6/13-6/21 113.7 miles
A couple days into this stretch, I kind of wandered off trail—no ubiquitous white blazes to be seen showing me the AT—following footprints in the mud. I looked at my maps and sure enough this abandoned forest road connected to others and reconnected back to the trail in about the same mileage. So I didn’t sweat it. The roads were massively potholed, filled with water, mud, 4WD and ATV gouges and decorated with fenders and other car parts. Actually, it was a rather fun adventure. I saw nobody else, even when I went by a couple of cabins. After awhile I got back to the official AT and made it to the shelter camp for the night. I knew a couple hikers were shuttling into and back from a brewery but I was never going to make the pickup time so I hung out at the shelter. All kinds of hikers rolled in and Crossword brought me a beer and Bug Net brought Sofia a beer. Score!
A few days later, Paul Kelly, another USASA colleague picked me up and hosted me at his house a mile from the AT. His family has been in the Manchester Center, Vermont for a long time and he knows everybody. I got a tour and learned some history. Walking through endless trees and stone wall remnants, I had no inkling that Vermont was clear cut and the stone walls were sheep fences. And there’s marble mining, every single headstone at Arlington National Cemetery is from a still operating marble quarry near here, Danby Quarry, currently excavated 3 miles into a mountain. I met wife, Lisa, 2 (of 3) kids—Katie and Connor, and Baxter the silly, sweet doodle dog who licked the salt off me before settling in for a cuddle. Paul and I talked about our snowboarding world, catching up a bit since USASA Nationals in April at Copper Mountain. Colorado.
Walking up Bromley wasn’t horrible when he dropped me off at the trailhead st 6:30 am, except for the cold, relentless wind that nearly froze me to death. For the second time only, I set up my sleeping bag inside a regular, 3-sided shelter. I needed to get warm and avoid soaking my tent with the all night rain event.
I think because I’d used up so much energy being cold the day before, I had my first truly crabby day afterwords. I barely remember what I saw. It was still windy but not quite as cold. I’ll say it again—I hate wind! But Crossword had walked from a road crossing to a deli and brought me back a turkey dinner sandwich, chips and Vitaminwater. That made the last 1.6 miles to the shelter/campsite not too bad.
And then the last day of this stretch was, of course, perfect! A lot of up to a lot of down. There’s a new piece of AT supposedly, but the old AT is just fine, there was some kind of property lease issue, not the trail itself, that caused the reroute. So I took the old route right down to the Inn at Long Trail at Route 4, which also incorporates McGrath’s Irish Pub, which has some historic snowboards. Sounds like a zero to me, with more rain in the forecast for today.
This almost instant blog post is thanks to a text I got from my hiking pal Papa Raven. “The last blog you posted ended 16 days ago, so I’m not sure where you are.” My bad. Here ya go, Ravens! Thanks to the spreadsheet from your 2019 thru hike (and Triple Crown finish for Mama, Papa, Bling and Whisper) notes and conversation about the AT, it’s not that bad.