Day 123 – The Floor Is Lava

The Vermont edition of the trail is basically like the game ‘The Floor Is Lava.” We’ve all played it, you can climb on all the furniture, but you can’t touch the floor because it’s lava. In Vermont, the trail is the same thing except the floor isn’t lava, it’s mud. You utilize all the obstacles you can; you step on roots, rocks, logs, and branches. Otherwise, you step in ankle-deep mud. What’s the prize if you win? Dry shoes. Does anybody ever win? No.

I woke up around 8:00 a.m. The rain had started around midnight and was steady through to the next morning. I went back to sleep for another hour. By the time I got up it had started to slow and Waffles was packing up to start hiking. I took my time eating and packing and got onto the trail around 10:00.

Shortly after starting I crossed the 1,600 mile marker. With under 600 miles left, I’m getting really excited. Counting down the miles 100 at a time now.

It was a few short miles into Willimstown, MA. By the church in town were a series of four ice-coolers that Widower had told me about the day before. One had first aid supplies, another breakfast items and snack bars and two with sodas and fruit. I had some soda and a banana and mandarin. It was some much-needed magic for the day.

The first few miles out of town were steep and had rock scrabbles. Much of the trail was also a stream with how much rain had fell overnight. I was able to avoid most of the water with ease, however.

The sign crossing into Vermont was every indication of what was to come. The six-foot radius around the sign was a moat of mud and water. The Floor Is Lava game was on. I was using my trek poles to balance and avoid mud patches.

It was really fun at first. But by 5:30 I didn’t want to play anymore. My feet were wet and the hiking was slow going. Not something that you would expect but it makes sense when every step is on an obstacle course.

My theory in Pennsylvania was that the trail clubs were in cahoots with the shoe companies. The shoe companies must pay the trail clubs to leave the trail so jagged with rocks there, that hikers need to get new shoes after.  I think it’s no coincidence that Darn Tough socks are based out of Vermont.

With the copious amounts of mud on this trail, it’s hard to imagine the company isn’t in on it. They’d say, “Oh it’s darn tough your socks got all wet, you should buy another pair.” (See what I did there.) Also in every other state, muddy sections like this would be covered with boards or logs. But not Vermont.

Either way, I ended the day shorter because of the mud. I would not have arrived at my intended shelter until after 10:00 p.m. at my pace. The mud had slowed me down considerably. I stopped at a small and brand-new Seth Warner Shelter. Already there were a family of four and two other hikers. After me, there arrived six more hikers.

Usually this would not be a problem. But this new shelter site does not have any tenting sites. Also, they closed down the old shelter a few miles before, basically forcing more people to stop at this one when it’s not fully complete yet. We ended up squeezing together and fitting 12 in this eight-person shelter.

It’s the first shelter I’ve slept in since before New Jersey. There aren’t any mosquitoes that I’ve noticed the last two days, so fingers crossed they stay away. I ran into Lucky, Squid, Neo, Buttercup, Buggs, and Tiger  here. I’m happy with the company I’ve found. The next few days are not worth planning because the mud will dictate everything. I’m off to sleep early, before 9:00 for the first time in a while.

Until then, stow away in my pack for day 124 on the Appalachian Trail.

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Comments 4

  • thetentman : Aug 17th

    Great pics. Thx.

  • CB : Aug 17th

    Great pics! White Birch rock! Thanks.

  • Sherry Woolacott : Aug 17th

    I’m loving your pics! Be careful next leg looks like slippery rocks and more mud per Jon whose just ahead of you! Mom


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