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First Southbounders spotted!

Another great weather day, and I’m making way crazy miles in the Whites! I certainly didn’t think this was possible.

Met my first Southbounders—Team Blackcat! Said I’m the first solo woman they’ve seen. Sweet!

Today is Naked Hiking Day. I had every intention of hiking a bit of today shirtless (too modest for actual nakedness), but never got around to it. Was too busy hiking to be bothered by that. Didn’t even see anyone naked.

Super friendly croo at Galehead hooked me up with some baked goods, free of charge.

Was worried I couldn’t make the 6 miles from Mitzpah hut to Lake of the Clouds in 3 hours before it got dark. Ended up making it there by 7 and the croo was super nice to us. Met Yet and Hickory, very nice other hikers.

So lucky to watch the sunset at Lake of the Clouds on the longest day of the year.

Conquering my fear of the Whites

Great weather in the Whites! I feared Kinsman—from 2008, the scariest and hardest mountain on the whole AT. It ended up being casual, bug free, and beautiful.

Lafayette was really great. So lucky for such beautiful weather and uncrowded Whites.

Had wanted to press to Galehead Hut (the friendlist hut to thru-hikers in the Whites), but had a fantastic time with the caretaker, Kale, at Garfield. Scored some bagels and hummus and potatoes and sausages from section hikers. Amazing!

Much anticipated and feared hitch hiking

Vermont view
Vermont view

Fun day over Mt. Killington. I had so much fun, it was hard to imagine any other way of living. One of my friends wrote on my facebook wall “I love your life,” and I totally felt the same way—I can’t imagine wanting anyone else’s life. I danced up the mountain, ran up the side-trail to the top of Killington (very buggy) and ran down to the road.

I realized that I could grab my package at the Killington Post Office (the much awaited quilt!) today instead of tomorrow, but would have to hitch from Sherburne Pass instead of walk in from VT 100. I worried about it for a while, but when I got to the road, got picked up by a middle-aged lady in a nice car. I got my package, resupplied, and got a ride to the Long Trail Inn for a Vermont Half-and-Half, only to get a bus ride right to the trail.

 

Met Long Trail hikers Tuna Tom and Lady Killer, but they departed at Maine Junction. The life of a fast AT hiker can get so lonely!

 

Fun with rocks and roots

The rocks and roots of VT are actually pretty fun. With music on (thanks Lady Gaga), I feel like I’m dancing…my feet moving quickly between the obstacles along the trail. That being said, I really hope no one sees me doing it…I use my arms and wiggle my hips waaaay too much while hiking like this to look normal

So stoked to skip Manchester Center. It’s the first town I had been planning to hitch into, but carried enough food out of Williamstown to be fine.

Another cool, misty, mostly bug-less day. I had been planning to go into Greenwall Shelter, but hit it around 7, so decided to push on. Yay big miles!

Finally met “Girl with 4 Dogs,” who has been ahead of me for a while. Met Sharkfin and Wilson and Cricket at the shelter (section hikers) and we had a grand time finding the shelter porcupine at night.

Surprising amount of fun in Vermont

Beaver art
Beaver art

Perhaps the most fun day of hiking ever. I’ve made up the miles I lost coming out of Williamstown late.

It was a cool day, misty but not buggy. I even got a view from the tower on top of Stratton Mtn!

The Spruce Peak Shelter was fantastic–fully enclosed with a sliding door and there was plenty of room.

I haven’t seen another thru-hiker in all VT…all section-hikers or Long Trail hikers. I feel so alone.

Meeting famous hiker Billy Goat

Billy Goat and Snorkel
Billy Goat and Snorkel

Left town super late (11:30), but had a pleasant day of hiking in new shoes. I picked up my bouncebox in Cheshire, MA the day before, so I also got to hike with a new pack I pulled out of it.

I have to admit I was a little intimidated about VT. All I remember about it from 2008 was rocks, roots, bugs, and rain. But it is turning out to be quite pleasant. Sure enough, the rocks were nasty as soon as I crossed the border and gnarlier into Bennington.

Also, I saw Billy Goat hiking for a week southbound. Of course, he didn’t recognize me, but was quite friendly, and we chatted for a while. Love the trail community…

Great hunger

Woke up early and rather cold, surprisingly. Even though I’m getting my 30 degree quilt in Killington, VT, I’m thinking maybe I should hold onto my 20 degree down bag instead. How the trail changes! I would’ve killed for that quilt in the Mid-Atlantic.

I’m running a bit low on food since I wasn’t able to get the extra calories I had hoped to get in Great Barrington (the cafe was closed and the doll shop no longer sold ice cream). Eh, poor hiker planning on my part.

I was really counting on getting some more calories at the Cookie Lady’s, and was stoked to see signs for fresh eggs for sale. I walked to her house about to ask her to cook me up some of her eggs–I’d pay extra–when I saw a sign saying she sells them *boiled* to hikers as well! Unfortunately, she wasn’t home. I got water and ate my last Whoopie Pie and braced myself for the last 10 miles to Dalton without food.

My feet are starting to hurt and I’m afraid that despite all the precautions I’ve taken to protect my feet on this trail by trading out shoes often, that plantar fascitis is setting in. The shoes I was supposed to get in Ft. Montgomery, but had to forward to Kent, and didn’t get in Kent, are sorely needed. Luckily, I remember Tom in Dalton taking hikers over to a Dick’s Sporting Goods…new shoes will be had in Dalton!

 

M-fing snakes on a m-fing bog board

Crazy story of the state: Going into Great Barrington, MA, there’s about 100 feet of bog bridges (floating boards 6 inches wide used to help hikers not walk in a pond/swamp) right before the road. When I got to the bog boards, I discovered a snake sunning itself right on my “trail.” Normally, I go around the trail when I see a snake–but I couldn’t do that here because the only thing “around” the trail was the swamp (which was filled with more snakes). I pulled out a long reed and threw it towards the snake, and it finally slithered back into the water.
I thought I was home free, until I noticed yet another snake on the end of the board. I used another long water weed to move it off. In the end, I had to chase of 5 water snakes in 30 feet of trail. Every time they slithered off into the water, I ran across the board, hoping that it wouldn’t leap out of the water and get me.

I ran after I hit solid ground and when I got to the road, a car had stopped and asked me if I was all right. “I saw you running. Are you hurt?” the guy inside the truck said.

“Nope, just saw a bunch of snakes,” I said nonchalantly (though, really, my heart was beating super fast).

Snorkels don’t like Slitherers.
Hung out at the doll shop with Sensei and Windscreen–two hikers I’d been hoping to catch up with. We ended up hiking together, along with Hermes (who had just finished the CT state challenge)and getting super drenched in sweat. When the sky turned all dark and apocalyptic, , at first, we were concerned about the rain, but then realized we were soaking wet already. The darkness was weird, though, it hit all of a sudden. At 3 pm, it was as dark as it gets at 9… Also, weirdly lost my watch today

From heat to hail

Made great miles into Salisbury with Will and we walked down to the oldest public library in the U.S. there. My friend Marlyse came with her newborn and treated me out to a delicious lunch in town, while we roasted outside. It has got to be 100 degrees, and tomorrow is supposed to be hotter!

When I hit the trail again, it was a hot for a bit, but clouds rolled in out of NO WHERE and it became cool. At first, this was a good sign, until quarter-sized hail started falling from the sky. It was kind of apocalyptic. Lightening was striking very close by and I knew the trail was about to go over some rocky exposed areas. Although I intended to hit the next shelter, I wasn’t about to risk going over Mt. Everett through that kind of weather.

The rain and wind were so intense that I took shelter behind a tree under my umbrella until it subsided a bit. I half set-up my tarp for my hammock, and then the rain hit again in full force, and I huddled under my partly set-up tarp. At that point, I swore that after I finish the AT, I’m not going to spend anymore time in the outdoors ever. Then, I realized how much fun I’d had hiking earlier that day. By the time the rain stopped and I set up my tarp and hammock beautifully, my mood changed yet again, and I was ready to take on the next adventure.

Return of Will

SO good to be in New England. As soon as I crossed the border, where there once was no water, springs flowed. Even the mosquitoes started to go away. The trail became wide and well maintained. Deep hemlock shade and cool air replaced the heat of the Mid-Atlantic. Ah, CT! So good to be home(ish).

Then, it got all rocky and hard and super super hot.

BUT—I caught up with Will in Kent! And despite the uppity-ness of the town, many people stopped and said “hi” to me as I hung out by the side (not in front) of the Post Office, eating my lunch. What a friendly town!

Night-hiked into the shelter and Will was there. Going up the rock staircase after West Cornwall Road in the dark was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had. Not often does the trail go straight up and through random rock cracks…and trying to figure all that out in the dark was an adventure! Unfortunately, the package I had forwarded from Ft Montgomery, NY (I hit the town on a Sunday) had not arrived in Kent. Yes, even with a 20 mile head start, I can still walk faster than the Post Office can deliver a package. Luckily, NY was easy enough to resupply in food-wise, but that package had my new shoes, which I’m starting to really need…

Verdant CT
Verdant CT