- Jun 18, 2017 The Approach
- Jun 18, 2017 Day 01
- Jun 18, 2017 Day 02
- Jun 18, 2017 Day 03
- Jun 18, 2017 Day 04
- Jun 22, 2017 Day 05
- Jun 22, 2017 Day 06
- Jun 22, 2017 Day 07
- Jun 26, 2017 Day 08
- Jun 26, 2017 Day 09
- Jun 26, 2017 Day 10
- Jun 26, 2017 Day 11
- Jun 26, 2017 Day 12
- Jun 28, 2017 Day 13
- Jun 28, 2017 Day 14
- July 2017
While non-traditional, I highly recommend a northbound flip flop of the Long Trail.
Ending around/on Mansfield provided spectacularly beautiful sights, not to mention it's much easier to travel from Burlington than the "Northeast Kingdom" as its colloquially named.
Starting in the south provides for a gradual work up of terrain and miles and the trail is much more forgiving and well maintained. It's approximately 185 miles to Burlington/Camel's Hump area from the southern border of the Long Trail, which provides a solid ramp up of both mileage and time to get some trail legs under you, not to mention Burlington just happens to be one of the cities most of the private shuttles, public transportation, and trail angels will be amenable to transporting you to/from.
There's a cabin on the short approach trail at the northern terminus you can stay in if required, and the thirty or so miles from the border south to Eden Crossing are pretty rugged/poorly maintained (read: incredibly frustrating) - not the way I'd like to end a long hike.
Regarding timelines, I finished the Long Trail in twenty days, including one zero day and a nero or two. I slack packed two days to help with mileage, and hit the ground running for the first hundred or so miles on the southern end of the trail mainly because I'm stubborn and being surrounded by AT thru hikers got me all nostalgic.
13-17 mile days your first week on the trail may or may not be realistic for you, depending on your experience and fitness levels. I am not a badass all knowing trail god (IANABAKTG), but I did see people of all types and experience levels on the Long Trail.
A large part of long distance hiking is being mature enough (experienced enough over time) to realize what works for you, what doesn't work for you, and making changes appropriately. What works for one person may or may not work for another - and while a lot of long distance hiking experience translates well to other long distance hikes, every environment is unique.
And as always, journal, and take pictures of the people you meet. Overlooks and great but views start to look the same after awhile (especially when looking back), but I find it's the people you'll want to remember the most.
Date: 04 Jul 2017 1040PM
Location: Burlington, VT
Today's Miles: 14.3
Total Miles: 273.0
Final day on the trail.
Dropped off at Smugglers' Notch for the last push. Beautiful day, sun shining in a bright blue sky.
Walked nice and slow, took my time. Morning was up and up and up, with a few nice views along the way.
Lots of people hanging about and walking around, especially in the easily accessible and more popular spots. Good to see people getting out of the house, seems to be a trend in Vermont.
Last few miles of the day were on a logging road and on relatively flat ground. Good way to end the trip, casually walking back to civilization. Was picked up at the road by my friend who has graciously put me up the last few nights. She was dropping off a hiker that she found in town along the way - trail magic coming full circle.
Spent the night in Burlington, had my final trail meal and gorged myself on $0.40 cent wings, some fries, and a local brew. Tomorrow I'll hop on a bus and spend the day traveling back to my home in Maine.
Done and done.
Date: 03 Jul 2017 1027PM
Location: Johnson, VT
Today's Miles: 22.0
Total Miles: 258.7
Super long day today, at least that's how t felt when I was finished.
Slack packed up and over Mansfield, spent about a hour at a cabin on my way up talking with some AT thru hikers who hiked last year.
As I made my way up the last mile, the cloud cover was crazy thick and the winds were blowing pretty hard. At the top there was a GMC caretaker who I spent another hour chatting with.
Cruised along the ridge for a couple of miles, watched as the clouds slowly lifted and the views got better and better.
Last half of the day was a slog, every mile felt like it took incredibly longer than it should have. Probably should of done the miles over the course of two days instead of all at once, it was pretty brutal out there.
Finished as the sun was setting. Sat in the gravel parking lot waiting for my ride, gorging myself on snacks, watching the pink and orange sky of the sunset.
Date: 02 Jul 2017 0912PM
Location: Johnson, VT
Today's Miles: 11.8
Total Miles: 236.7
Another early start this morning, out of the shelter by 0615. Flew down the trail for most of the morning, happens when you've a light pack and the carrot of town dangling in front of you all day.
Stopped at at a shelter to dry off for a few minutes. Laid out all my clothing in the sun and soaked up the warm, drying rays.
First day of clear skies for almost a week. Managed to get a nice view or two before coming down into town.
Last half mile of the day was dampened when I got to a suspension bridge. River below was engorged with water, causing the trail to be inaccessible on the other side. Had to backtrack and walk an extra two mile road walk to get back to the trail.
Hitched into Johnson, VT stopped at the grocery store. A hiker should never resupply hungry lest they live for many days in the woods with their bad decisions, so I went in first for lunch and waited about an hour until I was stuffed and in a better frame of mind to properly grab needed supplies.
Walked to the local coffee shop next and grabbed an iced americano, sat on their porch for a little bit to enjoy the weather, then walked the short walk to a friend's place who lives close by.
Spent the afternoon reminiscing, eating, and cleaning gear.
Big day tomorrow, going to attempt a 24 mile slack pack. Shouldn't be too big a deal, just need to watch my time - trying to finish early in the afternoon so I don't make my ride wait up for me.
Date: 01 Jul 2017 0724PM
Location: Corliss Camp
Today's Miles: 14.9
Total Miles: 224.9
Woke up with the sun this morning, was out of the shelter and on the trail around 0600. Reminds me of back on the AT when I used to get up that early and was able to get some good miles in with all that extra time hiking.
Unfortunately my body isn't *quite* up to that yet, as by four o'clock this evening I was pretty exhausted, although it was incredibly wet all day, my feet swimming in water in my boots and the rest of my skin being moist.
Missed out on some good views today, some of the best on the whole trail I hear. The entire day was a bit of a grind - some days are just like that out here. Would have been a good day to take a day off and recharge, but it'll be good to be home a day earlier.
Managed to break one of my trekking poles early in today's hike. Last year the Black Diamond poles I had lasted over 1900 miles before failing. This year I "upgraded" to a set of Leki poles and experienced a failure in under 200 miles.
Got to a cabin and set up for the night. Been alone for the past few hours but as I write this I hear some hikers coming in - looks like I'll have company.
Town tomorrow. Looking forward to some hot food and a shower.
On a separate note, the trail from the northern terminus to approximately Eden's Crossig at VT 118 has been a disaster. Rugged terrain is one thing, but poor trail maintenance is another all together and leaves the trail in a haggard, unsafe, and disregarded condition.
Mud, roots, rocks, and logs are one thing, I do not expect a flat, smooth, gravel covered surface to hike on and "natural debris" is expected. But when blowdowns exist that are too large (and obviously many, many months-years old) to climb over/under and hikers have blazed multiple trails around them, overgrown bushes/trees/plants are so thick you can't see the trail, and enough time has passed that trees with blazes are knocked over (without fresh blazes being put up) it makes for poor conditions at best, hazardous at worst.
I get it, trail maintenance is about preservation, not perceived comfort of the hiker. It becomes a problem when hikers are forced to blaze trails around untenable trail conditions or poorly chosen routes.
Trail maintenance is tough, and getting volunteers out there is even tougher, but I've heard too many people to count while out on the Long Trail (both locals and tourists alike) complaining about how they don't see the benefit of donating to a trail club or paying to stay at shelters/campsites/cabins when the trail is in literal shambles in some areas.
Date: 30 Jun 2017 0732PM
Location: Tillotson Camp
Today's Miles: 11.7
Total Miles: 210
Slept in his morning until around 0800 - it was extra dark in the cabin and with my ear plugs in and buff around my eyes nothing bothered me until I woke.
Took my time getting ready, out by 0900. Walked straight through until about 1300, sat on a rock by a dirt road and ate a bunch of Cheese-Its while I dried out. Let's just say I'm looking forward to getting back to town soon.
Wet all day today, surprised at how well my feet are doing. Only aired my feet out once today and they're doing great. I have been using Vaseline on the parts that typically rub when they get wet, perhaps that's helping (thanks Stewart).
Got to the shelter, *interesting* experience. Since I flipped up north I've been encountering hikers who are almost finished with the trail. Most of them are cocky and abrasive, as if by somehow completing the trail makes them better than the other people who are out here.
Going to be another earplugs night.
Date: 29 Jun 2017 0738PM
Location: Jay Camp
Today's Miles: 12.9
Total Miles: 198.3
Didn't sleep very well last night, but got an hour or two before the sun came up. Packed up all my stuff, made sure I had everything, and hopped in the car. Buddy drove me to the northern terminus of the trail and I hiked the approach trail to the monument, took my pictures, and headed south.
Pretty uneventful day. Rained on and off throughout and was thoroughly soaked for most of the hike.
Reached Jay Peak and watched a gondola come up from the bottom. Didn't want to deal with the people so I kept on hiking. I did find a few packets of hot sauce though so that was pretty good.
Ended my day at a cabin. Nice place, water out front, listening to the rain ping a few inches from my face on the sheet metal roof.
Beats being wet though.
Date: 28 Jun 2017 1036PM
Location: Johnson, VT
Today's Miles: 8.2
Total Miles: 185.4
Woke up in the shelter to the pitter patter of rain so I took my time getting ready for the day. Talked with an older couple who spent the night with their little dog, the other couple who spent the night was gone well before I woke up.
Rain was pretty constant all morning, up and over Camel's Hump. As I was halfway down the other side the skies parted and the sun came out, but the top of the mountain was still socked in so I didn't feel too bad about missing the spectacular views.
Turned my phone on briefly on my way down the mountain (as you do when you're out in the woods for long periods of time, chance of reception is best up high) and saw a message from a fellow thru hiker I met last year on the AT. Her and her boyfriend (also a thru hiker) who live near the part of the trail I'm at offered to pick me up at the next road and put me up for the night. You had me at "pick you up" I told her!
Went into Burlington, VT for some sushi and ice cream, and looked around the local outfitter for a little while. Grabbed a few ciders on the way back to their place and sat on the porch watching the sun set, enjoying each other's company.
They've both offered to help me get back from the end of the trail when I'm finished, but they work so much that it's hard to fit that trip into their schedules. So instead of trying to figure out when they'll be off of work next week and match it up with my hiking pace, we're going to drive up to the northern terminus tomorrow, drop me off, and I'll hike south back to them. Since it's notoriously difficult to get back to civilization from the "Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont, this'll work out best for everyone as well.
I didn't intend on flip flopping the Long Trail, but I'm slowly learning to become a little less rigid in my life, and with my expectations.
Progress - the main reason I'm out here.
Looking forward to tackling the north end of trail with my newly founded trail legs.
Date: 27 Jun 2017 0656PM
Location: Montclair Glen Lodge
Today's Miles: 10.5
Total Miles: 177.2
Woke up super early this morning, was able to go back to sleep until around 0730. Enjoyed the luxuries of the hostel and took one last shower before packing everything up and heading down the drive.
Managed to thumb a ride into town relatively quickly, a kind old man with an old school Mini and a very friendly beagle.
Headed straight back to the gas station deli where the same woman was working. She asked me if I wanted the same thing as yesterday, I responded with an affirmative, and I sat down to enjoy a slice of pizza and a cup of coffee while I waited for the burrito I ordered. And yes, the irony of eating and enjoying food while waiting on more food does in fact delight me 😆.
Hitch out of town was equally easy - second vehicle past me picked me up and took me all the way to the top of Appalachian Gap. Perfect.
Shorter hiking day, weather has been threatening to storm all afternoon. Saving Camel's Hump for tomorrow because there isn't much in ways of campsites or shelters and I didn't want to risk having to go over the hump in a storm with no place to stay for miles.
Shelter is nice, apparently has a nuisance bear problem. Last year a bear broke into the shelter looking for food, so now there are some massive chains and bear boxes as well as a 2x4 that is placed across the door to ensure the door can't be opened.
One hundred miles to go.
privy with a view...
Date: 26 Jun 2017 0850PM
Location: Warren, VT - Hostel Tevere
Today's Miles: 11.6
Total Miles: 166.7
Woke up this morning incredibly achey, sore, and tired. Almost felt like I had some sort of cold / immune system issues. Took it slow, went downstairs with the box of cereal I purchased yesterday, but no one was around. No guests, no employees, nada.
Ate my breakfast and went back upstairs. Loaded up my pack up with only what I needed for the day since I was slack packing, went back downstairs with all my gear, laced up my boots and headed down the driveway.
Got a hitch relatively quickly, even if the guy was quite... odd. Regardless, he was nice enough to take me to the service road that lead to the trail - although where he dropped me was still a few miles from the trail head.
Walked down the road for about a mile before it took a turn for the worst. The rest of the way was up a *very* steep hill. About a half a mile into the walk an older woman pulled over and offered me a ride the rest of the way up the hill, which I was grateful for.
Overall, a solid day of hiking. A few peaks over 4,000 feet, and a couple of small alpine zones as well. Reminded me of a mix between the Whites and Maine, not a bad combination.
Finished the day at the Appalachian Gap and sat chatting with someone who was enjoying the view from the parking area pullout. Packed up all my stuff and walked across the road to hitch, first car I thumbed pulled over. Lucky!
Nice gentleman, even if he was polishing off a beer as we drove. One for the road, amiright?
Got into town and went looking for food. Nice lady at the gas station made me a huge breakfast burrito even though it was outside of breakfast hours.
Hitched back to the hostel and started the chores. Took a shower, did some sink laundry, sorted though the food I bought yesterday to make sure I had enough for the next leg of the trip - good ole food math.
Finished off the night by drinking a bunch of water. Can't get enough out here, seems like I'm always just on the edge of dehydration, but I guess that's what these mountains do to you when you've not got your trail legs fully yet.
Date: 25 Jun 2017 1044PM
Location: Warren, VT - Hostel Tevere
Today's Miles: 12.4
Total Miles: 155.1
Woke up to a quiet shelter, kids were still sleeping. Packed up as they started to wake, ate some food, and ran out the door.
Was supposed to rain on and off today, thankfully it didn't. There were a few scares, but I made it all day without rain. The biting bugs and other insects are definitely out in force though, damned if rains, damned if it don't.
Decided to cut the day a little short and hitch into town to spend the night at a hostel. Been getting headaches more and more, partially related to the efforts of hiking, partially because I just get headaches.
Went to the grocery store to resupply and a creamery before heading to the hostel. Ended up meeting a sweet old grandma and her granddaughter. We talked over our food and granny bought me a huge ole ice cream cone. Even offered to take me to the hostel, which was a huge help since I didn't have to wait on a hitch.
Probably going to slack pack tomorrow and spend another night at the hostel. Have a whole bunk room all to myself tonight, couldn't ask for anything more.
Date: 24 Jun 2017 0913PM
Location: Skylight Lodge
Today's Miles: 15.7
Total Miles: 142.7
Woke up in the shelter to the sound of rain this morning. Took my time completing my morning routine in hopes that the rain would slow down, but it definitely did not.
Put on damp boots and socks, loaded up my pack, and off I trudged into the rain.
It rained on and off for most of the day, with some real good downpours lasting for 40-50 minutes at times. Thoroughly soaked doesn't even begin to describe what I was.
Morning miles took longer than expected due to the rain. Everything was incredibly slick, so even the most minuscule angle of incline or decline was treacherous.
Sometime in the afternoon the sun came out in force, and luckily the shelter I pulled into had a small clearing in front of it that I was able to put articles of clothing in to dry out. Took my time eating lunch letting my body and clothes dry.
Throughout the rain storms over the last week I keep marveling at how amazing human skin is. It can absorb things, but also repels. It is soft, but hardens and protects with use. It's pretty amazing - and yes, one's mind wanders all over the place when you walk for hours and hours on end.
Pushed on to a splendid little cabin on a pond for the night. Arrived and there were what appeared to be four or five kids and the same number of adults. Apparently they're out hiking a few hundred miles over the next month and tonight is their first night out.
It was definitely interesting to walk into that particular scenario.
Pretty tired tonight, hope to sleep some.
Date: 23 Jun 2017 0902PM
Location: Sunrise Shelter
Today's Miles: 18.7
Total Miles: 127.0
Had breakfast at the hostel this morning and headed out to the trail. Mouse, one of the two hikers who I had dinner with last night ended up spending the night at the hostel and offered to take a few of us back to the trail.
Hit the Maine Junction early into the day and departed from the Appalachian Trail. AT hikers head east towards New Hampshire while LT hikers head north towards Canada.
Sad to depart from the AT lifestyle and the little group I met and was hiking with, but that is their adventure to be had.
Rained on and off all day, was pretty soaked throughout. Powered by a day and a half of town food, I busted out the miles and managed to get to the further shelter that I was aiming for.
Arrived at the shelter in the pouring rain, only to find a couple taking up the entire shelter. Tent pitched inside the shelter, a hammock up, items hanging and lying out everywhere - a complete yard sale. They were kind enough to clear a small spot for me.
Camp chores went quick, in bed within the hour. Hope I sleep tonight, didn't get much sleep at all the past two days at the hostel.
Date: 22 Jun 2017 1107PM
Location: Rutland, VT - The Yellow Deli
Today's Miles: 0
Total Miles: 108.3
Took the day off today, well deserved. Been pushing hard since I got on trail a week ago and I must say it was too much too quickly.
As with most zeros, it was a lazy day. Slept in, had breakfast, resupplied at the grocery store, attempted to take a nap.
Met up with two friends from last summer's adventure, thru hikers who I met on the trail. It was really good to see them - ended up grabbing some pizza at a local bar and chatting for a few hours.
Late night, looking forward to getting some sleep and back out on the trail tomorrow.
Date: 21 Jun 2017 1038PM
Location: Rutland, VT - The Yellow Deli
Today's Miles: 17.9
Total Miles: 108.3
Woke up today determined to take it easy. Slept in a little bit, hung out in my tent, took it slow. Decided yesterday that today I would do a short day and hike slow, the plan being to spend the night atop Killington Peak and hike the few miles into town the next day.
That didn't happen.
Arrived at Killington and decided I didn't want to stay. It was twenty five degrees colder atop the mountain and there was *nobody* around. I like my solitude and all, but it's also nice to have people to eat dinner with and chat about the day, so instead I pushed on and down the mountainside.
Managed to get a ride in to town from a flip flop AT hiker who I've been hiking around since I started the Long Trail. Her mother is in town for a few days and they agreed to pick me up and bring me in to town. Super awesome of them, beats hitching anyway.
If you've never been to Rutland, VT, I *highly* recommend the Yellow Deli. Religious beliefs aside, the food in their restaurant is fantastic and the workers are incredibly friendly. The hostel is pretty awesome, too, but that's only for hikers (sorry!).
Taking a day off tomorrow, might be having a bit of a reunion. One of the people I met on my thru hike last year lives just up the road, and another is going to be back in the area for a wedding. Looks like we might go out for lunch tomorrow, it'll be really nice to see them both.
cool, clear, mountain spring water, prior to filtering.
Date: 20 Jun 2017 0804PM
Location: Clarendon Gorge
Today's Miles: 17.4
Total Miles: 90.4
Woke up to rain this morning, hiked wet for most of the day. No real spots of sun to dry gear and body off until the afternoon.
Today was the day I just kept walking. Really got into the groove and aside from a stop or two to dry the feet, boots, and socks, I just kept on going.
Managed to find a nice open area to catch some sun. Boots and socks almost completely dried out. Put on my extra pair of dry socks, hung my almost dry socks off my pack, and everything was pretty close to dry as I finished up my day.
Got to my planned stopping point for the day, but there were some creepers and weirdos setting up at the shelter, so I pushed on another 2.5 miles to the gorge.
Parking lot is real close, so I walked on over just in case there was some trail magic. Local dude ended up giving me a cold beer, so that's definitely a plus. We went back to the gorge and swam around for a bit, dried off in the sun, and since he'd been drinking all afternoon he offered to let me drive his pickup truck down the road to a deli and grab some food. I happily obliged.
Lying in my tent now in a nice little clearing by the river. Have a feeling I might actually sleep well tonight.
Date: 19 Jun 2017 0629PM
Location: Lost Pond Shelter
Today's Miles: 14.8
Total Miles: 73.0
Had a room to myself last night at the hostel, which is great for so many reasons. Top reason is probably because whenever I hit town I eat way too much and fart all night long.
Woke up early, packed my stuff, ate some eggs, toast, cereal, and drank some coffee. Debated staying another night because of a severe thunderstorm and flash flood warning, but after checking the radar I decided to go for it.
Good day for the most part, although it did rain on and off all day. Managed to arrive at one shelter just as it started down pouring, but near the end of the day it didn't work out so well. A mile or so from my final destination the sky darkened so much it looked like it was night, the wind picked up drastically, and the heavens opened up.
Arrived to the shelter soaked, but am in the bag now all dry and toasty. Two-three more days until Rutland, VT, and one of the best hostels on the trail, the Yellow Deli.
Date: 18 Jun 2017 0747PM
Location: Manchester Center, VT - Green Mountain Hostel
Today's Miles: 15.7
Total Miles: 58.2
Slept on the south side of Stratton Mountain last night, stealth site just before the final big up to the summit. Made this morning a lot easier than it would have been to attempt to keep hiking late into last night.
Was super foggy at the summit, unfortunate because the views are *fantastic*. Luckily I saw them last time I was through, but it would have been nice to seem them again.
Most of the day was downhill, which is especially nice when you're heading into town. There are "ups" interspersed, but a lot of being out here is as much psychological as it is physical so it's a good feeling mentally when you see a downward trend line in elevation throughout the day.
Gear is still wet from the rain and all of the mud, so foot drying stops were a must today. Take off the boots and socks, rinse the feet off, air everything out, liberally apply baby powder, put back on wet socks and boots, continue on. Even with these precautions my feet were still a wrinkled and sore mess at the end of the day, but without these stops I wouldn't be able to continue on.
Got to route 11 and it took about an hour to get a hitch into town. Ended up in the back of a pickup truck which is alway a good way to end the day.
Ate a big ole burrito and a taco platter at Cilantros, worth a stop if you're in Manchester.
Resupplied at the local grocer and am spending the night at the Green Mountain Hostel, which I *highly* recommend.
Debating what to do tomorrow, flash flood warnings for the day and into the next morning. Going to wake up and see what's a brewing outside before making any decisions.
Date: 17 Jun 2017 0614PM
Location: AT Mile 1635.0
Today's Miles: 14.3
Total Miles: 42.5
Woke up to wet clothes and shoes today, my least favorite thing on the trail, but was still able to leave the shelter at a reasonable time this morning even though none of us were feeling it.
Luckily, it didn't rain on us at all today, even though the forecast said otherwise. Still hiked in wet boots all day, but at least they dried out slowly throughout the day.
Feet are not happy about the wetness, started to cause a few hot spots and a blister or two. This usually happens when my footwear is wet and my feet aren't toughened up yet so there's not much to be done other than taping up, and continuing on.
Finished with another respectable mileage day, for me at least. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to walk far enough each day to make it worth my while, especially after remembering doing much bigger mileage days last time I was through here, but things are well and that isn't the case.
My workout regimen before deciding to hike the Long Trail was almost purely weightlifting, not something that I thought translated directly to hiking. There are significant differences though that I'm recalling when I started my thru that I'm happy to report are not happening. My arms are definitely not sore from gripping and moving trekking poles around all day long, and my leg and back muscles are doing pretty well with all the walking and carrying a pack. It probably helps that I'm twenty pounds lighter then I was at my lightest while thru hiking - which is effectively like carrying two packs instead of one.
Looking to head in to Manchester Center, VT tomorrow after another long day. Going to resupply and spend the night at a hostel before coming back to the trail.
Only sixty more miles before I leave the AT and head out into new territory. Looking forward to it, but it has been good to be around hikers again regardless.