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Deer Leap Mountain

The weather was kind of questionable this weekend. I knew that I wanted to get out on the AT though and that pretty well meant that I'd stay sheltered which is a lot better than being above tree line. After a late start from the house, I arrived at the parking area off Route 4 in Killington VT. I'd hike to the Maine Junction at Willard Gap and then hit the AT for a while there. I'm figuring that I'll just chip away at the remaining Vermont miles and this will also keep my legs conditioned for my remaining LT miles (probably this time next year). Isis of course would be with me. 

Things didn't start looking familiar until I was into the forest and away from the busy road. Then I remembered hiking this little section. I was hot that first time and cranky and really just needing to get to shelter. Today though there was a nice breeze and the forest was nice and green. Everything seemed the same but different. It's a well traveled trail with a double stream crossing at the beginning. This is the only water for a while and I was surprised that it was still flowing. But Vermont has had more rain than New Hampshire as of late. Still, if you are low, you'd be wise to scoop and fill here. Isis and I hit the incline and I remember myself pitching a fit in the humidity. Today though it was an easy climb (although I still huffed and puffed and sweated). I was surprised that Willard Gap came up so quickly once we crested the incline. Another LT section hiker was behind us and we chatted at the Maine Junction for a bit before an unleashed dog disrupted us by not leaving Isis alone. The other hiker was ready with his walking stick though. I found that rather nice from a stranger. I was sorry I had to move on quickly to keep the dogs separated. So, now Isis and I are just hiking the AT and I think that given the lack of loop hikes, we will try and get to the state forest and turn back. It's not a far hike. 3.3 miles total one way.

Isis and I walk the trail through the woods which is well traveled. There is evidence that there was once a lot more water on this section but most little run offs have dried up now. There are a few hikers here and there but for the most part, we are alone today. Each one we meet is heading to Georgia so, the southern bubble must be moving through. Isis is kind of stand offish so I keep her off to the side. There's no mud on this section either which is nice. We continue walking over a few little hills and encounter some day hikers heading to Deer Leap Outlook. I think that maybe we'll stop by there on our way back. Given the low miles and taking into account the rain, I think we'll be good to go. As we walk, we reach the end of the trail (for us) at VT100 and Gifford Woods State Park. Isis is not so good with turn around points. It's takes a little convincing that we are going in the right direction. But we get back into a rhythm soon enough and find our way back to the junction for Deer Leap. It's got a decent gain to it and even though it's short, I get a little work out as well. We are almost to the outlook when we have to wait for about 25 people... A wedding party had ascended the outlook and was just leaving as I was getting there. Everyone was in great spirits of course. Isis and I popped out on to the rocks with a few others still sitting there. She rested, I took in the view, and also noted the storm clouds moving in. We may have had just the right pace today.

Heading down Deer Leap Mountain and back to the AT was a pretty easy mile. There was a few steep down sections and then a quick and steep up out of the gap. I was kind of thankful for the trail today as I need conditions like this to keep me in shape for my LT finish. The more I hike it the more I'll get use to it. The temp is changing in the forest and the breeze is picking up ahead of the rain. We stopped again t the Maine Junction for a snack and some water. I thought about heading down the LT for a bit but instead, Isis headed back to the road. We passed through the forest again and I really loved that the little yellow flowers were still all over the trail. Three NoBo's where also heading in and I was surprised because it's kind of late in the season. We came back out to the road and crossed back to the car in no time. Headed for home as the rain began to pour down.

Sometimes, I just have to get out for a walk. I don't need big epic trips week after week but just enough time to clear my head and get ready for the next week is good enough for me. All miles count and today's 3.3 got me slightly closer to finishing off my first state on the AT. I'll get there little by little. I'm in the prefect place to hike right now as the terrain is exactly what I need to keep me going. More so, at this time of year, I like to remember how this all started and dream of where I'll go next. Revisiting little sections of familiar ground does my mind good. I'm always glad to hike with or see people on the trails but I am equally happy with those long stretches of just the breeze and my breathing being the only things I hear. I'm ready for what ever the next year will toss at me... 

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