Dalton, MA - Manchester Center, VT [Mile 1,570 - 1,651]
Dalton, MA / Tom Levardi’s - Wilbur Clearing Shelter [21 miles]
This morning was blessedly cool. Even in the lower elevations of town, the air was chilly. Overnight dew clung to Tom’s clipped lawn, and our tents. I find it so much easier to get up and moving when the night has cooled the air.
Coffee and doughnuts also helped me get out of my tent. Tom generously supplied boxes of pastries and fresh coffee for all the hikers that stayed in his yard.
Afterwards, I packed up and headed to the local coffee shop for more caffeine and to make time for writing.
I don’t write as often when i hike with a group so I was behind on my trail log and blog post prep.
I left the shop two hours after Bru and Walkman. The group plan was to hike 21 miles to a shelter. Between town and the shelter is Greylock mountain. Many hikers had been saying that this was the first ‘real’ mountain we’d climbed in awhile. The talk of the climb made me nervous. Heading out at 11am for a 21 mile hike isnt the most fun day. I felt the stress of time.
After hiking 8 miles I passed through the town of Cheshire, MA. I stopped off for more coffee and ran into a few other hikers.
The caffeine buzzed me right up the mountain, and I made the climb effortlessly.
My legs are strong, but I think the trail itself today contributed to such an enjoyable climb. The path up Greylock was long (about 6 miles) so it wasn’t very steep. The elevation allowed for flat stretches to catch your breath before going up even more.
The grasses and deciduous trees soon gave way to pines, stones and mosses. The air became cooler and a breeze kept my spirits up.
I reached the summit not long after the rest of my group, despite my late start.
So upset that my phone is still too full and I could not take a photo.
Whether or not the Mountains of the past weeks have been more or less real than Greylock, the view was more grand than any I’d seen since Virginia.
Felt invigorated on the hike back to the shelter. Spoke to Cruise along the way about the difficult decision to hike the trail, and how that is the hardest part of the process.
He also mentioned something golden: that we are not out here to find ourselves, we are more ourselves out here than at home. Discovering that is what happens, not a trrarnsformation. A renewal?
Wilbur Clearing Shelter - Congdon Shelter [17 miles]
Twenty mile days have become so easy. Anything less and I have, or get the chance, to slow down.
I enjoyed lots of breaks and hiking with a group once again.
Crossed into Vermont! The first 105 miles of the AT in Vermont is also a section of the Long Trail. The Long Trail was established before the AT, actually an inspiration.
Toughest part of today: getting off trail.
I was deep in thought and missed a turn in the trail. Rather than curving right, up the hill, I continued straight along a rutted dirt road. I didn’t realize until 1-2 miles later my mistake.
I was upset at the lost time and pointlessly expended energy. I wasn’t lost by any means. I only had to turn on the gps map on my phone and turn around until I hit the AT.
I had just enough daylight to get to the shelter, but those 3.5 miles were difficult after traversing the muddy, pond & frog-filled dirt road of my mistake.
I soon heard voices ahead and saw a group of hikers sitting at an intersection of the trail and one (or the same) dirt road. They explained that a fellow hiker had hurt his ankle badly and they were waiting with him for emergency rescue services.
The hurt hiker was up and off using the bathroom, so he was doing alright. Inspired by the rescue effort and the company of other hikers I sat down to make dinner before going to the shelter.
I wonder if that hiker will get back on trail this year? Very rarely am I reminded of how quickly a thru-hike can change, or end.
July 31 Congdon Shelter - Bennington, VT [4 miles]
Bennington, VT - Story Spring Shelter [20 Miles]
Most of us slept in this morning and got moving around 7am. Prime had already left for breakfast as usual. Brü and I walked to get coffee. The sky was overcast and the air was cool.
Jukebox and Girl Scout arrived yesterday evening after hiking a 27 mile day. Unsurprisingly we didn’t see them before we headed back to the trail.
prime, Brü and I were shuttled back to the trail head. We stopped at a creek for water and a snack. Prime is agonizing over buying a plan ticket home. He doesn’t want to pick a date too soon and need to rush but he also does not want to fly too late and have to pay to stick around Maine.
We’re all thinking more and more about the end.
Most of the conversation between Brü and I on the way to the lunch stop was about finishing the trail: timeline, strategy for making it there, when we thought we’d finish. Will we cry at the summit?
It started raining as soon as we got to the shelter for lunch. It’s colder here on Vermont. The rain reminded me of the spring and the beginning of the trail. The shelter was soon full of NOBOs, SOBOs and a few Long Trail hikers. Everyone was waiting out the rain. We spent a cozy two hours in the shelter eating, chatting and napping.
The second half of the day was uneventful. The rain prevented me from noticing much of the terrain. It was so muddy. Most of my attention was on taking smart steps: avoid the mud but be careful of wet rocks. My feet were soaked very quickly.
There are lots of pines and no bugs up here. Other than the mud it’s lovely.