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.



Long Trail - Day 2

We got up early and hiked through some rolling, abandoned farmland. We crossed Route 9, bathed in a river there, then hiked up to a ridge trail. Andrew went ahead, and I caught up to him at Goddard Shelter as a downpour started. We prepared some food, the weather cleared, and we went up the fire tower at Glastenbury Mountain. Next, we hiked a long up-and-down meandering section of old trail and forest. The shelter logs indicated that GPS and Smartwool were just ahead of us, so we tried to catch up. I slipped on a slanted rock, fell on my elbow, and learned not to hurry too much. As darkness fell, we tarped on a shelf above the trail in a bed of ferns, 2 miles before Story Spring Shelter.

GPS and Smartwool were a pair of lady hikers who kept an online journal on the HikeVermont website maintained by Rita W. Together with them and a few others, I maintained some records about preparations and results.
Later I kept similar records on the HikeVermont site for my AT thru-hike, since I was an alumnus of the Long Trail by then. This online activity seemed novel to me, as Internet communications had only recently broken through.



Long Trail - Day 1

My 18-year-old Scouting friend Andrew and I waited out a rainshower, then started up the Pine Cobble Trail in Williamstown, Mass. at 10 a.m. After a rocky hill, the forest along the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail was lovely and gently graded, but had a certain sameness about it. As we approached a massive boulder, a young woman with a fairly heavy pack and bug-bites on her legs came toward us. After swapping trail information, we started off on our fresh legs. She lingered, watching us go. Further along we saw our first beaver dams. After dining at Congdon Shelter with several AT hikers, we pushed on until dark, then tarped for the night.

Dining at a picnic table beside Congdon Shelter, a southbound hiker confessed to us that he hadn’t been prepared for long-distance hiking. He said he had thought he was ready, but he found he wasn’t and took some time off near Killington. His buddies called out to him that that they planned a long-distance “death march” for the next day.
My pack weighed 16 pounds, including a base weight of 8 pounds plus 7 pounds of food and 1 pound of water. I later reduced my food ration by about 1 pound. Although Andrew’s pack weighed 35 pounds, we each had a footprint of about 175 pounds.