Long Trail - Day 3

We hiked through some remarkable beaver ponds and terrain to Story Spring Shelter, ate breakfast, prepared lunch, and filled up at the beautiful spring. Climbing Stratton Mountain, I felt discombobulated and could not find an efficient rhythm. My pack was too big, and the contents kept slipping to the bottom. I stopped to wash in a river, only to get bitten by many bugs. Laboring slowly, I ate lunch from my pot while walking and fending off insects. Andrew hiked strongly to the top, then waited an hour for me. After chatting with the caretakers, who monitor the summit from a cabin, we aimed for 13 additional miles to Routes 11/30 where Andrew had parked his car with our food. The gently graded trail, routed through carpets of pine and subsequently through lush foliage, permitted a sure-footed pace. We ran for the last 3 miles, bypassing some beautiful waterfalls. This time I arrived 5 minutes before Andrew. We rewarded ourselves with a dinner and night at Johnny Seesaw's Country Inn, where we showered and washed the sweat off our gear.

We never saw GPS and Smartwool, who detoured by gondola from Stratton Mountain for lunch in the ski village below. The pleasant caretakers at the wooded peak said that many northbound AT hikers call an end to their thru-hike here. Meanwhile, somebody who had run the LT from Massachusetts took a break nearby.
A group of dayhikers with a similar itinerary to ours churned straight through mud in heavy boots and vaulted over puddles with hiking poles. Andrew spent most of the day keeping up with them, except for my slowing him down. We missed them by 15 minutes at day’s end, according to a person waiting in the parking lot.