Total Long Trail Miles so far: 169
Had our best day of hiking since leaving Journeys End with Stud. It was the ridge over Mt Ellen and Mt Abe from App Gap to Lincoln Gap. Just beautiful and we had perfect weather for it. We did some bigger mileage this section and saw more people.
Most folks out here think I’m a dude and I kind of want to wear a sign that says “this is what a dyke looks like”. Travis kind of wants to wear that sign too sometimes. We’ve had a lot of social awkwardness out here as a result of both intentional and unintentional passing and we are very aware of our out-ness or stealthiness depending on who we are sharing space with.
After an incredibly restorative day off the trail in Waitsfield strolling thru this cute little sleepy Vermont ski town in our goofy camp clothes running errands like picking up our resupply from the post office and doing a little supplementary food shopping and relaxing in a local coffee shop writing postcards and journaling. We walked back to the Millbrook Inn and sat in a double wide Adirondack chair in the yard eating chips and guac and drinking kombucha and resting our blistered feet.
The next morning after a hearty round of French toast we got a ride back to the trail in clean clothes with full food bags. The sky was blue and the air was a crisp 70. We climbed up the ridge and had the most beautiful 10 mile ridge walk over General Stark, Mt Ellen & Mt Abraham. We weaved in and out of Mad River Glen and Sugarbush ski areas which gave us sweeping views and nice spots to eat snacks. We barely even stunk by the time we got to Battell Shelter. Another hiker named Cody showed up and set up a hammock and we played dice. Travis and Cody got in their hammocks and I got in the shelter. Just as I dozed off, two bro dude hikers came tromping in around 9:30PM and scared the shit out of me. They had done a 24 mile day and were wicked loud about it. I did not sleep well.
The next day we descended in and out of Lincoln Gap and continued to have great weather and a pleasant climb up Mount Grant. We passed a bro dude who had lost his inner spark. When we pass nobos on the trail sometimes we stop to chat, other times we say hey and blast by. This bro dude paused and seemed to need to connect. He was about ready to quit and we told him to hang in there and gave him a pep talk. He was headed to App Gap for a much needed break. He said he hasn’t had views for miles and we told him about all the views that laid ahead. He said he felt better and we cheerily went on our way stopping for a sunny fiesta lunch at the Cooley Glen Shelter. Considered staying put cuz we were so sleepy but we decided to push on. We entered the Breadloaf Wilderness and everything changed. My inner spark started to dim. There are a few different wilderness areas on the LT. In these areas there is less signage and less blazing (the white paint strips on trees and rocks that mark the trail). Getting lost in here would be catastrophic. There are lots of downed trees and the trail is very narrow thru thick brush which creates a lot resistance kind of like you are walking thru a car wash. Our bags got snagged on so many trees and it’s like we were in a pine tunnel which smelled great and sounds nice while I write about it but I actually got pretty claustrophobic in there. I understood the issues that bro dude had been having! It was like the swamps of sadness in there and for the first time on this thru hike I considered leaving the trail. Not super seriously but I was so not enjoying myself. But we pushed thru doing a 14 mile day and were rewarded by having the skyline lodge all to ourselves which sat high on the ridge overlooking a pond and possibly The White Mountains.
We continued in the Breadloaf Wilderness the next morning getting a slow start. Travis bag starting falling apart so he needed to do some repairs so I relaxed in my sleeping bag. The skies clouded over and we hiked up thru the Middlebury Snow Bowl and transitioned into the Joseph Battell Wilderness which was better but the rain was a challenge.
We cut our day short and decided to stay at the Sucker Brook shelter where we met two women and one of their nephews who were just starting a week out on the trail. Two young brothers passed thru and stopped to make gourmet ramen. They were carrying 50lb packs stumbling up the trail. I pretty much LOVE heavy weight backpackers. Got to meet Little Bear Stumbles! And Honey! They started northbound on the 15 so it made sense that we would run into them at the halfway point.
It ended up not raining all night but as soon as first light came, it poured and nobody moved on the shelter. Travis and I made our coffees and ate our cereals and headed out into it. It mostly burned off by mid day and we perked up with the sun. We descended some cliffs into a sunny clearing where we stopped for a sunny siesta and dried some things out. The trail really became a true footpath from there and we had a very lovely hike over bloodroot gap. We hiked a total of 13 miles and stayed at the David Logan Shelter. I slept in my tent and tried to repair my air mat which has a slow leak and I’ve basically been sleeping on the ground.
Got an early start today and busted out a quick 13 miles to Route 4 to The Inn at Long Trail, a famous old school hiker-friendly place where we showered, did laundry and resupplied and ate. We are now also on the Appalachian Trail! The Long Trail and the Appalachian trail merge at Maine Junction and I was very excited to reach this spot and expected to merge onto a hiker highway based on the stories I’ve heard about huge numbers on the AT this year. No more empty shelters and quiet trails. It’s going to be very different from here. Fortunately we missed this scary event that happened here at the Inn at Long Trail last week called “Dude Fest” which was described exactly how it sounds. Drunk dudes everywhere. We met a woman who was hiking the LT solo northbound And unfortunately ended up at the Inn during dudefest and tried to camp as far away from the chaos as she could. A lot of AT and LT hikers camp across from the Inn if it’s full or if they don’t want to pay for a room. It’s a great place to stop regardless cuz they will hold your resupply box and they have a washer/dryer and it’s literally right on the trail. As we came down the mountain towards it we could smell the soap and shampoo of the day hikers. Now I’ve heard people describe this but it blew me away how intense and suddenly foreign the scent of cleanliness became!!! I’m sure we were funk-tastic to them!
We were going to get back on the trail tom after breakfast but it turns out that Travis’s mom and aunt are passing thru Vermont and are going to visit us! His aunt hiked the Long Trail in 1988 and stayed here at this Inn on her trip and has not been back since. Looking forward to sharing stories and relaxing and going to town tomorrow!