Day 96 – Rain

Start Milepost: 1720.7 Time: 06:00081817 - Fog
End Milepost: 1733.0 Time: 12:30
Miles hiked: 12.3
Miles to go: 456.8
Weather: rain, chilly
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Resupply:
Overnight: tent
Map: Click on map pin

For the record: I am off trail at the earliest time since I left Amicalola Falls; 12:30. There is a story behind that time. OBTW, I am in my quilt while I write at 13:00.

We knew last night that rain was coming today. The forecast called for it to begin at 06:00 and end tomorrow at 08:00. At about 04:45 I heard the leaves fluttering in the breeze and then in the wind. Conclusion? Rain will arrive shortly. Decision? Get ready to leave camp then!

My first task was to zipper the bottom of the legs back on the convertible shorts. Next task was to put night clothing and sleeping gear back in their stuff sacks. About then I heard Relentless stir and then saw the light of his headlamp. He must have reached a similar conclusion. By then a light drizzle had begun to patter on the tent so I accelerated the process. In minutes I had all stuff sacks ready to load into the pack which was under its rain cover and leaning against a nearby tree.

With boots on and laced I retrieved the pack and bear bag. The next task was to roll up the tent which by now was wet from the drizzle. I used a technique shared by Relentless. I left the fly attached, folded the edges in towards the longitudinal center and rolled it up with poles and stakes as the center. The footprint was stuffed in its own sack. The benefit of that process is that when it comes time to set it up, all parts are oriented and ready to erect. Once in its stuff sack, it was placed in the pack and I was ready to hike.

We were on the trail at 06:00 and hiked in the near dark for an hour before the rain fell in earnest. And did it ever fall. The waterproof boots held up for a while but eventually the rain ran down the back of my legs and into the top of the boots. Oh joy!

After an hour of hard, uphill climbing and then beginning to descend, we put on rain jackets to maintain a semblance of warmth.

With ten of the twelve miles complete we detoured on a gravel road to a market and were disappointed. No Gatorade. No snacks. The chef (!) offered us a pint of meatballs and we said Yes. We matched them with some cheese, crackers and root beer for lunch. And had to eat it on the porch, not inside in the warm-dry! We chose an alternative – a pole barn converted into a parking garage. We stood inside with our fare laid out on an upright, four-foot log. First class!

We finished lunch and shivered back to the trail. Two quick miles over hill and dale we reached our intended shelter. Day is done!

And the rain continues sporadically.

081817 - StreamWe think we missed some good views, but we will never know for certain. Neither of us plans to revisit the trail. We did not miss the creek crossing. No bridge was there, just a steel cable to hold on to as the rain-swollen creek water went up to our knees. Correct: waterproof boots were unnecessary today!

Can’t wait to put cold, wet clothing back on in the morning. On the positive side, I do have a dry, second pair of socks and a dry pair of skivvies. And there is the possibility of a laundry on Saturday to get everything ready for the next leg.

Time for a nap.

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Day 95 – Weather

Start Milepost: 1704.0 Time: 07:45081717 - Moss
End Milepost: 1720.7 Time: 14:59
Miles hiked: 16.7
Miles to go: 469.1
Weather: sunny, chilly
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Resupply:
Overnight: tent
Map: Click on map pin

Last night Relentless got up at midnight and closed our windows because he realized it was dang cold in our room (The previous night he closed them to keep rain out.) As we prepared to depart the lodge the weather app reflected that Killington’s temperature was 47 degrees. Nice and chilly for an August morning!

It was just yesterday that I remarked to Relentless that one of the nice aspects of hiking at this time of the hiking northbound hiking season was that we did not have to worry about our Sawyer water filters freezing overnight. If it freezes, say goodbye to filtered water. That was yesterday. Last night a young SOBO couple relayed some of their experiences in the White Mountains and particularly the Presidential peaks.

They spoke of 40 MPH winds and temperatures in the 40s a week ago. Add a week and or two and it could be an interesting hike for me as I across New Hampshire and southern Maine. All the more reason I am glad to be retrieving my gloves, beanie and puffy jacket on Saturday.

They also remarked about the dense cloud layers that form on the mountains. The fellow said he had difficulty picking out the trail and at one point was startled to have a building appear fifteen feet in front of him.

So, the hike is about to take on a variety of new dimensions: steep peaks, multiple peaks each day, widely varying weather, difficult logistics and heavier gear requirements. Add the urgency to stay on schedule and I have some challenging days ahead. So much for the mundane!

Relentless was at his best again today as we pushed to get our mileage finished early. The lodge breakfast was late being set up so we were almost an hour past our planned trail time. Even with the late start the temperature was still in the 40s as noted above so we wore an added layer of clothing (wind jackets) to help retain heat.

The next two days will feature low mileage since Relentless doesn’t have to be in Hanover to meet his wife until Saturday. Said low mileage will allow me some added rest time each day in preparation for the Whites. Like today; we were in camp at three o’clock and it is now just about supper prep time. I could be sleeping by 18:30 if the other hikers remain quiet.

OBTW. Low nightly temperatures have not reduced the mosquito population. They are all over the outside of the screen of my tent. Life on the trail….

 

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Day 94 – Slack Pack #5

Start Milepost: 1683.1 Time: 07:55081617 - 1700 Miles
End Milepost: 1704.1 Time: 17:10
Miles hiked: 21
Miles to go: 485.7
Weather: sunny
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Resupply:
Overnight: lodge
Map: Click on map pin

Jersey Judge picked us up at the hostel this morning just as we were finishing  breakfast. En route to the trailhead we learned several interesting facts about maple syrup. It takes forty gallons of raw syrup to produce one gallon of salable syrup. Buckets are no longer used to collect syrup unless the process is for tourists; trees are now hooked to a line of tubing that is hooked to a pump.

After being dropped at the trailhead we enjoyed a rather carefree hike for much of the day. Occasionally we would remark that we working hard to climb a given hill even with a virtually empty pack. And those observations brought us cheer!

We overtook Doc and Happy after several miles. For the first time in over a week they were no slack packing. Nevertheless there is an outside chance I will see them north of Hanover since they are planning to slack pack Mount Moosilauke as am I on the same day.

0781617 - 500 to go

500 miles to go to Katahdin

During our hike we saw two marker: one indicating 500-miles to Katahdin and the another indicating 1700-miles to Springer Mountain.

Scamper and I seem to have resolved the logistics issues in the Whites: two resupply boxes from home. I have also resolved that I will give up my rest day in Hanover, NH and hike a portion of what was going to be a 25-mile day leaving Hanover.

Supper tonight was a repeat of last night except we had hamburger and not pepperoni on the pizza. Caesar salad was great after dumping high calories of dressing on it. Each of us consumed a two liter bottle of soft drink – sans caffeine.

Today’s hike was just short of 21-miles. Tomorrow is much shorter but with packs containing all our gear. We will exit the lodge and head to Kent Pond where we stepped off the trail today.

My days with Relentless are running out. It has been very enjoyable. He has taught me some useful habits and techniques. I am not sure he is replaceable…. As a test, I took the lead on a rather level section of the hike today right after we took a short picture break. After a while I gave him the lead back and said I was not able to maintain the pace – I was performing beyond my age level. He snickered. I will have about a month to prove myself wrong.081617 - View

Final remark. We were at 4,000 feet today when we took our lunch break on Killington Mountain. In a matter of minutes I was chilly and had to put on a jacket. It took about 15-minutes to warm up once we got going again. It is August. The Whites may prove to be a resumption of March-like weather.

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Day 93 – Short Hike – No Rest

Start Milepost: 1670.5 Time: 07:30081517 - Mountain Meadows Lodge
End Milepost: 1683.1 Time: 12:03
Miles hiked: 12.6
Miles to go: 506.7
Weather: sunny
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Resupply:
Overnight: hostel
Map: Click on map pin

Relentless and I put in five extra miles yesterday so that today we would only have to hike twelve miles and we could rest in the afternoon. Ha!

We were off the trail by noon but had to wait an hour for the shuttle to pick us up outside of Rutland. Then we had to ride to Killington where we had a room at Mountain Meadows Lodge. The lodge is a converted barn that now serves as a wedding venue. Since it is Tuesday, we are the only two inside guests which meant we had to walk a mile for lunch at a deli and a mile back. That walk there was slow and plodding. Once we had put away a Dagwood and a Gatorade, the walk back was at a slightly faster clip. We carried  a second Gatorade bottle in our clutch.

Upon returning to the lodge we had to configure our packs for slack packing. Easy! Dump them on the floor and put a few items back in. That was more time not spent resting. Afterwards  I tried to sort out logistics for hiking in the White Mountains. That was interrupted by a hiker who will camp out in the pasture area. He just wanted to talk so I let him. By then it was five o’clock and time to order supper – salad, pizza and ginger ale (4 liters). It arrived at six o’clock. The rest we wanted went out the window. Ah, but we were not always on our feet and we were not wearing a pack. What a break!

We will have a lodge breakfast at 06:30 so we will sleep in until six! There is the rest we were looking for; thirty minutes of extra sleep! The shuttle driver will pick us up at 07:15 and drop us off where found us today. We will then hike back to the lodge – the trail passes on its property line.

One of these days I will figure out the resupply plan for the Whites. Soon….

 

 

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Day 92 – You Won’t Believe It

Start Milepost: 1650.7 Time: 07:30081417 - Trail 2
End Milepost: 1670.5 Time: 16:57
Miles hiked: 19.8
Miles to go: 519.3
Weather: sunny
Temps: 40’s°, 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Resupply:
Overnight: tent
Map: Click on map pin

If last night was not enough to convince us that the Green Mountain hostel was the best, the morning sealed our opinion. We woke late since Relentless had to make a run to the PO to get his resupply box. While he was out, I began making pancakes. Bisquick, milk, eggs, butter, syrup and hot coffee. Just like home away from home. Terrific. Then with packs loaded in the SUV, Duffy drove us to the trailhead. Wow!

Since we are still in VT, we hiked thru some mud but honestly it was not bad. We had one significant climb but the pizza and Gatorade from last night and the pancakes and coffee this morning made the climb a bit easier.

081417 - Bromley Mountain Ski Slope

Bromley Ski Resort

At mid-day we modified tomorrow’s destination in order to reduce the chance we will get caught in the predicted afternoon rain. Instead of 17-miles we will only have twelve. At the end of those miles we will be met by a shuttle driver who will take us to a lodge and the next morning will run us back to the trailhead so we can slack pack on a 21-mile day.

About an hour later we saw a tarp shelter set up on the left side of the trail. It was occupied by the caretaker of shelter we originally plan to camp at. After confirming with her that our previous $5 payment to Chris covered our stay at our destination shelter, I asked what her name was. She replied, Elinor. I responded that I’d met only one other Elinor on the trail. I went on to relay the qualifications of the woman I’d met in February. I said she was a Wonder Woman; a hiking role model. Finally, with more detail provided the caretaker leapt from her seat and declared, “You are talking about me!”

Indeed, she was the hiker that Polka Dot and I met on the second night on the trail. It was such a delight to see her. Like John back in PA, I wanted to draw up a chair and catch up on her exploits. I asked for her contact info but was satisfied to give her mine. She said she had Polka Dot’s info so I can go thru that route. As we departed she offered us two grapefruit which we kindly declined. Still, I  was tempted to accept on principal.

081417 - Ski Lift

Ski Lift

Then this evening we struck up a conversation with a father-son duo at the picnic table. The father knew an Army pilot I’d met when I was going to flight school and with whom I had served with in Germany.

A ukulele is playing in the shelter. Nice music  but I would rather catch Zs when I close this blog.

Closed.

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Day 91 – Manchester Center

Start Milepost: 1640.0 Time: 06:15081317 - Green Mountain Inn Machester Center VT
End Milepost: 1650.7 Time: 10:35
Miles hiked: 10.7
Miles to go: 539.1
Weather: sunny
Temps: 40’s°, High 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Resupply:
Overnight: hostel
Map: Click on map pin

We got to the shelter last night long before the rain. Spills got there long after us and stayed to talk. As the rain got closer she asked about the water source which was a bit over a tenth of a mile away. We’d met her before. She procrastinates. She is known for spilling things so I moved my meal and drink away from her reach. She is a friendly girl and sounds just like my cousin Mary Alice.

Late in the evening an older man arrived with his daughter. They managed to keep several of us awake with their loud voices. Such is the price of a dry tent when you leave a shelter in the morning.

We heard the benefits of the various types of privies from the caretaker probably five times as hikers continued to arrive throughout the evening. He briefed every arrival….

We left the shelter at our normal time and stepped in, around and over countless swaths of mud for the first five miles and then several more over the remaining five miles. All in all it was an easy hike of but ten miles.

Then serendipity surfaced. We stepped off the trail, crossed the highway and put out our thumbs for a ride into Manchester Center. Two dozen vehicles passed us by so I told Relentless, Papa, to at least clean the mud off his legs or we’d be there four hours! Moments later a jeep came down the mountain and out went our thumbs. I spoke out loud, “Please, please”. And what do you know, it pulled over a mere fifty feet from us. We thanked the couple for stopping even before we had loaded our packs in the back. The driver then asked if we knew Doc and Happy! Of course we did and that launched a barrage of questions and stories. Doc is the hiker who took interest in my cheekbone back in NJ. Happy provided the medication.

The diver, Joann,  once worked for Happy in the NY state comptroller’s office. The driver and her husband had just picked up Doc & Happy’s packs so they could slack pack into Manchester Center. Joann was on her way to put the packs at a motel where Doc and Happy would stay tonight. It was a marvelous coincidence.

Joann then dropped us at Price Choppers where I resupplied for five days; which cost almost $100!  I later repackaged it at the hostel and it weighed a touch under ten pounds. Ugh. It could have been more but I cut out some extras since our average daily mileage will be under eighteen.

We ate lunch outside of the grocery where we purchased deli sandwiches. With Gatorade. The hostel driver picked us up at the grocery at 13:00 and took us to the hostel. It is by far the best to date. By far! It was the home of the proprietor who took up residence in the now converted, two-story garage. The hostel is in every way a home. Clean. Neat. Uncluttered. Functional. With extras such as TV, bathroom sinks (!), WiFi, hair trimmers, washer/dryer, full kitchen, ample lighting. Self-serve breakfast in the morning. On and on. Simply beyond expectations. Ah, and it is so very quiet. Maybe it is due to the age of the few hikers…

My feet are up on a black bear hassock 081317 - Bear Hassockand am about as relaxed as I have ever been on a half-day hike. There are two living rooms for all intents. I am alone in the large  20×20. The TV ready light is on; the TV is not!

Speaking of news. We heard a bit of info about Guam and the dear leader of North Korea last night when the caretaker was talking with some newly arrived hikers. That is only the second news item I have heard/read in over 75-days. Maybe that is another “enjoy” aspect of the trail; I enjoy not hearing the 24-hour news cycle from any of the media links.

And the sun shines in Vermont for the first time in days. Although, Scamper will send my puffy jacket to Hanover, NH after I heard mountain temperatures were in the forties last week. Mountain weather can be unpredictable…and it is still August!

 

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Day 90 – Stratton Mountain

Start Milepost: 1625.0 Time: 07:10081217 - Stratton Pond
End Milepost: 1640.0 Time: 15:49
Miles hiked: 15
Miles to go: 549.8
Weather: cloudy, rain
Temps: 40’s°, High 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Resupply:
Overnight: tent
Map: Click on map pin

We were delayed leaving camp this morning because the rain that began yesterday evening had not finished its dump. When it did quit, it took extra time to pack up a wet tents. What a wonderful mess. The good news was we were on grass and not dirt so the tents were only very wet late today when we went to dry them; not wet and dirty.

Rain in VT is not a welcome event. Not only are rocks made slippery, but the muck patches become mud pits.  081217 - Mud Trail with PapaMud pits span the width of the trail (and wider) and extend from two to twenty feet. Hikers dare not fall into those pits! And I did not today. Nevertheless, we had mud splatters and smears all over our legs.081217 - Dirty Hiker And our boots were coated in the black goo!  Ah, but my boots are waterproof! Socks are still dry!

We can expect more of the same trail conditions for the first five miles tomorrow. And worse; it is raining yet again. Tonight we chose to stay in a shelter with a caretaker which means we paid $5 to have clean privy!

Relentless (Papa) took off on a speed climb of Stratton Mountain climb so I did not see him again until 90-plus minutes later. He can sure climb and I no longer have the energy to follow on his heels. Once we reached the peak, I could have climbed the fire tower for a view. I was told it was not a very clear view so I saved my energy for the three mile descent to the shelter. I think today’s hike put 15 more miles into the books leaving only twelve or so miles to get to the road into Manchester Center where will both resupply. We’ll leave town with five days of food. I have not carried five days supply since last winter. I hope water supply on the trail is good enough that I can reduce pack weight by reducing my normal 3.5 liters to 2.0.081217 - Drying Tent

Supper tonight was a Mountain House stew and bagel slices left over from lunch. Left overs? Yep. We were more interested in climbing Stratton Mountain than sitting for lunch. Instead of tuna and bagels I had a Cliff protein bar and a Snickers bar with lots of tinted water. Seems that the Sawyer filter does not clear out all the wood tannins. It tastes fine. Besides, I was thirsty.

Looking forward to leaving Vermud!

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