Another State, Vermont is Great!

After taking a zero day at The Notch Hostel I headed out to finish the last mountain in the Whites. I had some company for this mountain which made it far easier! Immediately after finishing the Whites, the terrain got significantly easier and my mileage began to climb. This is not to say that I didn’t savor this section, but rather that I could do more miles in a much shorter period of hiking. I was able to make it all the way over Killington in Vermont before I was picked up by my fiancé and 3 friends for an amazing weekend in Burlington!

Some of my great friends I’ll be talking about!

Day 35 (0.0 miles)

Woke up at 1 am and couldn’t fall back asleep. Decided to write in my blog for a few hours to calm the brain. I met a guy who was also awake at this time, although his schedule was far more important than mine. He was attempting a single season White mountains redline. Essentially doing over 2000 extremely difficult miles in something like 90 days. Pretty crazy, which is why he was up at 2:30 am and prepping for a 30 mile day of hiking. Around 4 am I got tired enough to sleep for another few hours.

Once I got up for good I relaxed and talked to some of the other hikers. Just before lunch I went into town to get new trekking pole tips. This involved a rather nice 3 mile bike ride into Lincoln, NH. Afterwards, Tenacious and I once again went to Merlan’s for another round of smash burgers. Just as good the second time. We were told that the restaurant is haunted and our waitress had her first ghost encounter while we were eating there.

I stopped at a small local market and picked up a giant roast beef sub and some cole slaw for dinner. The rest of the day was spent on some chores, a FaceTime with Kara, and talking to some other hikers. Not a bad day off!

Day 36 (14.4 miles)

An early morning to make the shuttle back to the trailhead. Everything was soaked, turns out the dew from a backyard with luscious grass is significantly more than what occurs in the mountains. Back at the trailhead there was already trail magic setup. I got some coffee, fruit and a bagel! What a great way to start the day.

Ryan thinking he is almost done with the climb.

My best friend from college, Ryan, planned to join me for the weekend. He wanted to do a part of the Whites with me and he had never bagged Moosilauke before. We began the ascent around 8 am and Ryan set a rather fast pace to start. The climb was longer and steeper than we both anticipated. Our pace soon slowed to something more moderate. We followed a series of waterfalls for the first mile. Although there was a seemingly endless supply of water only feet away from us, Ryan insisted on carrying 4 liters of water up the mountain. I forcibly dumped one of his liters which he said “actually made a huge difference”.

The seemingly endless water…

In case you didn’t know, water is extremely heavy. I only carry about 1 liter of water at a time, but I stop to fill up at streams frequently. This is a simple yet very useful technique to reduce pack weight.

The climb sustained difficulty for about the first 2 miles and then leveled out for the final 2. I had heard rumors that this climb involved the rock climbing skills of Tommy Caldwell. Fortunately, like much of the rumors of the Whites, this was false. In fact, neither Ryan or I even had to use our hands at all.

A random view as we ascended.

The final ridge run brought wind and clouds. We immediately knew that this wasn’t going to be a picturesque day on Moosilauke. This is also when I found out that Ryan chose to bring a sweat shirt instead of his technical soft shell or down jacket. I swear he intentionally tries to create a rescue situation for us. **I don’t know why but I feel the need to mention that this is sarcasm. The weather was in no way bad enough to harm us and we were both prepared for the weather in the Whites.

The final ridge to the summit.

We were excited when we reached the summit, even though it was a bit of a whiteout. It was my last peak in the Whites on the AT and it was Ryan’s 45th high peak. We took a misty picture and then headed to the nearby South Peak for some better views.

Would you just look at the excitement.

As per our usual routine we each drank a beer that Ryan was kind enough to bring up there! I guess I should have eaten more because the beer hit me pretty hard. Afterwards we descended to a small stream where we stopped for lunch. I filtered some water while Ryan continued to gulp down more of his 3 liters.

A slightly better view at the South Peak.

Towards the bottom of the mountain there was a field, the first one that I had seen in a while. At this point the trail almost immediately improved. The ground turned from large rocks to soft dirt. It felt like I was levitating down the trail. The next few miles went extremely fast. I passed the 400 mile mark of my journey! We stopped one final time for water at a pond along the trail. There was a loon fishing when we first got there. A few minutes later the loon made an odd sound and then began swimming quickly through the water. When it passed our field of view we noticed that it was using its wings to help propel itself through the water, sort of like the breaststroke. Very neat to see!

Our hike ended with a great treat. We came to a road crossing that had a bar, the Greenhouse, only 0.2 miles off trail. We got mozzarella sticks, burgers and beer. They also had live music since it was a Saturday and graciously allowed us to camp in their backyard. Not a bad day to end the Whites!

Greenhouse Backyard: T1, S3, P2, W2, B5

Total Score: 60

Day 37 (15.1 miles)

Another morning another tent full of condensation. In addition to being on a lawn, Ryan had also stayed in my tent. Single wall tents are notorious for being bad with condensation. This was the first morning that it was a real issue, but it just meant a few extra minutes to wipe down the interior walls. The only downside to staying at the Greenhouse was the lack of outdoor restrooms. We hurried 2.5 miles to the next campsite and found a privy.

Another 2.5 miles and we arrived at Ryan’s car. On the way there Ryan and I talked about thru-hiking. I specifically remember saying “if my knees felt like this on any given day at home I would see a doctor”. I think I’ve lost about 10 years of youth out of my knees already.

We hung-out by the car for a bit and talked. I refilled my water and charged my phone. It was awesome to get to hike with him and I was glad we experienced part of the Whites together! Unfortunately, my day was just beginning and I had to get on my way. I exhausted myself climbing 3 miles up a mountain. I thought that it was supposed to be easy after the Whites, but nothing is easy on the AT. At least the top of Mt. Cube had a good view.

The summit of Mt. Cube.

The descent off Mt. Cube wasn’t too bad. I stopped in the valley to fill up on water and have lunch before the ascent up Smart Mountain. Tenacious met me down there for lunch as well. He decided that he was going to stop there for the day. He had less than 100 miles left in his journey and wanted to slow down and enjoy it. I wanted to stay at the top for the sunset and sunrise, so I pushed onward. Before I left I said goodbye to Tenacious. We had hiked for over 300 miles with each other! It was great to get to know him and I’m sure that we will cross paths in the future.

Unfortunately, the stream at the top of the mountain was dry. I carried 3 liters up and I was glad that the 4 mile climb was gradual. The views that night and the next morning made it all worth while! I camped at a small tent site just after the peak. There were a few other hikers there and one of them, No Time, was also carrying a camera. We chatted for a while and then went up to the fire tower for sunset. In the tower we met Buckeye, Whoopie, and Tux. They were also up there for the sunset. Together we enjoyed the vibrant colors that painted the sky. Three of us were taking photographs constantly, the sunset had its own red carpet event.

Looking out one of the rustic windows of the fire tower.
Colors best describable by pictures.
A photo that should be named “reflecting on life”

Even after the sun set the sky was lit up for another half hour. We stayed up there and talked. It was past hiker midnight when we returned to the tent site. I was bagged but excited to see how the photos turned out. I quickly downloaded them to my phone and was amazed at how closely they resembled the real thing.

Smart Mountain Tent-site: T1, S2, P1, W5, B3

Total score: 30

Day 38 (24.8 miles)

Went to bed late and woke up early to catch the sunrise. It was well worth the effort. Of course my newly made friends were up there as well, can’t miss a good photo opportunity! I “brewed” some instant coffee and drank it up in the tower. A horrible cup of coffee seems to wake you up twice as fast.

A fiery sunrise!

After the sunrise I visited the privy which had a rather unique construction. The panels on the front door were space a few inches apart, defeating the purpose of the door altogether. The rightmost panel was completely missing. At first I assumed it had broken off, but then I noticed that the privy only locks from the outside. This meant you had to reach through the door to quite literally lock yourself in.

Just before descending Smart Mountain I saw a familiar face. Mountain Goat was waiting in line for the promiscuous privy. I thought he had long blown by me by now! On my way down I ran into a woman who said she had just saw a bear. We stopped for a moment and sure enough there was a juvenile bear walking up the mountain side. I couldn’t get a clear picture but it was my first bear sighting on the AT! At the bottom of the mountain there was a sign for free ice cream. It was weird because as a kid you are told never follow those signs but as a thru-hiker you are willing to roll the dice every single time!

Thank god it was a nice cabin and not a white van…

I didn’t have much of a plan for the day. I was feeling good and wanted to go until my legs said no more. There were a few small mountains to go over but nothing crazy. Around lunch time I had to take a long break. I was severely dehydrated from hiking too fast with not enough water breaks. An hour later and a liquidIV in me and I was back to business.

A nice view over Holt’s Ledges

I made it into the town of Hanover, NH around 5:30 pm. Just in time to resupply at the co-op grocery store. Afterwards I headed to Ramunto’s Pizzeria for the free slice of pizza for hikers. I ended up getting a calzone and cold beer since the food looked (and was) amazing!

A perfect snack for an attempting thru-hiker.

I hiked a bit further and found a place to lay my head. It was in no means a designated campsite but it did the trick and no one seemed to mind. There were some gorgeous views walking through Hanover and Norwich. I was glad to have my camera with me.

A beautiful bridge over the Connecticut River.
A stadium on Dartmouths Campus.

If you didn’t realize this based on the fact that I crossed the Connecticut River… I made it to Vermont. Two states down, only twelve more to go!

Super Secret Stealth Spot: T1, S4, P5, W1, B5

Total Score: 100

Day 39 (19.2 miles)

I got woken up at midnight by someone likely on drugs. I heard him from a half mile away yelling random things as he walked down a town road. He stopped a car in the middle of the road and said “I need to use your phone to call the cops!”. The confused person in the car asked “why, on who?”. To which this man responded “On you for not f****** stopping for pedestrians”. Keep in mind that this man walked from the sidewalk into the middle of the road to stop this car. I was glad he left me alone. This was the only time I was actually afraid on trail.

I was extremely sore this morning. The previous day was hard on my body, but I felt happy and that is all that matters. I hiked a bit to Dan and Whits General Store to get a fresh cup of coffee and to drop the kids off at the pool. Great people in there!

The terrain was easy this day. The trail was flat and in great condition. I was able to nearly effortlessly cruise through miles. A few miles into the day I stumbled into West Hartford. A nice town on the banks of the White River. An old man yelled from his house to say hello. I stopped and we conversed for a while. He and his son were taking a trip to Hershey Park soon which is only minutes from where I live. He gave me expensive chocolate (better than Hershey’s) and an apple. It is conversations like these that make my heart happy. I never got his name, nor did I need to. It was better to leave it as a memory with a face. Maybe one day I’ll see him walking down the chocolate smelling streets where I reside.

Crossing over the White River (a nice bridge jumping spot)!

Rain came and went but I didn’t mind. It was hot and the mountains could use some precipitation. I stopped for a few hours at a shelter. My legs were tired. I met some cool NOBO’s who were going to hit up the farmers market in West Hartford later that afternoon. I had wanted to do that as well but I passed through town about 4 hours too early.

A beautiful dense forest I passed through.

I was feeling tired but I pushed on anyways. My chaffing was bad this day. I think it was caused by my clothing being filled with salty sweat. I took some time to wash my clothes at camp. I was alone this night which was a great change of pace. It was nice to have some time to think and spend a night relaxing.

Stage Road Stream: T2, S3, P1, W1, B2

Total score: 12

Day 40 (16.1 miles)

Slept in until 6 am and took a long time to get ready. I didn’t want to put my wet clothing on from the night before. I drank a cup of coffee to kickstart the day. 6 miles took me to the first shelter where I took a long break. The miles were easy but I was sore. Along the way I passed through some fields. One of which had an electric fence and another had some grazing cows.

A good ole Heifer.

I think day 40 is a good time to talk about how difficult physically thru-hiking is. Every day would be a difficult day hike on its own, but I’m not day hiking. A 30 pound pack exponentially increases the challenge. I wake up every morning sore. My feet ache, my knees are stiff and my muscles are tight. Nothing is comfortable. Most mornings I ask myself why I put myself through this. I say this because I don’t want to romanticize thru-hiking. I’m having an amazing journey but it is hard as shit… and I’m younger than a lot of folks out here.

I’ve found that feeling sorry for myself is the worst thing that I can do. I find myself constantly thinking of people who have had to struggle more than me. Especially those who had no other choice. Doing so makes my pain seem minuscule. I encourage myself to quit every time that it gets tough. I want to be sure that I am happy to be out here, and I am. Every struggle and ounce of pain I endure is only fuel added to the fire.

While taking a break, I met another SOBO, Dave, at the shelter. He was a nice guy and very easy to talk to. After a while I continued on and climbed a mountain to “The Lookout”. Some great views and an even better spot to stop for lunch!

View from the Lookout.

Down, up, down, up, down and finally up for one last time. Stopped at the Stony Brook Shelter. On the way there I helped out a young boy and his grandfather locate their ride home. It felt good to be at the right place at the right time. I saw Mountain Goat at the shelter and had some good conversations. I also met another NOBO hiker, Bri, who went to RIT and knew a mutual friend.. crazy how things just align out here!

Stony Brook Shelter: T1, S4, P4, W2, B1

Total Score: 32

Day 41 (11.9 miles)

Woke up at 5:30 am and realized I told a story a bit louder than I should have near the shelter. I may have woken a few people up, sorry! I made some coffee and used the fantastic privy. It was brand new and still smelled like cedar. After packing up I got a good start on the day, that was until about a half mile up the trail when mother nature struck again. The day was peaceful but my body ached. I decided early on that it was going to be a shorter day. Killington mountain could be seen from a few open areas that I crossed. The plan was to climb Killington the next day!

Killington Mountain Ski Resort.

This part of the trail had pretty great cell service. I used the time to text my family and call Kara for a while. It was early morning and the day was already beginning to get hot. The trail meandered through beautiful forests and eventually led to Thunder Falls.

Thunder Falls.

Shortly after the falls the trail passed Kent Pond. It looked like a clean and active pond. It would be nice to spend a day there relaxing on the banks and trying to catch some fish.

A lonely canoe on the banks of Kent Pond.

Less than a mile after the pond is Gifford Woods State Park. The park has free water and restrooms which many hikers take advantage of. I was offered an ice pop at the ranger station and kindly accepted. A perfect treat for a hot summer day. A quick break and then up one of the bigger climbs for the day. On the other side of the mountain was US Route 4 which has a free bus into Rutland VT. When I got to the road there were over 10 other hikers waiting for the bus as well. Luckily, it is a large bus and runs the same route every hour.

I took the bus into town and got an amazing sub at The Sandwich Shoppe. The staff was extremely friendly to hikers. They offered to fill my water bottles before I returned into the relentless heat. A quick trip to Walmart, the beer store (for some Heady Topper), and then back to the trail. It might be of interest that there is a known cult in Rutland called the Twelve Tribes that run the Yellow Deli. They lure hikers in with a free hostel. I passed it walking through town but didn’t need a place to stay nor do I agree with their beliefs.

The famous Yellow Deli.

The last 2 miles for the day were a bit brutal. It was mid afternoon and the hottest it had been on trail. I took my time as I ascended. There was no need to give myself a heat stroke. Just before the shelter there was a stream. I filled up my water and threw some of the ice cold water over my head and neck. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing at Churchill Scott Shelter. I drank my beer, ate dinner and talked to the few other hikers who were staying there.

Heady Topper at the shelter.

After dark the mice in the shelter went on a rampage. One of the other hikers had left some pistachios in her hip belt pocket. A mouse chewed through that and was dropping the empty shells onto the shelter floor. Even after the food was secured the mice were “nervously pacing” throughout the shelter. Winter must have been hard on this family because they were hungry SOBs.

Churchill Scott Shelter: T2, S3, P3, W3, B1

Total score: 54

Day 42 (11.9 miles)

Around 4 am a mouse ran right in front of my face. I figured that was a message that it was time to get up and moving. It was not even 5:30 am when I was on the trail, which might be my earliest start yet. I was surprisingly awake and in a good mood. My fiancé and friends were meeting me this day, the excitement was keeping me going. I had an emergency poop about a mile into the day.. this happened the previous day too. I think my instant coffee is giving me instant shits. Not something you want on trail. At that moment I decided that I’m trading out the instant coffee for the real deal. I have a French press accessory for my Jet boil pot and told Kara to bring it with her.

The hiking this day consisted of climbing up and over Killington Mountain. A couple thousand vertical feet up and even more down. To my surprise the climb was gradual, some may even say enjoyable. There was some light rain and lots of fog. I knew that it would be a socked in summit. I made it to the shelter just before the top around the time I would normally be leaving camp. I dropped my bag and quickly ran to the white misty summit which is not on the official AT.

The summit of Killington (I had actually been up there before on a high school ski trip).

After that once in a lifetime view, I headed down the backside of the mountain. I was eager to get down to the road where my friends were going to pick me up! The trail down was nothing to write home about, but I’ll write about it in my blog anyway. A few rocks here and there with windy switchbacks that were so frequent my neck was sore at the end of the day. I came across a few other hikers and a neat shelter with a fire place built into it.

I guess I should have gotten a picture of the inside…

Towards the bottom I reached the incorrectly placed “500 mile mark”. I gave it my best stern look to let the trail know that I’m not quitting anytime soon.

500 mile marker (actually at mile 501.5 since the length of the AT changes every year).

Just a few miles later I came to the road where Kara, Evan, Lee and Elliot were meeting me. I was a bit early and decided to polish off some of the food I had. I ate mash potatoes with spam followed by a couple peanut butter tortillas. Just as I was about to journal for the day, I see my car coming around the bend! My friends all get out and I give them each a hug, Kara of course got the best one. We then drove to our Airbnb near Burlington, stopping along the way for some food and beverages.

It was early afternoon when we arrived. We settled in, cracked some cold ones and began talking. Hours went by like minutes. We devoured some homemade stromboli that my mom graciously sent along. A bonfire soon followed until we were all too tired to keep a conversation going. It was a night well spent with great people!

Day 43 (0.0 miles)

Even without the sun shining in my face I was still up at the crack of dawn! I made some coffee and a couple bagels for the early risers. Then Kara and I went off to the laundromat and market before the whole gang woke up. I found most of what I needed and then we went back to the house to get ready for Burlington. Once we were back on the road we stopped at Erica’s Diner for breakfast. The food was great and the service was good besides a weird encounter regarding some maple syrup. It’s too difficult of a story to explain but just know that their own maple syrup does not come with breakfast, you must purchase it separately. Seemed to me that if your maple syrup was that darn good then you should serve it with your breakfast so that your customers want to buy it after.

My small breakfast that morning!

After breakfast we got back in the car and drove to downtown Burlington. There was a festival going on that we walked around at. It was really hot this day, I was thankful I wasn’t on trail. A few of us got some iced coffee and then we watched a few street performers.

Elliot and Lee enjoying the festival.

An hour later we made our way over to Foam Brewery for a cold beer on their patio. Their brewery sits close to Lake Champlain. After we finished up our beers, a local man gave us advice to go to North Beach for a nice dip in the lake.

My beautiful Fiancé sending me love!
A filled beach with a distant storm.

We finished the day watching Key and Peele, eating nachos, and then sitting by a fire. Another great day with even better people.

Nothing like stoked fire on a summer night.

I hope you all enjoyed reading about this section of my AT adventure. This post is coming out a bit later than desired due to some technical glitches. Either way I have been having a blast on and off trail! Until next time, keep wandering in your own direction.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 2

  • Kara : Aug 11th

    Always sending you love 😉

  • thetentman : Aug 15th

    Thx for the post.


What Do You Think?