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The Long Trail Division Three: Kelly Stand Road to Mad Tom Notch

Day Six 8/12/15: Stratton Mountain Base to Prospect Rock.

Last night, I actually slept. It was another fun night in camp with laughter and that continued as we all packed up. I started out feeling good and wished everyone well as they passed me. I knew that this crew I would not see again as they were determined to get into Manchester VT and then to New Hampshire. It was still cloudy and very gloomy as I headed up Stratton Mountain. I put in my iPod and the music was depressing. I ended up getting too much in my head and I was feeling slow on the ascent. Too slow for my liking. Carrying soggy, wet, and heavy gear because it had rained again. My things were not even dry for 24 hours... I wanted to give up. I wanted to call my parents as they knew right where this trail head was to come pick me up. Thankfully, I did not have service and I shut my iPod off. I kept walking over rocks and roots and through the clouds in my wet cloths. I was running low on everything and hoping for a good day as I tried to make up miles from yesterday. We ran into a few souls while ascending the mountain and it was unclear if they were day hikers or thru's as no one really spoke. It seemed to take forever to reach the top too but as we did, the caretaker cabin came into view. Jean and Hugh live up here for 3 seasons of the year and Hugh teaches in the winter. Jean was there today and we were able to sit and chat. She's about the nicest woman I have ever met and Isis and I enjoyed our visit very much. I told her that we'd be back since there was no view today. As a chill set in, we needed to get moving but this talk was enough to get me going again. 

Feeling much better, we began descending and ran into some scouts coming up the other side as well as their leaders. After this, we had the trail to ourselves and I decided to try my iPod again but this time, I put on a play list I use to run to. Much better music! I was cranking again today. Lucky for us the trail was flatter and after we got down from Stratton, we made it to Stratton Pond Shelter for lunch. It was a quick break but the shelter was nice. We walked around Stratton Pond and I enjoyed the sun. I decided to make up my miles and push it to Prospect Rock. I estimated that I would be there by 4pm. Again, the terrain was flatish. A few ups but nothing like a peak. So, I put the music back on and walked.

It was getting a little hard but I took a break to kind of center myself. One of the straps broke on my pack so I needed to fix that and I tried not to get discouraged. I barely ran into anyone on the trails as everyone was far ahead now. I just passed the time singing and enjoying the woods. I ran into two AT sectioner's who were looking to have a picture taken with a memorial for a dead friend. I obliged and almost cried with them. It was not long after this that I finally reached the junction of the William B Douglas Shelter. I could have gone the .5 down to this shelter or stayed on the trail to Prospect Rock. So, to save myself a mile, I continued on. The road walk to Prospect Rock just about killed my feet and as I exited the trail down to the area of the over look, another soul was also camping there. The funny thing was that Gravity was one of the hikers I picked up on my last hike in the Whites before I left for the trail. It's a small world! We enjoyed the early evening talking on the ledge and watching the town below. We were also joined by another SoBo called Walrus and some townies who were curious as to what we were doing. Trying to explain long distance hiking to someone who doesn't hike is ridiculous. We watched the sun set and a storm roll in as we sat there eating and talking.

The thing thatI realized with these two hikers, is that they are much younger than I am and will do things a lot differently. I'm OK with this but it does not make me want to hang around with them as they get drunk and smoke. It's not my scene any more so, I go to my tent. The storm once again, got everything wet. Will  my gear ever dry out?? I'm not tired tonight. It's resupply day tomorrow and I get to see my family, get dry cloths, and food.

Day Seven: 8/13/15: Prospect Rock to Bromley Mountain (Resupply day!)

Last nights camp company was not impressive. Seemed like they wanted to party more than hike. To each their own, I hope that they make it to Springer. I got up and had breakfast and started to head to Bromley. It was pretty much a straight shot down with a few switchbacks. There were streams and rocks and least I forget... Mud too. Lots of trips for me but thankfully, not too many falls. I ran into a few section hikers too. It took me about 3.5 hours to go the 4.9 to the trail head so, I think I made good time. At the parking lot for the Bromley cross, I waited for my parents to arrive. I cleaned up a little with wet wipes I had packed. I also began shaking out my pack of the things I had not used. Within a half hour, my parents had arrived. They were eager to help but unfortunately, this was all on me. There was not a lot they could do as I needed to pack and re-pack before anything else got done.
I started sorting through food and separating out trash and repacking. I had zero room and still more to fit. So, I cut a few corners which may have been a bad idea. The pack was heavy but I had clean cloths again.

My parents take me into Manchester for something to eat and it was so good. I got my root beer too. Strange this craving I have. I don't usually drink brown soda. The steak Cabernet Salad was perfect too with all the veggies, blu cheese, and meat I wanted. I really enjoyed seeing my family today but sadly, I needed to get back on the trail. It's hard for me to get off trail with Isis because there is only one hostel that I know of that accepts dogs so, I just opt to stay hiking. My family is great and really supportive but I sometimes don't understand them even though I try to do right by them, I feel like I fall short. So, I get back on the trail after a quick good bye and introducing them to the Russians. I had 10 more miles planned for today but I knew with this pack, there was no way I was going to make it. Time to readjust again.

Once on trail, I was slow and Isis was too due to being off and relaxing a little. I thought about just staying at the shelter and even checked out the tent sites once we got there. I was not impressed so, I sat and we had some cheese that I packed in. We were joined by some little kids and their mom's. They didn't really say anything to me but climbed all over the shelter. After they left, I left. It was only a mile to the top and I heard that the warming hut was something I could tay in. It rained... Just a little. I pushed and pushed for that mile and it was hard with that pack. The steepest part of the trail was the ski slope. I really dislike walking ski slopes. It seemed that at the top was well... Everyone. All the NoBo Bubbles seem to have met for the night and to watch the meteor showers. The sad thing was that the warming hut was were they were set up playing Magic and smoking (Teacher Mon and his crew)... Can I get away from it at all? Again, I'm feeling very old. I go up on the ski deck and sit with Tumbles, Lost and Found, Let it Go, Language Barrier, Doppleganger, and Scout too. I tell them of my visit and they are all happy for me but also sympathetic to my pack weight again. Tumbles tells me they made it all of about 2 miles today which also boosts my spirits. I'm good with staying up here too after the day. After debating on setting up the tent (since I was told that someone was checking to make sure we were not camping), I decided to just do it and then I waited for sunset. I ran into one hiker Beast who had a really strange vibe to him (He'd been up on Bromley for two days now and not really moving in any direction). Isis didn't like him either as she lunged at him. So, I tired to keep distance. A group of SoBo's came down the trail and joined us. Really fun crowd. I lent my extra stakes to Muffin Man who was setting up his tarp by a rock to shield the wind. We chatted and watched the sun set. Then I went to my tent and thinking I'd come back out for the meteor shower, but that didn't happen either... Too tired.

It seems funny but, I am already thinking of the end. Not really sure how I feel at this point either. I re-worked my mileage and may actually end on Friday (this turned out to be wrong as I got my days confused). But you never know with weather and what not. I have some high mileage days coming and we'll see if Isis and I can hump it. It doesn't seem possible that I have a week left now? Tomorrow, I'm looking at another 12 miles. Sun rise was equally beautiful...

Day Eight: 8/14/15 Bromley Mountain to Mad Tom Notch.

I'm not sure what it is about the seventh day. I'm kind of looking forward to being home and kind of not. I woke up to a dew covered Bromley Mountain and everything was wet again. I missed the meteor shower but I got a great sunrise and set. As we were leaving, we said good bye to the Muffin Man and his crew and got my extra stakes back. I was sad to see them go for some reason. I guess I liked his company. Isis got some love from one of the hikers who completely got her and everything she is about. I loved that too. And I think that is what made me miss them more. They got not only her but they got us too. We took off down the LT and it was a nice down trail that did flatten out. I got my legs under me and under my pack. There was not a whole lot of water so I needed to make it last. There was however still plenty of mud. It seems like we made it to Mad Tom Notch in no time. There was a water cache waiting for us to fill up on. Another day of clean water! We had second breakfast here and we completed Division Three!

Division Three Done!

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