea is a few steps ahead. I pass a trail runner who says “You’re almost there!” – yessss!
Up our last little peak – Carleton Mountain – then downhill! I take as many pictures of blazes (good ol’ Buddy Blaze) as I can. We cross the 45th latitude. Sweet. Then a sign…the end! Hooray! Yay! We did it!
Pics, monument, border swath, Canada! Snacks.
Then we hike the 1.3 miles out. Halfway there we stop at Journey’s End Shelter. The walls of the shelter are covered with quotes that hikers have written on their way out. I scrawl a few more. We find a note from Sporkless in the trail journal – so awesome! We hike on out. Just before the end of the trail, we meet N&C! We all hike on down the trail together, then pile in the car. Success.
On the way back to Glencliff, we stop at the Kingdom Taproom for real food and Hill Farmstead beer – a great find. Now it really feels complete.