The plan was to hike from the far-north terminus of the Long Trail down to Killington, Vermont. Almost three weeks of hiking, with rest/refueling stops at "The Stowehof" hotel in Stowe and at the "Millbrook Inn" near Irasville. We would finish at the "Happy Bear Motel" in Killington.
Start hiking: 26 September
Finish hiking: 11 October
What actually happened is that I bailed out at The Stowehof because my right knee was really swollen and I was going really slow on the downhills. However, I had not been backpacking in years, so it was a valuable and, at times, enjoyable excursion. It reminded me how I like being in the outdoors for extended periods without contact with civilization.
The part that I actually hiked was 67 miles:
26-Sep Tuesday Drive to Journey's End, Hike to Laura Woodward Shelter (10 miles, 2500' ascent)
27-Sep Wednesday Hike to Hazen's Notch Camp (9.5 miles, 2600' ascent)
28-Sep Thursday Hike to Spruce Ledge Camp (14.5 miles, 3600' ascent)
29-Sep Friday Hike to Round Top Shelter (15 miles, 4000' ascent)
30-Sep Saturday Hike to Whiteface Shelter (10.5 miles, 3200' ascent)
1-Oct Sunday Hike to Rt 108 Smugglers Notch (7.5 miles, 1000' ascent) with Night in Stowe
We drove up on the 25th of September and stayed in Killington at the Happy Bear hotel. I drove up with Dave Green, while Tom Kloster drove by himself.
|Nice town in Vermont on the way to Killington|
|The final miles to the trailhead|
|Parking at the trailhead|
The first two days were incredibly hot - high 80's and humid. Really unusual for Vermont in September. Then it turned cold and dipped a little below freezing for the last night I was on the trail. I never needed to use my tarp to sleep under because the trail shelters were not occupied by others when we arrived, so we were able to sleep in the shelters every night.
|Taking a break at one of the overlooks. It was pretty cold, so we were sitting in the trees instead of out on the overlook.|
|Group Shot: Dave, Mike and Tom at one of the overlooks|
|One of the smaller shelters along the way. The shelters ranged from a simple lean-to like the one in the photo to more elaborate structures with 4 walls and doors. They were all clean and well maintained.|
|Having lunch and taking in the view|
|Phil joins us in Stowe. This is as far as I got.|
Most trails use switchbacks and other methods for reducing the steepness of the inclines. This helps the hikers and makes the trail less vulnerable to erosion. Not the Long Trail - it just follows a straight line up and over whatever is there. It is never really possible to express steepness in a photo, but imagine the following three photos as being vertigo-inducing, straight-up or straight-down and a little slippery. I held onto trees and branches most of the way down the hills, using one hiking pole and having one free hand. I think that the steepness and the size of the steps that I needed to take is what really drove my knees into a tizzy.
|It can be pretty muddy, too|
What to bring
Mostly for my own reference if I ever do this again. It was going to be warm for the first few days, so I just have shorts and tights. I was going to bring my pants for the second and third legs. I should have documented the food, because I spent more time packing food than I did packing gear. Not shown: One pair of socks and my hiking shoes.
|Sleeping bag, tarp, bivy bag and sleeping pad|