Countdown

September 17, 2016

9 a.m. 26 miles to go! 

Yesterday evening, we reached our goal, the Spruce Peak Shelter. It was a nice shelter, but it was only 5:00 p.m.! There were still two hours of light. We kept going.

First, through Devil’s Gulch, a short scramble through huge craggy boulders covered with ferns. I was glad we were exploring that as an evening activity rather than first thing in the morning. 

We kept walking. The trouble was that the trail skirted the side of a mountain, so no flat spots for tenting were available. “There’s one” would reveal lumps and bumps on closer inspection. Another quarter mile. Now, the trail headed straight up the mountain on narrow stone steps, up and up to Ritterbush Overlook. Now, we’d gone another full mile and darkness was soon to arrive. The trail leveled out. Yay! A decent spot appeared, but John had already moved on. Keep going. Another hundred yards, and John says, “Here’s a spot.” It was a very good spot – flat, with two trees for tying the tarp, and off the trail down an old road about twenty feet. Yes! It was a good spot! We had walked 17.3 miles too! 30.1 miles from Canada! read more

Final 50

September 15, 2016

Johnson, VT 5:22 p.m.

We are finishing up a fantastically successful resupply stop in Johnson. The last two days have been challenging for me. That rain we missed on Mt. Mansfield slowed us down – and made me colder than I like to be.

There’s an existential question in that for me about my limits between comfort and survival, speed and observation. I’m still exploring that, and will keep it til later.

For now, we’re heading out again – without an overnight in town, proving my mettle in laundryfree living, for the last 50 miles on the Long Trail. read more

Hiker Friends

September 12, 2016

“Hiker Friends, we need a hiker friend, to pick us up at this trailhead and take us to town.”

That’s my new thought when I have to hitch a ride into town for resupply. I accept that most of the drivers passing us by don’t know anything about the Long Trail and why backpackers would be hitching a ride. I pass by all the self-hating things they could be thinking about me. They are not who I am signalling with my thumb.

I’m signalling one of the Hiker Friends, who know that long distance hikers need a ride into town every few days.  read more

Moonlit Mansfield

September 13, 2016

The Forehead on Mt. Mansfield, 6:21 pm

It’9 p.m. and I’m standing on the highest point of Vermont. No, really! I climbed Mt. Mansfield, the highpoint of Vermont, at night! 
We reached the first peak, The Forehead, at 6:21, just as the sun was setting. The almost full moon was up. Happily, we had made it that far in daylight. Some of those obstacles had challenged my agility greatly. Leaning ladders, a slot called Eye of the Needle, an oblong and rounded boulder squeeze, things like that. 

The moon lit up the slope for the last half-mile easy slab walk up the final knob called The Chin. We kept our headlamps off and picked our way over the gray rocks. I kept thinking, “This should be scary and forbidding, but it’s actually very thrilling and not even so hard! What a neat thing to do!” read more

Intown Ingenuity

September 12, 2106

I bought a backpack in Waterbury. It’s very cool, emblazoned with “I ♡ 1 Direction” and a photo of the boyband. “Whaaat?” you say!

Actually, it’s perfect…….because…

It has a zipper! My pouch needs a new zipper, and this backpack has a good one. I can cut it out and use it. And it only cost one dollar at the Bargain Boutique in Waterbury.

With my tiny swiss army knife scissors, stashed needle, and multi-purpose dental floss, I can switch out the failing zipper in my pouch. read more

Camel’s Hump

September 11,2016

My New Story that my amazing body takes me up stunningly beautiful mountains whenever I want helped me fulfill a wonderful accomplishment today!

We kept going past the Montclair Shelter, a good stopping point for a comfortably short day, to Camel’s Hump!

Tricky rock climbs, slabs, and straight-up trail made our approach up the 4,080 feet to a windy, cold summit.

But…

Wow! What a place!

360 degree view, perfect visibility, and even a siting of a surprise mammal, perhaps a flying squirrel. read more

Rain 

September 11, 2016

First, I remember the World Trade Centers. May all the significance of that day be sanctified and elevated to its spiritual clarity, in perfect timing.

Now, for my current story. It’s 6 a.m. Thunder rumbles in the distance. The severe weather that motivated us to choose yesterday’s early stop at the Birch Glen Shelter has finally arrived.

I have no idea how many hikers are bedded down in this structure. After we had gone to bed, granted 7 p.m. is early, two college orientation groups of 8-10 hikers arrived!
They were graciously quiet, except for their clumping boots. It was a remarkably quiet night! Apparently, college freshmen sleep through the night! read more

Amazing Body

September 10, 2016

It’s hard for me to admit and write about my Old Stories, those beliefs that could sabotage  my outer journey and yet open gateways to my inner journey. I’m up for walking my walktalk, so here goes!

Yesterday, we walked 11 1/2 hours through dense forest, up some steep and rocky mountains. 14 miles was enough – a big day. But, I was fine! We had reached our destination, Battell Shelter. We knew it had a caretaker, and we had heard that another  couple had already taken space in the shelter. No problem, we would tent nearby. read more

Grocery Shopping

September 8, 2016

I’ve spent almost as much time shopping when I lived in Decatur, GA, than I did today starting from the trail! When I lived in Midway Woods, John Reiter and I would don our backpacks (we had no car then) and walk 45 minutes to the Dekalb Farmers Market, shop for a while, sit outside and eat a snack, then walk home. That would take 3-4 hours, and we enjoyed it!

Today, Hiker John and I reached Rt 125 at about 10:30, not knowing who would be givi g us a ride to Middlebury, VT, 10 miles away. John noticed a bus schedule posted at the trailhead. He called the bus company to confirm that the bus made a stop at this spot later in the afternoon. read more

Slabbing- with Bears

September 7, 2016

The local hiker we met a couple of hours after our 6:43 a.m. start on our first full day of this walk said, “This slabbing makes for quite a walk, doesn’t it?” I was unfamiliar with the term, but realized she was talking about how the trail was carved out of the side of the mountain. Sometimes the trail was very narrow and slanted sideways making it hard to keep from sliding down the steep mountainside! I had called this kind of trail “sidehill”, but “slabbing” is a good name for it too! read more