North to South…an Epic Journey of the Long Trail…Day 1-10
Getting to the trail…
From Dayton International Airport, Ohio to Burlington International Airport, Vermont…Shuttle driver, Norm picked up two Long Trail hikers, Jim Purdy aka “Millipede” (Jim came in by Greyhound) and me. Norm drove us to North Troy and dropped us off at The North Troy Inn B&B. Cost of the room was $65.40 per night. Rain is forecasted for the next day so I stay two nights at the B&B.
Day 1 ~ Sunday, August 14th, 2016 ~ 5.7m
Journey’s End Trailhead to Shooting Star Shelter
On trail at 9:15am. Norm, our shuttle driver, drove us (Jim Purdy aka “Millipede”) and I to the Journey’s End trail head. Millipede is an author. He wrote a book of his AT thru-hike. It is titled “Just Walking”. Saw the rock piles of an old farm settlement. We stopped at the Journey’s End Camp to sign register & take pictures. Rocks are wet & slippery…I fell two times. At Canadian border took pictures…beginning of LT. Made it to Shooting Star Shelter by 2:30. Set up tent in shelter…water is from a nearby pump. Cloudy all day. “Poncho” came in later…he is also a sobo tenting nearby. Ready for bed at 6:30pm!
Day 2 ~ Monday, August 15th, 2016 ~ 7.4m
Shooting Star Shelter to Jay Camp
On trail at 8:30am. Hiking is slow…I feel good but due to steep ups and downs you can’t help but to go slow and take your time. Misty rain stopped soon after on trail this morning. “Poncho” left earlier…passed him going up Doll Peak. Millipede & I hiked in close proximity…he is 69 years. Climbed up Doll Peak…rested and ate lunch at Laura Woodward Shelter. Only 1.5m from Laura Woodward Shelter to Jay Peak but it was straight up and very rocky. Sleeping on the top bunk at Jay Camp. It is a .02m off LT. Water source is a small trickle in front of shelter.
Day 3 ~ Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 ~ 5.6m
Jay Camp to Hazen’s Notch Camp
Slow day…Got to Hazen Notch Camp to get water, which is a little puddle. Millipede came down trail and said one of the hikers he passed mentioned rain today. I turned on my phone and I checked. Yep! It started to rain one-half hour later! So glad he caught up and told me. My plan was to go another 6.2m. I would have gotten there around 6-7pm! Drenched! God’s timing was perfect! Hazen Notch is full…5 men and me. Pouring out! I am on the top bunk with tent up. Holding up with rope.
Day 4 ~ Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 ~ 6.1 m
Hazen Notch Camp to Tillotson Camp
First 1.5m to road crossing was fast (VT 58). Misty, rainy morning. Tiring climb up Haystack Mt. 3,223′. Right before summit you hike on a flat stretch. Fell twice, my fault, didn’t secure footing…I don’t fall down, I fall going up! Rock very slick & slippery wet. Inside Tillotson Camp tonight. Dave from Albany, “Some Guy” from N.J. & “Moon Daddy” all north bounders finishing soon. Water sources have been small puddles…Today first day I crossed a water creek…good water at camp. Hiked past first beaver pond today. Plenty of moose droppings but no moose!
Day 5 ~ Thursday, August 18th, 2016 ~ 8.4m
Tillotson Camp to Spruce Ledge Camp
On trail at 7:30am…Climbed up Belvidere Mt. at 3,360’…2.8m in 2 hours, doing better! There were six hikers in Tillotson Camp last night. Four nobo and 2 sobo. Took many pictures of Lockwood Pond, beaver den, very pretty. After summit of Belvidere Mt. and rocky steep decline, the trail leveled out somewhat & hiking on a wide trail. After crossing VT 118 the two miles to Ritterbush Lookout was fairly easy. Made it into camp (Spruce Ledge Camp) by 2:00. Two men, section hikers, are in the shelter along with a group of six college students on orientation week, tenting. Devil’s Gulch is fairly short, many boulders and no trail! I watched every step…last large rock was smooth, wet and no hand holds. I had to climb up a rocky, mossy ledge and pray every step and movement…thank you Jesus! Mr Purdue followed me down to an overlook at the shelter…he being behind me took my upper arm which I then quickly slid past him and back to the shelter! I had a talk with him while preparing dinner. I explained that I was out here to enjoy nature, hike solo, etc! I am so NOT where he apparently is. I mentioned that just because we hike a similar pace and we run into each other from time to time does not mean a thing! Plus I reminded him that he is married! Time to move on quickly!
Day 6 ~ Friday, August 19th, 2016 ~ 14.8m
Spruce Ledge Shelter to Roundtop Shelter
On trail at 6:57am. First one out of the shelter…Nice quiet day…Made it to the Corliss Camp by 11:00am which was 6.6 miles from Spruce Ledge. Excited I made it in good time! From Corliss Camp to Laraway Mtn (2.7m) had many flat, smooth rocks followed by boggy area & bridge then smooth rocks followed by bog bridge. Once on Laraway Mtn good views, sunny & clear. Saw 4 day hikers who came up from Codding Hollow Road. Coming down Laraway Mtn the trail was along a flat, rock face cliff on the left…dripping water, high, mossy, very pretty area. Down, down, down…knee hurter! After parking area the area was strange. Hiked along a stone fence. I am getting very tired, 2 knobs before Roundtop Shelter about did me in! I kept stopping for a breather and would tell myself, “You gotta want it”…”You gotta want it Yvonne”! “You can’t stop, you must push on”. Roundtop has a over look view behind the shelter. Beautiful, pink, orange sunset. Shelter is an “L” shape, open front. “Talker”, a sobo came in around 6:00pm. A junior in a N.Y. college. I guess he talks a lot! I set up my tent inside. He has a hammock. I slept well…he heard owl’s calling back & forth during the night…I didn’t hear a thing!
Day 7 ~ Saturday, August 20th, 2016 ~ 3.3m
Roundtop Shelter to Johnson, VT ~ Nye’s Green Valley Farm B&B
Waited for “Talker” at the Lamoille River suspension bridge. We hiked the last 0.4m together to VT 15. He had asked if he could hitch into town with me…Got to town at 9:00am. Went to post office to pick up my one and only re-supply box then grocery shopping next door. Walked across the street to the Dream Cafe for a cup of Rooibos tea & GF panini sandwich with eggs & veggies…yummy! Dave from the B&B picked me up. He did my laundry, I showered, he drove me back to the grocery store for dinner. Lovely country home and gardens. Crocks, enamelware, iron stoneware…love! Cleaned all of my gear. Made dinner & watched Charles Stanley on TV.
Day 8 ~ Sunday, August 21st, 2016 ~ 7.5m
Nye’s Green Valley Farm B&B to Whiteface Shelter
On trail at 7:30am. I knew rain was in the forecast for later. I did not want to get caught in it so I made it an early day. Climbing Whiteface was a complete up and over wet rock! I fell twice going down from the summit, which is 0.4m to the shelter. (You actually don’t summit Whiteface) Passed a college group doing orientation from the University of Vermont while climbing Whiteface. They stopped at the shelter for a break…hope they made it to the next shelter (Sterling Pond) before the rains. Started to rain just after 5:00. Matt…a sobo is here. He has a bivy and I have my tent up…Raining! Had Pad Thai for dinner. It is very cold out…Thank you Jesus for getting me here before the cold rains.
Day 9 ~ Monday, August 22nd, 2016 ~ 9.0m
Whiteface Shelter to Taft Lodge
On trail at 7:07am. Rained during the night making it very cold, wet and slippery this morning. I took my time. Lots of rock, straight up. College group (that I saw the night before) is here tonight at Taft Lodge. There is a caretaker. Cost is $5.00pp. This is the largest cabin on the trail. It holds 24…there is 15 here tonight. When I got to Madonna Peak earlier, it was extremely windy and cold! Hands were numb. I am so glad to be here on such a cold night. Taft Lodge is awesome with views in front looking north.
Day 10 ~ Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016 ~ 6.8m
Taft Lodge to Taylor Lodge
On trail at 7:30am. Coming out of Taft Lodge it is a straight up, very dangerous climb up to “The Chin” the highest point on Mt. Mansfield. At one point the rock up was smooth & steep with no hand grabs or foot holds…I said out loud that “Father, I need some help here”…no kidding! a young man came up behind me and jumped right up, turned around and asked if I needed a boost! We locked hand/wrist and he helped me up that one spot…he quickly went on never to see him again! Isn’t that awesome! Perfect timing…God’s timing! A beautiful, sunny morning once on top of the chin. The walk across was views in all directions. Lake Chamberlain with the Adirondack Mountains to the west…Mt Washington and Franconia Ridge to the east. The climb down was also crazy in spots…huge rocks with ladder assists! Adam and his son, “Mountain Goat” were just here at the shelter (Taylor Lodge). Mountain Goat is 10 years old and has been section hiking the LT since he was 7 years old. They asked if I would snap a picture of them under the Taylor Lodge sign. This is their finish point…they had just completed the trail. There is a view in front of the lodge somewhat. A very quiet moment…no one here…I got use to seeing others at the shelters. I could have pressed on another 3.3 miles to Puffer Shelter but I am tired, my knees hurt and I know it would be late when I got there. These mountains are brutal and I don’t know what the trail is going to be like going forward.