September 18, 2016
We stopped at 6:35 p.m. when we reached the Shooting Star Camp, the northernmost shelter on the Long Trail, just 4.4 miles from the northern terminus. We had talked about pushing on in the dark to the end, but agreed that the risk and slowness of night walking in this rocky terrain outweighed the appeal of getting to the finish line tonight.
This was a fun day! At last I have become neutral about whether the path goes up or down, whether there are rocks, boulders, roots, water, or mud, whether I’m maneuvering down ribbed ledges of mossy rock or gingerly stepping on slippery ladders of roots.
The anticipated rain storm filled the night with pelting rain and wind as we slept quiet and dry in the Hazens Camp cabin. The other four hikers sharing the four bunks with us were congenial, bedding down with us by 9 p.m., quiet except for the one snorer.
By 7 a.m. the rain had stopped, so we left at the tolerably late time of 7:30. We had cooked and eaten our oatmeal breakfast which we usually eat on the trail, so that half hour of rest time was eliminated.
Although the rain was predicted to return about 2 this afternoon, the sky cleared instead. We walked all day with no more rain, and in warmer temperatures than expected as well. The cold, wet day we had dreaded failed to materialize!
At 11:09 a.m. we reached the road that marked 11.9 miles to the end of the trail! A few minutes after 1 p.m. we reached Jay Peak, the mountain we had been anticipating for the past two weeks from way down at Killington Peak, 150 miles ago! Jay would be our last high peak, at 3985 ft. What a treat awaited us there, as the ski lodge was open, including the grill! We feasted on a pulled pork sandwich and refillable coffee, bonus food to supplement what we were carrying! What a strange contrast it was to our slow climb of the mountain to meet people in flipflops who had come up the mountain in the tram!
By the time we were ready to leave the warm lodge, the clouds were clearing and we got a good view of our next mountains – Doll Peak and Carlton. 10.1 miles to go!
Those last 4 hours walking off the trail from 10 miles left to 4.4 melted away, even though there were plenty of obstacles, which we now humorously call “tricks,” meeting each one with gradings of difficulty, like judges in an obstacle course. The biggest change in the trail today was that last night’s rain had turned a lot of the trail into a stream! Sometimes we literally were ascending thin waterfalls as water naturally found the rocky trail to be the easiest drainage down the mountain.
I was curious when John seemed focused on taking a snack break on Doll Peak, an hour or so after we had left the Jay Peak Lodge. “Let’s get something from your bag!” he said. I opened my food bag and found a PayDay candy bar – something I had not put there! “Wow! Where did this come from?” John had surprised me with an extra snack, a welcome treat for this hungry hiker! I laughed at how easy it is to light me up – with food!
Those extra calories lightened my steps for the rest of our “gymnastics” on the trail to this, our last night out on the trail.
What a summer we’ve had, walking from June 3rd to July 6th from Rockfish Gap, VA to Delaware Water Gap, PA, from August 9 to September 5 from Delaware Water Gap to Killington, VT, and now from September 6 to September 19 from Killington to Canada. I haven’t added up the miles, but it’s close to 1,000! I guess I got what I want, didn’t I – a hiking lifestyle!
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