Day 35 (Stealth site to stealth site on a mountain top)

Last night’s campsite didn’t have a wonderful view but it did have excellent wind protection. It got crazy windy during the night but none of it touched my tent. Sweet! It was still pretty windy when I started hiking at 6:30.

There were so many moose droppings I was convinced I would see one this morning but Bullwinkle remained elusive.

No long climbs or 3000+ elevation today or tomorrow but a lot of 1 mile to 1/2 mile steep climbs and descents all day long. It reminded me of running intervals. Although I ate a lot (A LOT!) in town yesterday, I found myself hungry and somewhat low energy during the morning. In the afternoon, I stopped by On The Edge Farm and bought a couple sodas and a Blueberry Sour Cherry Pie. It was awesome! The “Pie Lady” makes them fresh every day. I ate half of it there and packed out the other half for tomorrow’s breakfast. After that, my legs came alive.

I hiked another 4.5 miles and finished for the day on a mountain top with a lovely view.

p.s. See editor’s note here regarding donuts…

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Day 34 (US 4, Rutland to stealth site near Stoney Brook Shelter)

My plan for the day was to take a Nero (trail term for “near zero” miles hiked). I slept until 8:00 and then enjoyed the breakfast at the B&B. It was very good. I took a cup of coffee back to my room and started packing.

Next, I went to the outfitter to pick up my resupply package and to buy a few supplies. Killington and Rutland have a shuttle bus system that makes it very easy to get around. I used the shuttle to get to the outfitter, then to lunch, and then back to the trail.

I started hiking around 1:30. No running today. It was all about letting my legs have a recovery day. I hiked 8 miles to a nice site near the top of a mountain whose name I do not know. I passed by the Maine Junction early in today’s hike. This is the point where the Long Trail and the AT split.

It was perfect hiking weather today. So glad it stopped raining for awhile. Back to normal miles tomorrow. 🙂

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Day 33 (Bully Brook to The Long Trail Inn)

The plan for the day was that I would do an easy 14 miles to the Governor Clement Shelter and my cousin Mark would drive down the road nearby the shelter and pick me up for dinner, etc at 4:00. I realized early in the morning that the road was a gated forest service road. I messaged Mark and suggested we meet at the lodge on Killington Mountain. It would mean 18 miles on my tired legs but I really wanted to see Mark. Cell coverage was very bad all day so it wasn’t until I was a mile from the summit that I got Mark’s message that the lodge was closed.

We decided to meet at US 4 near Rutland which would result in a 24 mile day. My legs really needed a rest day but seeing Mark outweighed my tired legs. So we had a plan. What else could go wrong? haha. Well, Mother Nature decided a thunderstorm with hail while I was on top of Killington Mountain was a good idea. I waited out the storm with 4 very nice section hikers in the Cooper Lodge Shelter on the mountain. Once the hail stopped, I ran the last 6 miles down the mountain splashing in Vermont mud puddles the whole way.

Mark and I went to dinner and had fun catching up. Good times! It was still raining and there were no campsites near the trail head so he brought me to the Long Trail Inn B&B. Thank you Mark!

I will be picking up my resupply in the morning and hitting the trail for an easy day… really. In other news, I forded two streams today. It is the first time on the trip I’ve had to do that but it won’t be the last. I saw J-Squared again a little after lunchtime. We did the same miles today, they just did them in the opposite direction and without packs.

Day 32 (Bromley Mountain to stealth site near Bully Brook)

I slept well in the warming hut last night. I thought I might get on the trail a little earlier this morning since I didn’t have to pack up my tent but I still hit the trail at 6:30.

It was very windy at the top of the ski slope but the temperature was in the mid 50s so it felt okay. I guess the wind was a front moving in because it started to rain around 8 AM. I stopped by the Peru Peak Shelter for an early lunch and a cup of coffee to warm me up.

It stopped raining after lunch until I was in my tent for the evening. It is raining again now. Climbing up Baker Peak had a lot of tricky footing but the view was totally worth it. I met “J-Squared” on the trail for the second time. Yesterday we just said, “hi.” Today we stopped and visited for a bit. Both of their names start with the letter J so that is why they are “J-Squared”. It was one of those times when you meet someone and feel like you have known them for a long time. They are slack packing by driving north and then hiking to their other car that is south… and then repeat. I hope this means we will see each other everyday for awhile.

I’m stealth camping near a tall waterfall this evening. That combined with the rain should sing me to sleep.

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Day 31 (Story Spring Shelter to Bromley Mountain)

I was on the trail by 6:30 this morning. It was a little cold but it warmed up quickly to a very pleasant hiking temperature. Blue skies all day. 😉

I climbed Stratton Mountain in the first 8 miles of the day. Once I got to the top, I had an early lunch. I notice a woman watching me. Finally she came over and spoke. She said she had read A Walk in the Woods and knew I couldn’t carry a lot of food so she wanted to give me a granola bar. Too funny. I ate the bar while we talked a little longer. She was very sweet.

Later in the day I climbed Bromley Mountain. Both Stratton and Bromley have ski slopes. I finished my day at the summit of Bromley. They let hikers stay in the Skier Warming Hut. I’m the only one sleeping here tonight. Weird to look out the window and see a big ski lift. The view of the surrounding mountains is wonderful.

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Day 30 (Bennington, VT to Story Spring Shelter)

I woke up this morning to Janette relaying Franco’s message to get my butt out of bed. I was sleeping so good that I didn’t even hear Janette taking a shower.

We got packed up and headed to breakfast at Papa Pete’s. Yummy breakfast! Janette outed me as a bacon eater. No worries, I’m still 98% vegan and will return to my old diet once I’m off the trail. While in trail towns I will make a few exceptions… because I can. 😉

Next, Laura, Janette, and I headed to the trail and climbed a small hill together. It started out cool and overcast but the cloud cover cleared quickly. After a few miles, Janette and Laura had to turn around so they could catch their flight. I’m still smiling about their awesome surprise.

I climbed Glastenbury Mountain which had an elevation of ~3800 ft. There was a tower at the top so I climbed it too. Wow! Awesome view but kind of scary. I hiked with Pa Bert in the afternoon for a couple hours. Hiking with him is always a pleasure. He stopped at the Kid Gore Shelter. I hiked on 4.6 more miles to the Story Spring Shelter. Funny thing about saying goodbye to fellow thru hikers is that you never know whether you will see them again. We are together but we are all solo. There is no signal here tonight so I will post this in the morning.

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Bonus Gallery!

Day 29 (Sherman Brook Campsite to Hampton Inn)

I woke up early, packed up, and was on the trail by 6:30. I knew I needed to keep an even pace today since I would be meeting my trail angel Janette Maas in the afternoon near the 17 mile mark for me.

The morning started with a pretty steep hike up to the MA/VT border. I’ve now finished 5 states, only 9 to go. 🙂 The first 105 miles of the AT in VT is also the Long Trail. It is maintained by the Green Mountain Hiking Club. Unfortunately, they really need to do some trail maintenance. It was the least maintained part of the trail I’ve been on.

Early afternoon I climbed up Harmon Hill. When I got to the top, I decided to sit and sign the register while I waited on Janette. To my surprise, in a minute she walked up with my sister Laura! Awesome surprise and awesome day! Thank you Laura and Janette for being the best trail angels ever!!! All clean and fed now. Sleeping in a soft bed tonight.

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Special Report: A visit by Janette Maas and Laura Pound

Laura: Janette And I hiked 1.7 miles until we found Susan Cashmere Hornbuckle, then turned around and hiked back for a grand total of 3.4 miles! After Hornbuckle was decontaminated at the hotel, we had a lovely dinner in Bennington then cruised the local Walmart. Now, Susan is stinking up the room spraying her clean clothes with tick repellant.

Janette: Fun, fun mini-adventure day. This was one of the hardest secrets I’ve ever had to keep, but I met Susan Cashmere Hornbuckle on the AT on day 29 of her thru-hike in Vermont. Unbeknownst to her I used a buddy pass so that her sister Laura could join me and surprise her. Mission accomplished! BTW, this trail is tough! We climbed 900′ in the first half mile over nothing but rocks and Cash says she does 2-3 of those climbs and descents every day!