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The Long Trail Division One... North Adams MA to VT Route 9.

Day One 8/7/15... North Adams MA to Seth Warner Shelter. 

This morning, someone who has 4 legs and a tail was not getting out of bed. It was Long Trail day and my parents were bringing us to North Adams MA to start walking... 151.1 miles of walking. It was a two hour ride to the trail from my home in Jaffrey, NH. Not much was said until we said our good byes. Navigating North Adams was a little tricky and I was actually dropped off at the South bound end of Phelps St. Thanks to a kind person who lived in the Neighborhood, I set out in the right direction. I was so grateful for the ride to start this adventure. A little extra walking was good. I could stretch my legs under the pack weight and adjust to it. Isis could also get use to things... New smells and what not. I waved as my parents drove by and stopped to sign in at the AT message board. My hands were shaking. I was going to do this. Walk to the center of Vermont.

A nice walk through town to stretch my legs. Up and over a foot bridge and into a residential neighborhood, that reminded me of Passaconaway/Whiteface as I passed a sign welcoming AT hikers to take some water from a hose. As I walked, if there was anything I was really concerned about, it would be my foot. It was still a little stiff from injury a few weeks back but I pushed on. I was hoping to walk it off and hoping to make it to Lincoln Gap. 

Once into the woods, the AT/LT has nice rolling terrain with plenty of water. No water crossings to speak of yet and no big ups. Some hills is about it for now and as I walked, I began just not thinking of anything except what was in front of me. Nothing else mattered any more. No more counting peaks. No more trying to get to some magical number on a grid. Just one foot in front of the other. My pace is a little slow to start and of course, Isis is ready to go and see all that she can as well as smell it. This is not always a good combination as I usually end up falling. It's a little hot out but at least it's not humid. A perfect day if you asked me.

After about 2 hours, we climbed our first scramble and I really felt the weight of my pack. I start to slow again but I know that my reward will be my first view on the AT/LT. I put my hat on for the first time to shield my face from the sun and bug spray too because they were really biting. Isis and I climbed to a cairn and reach the terminus of the Pine Cobble trail... Lunch time! Tuna for me and treats for Isis. It was here that we met Wayne and Charlotte from Texas. He was overwhelmed by the scramble (said something about getting ropes out). They are going to attempt to do and end to end and as a retired couple, they have all the time in the world. Nice people but we let them go ahead of us. This was our time to hike. Isis and I entered into a more hilly section and my mind drifts from my foot suddenly to what I am actually doing. I could not believe all those months of planning were finally here and then suddenly after crossing a few ATV roads, I had arrived at the southern terminus of the Long Trail. The border of Vermont and Massachusetts. I hooted and Hollered and scared Wayne. I sat down after signing in at the register and we were joined by a group of NoBo's hiking the AT to Katahdin. Everyone was in good spirits and talking about experiences on the trail. I was able to tell them about New Hampshire which seems to be on ever thru hikers mind as they get closer.

Isis and I continued to walk to Seth Warner and it was not long after the border that we arrived. The shelter itself was nice. It was basic with no picnic table, it had a fire pit, a water source, and a privy. There were lots of AT hikers and a few LT hikers like myself. Two that were hiking south bound and getting ready to end but most were starting North bound. It was a big group of us. Isis and I ate and set up camp. She's off her schedule and not understanding the new food yet but she eats as much as she can. I had my first bag of dehydrated chili that I made months ago... Not bad at all and perfect for a first night. I had packed in some wine too. After camp was set up, we all sat around the fire and laughed and told stories about ourselves and actually talked to one another. No one was trying to out do anyone's story. We were all just appreciating the moment we were in. As the sun went down and the chill set in, Isis and I went to our tent. Day one was a complete success. Now, to see what happens on Day 2...

Day Two 8/8/15... Seth Warner Shelter to Harman Hill.

Last night was a rough sleeping night. I guess I was getting use to things still. The shelter was packed  and the tent next to mine had a snorer. I thought it was a bear at first before I realized what was going on. This morning, I had an EPIC pump fail at the water source. Frustrated, I figured I would just chance it an go without. Packing up camp seemed OK. I had a little water left in my bladder and figured there would be a better water source coming down the trail. I wanted to hike for a while and figured Isis and I would have breakfast in about 2 hours.

The trail was kind as we walked. There were bog bridges to help with the mud (there is a lot of mud in Vermont). Oh, man there is so much mud! My right foot was still hurting but I was doing OK walking it off. Troubled as always by thoughts of cutting this trip short. I always think like this and really needed to dig in today. The miles seemed to creep by and at the two hour mark, I stopped for breakfast. There's always a hiker around it seems and he tells me that there is a water source a mile away so, I am good to make my oatmeal and coffee. We had stopped at some power lines and the view was actually not that bad.

After breakfast, I packed up again and we headed back into the woods. Into the cover of the trees as it was getting hot again. This section, gets a little tougher with a few ups and downs. Some of these ups were bigger than others. The trail itself is either mud or dirt so that was good. I fill up on water at a spring about a mile away and Isis and I break here again. On the second day, there are two things that I notice. My foot does not hurt and I am not thinking of my life back home at all. I then surprised myself by reaching Consultation Peak in what seemed like a good time to me (11:30am). We sat for a while and I took a bathroom break. This pooping in the woods thing is something to get use to. It's now less than 3 miles to Congdon Shelter and I think to myself that we can either stay there or go on to our planned stop at Harmon Hill. Again, as I walk, the trail is getting wetter but there are a lot of flat section which helps me. Isis and I arrive at Congdon Shelter around 1:30pm. Two other LT NoBo's and 3 AT NoBo's join us and again, we laugh and joke around about non-sense things that make us laugh. Teacher Mon, Giggly Goose, and Leviticus were great company. Younger guys who are on their way to Katahdin. At 2pm, I head for Harmon Hill with the intention of camping there for the night or dropping anywhere I need to along the way. All the AT boys pass me and I'm fine with that. They pull big miles in a day where I really don't need to. I pass the time singing to myself and talking to no one and everyone at the same time. We arrive after a climb to Harmon Hill... On Schedule!

I'm so proud of myself. I set up the tent and get settled. There's not a whole lot of room up here for anyone else so, I am hoping that it does not get crowded. The sun is really hot but the view of Bennington VT is beautiful. I heard and ATV getting closer and hoped that it was not someone coming to kick me off. It was a local guy by the name of Bucky. I introduced myself as Mouse and Isis as Lil' Nugget (even she had acquired a trail name from the AT hikers). I laugh because Bennington is an hour and a half away from me by car and it took me two days to walk here. As I start making dinner, he heads back down he hill for the night. Nice company for a brief amount of time. Everyone is friendly out here but the truth is, if we were all walking down the street, we'd probably just walk by one another. It's different on the trails than off.

So, day two and no real thoughts except how do I cancel out my negative thoughts to end early. How do I get to Lincoln Gap? No rain until Tuesday so, we'll see how I do then. I am proud on Day two as I am on schedule with how I had planned my mileage and arriving at camp at a decent hour. Plus, the view tonight could not be beat. I know that tonight will be a good night.

Day Three 8/9/15... Harmon Hill to Little Pond Mountain.

Today was a long day for us... As it turns out, there was very little sleep last night as Isis was acting strange and not really liking being out on the trail so long. It takes a while to settle into a routine which she and I need sometimes. I was not really in pain but had some normal aches and pains to deal with. Isis likes to hog the sleeping bag and pad too. Again, we waited for breakfast. I packed up and discovered that something had made a bed in the raspberry thicket about 20 feet from our tent. it was something big too. We began walking through the fern forest as I called it. It was beautiful and green. This was a moderate trail with again, plenty of Bog Bridges. I began playing  game with myself called. "What will today's bog bridges look like?" We ran into one other soul on the trail. Not very friendly and would only warn us about Mansfield and the ladders there... I kept trying to say we were not going that far this year but he could not hear it. Sad how people don't really listen sometimes. We then came to the big rock steps down to route 9. I finally stripped off a layer and was using my poles today but found them to be a nuisance rather than a help. Slowly we walked down and again, I thought I was killing my time. I began to see the traffic and Isis picked up speed. I think she thought we were done. At the bottom, I passed some old empty trail magic (mostly junk food wrappers now). We crossed Route 9 to finish Division One of the LT.


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