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Stage Rd to Wintturi Shelter AT SOBO in Woodstock Vermont

What was I suppose to do since my chores were done and the cold I had earlier in the week succumbed to my drowning it in fluids and electrolytes? Knocking off more miles on the AT in Vermont, of course. I headed back to Stage Rd in Woodstock Vermont to start a SoBo trek to Wintturi shelter. A modest 5.4 mile hike (one way) with a few surprises along the way. The morning starts chilly after crossing the road from a small parking area and climbing up a steep incline. I'm traveling through some decent hardwoods at first and the sun is starting to burn through the fog. Feeling good today so, I am hopeful for a successful trip. 

Isis and I then crossed through a pine forest and out into some open fields. I looked across and saw a decent undercast in the valley below. I smiled and thought about all the undercasts on the high peaks I have seen and here I am looking at something really beautiful without all the elevation gain. I am so lucky sometimes. Once we cross back into the woods, we begin heading down to route 12. It's a decent descent with a steep trail... This will be tough heading back. So far, not another soul on the trail. We cross the highway and come to a bridge with a gate. 

At the gate, I was preoccupied with something across the field. Isis alerted me to something coming from the right... It's a cow. OK, I can handle this. I gather up Isis who is not happy with the huge cows on her trail and in the process, the cow must have summoned his friends. Suddenly, they are all at the gate and I backed off just a little. The cows continued to literally press up to the gate. I put my foot up to keep it closed and I waited... I waited for them to move on. I waited for two of them to attempt at making a baby cow... That cannot be unseen, BELIEVE ME. Then they moved to the left side of the pasture and I quietly moved through. I made no eye contact and I just kept moving. There were more in the pasture up the hill and so, I moved quickly... In the wrong direction. Once I realized I was off trail, I moved back through and was followed pretty close by one. Watch your step as this really is a very active pasture. Thankfully, no shoes were ruined and one white dog remained white! 

Once we passed the cows, we climbed the hill behind he farm and had beautiful views of foliage and farm land. It was all very New England and very much made me smile. This is what leaf peepers don't get to see sometimes. Crossing back into the woods for a bit, Isis and I cross a few open areas and the view of Mt. Ascutney. The trail from here is pretty easy after the climb and begins to descent towards a wooded road. It becomes a little rocky and soon begins to go up and down a little (PUDS!). Time is on our side today as we continue to our lunch time destination... Wintturi Shelter.

I sat down at the shelter (down a .2 mile side trail blue blazed) and had lunch as I had intended. We, as a duo of hikers have completed 256.7 AT miles and now have just 24 miles left to Vermont. That's something to be proud of in my book and this was the successful trip I had been waiting for. The return trip would hopefully go fast and maybe be cow free.

On the way back we actually began running into others out walking. A group of women were close to the shelter as we began to head back. They were on their way to The Lookout which is about 3 miles past Wintturi. AS we moved over the fields, there were two section hikers enjoying some cheese for lunch and then thankfully the cows had gone home for the day. Climbing back up the steep section from Route 12 saw our final group on walkers and dogs... Not a bad day on the trail. Nice to have some company but equally nice to be alone out there. Not a drop of rain has fallen today either and the temps were a perfect fall day.

So, with 24 miles left, the push is on to complete my first state on the AT. I'd love to squeeze in an overnight to knock off some high miles and then maybe slack pack until the snow flies. Speaking of snow, new Hillsound Trail Crampons have arrived, new boots have been ordered... Time to start thinking of Winter. No real goal unless I want to help Isis get her remaining winter peaks. But, I've also grown to love NOT having a strict goal and not having to reach a summit. Going road to shelter has become a favorite hike for me and I'm looking forward to this journey continuing. 

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