AT Days 96 & 97
Goddard Shelter to Stratton Pond Shelter, 20.2 miles
A couple times throughout the night I awoke to the sound of the rain pounding on the shelter roof. When I was awake for good at 6:00, the heavy rain continued to fall. By the time I finished eating and was all packed for the trail, the heavy rain settled down to a lighter, but still steady rain. The steady rain would continue on and off all day.
I instantly resumed the climb to the summit of Glatensbury Mountain, which has a fire tower at the summit. Had it been a clear night/morning I would’ve camped at the base of the tower to catch a sunset and sunrise view, but the fire tower was to offer no views for me today. The AT remains at above 3,000 feet for a while, offering cruisy miles with minimal climbing. However, the hiking was slow, and the trail was even muddier and more swamped than the day prior, which I didn’t think was even possible.
By the time I descended down to Kelley Stand Road, 12 miles in for the day, I was mentally exhausted from slogging through the thick, seemingly never ending mud all morning. I broke for lunch, and tried to clear the negative thoughts I had been battling all day from my head. Stratton Mountain is an iconic AT climb, and I wanted to enjoy the Vermont forest scenery as much as I could, despite the awful trail conditions.
The entire trail up to the summit was under water, and I passed a couple day hikers descending the mountain who had turned around before the summit due to the conditions. I don’t blame them one bit- but turning around and quitting wasn’t an option for me. The summit features another fire tower, the same one where Benton MacKay first envisioned the idea of the Appalachian trail back in the 1920s. Although there were no views from the tower, I still enjoyed the forest setting I was surrounded in at above 3,900 feet. I descended down the mountain basically through a flowing river before reaching Stratton Pond Shelter.
It felt amazing taking my shoes off after this tough day, and my feet were absolutely wrecked, more so than any other point of my hike. Morale was instantly boosted as I changed into dry clothes, ate some hot food, and chatted with some Long Trail thru-hikers about the conditions and scenery we had hiked through.
This day will definitely go down as one of the toughest days of my thru-hike, but I won’t necessarily look back on it with total negative memories, and I will add this day to the list of “type-2” fun days.
The rain continued again all throughout the night and into the morning as I gave myself another pep-talk to get out of my sleeping bag. I ate breakfast, slipped on my soaking wet socks, put on my water-logged shoes, and hit the trail. Some days on trail you just gotta put on that hard-hat and get to work, even if you don’t want to. Thankfully I had a short day, because my parents were picking me up to take me home for a Fourth of July party with family that we were hosting at the house. Talk about perfect timing.
Refusing to let the mud and rain get me down again, I approached the day with a new outlook, and stopped feeling sorry for myself. This is the Appalachian Trail, the going is supposed to be tough! I shortly arrived to the shores of Stratton Pond and thoroughly enjoyed the fog lingering over the top of the large pond nestled right in the mountains.
It was a mostly flat ten miles through the thick mud, with on and off showers. I got caught in a heavy rain sequence right as I exited the forest and began a mile-long dirt road walk. A few sketchy stream crossings later I arrived to Vermont Route 11 where my parents were waiting for me. It was now time to get dry, air out all of my gear, and enjoy some family time for two days before returning to the mud and continuing the journey North.
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