My original plan was to hike for two weeks on the Long Trail to finish it to the border of Canada. There were a number of factors that shortened my trip. Myself and Isis went for 23 miles this time over 11 peaks in 3 days... One zero day and a day to hike out. This is my trail journal.
Day One: 7/16/16 Lincoln Gap to Glen Ellen Lodge 8.8 miles/112 miles to go
Second thoughts this morning... I guess that is partly because I knew what to expect. But I didn't back down. I made the trek with my mother and Isis to Lincoln Gap VT. I strapped on my beast as in Wild by sitting on the bumper of my mothers car and lifting it on with the shoulder straps. We did pictures and a quick good bye and I was on my way.
Up to Batell Shelter, the trail was as I had remembered when I was peak bagging the NE67. The ledges increased as you got closer to the shelter before the real push to the summit. There were also intermittent flat areas with green and lush vegetation to admire. There is also plenty of trickling water for a dog to drink. Isis really appreciated this as it is humid today. I could probably dip from larger pools if I needed to as well. But I am still feeding off of the tap water I brought in 2 one liter bottles. It seemed to take forever and yet no time at all to get to the shelter for a snack. Then it was time for the final push to the summit.
This next section after the shelter is the really ledgy part. Thankfully, no rain has fallen... Yet. It was tough to navigate with a full pack but I was thankful for the training I had done prior to prepare for this. Once we reached the summit, it was in the clouds but the caretaker had oranges so, that made it all better. Isis also received a biscuit from him too. We stopped at the Lincoln Peak Observation deck for lunch.
As we made our way to Ellen, The trail got muddier but I was also remembering a lot. It seemed to be an easier walk up here on the ridge. Past the summit, I was officially in uncharted territory. It was a little more rocky, a lot more muddy and there were a few PUDS (pointless ups and downs). Once we reached the junction for the Jerusalem Trail, we opted to leave the small crowd of Thru's and head for the Glen Ellen Lodge. After the gravel wore out and the rocks and mud and roots and water reappeared, I kind thought I was wrong to do this... Maybe I should have gone to Starks Nest. But I was not in the mood for a crowd yet. I had hoped for a quiet first night. Once I crossed the brook at the bottom of the trail, it was really nice.
We had the place to ourselves for a few hours. I had a nice peaceful dinner on the grounds and then we started to get ready for bed and I heard an awful ruckus coming down the trail. I thought for sure it was a group... Nope. Just one Thru Hiker having a very bad day. I continued to do my chores for the night while listening to her complain about everything under the sun... I tried to spin the positive but soon found myself getting sucked into her negativity. We went to bed for the night but sleeping was very difficult as it always is on the first day. Adrenaline and all.
Mood: Remaining positive in spite of company
Pain: Low but throbbing already
Isis: OK but will probably react negatively to her food. I expect to get nipped a lot.
Outlook: Very hopeful for Canada
Weather: Rain for Day 3...
Day Two: Glen Ellen Lodge to Birch Glen Camp. 6.3 miles
15.1 miles/105.7 miles to go
I woke up this morning to rain. Not a bad rain but enough to make everything nice a slick and enhance that Vermont mud we all love so much. We walked first to the Starks Nest (Shelter/Warming hut) on Mad River Glen. I had second breakfast there and Isis got treats. I met up with a small bubble of NOBOS. They were younger and not really my crowd. They seemed to look at me as if I was out of place. I had left Ravenous the angry Thru Hiker to her quiet morning. She is really gunning to get off trail soon for a break. The trail itself was great up to this point. Not to rocky, rooty, or ledgy. Then.... We started descending from Mad River Glen. The jumps down from rocks became bigger. Then the ledges. And then... The ladders. Three ladders and wet rocks (to the guides one ladder). I spent a lot of time guiding Isis down or just carrying her and one arming the rungs. We were both spent. The good thing is that I got us through it safely. The bad thing is that I am now thinking like Ravenous and wondering what will be bad next. I was short of positive emotions. And the terrain continued to be uneven and challenging, I made the call to shorten my day from Cowles Cove to Birch Glen Camp.
Once we got through Appalachian Gap, we hiked for what seemed like forever over several puds through the forest and when the trail was finally leveling off close to the shelter, Ravenous caught up to us. I guess I was moving slower than usual. This concerned me. She was originally going to just snack there and move on but then agreed to stay once she realized that there was a 1.5 side trail to get her off the trail. She was still negative. The whole trip over sucked according to her. I again tried to spin it positive but to no avail. We decided to build a fire and have dinner I chose my favorite chicken and cheesey rice to both lighten the pack and pick me up. We were joined by Song Bird, a rather peculiar girl who claimed to be a wilderness instructor yet didn't appear to use her teachings as the fire died out and her bear bag became stuck. She had set up her tent in one of the bunks but that all soon came down when she decided to move on instead of dealing with the stuck bear bag in the morning. Her plan now was to get over Camel's hump by 2pm tomorrow before the storm hit. While all the commotion was happening, I was in my bunk and a new hiker... Sandstone had come to camp. He was trying to help but to no avail, she (songbird) was off.
Isis' stress level was going down and all in all, this was a good day. It was a challenge but it was a good day in my mind. I am still hopeful that I can complete the journey with all the obstacles I will face, we will see what happens first with the storms tomorrow.
Mood: cautiously hopeful
Pain: OK but callouses have developed under my big toes and I feel like i am sitting on oranges in my butt cheeks.
Isis: Stressed but recovering with rest.
Outlook: still hopeful
Weather: Rain for tomorrow... Thunder and lightening and hale possible too.
Day 3: Birch Glen to Mont Clair Glen Lodge 7.9 miles
23miles total/97.8 miles to go to Canada
I managed to get moving early after last nights commotion with now "Crazy Lisa" and her stuck bear bag. After morning chores, Isis and I hit the trail. Isis at this point is not eating her food that I give her so I am bagging the disgusting mess out and it's even heavier when it's rehydrated. I need to work on this. But she cannot survive on treats alone. The work we do is too hard. The additional 2.9 to Cowel's Cove was decent. There were a few thin spots that I carefully stepped around. Cowel's Cove itself was just a lean too and had a wind shield. I was really glad I altered my day yesterday to stay were I was. I also saw that the floor was rotten. From here, the next 1.5 miles was probably one of the most punishing inclines I have ever taken. We were heading to Burnt Rock Mountain. This was very rocky and very ledgy. Plus there were thin spots and I found myself assisting Isis and hoisting myself and my still full pack up. I was getting tired and very grumpy. It was hot too which made things sticky and sweaty. Now this section was described by Ravenous as something her friend almost died over. This section had been built up a lot but while I was challenged, I was not dying. It did seem to take a while to travel to the summit but once I was there, I felt proud. Sandstone came up behind me as I was sending and update and we chatted at the summit as well as took water. I was glad he was there because the rappel line was how you got down from the summit. Isis handled it well but seemed a little stressed. We took a break while Sandstone moved on. We would see him at the shelter tonight.
The next 2.6 miles over the Paris Skidway, Mt Ira Allen, and Mt Ethan Allen, took a lot of effort. But I did make it in good time when I think about it. I left close to 7am and got there close to 4pm. Within this 2.6 is Ladder Ravine. A metal ladder down a steep rock embankment. A slick ledge would be the death of someone. My big question, how do I get Isis down? Well, I stuff her in my shirt. With her head sticking out of the neck hole. We struggled a little but once I settled her, we made it down. I retrieved my dropped pack and we move on. We are now really trying to beat the thunder storm. The rest of the 2.6 was a bunch of PUDS. and some very tricky scrambling that was accompanied with wind. I had to duck and wait at one point. Both the final peaks make you think you have passed them but then the PUDS laugh at you and try to confuse you more. Then when you do reach Mt. Ethan Allen, you are ecstatic because then it's a mile to the shelter.
That mile had some decent flat sections to enjoy and some slick down. Again, after a few punishing tenths of a mile, you get to the shelter and you are elated. The day is done... Well, except for dinner and chores. Sandstone had made it a few hours before me but we both beat the storm. We chatted about life on and off the trail. Crazy Lisa was brought up again and Meg, the caretaker had joined us. The down pour finally happened after we were all safe inside. We ate and talked and played with the resident mouse (who eventually ate my chocolate bar). All of this really made the day a lot easier.
I have concerns about my mileage and if I remain at this pace, and the terrains this tough, I may have to cut it short or just see what what I can get in two weeks. First, I want to see how I do over Camel's Hump tomorrow. Maybe I'll judge it by the 12 mile day I have planned after that? But for now, I am doing OK.
Pain: Hot spot on my right arch
Weather: Looking good for tomorrow.
Morning of Day 4: Mont Clair Glen Lodge
Last night, after I had wrote my journal entry, I decided to leave trail. Looking at the mileage forward, the terrain, and knowing that those 12 and 14 mile days were not possible for the both of us, I decided to leave trail but not the journey.
I will stay here another night and leave on a familiar side trail rather than go over the Hump and risk injury on yet another ladder. It rained pretty good yesterday and things are wet. There would be a lot of scrambles on both the ascent and descent. These things seem to be eluding me at the moment. Meg, the caretaker described another section that I'd have to put Isis back in my shirt. I can't do that to her. The first time, it was cute but after that, it's just plain mean.
Hiking a long distance trail is hard work but it's also suppose to be fun. While I am enjoying it, there are parts that I am not. Most of that centers around Isis. She is my greatest impulse buy ever and if she is hurting, I'm not doing my job. She's not eating right on trail and this is work for her and for me. She's getting better at being off leash but I still cannot trust her around small woodland creatures. This is not to say that it's the sole problem. She's just a little dog and sometimes little dogs try and do big things because their person does them too. I'm grateful for her company as she is sometimes the only company I have. I am not going to put her in a position to hurt her or that she does not want to be in. At leas not more than once. She is anxious because we are not hiking today. We keep walking around the grounds and up a few other trails. but we are not going anywhere and we always come back to the same shelter. I'm also a little anxious as people are filing in and staying here tonight. I'm not feeling very social and maybe I have a few regrets. I am glad that I'm doing this for Isis and we'll endure what ever happens tonight...
Day 5: Morning at Mont Clair Glen
After a night without sleep due to noise in the cabin (snoring)... I was a mess. But we packed it all up and headed down the familiar Dean Trail to the Monroe Trail and out to the parking lot to wait for my parents to come get us. We were early so we sat in the grass and we just existed because I was so tired fro probably everything at this point but especially from not sleeping. Once we were on our way, my mind began putting the breaks on things. I want to go back. I don't want to be home. I guess I gotta find something to do next week since I am still on vacation. I will hike again... After some rest. And some laundry... Possibly a shower too. Thru Hikers kinda stink when they leave trail. I miss trail life but I may like sleeping in my own bed tonight as Isis and I will have plenty of room.
Thanks For Following Along. We'll see you soon on the trail!