Day 85 – Seth Warner Shelter – Glastenbury Mountain lookout tower – 21.9 miles
I was the first one up and out of camp this morning. The rain held off last night so all my stuff was completely dry which was nice. I ate a pop tart as I got my tent all put away and then I was on my way. I started out the day in good spirits and happy to be in a new state. As I hiked through the morning, I felt myself getting frustrated and a bit upset. It was hot and it was so muddy that I was having a hard time enjoying it. The first 11 miles was a straight up mud pit and the hiking was slow due to the conditions. Around noon I stopped to sit on a rock and called my mom to talk. I felt better afterwords and realized that I shouldn’t have gotten so worked up over a silly thing. Yes it wasn’t fun walking all morning in the mud, but it’s part of the trail and this experience so I have to do my best to enjoy and adapt to whatever the trail brings. With that mind set I attacked the rest of the day with a positive attitude and it turned out to be great. I didn’t see any north or southbound thru hikers all day, but ended up passing a couple families out for the day in the afternoon. The sun was out all day and the weather conditions were close to perfect. My day ended around 7:15 at the top of Glastenbury Mountain. There’s a lookout tower on the summit that stands way above tree line and this whole trek I have been wanting to sleep in one of the towers. I climbed up hoping nobody had the same idea as me and luckily there was not. I did meet a hiker named Monica up there who is hiking the Long Trail. The Long Trail and Appalachian Trail are the same for 105 miles before they split. We watched the sunset and another LT hiker, who’s name I forget, came up as well. I was running low on food so Monica gave me some cookies before we went to our camps and it was just what I needed for a good nights sleep. It’s really windy up here and it feels like I’m in another world. And at the same time, I feel like I’m on top of the world. What a feeling.
Day 86 – Glastenbury Mountain lookout tower – Spruce Peak Shelter – 26.9 miles
I woke up in the middle of the night because I was thirsty and I’m glad I did because the stars were out and arguably the best I’ve ever seen. The sky was completely clear so you could see the millions of stars shining bright. I woke up around 6:30 and wanted to get all my stuff packed up before anyone else came up to the tower. Just as I was finishing two people started coming up and we all enjoyed the post-sunrise sky for a little bit and then went down to start the day. I knew today was going to be a bigger mileage day because I wanted to get as close as I could to the road to hitch into town tomorrow. It was a sunny morning, but rain was in the forecast for the afternoon. The first 10 miles wasn’t too bad terrain, but again pretty muddy. I reached Stratton Mountain around noon and made the climb up to almost 4,000 feet. I had hiked Stratton last year so it was cool being back on it and this time having nicer weather. At times the ascent was steep, but I carried a solid pace to the top and enjoyed the view up on the fire tower. I could see the dark clouds in the distance getting closer so after just a few minutes I started hiking down. It got pretty dark and I was waiting for it to downpour, but luckily it rained for just about 30 minutes and then stopped for the rest of the day. I didn’t even get too wet because I was under so much tree cover. The rest of the afternoon I hiked passed Stratton Pond and had a relatively flat hike to the shelter. I got there around 7:30, made some mashed potatoes, then set up my tent for the night. I’m excited to get into town tomorrow, do some laundry, and eat some real food!
Day 87 – Spruce Peak Shelter – Stealth Camp – ~14 miles
I woke up around the usual time, 6 am, and stayed warm in my sleeping bag until 6:30. It didn’t take long for me to pack up all my things and by 7 I was on the trail. It was 2.8 miles from my camp to the road, VT 7, where I wanted to get a hitch into Manchester, Vermont. I made it to the road in an hour, then got to a good spot on the road where if someone was going to pick me up they could pull over. I stuck my thumb out and for the next 5 minutes I had no luck. 4 other southbound hikers joined me, but we had no luck. Fortunately, after just 10 minutes, a hostel owner was driving some hikers back to the trail and he told us we could get in as he was going back to town. The town of Manchester is really nice, modern, and everything is pretty close together. The hostel guy dropped me, Moose, Too Slow, and Racket at McDonalds and we had a breakfast feast. After I went over to the laundry spot to clean my clothes and then hit up the outfitter for a new rain cover. On the way back I stopped at the Price Chopper to resupply and then the Starbucks to charge my phone and use the WiFi. I saw there was a Subway a few places down, so once my phone was charged up I got a steak and cheese and a bag of chips. By the time it was all said and done, it was around 2 in the afternoon and I wanted to get back on trail and hike a little bit. I walked to a good area to hitch and within 2 minutes a car pulled over and a nice lady named Julie took me back to the trail. Right away the climb up Bromley Mountain started. It was a 3 mile climb to the summit, but honestly wasn’t that bad, and the view at the top was one of the best in VT so far. Right after I got to the top of Bromley, a storm moved in over me. I threw my pack cover on, hikes on, and didn’t get too wet because the trees made a nice umbrella for me. I hiked another 8 miles to a shelter and stopped to eat dinner. The shelter was pretty full with about 10 hikers and I sat and ate with some new people I just met, Aquamira, Tiba, ThighClops, and Ducky. They were pretty cool and what I thought was gonna be a quick eat and go turned into a 2 hour chill sesh with them. I decided to hike on a little more and eventually found a nice place to set up my tent. Great day!
Day 88 – Stealth Camp – Clarendon Gorge – 21.1 miles
I woke up to some perfect weather this morning and it stayed like that for the whole entire day. It was cool outside with a nice breeze that reminded me of the fall. I think it may have rained a little bit last night, but my tent was dry for the most part. I woke up at the usual 6:30, but didn’t get up until 7:30 and I was on the trail by 8. The trail today had a lot of muddy sections and for the most part was pretty flat. I took my time and enjoyed the scenery all around me. The Green Mountains are full of life and the aesthetic in the woods has made it my favorite state of the trail so far, despite all the mud. I passed Little Rock Pond about 8 miles into the day and stopped to watch some ducks swim with each other. There were 4 of them in the group and they all took turns chasing each other around. It was awesome. The afternoon consisted of mostly flat or downhill sections and one climb up to Bear Mountain, but at just 2,300 feet, even with a 1,000 ft elevation gain it wasn’t a bruising climb. The view of the day came towards the end with a nice sight of the Rutland Airport and the mountains that stand behind it. I met a hiker named Twigs up on the lookout spot. He had enough and decided to post up early. I gave him the rest of my water so he’d be all set for the night, and then made the last mile and a half down to the gorge where I set up camp for the night. I ate two packets of ramen with some mashed potatoes, a snickers that I dipped in peanut butter, some Milano cookies, and gummies for dessert. I’m also pumped because I got to take a bath in the river tonight. Killington tomorrow.
Day 89 – Clarendon Gorge – Gifford Woods State Park – 21 miles
Before I went to sleep I checked the weather to see what was going to happen last night and it said no rain. I didn’t put my rain fly over my tent and I woke up in the middle of the night from rain drops hitting my face. I got up and out of my tent as fast as I could and threw the rain fly over before it started raining harder. Luckily nothing got too wet and I had a great sleep the rest of the night. I woke up around 7 and could sleep in a little bit because I was meeting my friend TJ again at 8. I told him we were going to have to get in a 20+ mile day and he still wanted to come out and grind. Just after 8 we were on the trail. The day started out with a solid, at times steep, climb and it got my heart rate up pretty quick. The weather was absolutely ideal. It was sunny, low 70s and a light breeze. The climb of the day came from ascending up to Killington Mountain summit. It was my first 4,000 footer with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain. The terrain was pretty rocky and rooty and some parts seemed like I was walking straight up a wall. It took about 3 hours to get to Cooper Lodge Shelter and then we took a .2 side trail up to the summit. It was a straight, vertical climb and I had to use my hands to pull myself up the rocks. It was cool because on the side trail you go above tree line and the moment you do the view opened up and you could see out for miles and miles. It was the best view of the trail so far. Everything was so green. There was a Lodge up at the summit as well so we grabbed some food before we made our way back to the trail. We still had another 10 miles and it took us into the night. I was pretty excited because I passed a 500 mile to Katahdin sign and the 1,700 mile mark today. It’s crazy how close I’m getting to finish. I can’t believe it’s almost over.
Day 90 – Gifford Woods State Park – Stealth Camp – 22 miles
I ended up getting to sleep around midnight last night and I still felt pretty rested waking up around 7 this morning. Another farmer, Jen, made plans to hike with TJ for this weekend so we ended up meeting her at 8 at the state park. We got breakfast at the Killington Diner and then went back onto the trail. Right away there was some trail magic with clif bars and snickers, and I ran into Smiley who I hadn’t seen since New York. It’s always cool to me randomly bumping into people along the trail. The beginning of the day started with a climb once again up Quimby Mountain. Although it’s only about 2,500 feet it was 1,000 feet of elevation gain over 2 miles. We worked up a pretty good sweat and at the top we chilled for a little bit looking out at a view of the Pico Mountain slopes. After a little bit I hiked off on my own again and enjoyed the cool, overcast weather all day. The rain held off all day and it was nice I didn’t have to walk in it. All day I hiked up and down hills intertwined with some pretty flat sections with a smooth grade. I stopped to eat lunch at a little waterfall and talked with a section hiker while I put down a couple tuna wraps and a bag of Cheddar Chex Mix. I hiked as quickly and as far as I could and as it started to get dark I decided that I would get to a water source and then set up camp because I didn’t want to night hike again. Around 7:30 I could hear a stream off trail and bushwhacked my way to get water. Luckily there was a nice flat section that was perfect for my tent so after I got water I set up camp and made some Ramen for dinner. It was nice to lay down and get off my feet. Excited to make the push to New Hampshire tomorrow!placeholder://
Day 91 – Stealth Camp – Hanover, New Hampshire – 21.8 miles
It was raining when I woke up this morning around 6 so I waited for a little bit in my tent to see if it would stop. It didn’t, so around 6:45 I started making moves and packed up all my stuff. I was under enough tree cover that my stuff didn’t get completely soaked which was nice. I ate a pop tart and some granola for breakfast and I was on my way. My plan for the day was to hike as hard as I could so I could get to town in time for dinner and possibly find a place to stay so right from the start I hit the ground running. The beginning of the day was pretty tough. My legs felt pretty heavy and it was slow walking up some of the steep climbs. There were four different 1,000 feet or more elevation gains in the first 8 miles and I found myself frustrated with my lack of fresh legs. I was able to make up some time on the flats and downhills and even though it was raining the wetness didn’t seem to bother me today. The rain would eventually stop for the rest of my hiking day around 12:30 and it gave my clothes enough time to dry out. When I got to the last road before town I met a couple South bound hikers and talked with them for a little bit before making the 2 mile road walk into Hanover, New Hampshire. It was cool walking next to the highway for a little bit, and then over the Connecticut River and past Dartmouth College. I got into town around 5 and went to Boloco for a burrito. While I was eating I was trying to figure out where the VT/NH sign was and I realized it was about a mile back over the bridge when I crossed the river. I decided to leave all my stuff at the table and make it look like I was just getting some more food or something and I ran as fast as I could back to the bridge to get a picture. It was worth it. It started raining when I was on my way back and luckily didn’t start to downpour until I got back to my bag and took cover inside a Starbucks. There’s no hostel in town, but there is a network of trail angels and so I called everyone on the list and finally I got in touch with Betsy and Bill. Their son thru hiked the trail a couple years ago and now they take in hikers for a night or two. They picked me up at the Starbucks and took me to their home to shower and Betsy made a delicious dinner. There were 4 other southbound hikers and we all watched The Mask in the basement before we went to sleep. It feels good to be New Hampshire and can’t wait to backpack through the White Mountains. 2 states and under 450 miles to go!