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After a delicious pancake breakfast at the Hyde Away Inn we took the Inn’s shuttle back to the trail head.
As a courtesy to their hiking guests, a shuttle (along with breakfast and laundry) is included in the cost of the room stay. The owner was incredibly kind and we chatted about skiing, the economics of inn owning in Vermont, and other bits small talk until we reached Appalachian Gap and hit the trail again.
The climb right out of town was a rude awakening! Right off the bat there were rock scrambles, made slick from yesterday’s rain, and it seemed like we were only going straight up or straight down on the 5.5 mile hike to Cowless Cove Shelter.
The skies opened up for a quick cloud burst on our way to Cowless Cove and we encountered a southbound hiker who warned us that the scrambles up ahead for the next ten miles or so could have, “serious consequences” in all this wet weather.
Coupled with the fairly ominous warning from a stranger, a sign in Cowles Cove Shelter warned that Burnt Rock Mountain and the next stretch of trail to Montclair Glen Lodge could be extremely dangerous when wet and that even though it was only about five miles it could take five hours!
We sat in the shelter with Gogurt and Mudflap, a couple hiking end-to-end northbound we had briefly met at the grocery store in Waitsfield. As we snacked in the shelter the sun began to break through. This was a nice relief, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that at this point I was pretty damn scared.
We all waited a good amount of time for the sun to dry what it could then Gogurt and Mudflap hiked on, followed shortly by J-Dub and myself.
While being potentially dangerous and at times scary, yes, the hike through Burnt Rock was also incredibly fun; something the sign failed to mention. There were hard scrambles, a ladder, and one section where you had to quasi-repel using a knotted rope! This was a whole new kind of hiking style for me. We had hit some ladders coming down to Appalachian Gap, but those were more of an anomaly. It became clear to me that from now on these features would be an integral part of the trail and honestly, once I got used to them, they were exciting obstacles to overcome!
Along with these challenges, the views were panoramic. We weren’t as high up as other climbs we’d done or would do, but the “Burnt” aspect of Burnt Rock meant that the walk was relatively clear with the exception of small stretches in the forest.
We met back up with Gogurt and Mudflap at Montclair Glen and while we had previously tossed around the idea of just getting up and over Camel’s Hump, we reached Montclair tired and ready to rest. The sign had been right and it had taken us quite awhile to navigate the stretch of trail between the two shelters.
As the day passed at Montclair we met Mountain Goat and Hannah Bear, two fellow end-to-enders, as well as a slew of day hikers and section hikers using Montclair Glen as a base camp for Camels Hump, just the same as the rest of us.
LT Miles: 174.9
We woke up early with Mountain Goat and prepped for Camel’s Hump. While Mountain Goat might have been an early riser like J-Dub and I, he was also more of trail runner, with plans to do a twenty-four mile day! This difference aside, we enjoyed a hot cup of coffee with him before setting off to ascend the Hump in a brisk, cloudy morning.
This climb was one of, if not the, most exciting I’d ever done. It started off fairly standard, just difficult, rocky hiking, but as we neared the edge of the tree line we could feel the pull of the wind through the thinning pines. J-Dub made the call to jacket up so we quickly put our rain coats on and continued on toward the summit, which was entirely clouded in!
We followed the white blazes painted under our feet as best we could and right as we were rounding the summit we heard a loud, “WOOHOO!” shouted by Mountain Goat who was only a few steps behind us, so we replied with our own. It was an amazing moment of comradery, the kind that only comes from a group of people committed to climbing a mountain at six in the morning.
We all met at the summit and exchanged phones and cameras for photos then said farewell to Mountain Goat as he, literally, ran off into the cloud. J-Dub and I moved a bit slower, in fact we snacked and waited a bit on and around the summit hoping that the sun might burn off the cloud for a view.
We made our way down the mountain at a fairly slow clip, stopping for water at the Bamforth Ridge shelter, but pressing on since it was still a bit too early to stop for the day. On our way out of the shelter we bumped into Mudflap and Gogurt again. They had plans to head into Waterbury when we hit the road walk section. While J-Dub and I had contemplated heading into Waterbury (and more importantly the Ben & Jerry’s factory) we decided to take a pass on it having spent a good deal of time and money experiencing Waitsfield.
After a bit of steep downhill hiking we reached the road walk. While the terrain was flat, we hit it right at midday. Going from road, to farm fields, to the new Winooski River suspension bridge (which was very nice), back onto road, all under the sun proved incredibly exhausting and by the time we re-entered the forest at the base of Bolton Mountain we were pretty wiped out.
We took some time to recuperate, but with nothing to do but press on, we began the two-thousand foot climb up Bolton to Buchanan Shelter.
Compared to the scrambles and obstacles of our most recent days, the hike was fairly standard, just steep and steady. However, we had also summited Camel’s Hump that same morning, making this steep steady ascent a killer at the end of the day!
Buchanan Shelter itself was also a .3 off trail…downhill.
While this might not have been bad on a normal day, after pushing ourselves so hard to get up the damn mountain, it felt pretty defeating to know we’d have to start our morning walking up an extra .3 of it again to get to the summit, but that’s the way it goes.
The shelter itself was nice, sliding doors, a front porch, the whole shebang!
We opted to tent in some of the sites around though so that we could get good sleep after such a big day. We had Mansfield in front of us after all…
LT Miles: 192.1
Up early and out of Buchanan we finished off Bolton Mountain and made our way to Puffer Shelter. I was hoping to catch a view off of the shelter as I’d heard how amazing it was from passing southbounders.
However, when we got there the view was still clouded in for the morning.
One bright spot however was a hiker who was posted up in the shelter. He had gone out for a large section, but now decided he would just take his time and enjoy it all rather than try to rush through. His lollygagging attitude was refreshing after having a couple days of big, hard miles and, more subconsciously than anything, informed our decision.
Our decision was this:
To summit Mansfield today or not summit Mansfield today
There were pros and cons to both, as there always are.
Pros: We would be ahead of schedule, we’d have our hardest climb done, it was a cloudy but dry day so no worries about bad weather, we could have pizza for dinner in Stowe
Cons: We were tired, it was cloudy so we might not get views, and did I mention we were tired?
Weighing this and listening to our bodies we stopped at the Twin Brooks Tenting Area, getting in pretty early for the day and making camp on the tenting pads there.
While we could have pushed on to Butler Lodge, we preferred tenting. We also knew that a lot of college orientation groups were out for the week and figured they were more likely to stay at the lodges than a tent site, and we were right. Our only companions for the night were a couple and their dog on the other side of the tenting area who were out for the weekend.
LT Miles: 201.8
Up and over Mansfield today!
All trail I had heard about this climb. Its beauty, difficulty, terrifying gaps and drops. Now today was the day. Nothing to do but hike!
So hike we did, making our way slow and steady (three points of contact at all times!) through the challenges and up to the Forehead.
From the Forehead to the Chin it was a flat, quaint ridge walk in stark contrast to the obstacles it took to get us here. Often this walk will be filled with people who opted to take a gondola up to the top, but since we were early we had the entire, gorgeous walk to ourselves. It was an amazing reward and we spent our time enjoying, photographing, and taking it all in!
After stopping on the chin and chatting with the few day hikers who had come up various trail we started our descent. Along with the climb, we had been warned about the descent, especially if it was wet!
The warnings were warranted, even without any slickness the descent was pretty slow going, requiring sure footing and full body hiking.
Once we passed Taft Lodge the descent mellowed out a bit. It was still a steep hike, to be sure, but not as treacherous as earlier. As we got further and further down the mountain and passed into late morning we began seeing day hikers starting up toward the summit.
During our ascent we had come to the realization that today was Sunday. Which is usually a fairly unimportant detail when you’re out hiking. However we had a maildrop scheduled for pick-up in Stowe and our plan had been to get in and out of the town with our resupply. Given that the post office isn’t open on Sunday this was a problem.
Without any other options we decided we’d stay in Stowe, something we had initially wanted to avoid because of the town’s expensive reputation.
It took us a little while to find a ride into the Stowe, but we were eventually picked up by a day hiker who was picking up sections of the trail a day or two at a time. We had a great chat about the trail and she gave us a full tour of the town before letting us off downtown by the post office.
Since this wasn’t a planned stay, we didn’t have any prospects or reservations, but the GMC’s End-to-Ender’s Guide listed a place called The Green Mountain Inn where Green Mountain Club members could receive a fifty percent discount and, lo and behold, said in was right around the corner from the post office.
With nothing to lose we popped in, information book in hand, and asked if we could get any kind of discount since we’d be Green Mountain Club members, “In about sixty miles” as J-Dub explained. While they certainly didn’t have to help out two smelly hikers, they did anyway! Hooking us up with a discount and offering to store our packs so that we could explore the town while our room was finished being prepared.
This act of kindness was the first chip in the reputation of Stowe. I went in thinking that we wouldn’t be particularly welcome, but to our pleasant surprise Stowe was a very hiker friendly town and everywhere we went: Piecasso, Alchemist Brewing, PK Coffee, and Ranch Camp, a restaurant at the end of a mountain biking trail, were accommodating to us. There was also an amazing, very Vermont farmer’s market happening which we stopped through!
All in all the stay was great and re-energizing as we prepared for our last stretch of trail.
LT Miles: 208.5
Waking up we headed to the post office first thing. Well, that’s not entirely true. We actually got bagels first thing from The Bagel. The shop is owned by a couple who ex-patted from Long Island and they were delicious. Snobby New Yorker approved!
Then to the post office for our mail drops. These boxes were the ones we bounced from Rutland because we had too much food and we still had too much!l
All packed, we were carrying about seven or eight days worth of food instead of the four to five days we had initially planned for at each town. The extra weight was definitely noticeable, especially for my pack. I was already pushing the threshold of what it could support and with the added food weight I could feel the distribution wasn’t dispersing quite the way it should. I tried making some adjustments, but there was nothing to do except eat, donate, and shed weight.
Catching a ride out of Stowe from a German father and son, we learned quite a bit about European hiking and mountaineering. The father had worked in Vermont in the 80s as a logger and was excited to be back in the American mountains with his son to do a bit of hiking. The son was a pretty experienced mountaineer and ice climber, but due to the father’s age they’d be just be taking the gondola up and enjoying the view from Mansfield which, honestly, sounded pretty nice!
We started up from the new Barnes Camp wetland area and, as all out-of-town days seem to go, began our steep ascent back up to cruising altitude. Now that food weight was becoming a bit of bigger problem and I continued tweaking my pack a bit, to try to get the weight distribution better, but to no avail.
We stopped for lunch at Sterling Pond, along with a steady flow of day hikers. While it was a beautiful spot and we were tempted to just call it, we knew deep down that we had to press on and made our way up Madonna Peak and Sterling Mountain.
On the descent from Sterling (or Whiteface) Mountain I noticed the first pangs of serious pain in my knees and up into my quads. We were close to Bear Hollow Shelter and I just brushed it off as cramps from the heat, making a note to increase my water intake once we stopped at the shelter.
At Bear Hollow we were reunited with Mudflap and Gogurt, who we saw getting a ride of Stowe when we went to get bagels, and Hannah Bear who rolled in a bit later. Along with our small bubble of end-to-enders a college orientation group was out. While this group was polite on the whole, it definitely changed the energy as a gaggle of new college kids necessarily had a different mindset than three people on the same saunter as ourselves. Along with this influx of people, our bear bagging situation was a bit comical as J-Dub and I broke our first good branch trying to combine our weight and had to search around in the dark for new branches that would hold our over burdened food bags.
LT Miles: 219.4
Woke up early with the college kids, which was pretty surprising since J-Dub and I always woke up at 5:00am. We definitely expected them to sleep in and it was a bit cumbersome navigating the shelter and picnic space with so many people moving about. My legs felt fine though, so I categorized that as, “problem solved,” in mind and pressed on.
The terrain was pretty smooth as we road walked past maple syrup farms, onto a rail trail, and through the field of the Lamoille River Valley.
We also found some amazing trail magic in the trailhead parking lot off VT 15!
Our first climb of the day up to Prospect Rock was also pretty smooth and the rocky, river bed terrain made me feel like we were walking through Last of the Mohicans (the novel, not the film which was shot in NC). The view of the valley below from Prospect Rock was lovely and we sat for awhile at the overlook, snacking and taking in the idyllic view.
We climbed Roundtop and stopped at Roundtop Shelter for coffee, moving pretty slow, but enjoying the nice weather and beautiful terrain, including the view off the back of Roundtop. While it’s known as a sunset vista, it was a great spot to sip a late morning coffee too!
The rest of the hike was fairly uneventful until we started the climb down into Coddling Hollow Road. Around this point I started feeling those pangs of pain return and it became clear to me that these were not cramps. I tried some different wraps around my right knee for support as I was already wearing a store bought brace on my left, and pressed on up Laraway Mountain. Our goal was Corliss Camp and it seemed like there wasn’t much to do at this point but tough it out and reaccess at Corliss
Laraway proved a pretty rugged climb, especially in pain! As we neared the cliffy opening of Laraway Lookout I paused, “Did you hear that?” I asked J-dub, having heard something high-pitched over the scrap of our poles. “Yeah,” he said, “was it a whistle?” Almost as soon as he asked we heard it again and it was undoubtedly a whistle. My pack has a top clip that forms a whistle (shout out to Osprey), so I replied with two short bursts of my whistle and J-Dub began to call out.
We heard a distant voice, but it was still just mumbles so J-Dub shouted to them to keep whistling. We followed the general direction of the sound back down trail a bit and J-Dub shouted out again, this time the voice was pretty clear and it was coming from a woman, off trail and at the tops of the cliffs. She said she was a Southbound hiker who lost the trail about fifteen minutes ago!
We whistled and shouted to guided her back to the trail. Once there J-Dub asked her some basic questions to ensure she was oriented: her name, her hiking direction, where she started, where she was planning to end, and after talking a few more minutes to ensure she was alright we all continued on our separate ways.
Thankfully it was nothing major, but hearing a whistle in that terrain was definitely a bit of an adrenaline rush! Using that to adrenaline to my advantage, I pushed through my knee and quad pain and we made our way to Corliss camp, where we set up tents for the night.
Corliss Camp itself is actually a really nice shelter, in the process of re-roofing when we were there. The crew of hikers there was also quite delightful. We had our small NOBO bubble: Mudflap, Gogurt, Hannahbear, plus Josie a NOBO hiker who we had been in the general area of, but usually a bit behind, according to the logs. We also had our first big group of SOBOs, many of whom were pretty tired and turned in early, but one Brain, stayed up with us while we had a fire and we chatted about the trail ahead and behind, as well as other hikes we all had done and hopped to do.
LT Miles: 234.7
The morning greeted me with a lot of aches in my legs. Not a good sign.
J-Dub and I had talked about just heading to Spruce Ledge Camp, especially because we heard it was quite nice, and now that seemed to definitely be the plan.
We climbed Butternut Mountain right out of Corliss Camp and I was holding my own until the descent. In every case with this ache it was going down the mountain that proved hardest. It seemed to be whatever muscles are responsible for planting and pushing that were most effected… but especially the planting part. I tried going down steep steps sideways and that was a little helpful, but the climb down from Bowden, whose twin summits were no fun in this shape, proved a special kind of torture and I gimped into Spruce Ledge, struggling just to sit down.
J-Dub and I had a very serious conversation here about finishing. We were thirty miles out, tantalizingly close! Along with that, there was no real, easy out until the road before Jay Peak, that was still a distance out and at that point we’d be even closer.
I wasn’t ready to pack it out yet though. While the injury was serious, it didn’t feel like a tear or anything hike ending, it felt like an intense form of muscle fatigue. This was a short 6.6 mile day to Spruce Ledge Camp and I wanted to see what would happen after a rest day.
So began operation: Get better and finish
Start one of get better and finish was a trip to the privy! What I’m about to write is important for anyone attempting a big hike like this, but if it’s too much information for you skip down to the [End of TMI] sub-heading
[Start of TMI]
My muscle fatigue was definitely muscle fatigue, imagine doing squats and lungs everyday for twenty days, and then shocking your body with extra weight on the last two days. That’s effectively what I’d done with all the excess food weight.
On top of the fatigue, I hadn’t pooped for a couple days, which is not the norm for me or hopefully anyone. The funny thing is, I didn’t feel constipated. I was putting my body through a bunch of duress so perhaps that had to do with it? I don’t know for sure.
I was, however, eating more protein than I needed. Especially to get the food weight down, I was eating two or three protein bars a day to try and burn through them. While I was certainly doing something seriously trying and athletic, that was a lot of protein intake and I think it bricked up in my digestive track.
Think, for a moment, about where your intestines are located. A big, protein-rich, build up would be pressing right against hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and all the important hiking muscles that were already tired from backpacking.
This is apparently a thing that happens quite frequently to Marines and why chewing gum is standard issue for MREs. It acts as a kind of laxative to help them go and prevent any performance issues as a result of back-up from the MRE food.
I didn’t really believe it. Well, I believed it, but when j-Dub told me that I didn’t think it could really make a big difference, but willing to try anything to help myself heal I sat and drank coffee until I had to go.
Astonished after my privy trip, I felt much better. While I was still sore and hurting, my legs moved with a whole new ease. So, to any one planning a thru-hike, don’t let yourself get irregular!
[End of TMI]
Phase two was to take Ibuprofen. Up until this point of the trip I was avoiding taking it, mainly because it can make me a bit light headed, especially when hiking. But now I not only wanted the pain killing help, but the anti-inflammatory aide of it as well.
I popped some of that, sat myself down, and elevated my leg up on my food bag.
In the shelter there was a copy of George’s Marvelous Medicine that someone had left behind so I started reading that to pass the time.
Phase three, and in part because of the Ibuprofen, was to drink a lot of water. The source for Spruce Ledge was a bit far down the access the trail, but I still made sure to stay on top of that.
Oh, Spruce Ledge Camp also has an incredible view of Ritterbush Pond and Belvidere Mountain which I made sure to take in.
A little after lunch two older women came into camp. They were from the Adirondack area of New York and were out on a section hike of the Long Trail. I passed the rest of the afternoon and evening playing rummy with them and resting my leg. A little later Hannahbear came into the shelter, taking a short day herself and beating some rainy afternoon weather, as did a college group from Sterling College who were making pizza!
They were making it from scratch, letting the dough rise under their rain coats for half an hour from their body heat. Then baking it on a girdle of sorts that they carried up with fresh ingredients. J-Dub had a slice of it (I only passed because it had meat on it and as a vegetarian stomach aches were the last things I needed on top of my leg) and he said it was really good! I found the whole thing pretty ingenious and made a mental note to try something similar myself on a future camping trip.
At the end of the night, one of the women I played cards with offered me some Bio-Freeze, an icy-hot like product, for my leg. It was a really kind offer that I of course accepted and damn! I think a small tube of that is now going to be a must for me on long hikes.
LT Miles: 241.3
Waking up, we glimpsed a foggy sunrise view off look Devil’s Perch Lookout at Spruce Ledge Camp and then proceeded down into Devil’s Gulch itself!
The rest day worked wonders and I was glad! Not only because it meant I’d be able to finish the hike, but I wanted to be rested and ready for Devil’s Gulch, a part of the trail I had been looking forward to since the planning stages.
Devil’s Gulch is a boulder field in a narrow valley. It’s similar to the Ice Glen in the Berkshires and the Mahoosuc Notch along the Appalachian Trail in Maine. The boulders were a bit slick after yesterday’s rain, but we took our time, choosing our paths carefully, and taking plenty of photos along the way.
We stopped at a stream outside the Gulch to fill up on water before our climb up Belvidere Mountain, which turned out to be quite the beast! Parts of it were just steep hiking, then there were the occasional chunks of rock scrambles that were like Devil’s Gulch… but upwards!
Coming to the summit still fairly early in the morning, we took the .2 trail up to the fire tower and were rewarded with some amazing views! There was still a large cloud on the western half of the mountain, so we didn’t get a total 360, but were still able to look back on our progress the past couple of days.
Getting down the from the summit to Tillotson Camp was incredibly rugged! So much so that we spent the first half mile or so double checking that we were on trail and not just following a brook down the mountain side!
We passed by some beautiful ponds hidden deep in the forest though and those were nice rewards for our efforts. J-Dub pointed out that ponds are always so much nicer on a descent and I’m inclined to agree.
In Tillotson Camp we took a nice lunch-nap-coffee break! We were greeted there by Poptart, a Canadian hiker out for section hike who had hiked the AT a few years back. He was kind enough to carry out our trash for us since he was ending his section down at the road at the bottom of Belivedere. “Sometimes it’s not really the weight, so much as the mental weight of the space it takes up,” he commented as he packed up our bags, doing a wonderful bit of trail magic!
As we were preparing to leave HannahBear came into the shelter and we chatted with her. A while back we had made loose plans to get a ride out of the trail with her Grandparents when they were coming to pick her up, and now that we were actually hiking on the same timeline, we formalized those plans a bit more. There was still a lot of trail left, so nothing was set in stone, but we made the steep descent down Haystack Mountain together and pushed on into Hazen Notch Camp where we stopped for the night in striking distance of Jay.
At Hazen Notch we met Bumblebee, another NOBO out with her dog Benson and a hiker who we would come to call Muscle Roller because he carried a small muscle roller for his legs with him. He was working on a pretty tight deadline and came into the shelter having just done a Twenty-Eight mile day! No thank you!
He was kind enough to let me borrow said muscle roller for my leg though and after dealing with the climb down from Haystack, I have to admit, it seemed like a luxury totally worth the weight!
LT Miles: 255.8
Muscle Roller, like us, was an early riser and the three of us made a begrudging early riser out of HannahBear as well. We shared breakfast and coffee, then Muscle Roller set out with us following shortly behind.
There was rain in the forecast and we got some small sprinkles on us as we went up and over Buchanan Mountain, Domey’s Dome and Gilpin Mountain passing by some day hikers as well as southbounders who were only just starting on their adventures.
Passing the southbounders struck me with a strange sense of accomplishment and envy. On the one hand, it felt surreal to me that I had actually made it this far when all the way back at Kid Gore Shelter I was questioning if I could do it. On the other hand, with this journey nearing it’s finale, I felt the desire for that daunting sense of wonder that having two-hundered plus miles of hiking gives a person.
We broke for coffee at Jay Camp, but didn’t linger because of the brisk fall weather creeping in.
We got ready and then began our ascent up Jay. As we climbed that notion of “the trail provides” manifested in the form of cheery day hikers, all with good news. The first hiker passed along that the lodge was open, something we assumed but it was nice to confirm. The second, that the view had cleared up from the morning rain. Last time J-Dub climbed Jay he didn’t have a view, so as excited as I was by the prospect, I’m sure he was doubly so. The third hiker informed us that the lodge at the top sold beer!
After breaking out of the treeline we scrambled up and looking behind us saw the incredible views!
As we climbed there was an amazing bit of trail work, it was subtle, but a made a huge difference. Someone had placed pine needles over spots of slick rock on the scramble. At first, it just seemed a coincidence, but as we continued our ascent and saw larger patches of the work it became clear that this was purposeful, giving hikers a better footing after the brief morning showers.
Jay would be our last big climb and what an amazing, climatic final climb it proved it be. We could look back and see the entire range we all the way back to Camel’s Hump! Best of all, we had the summit pretty much to ourselves, with the exception of few employees and one or two groups of tourists. We shamelessly sat in front of the giant windows in the Sky Haus Deli (what we had previously just been calling the lodge) ordering food and coffee and passing the afternoon away.
We were joined by HannahBear, Bumblebee, and Benson (yes, the dog) a bit later. While the space stayed open until seven, they stopped serving food at four and with a wedding group now up on the summit to have a rehersal, we took that as our cue to take the short hike down to Laura Woodward where we all stopped for the night with some goodies carried down from the Sky Haus.
J-Dub and I made a fire and we all passed the evening with two Southbounders who had just completed their first day. It was an odd kind of balance, one group one day away from finishing, the other one day into the trail. I hope seeing us all full of energy (and sugar and coffee and beer) gave them a good feeling about the trip ahead, much like hearing J-Dub and Gingersnap’s conversation in Kid Gore did for me early on.
LT Miles: 264.6
A slow, cold start out of Laura Woodward Shelter. It was an odd feeling, knowing today would be the last day out. The miles clicked away as our trail legs made quick work of Doll Peak and the smaller summits between us and Shooting Star. But there was also the feeling that, I didn’t really want these miles to click away. If we were in the middle of Breadloaf… I might have felt differently, but soon there’d be no shelter to get to. No goals for the day. It’d just be ending. An odd, bittersweet sensation.
We stopped at Shooting Star and dealt with the water situation, first trying to prime the pump to no avail, then J-Dub bushwhacked down to the stream by the shelter referenced in the guide and managed to water up there.
Still not quite ready to say goodbye, we lingered, making coffee and getting passed by Bumblebee and Benson who we said hello and goodbye to. Around midday Hannahbear came to camp and we knew it was time to get going. Both because we had killed about two and half hours and because we had coordinated the ride out. There was no more delaying it, onward to Canada!
Once we crossed VT 105 and the power lines, every step brought a new sense of excitement and adrenaline. I knew each step was taking me closer to the finish! And while I’ve been an athlete and competitor since I was in Middle School, I’ve never felt a feeling quite like this. We passed groups of hikers, some out for the day some starting their end-to-ends, who cheered us on.
Carleton Mountain proved a surprisingly steep last obstacle, but I was so focused and excited that we made short work of it and cruised to the Terminus and monument where I couldn’t suppress a shout for joy and big, goofy grin.
We took our photos there and celebrated a bit as we waited for HannahBear and began our final descent of the trail on Journey’s End, stopping in at the camp to sign off on the log, before catching a ride from a man who dropped off another hiker at the trail head; pretty good timing on the whole.
We took the ride over into the Jay Peak resort where we met HannahBear’s grandparents. From them we were fortunate enough to get a ride all the way Burlington!
It was Labor Day Weekend and Burlington was tourist central! With everything, both affordable and expensive booked, we reached out to our old friends Adam and Rachel who offered us their living room and futon for the night. We took them up on it and spent the evening with them at a show one of their friends was playing. Live music in Burlington seemed like a fitting to end to Vermont’s Long Trail.
The next morning we took a Lyft to the airport where J-Dub rented a car to begin the long drive down to North Carolina, dropping me off at the Metro-North in Beacon, NY along the way.
LT Miles: 273.3