Long Trail - Day 17

Lacking water, I climbed up and over Jay Peak on a dry breakfast, and found the next spring at Laura Woodward Shelter. The trail approaching Shooting Star Shelter featured the most rugged single descent of the journey. It seemed to drop 2,000 continuous feet. During a rest and a hot lunch at the shelter I met a southbound day hiker, then a pair of high school young men briefly stopping there. They seemed to observe my weary determination. Near Route 105 a well-conditioned, gritty man with close-cropped white hair and a 55-pound pack congratulated me in advance. The final section of the trail rolled through endless hills of dense foliage almost like a bad joke, reminding me of all the obstacles I encountered in the northern section. Reaching the border at 4:40 p.m., I nearly overlooked the monument located behind a rock.

The Journey's End trail became tame and flat, offering all kinds of camping opportunities. So I realized that the Long Trail had been placed in the most dramatic landscape, featuring lots of ups and downs on purpose. Reaching Journey's End Camp, I celebrated with a pair of section hikers for five minutes. By foot and by hitching, I reached the Buon Amici Motel in time to meet and dine with another pair of hikers, James and Melissa, who got me to Massachusetts the next day.
The Long Trail end-to-end hike averaged 16.5 miles per day for 17 days. A modest pace on rugged terrain.



Long Trail - Day 16

After a bumbling start, I descended through the rock formations of Devil's Gulch and ate breakfast looking down at the cloud rising from the nearby lake. Soon Rita W. came up the trail to join me for the day's walk. We crossed Route 118 and hiked to the peak of Belvidere Mountain, observing prevalent tree damage from Hurricane Floyd. From the tower I could see the asbestos mines on the southeast slope, a landmark Rita had previously pointed out from Lincoln Peak. We noted unusual rock stratification around the pond just above Tillotson Camp. Eating lunch at the camp, we watched a rain system enter the valley to the south. The rain overtook us as we hiked, and surprisingly seemed to thunder and circle around us. Rita stopped to wait for her ride at the unpaved Route 58, while I headed for Hazen's Notch Camp to make dinner. When the rain let up, I attempted to reach Route 242 by dark. There was a lovely twilight around Domey's Dome and Gilpin Mountain, but I misjudged the time. Two more hours of hiking with my dim light remained. I tarped alongside the trail somewhere near Jay Camp at 10 p.m., and turned in after 11 p.m., still fairly wet. My pace averaged 1.3 miles per hour for 16.5 hours.

In the early morning I got some water at the spring, filtered it, and knocked it over. So my departure dragged on and otherwise went awkwardly.
At night it took several attempts of walking up and down the highway to find the trail on the north side and the nearby shelter, but the occupant didn’t want to share it because of “a leak in the roof.”
So I reluctantly tarped, feeling squeamish after my soggy night near Killington Mountain. I slept pretty well. A breeze coming down the mountain made me reach for my thermal underwear and fleecewear for hands, neck, and head.