Day 125 – Southern Vermont (A Yelp Review)

If I were giving Southern Vermont a Yelp review I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars. But I’ll come back to that.

“Foot Travel Welcome” Is it really though?

I woke up around 7:00, and while packing and eating, I was approached by a section hiker. She said, “This tent site is like it’s from a story book.” She wasn’t wrong, we had been nestled under a pine forest at the peak of a mountain.

Her next comment was “You look pretty robust for a thru-hiker.” Taken aback, I asked what she meant (did she just call me fat?) She explained a lot of thru-hikers she’s seen look ‘sickly.’ It’s good to know I don’t look like a skeleton yet.

I started hiking around 8:00 and the following summarizes my thoughts:

Behind a thick veneer of gloopy mud, Vermont really is a beautiful state. Every bend and turn in the trail yields a new viewpoint of greens in all shades. From the ferns, to the shrubs, to the pine trees, and the moss. The moss finds a way of covering every rock, log and tree, it’s kind of magical. All this accented with boulders and gnarled roots jutting every which way on the trail.

That admiration for the trail lasted until about noon. Then it seems like a sick joke. I would appreciate it more if I got to actually look at it. Instead, my eyes were constantly looking down to avoid stepping in unavoidable mud. And then my feet were wet for the remainder of the day (and it’s near impossible to appreciate things when your feet are wet, so I tell myself).

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the point of doing trail maintenance to make the trail, oh, I don’t know, walkable? Isn’t water drainage, boards over marshes/bogs, cutting back brush, and habitat preservation all part of trail maintenance? Wouldn’t you then think that making sure people stay on the actual trail be a part of that as well? Some of these sections have become huge bogs because people are walking around the outside to avoid the mud, go figure. In accordance with ‘leave no trace’ and habitat preservation, wouldn’t we want the trail to be small, yet as walkable as possible (IDK call me old-fashioned).

Vermont. Where the trail is four times as wide and 1/4 as walkable. The trail is wide enough in some parts you could drive a truck through it. And it’s not like there’s zero effort at all put in here. Somebody took the time to hang these little pink ribbons off overhanging tree limbs (because that is public enemy number one in Vermont, errant limbs from saplings). But as for the pig pen in the middle of the trail, this is fine, everything’s fine.

The second half of the day went by quicker. I had an uphill climb to focus on. It was a steep 3.5 miles up to the tenth tower on the trail, Stratton Mountain Tower. Neo and I got there at the same time but did not have as good of a view as the day prior. In fact, we had no view, but it was still neat regardless.

After, we flew down the mountain, covering the next three miles in about an hour. We arrived at Stratton Pond Shelter just after 6:00 p.m. I met a few new hikers at the shelter. Groundhog who started a week before me, and a Long Trail hiker from Vermont who did not have a trail name yet. He has volunteered and done trail maintenance on in Vermont before. I wanted to give him the trail name “Taylor Swift” (it’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me) but I kept that to myself.

We wasted no time heading down to the pond to jump in, fully clothed. My shoes were shot, holes on both sides, socks caked in mud, shirt sweat-soaked from the last three days. Everything needed a rinse.

The views from the pond were breathtaking, even better than Upper Goose Pond, which I did not think possible. The water was equally as refreshing. Highlight joined us pond-side shortly after and made us the subjects of her photo shoot. I wanted another Timelapse of an actual sunset but sadly my phone was dead.

Tomorrow is a race to beat the rain or avoid it as best possible. It’s a short ten miles to the town of Manchester, VT for a much-needed resupply. Shoes, socks, food and maybe even a charging cable are all on the shopping list.

Stow away in my pack for day 126 on the Appalachian Trail

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 10

  • H. Smith : Aug 18th

    Hello Derek, I’ve greatly enjoyed your posts, though maybe I can offer you a little different perspective on VT trails. For many years I was part of the trail crew of the CT section, Green Mtn. Club. It’s obvious to me from photos on TheTrek that exceptional weather conditions have raised holy hell throughout the trail system, causing damage that will probably take years to fix. In the past, trails have been closed for less, so chalk it up to a bad year. I’ll bet the hiking was great last year, much of the NE had a drought !

    • Derek Witteman : Aug 20th

      Very true, I was by no means disparaging Southern Vermont, it’s a beautiful place. Mt Bromley had the same rain but also had many trail mitigation measures in place for water run off so it all doesn’t pool on the trail. Just my “king for a day” “Monday morning armchair quarterback-ing” observations.

  • Paul : Aug 19th

    Obviously “Trailer Swift” is a better name…

    Keep up the updates, fun to follow along from home.

    • Kathy : Aug 19th

      How about “The Swift Trailer”?

  • thetentman : Aug 19th


  • Robert Sartini : Aug 20th

    Mud for sure. Maintainers are in short supply. Volunteer to help. Send the GMC a check. “Hikers don’t maintain and maintainers don’t hike” is as true as it ever was.

    Bamboo Bob AT02

  • Jaime : Aug 20th

    We’ve had record breaking rainfall: 9+ inches in July and almost 8 inches in August so far. Many people lost their homes and livelihoods from the flooding, FEMA has been deployed. Come back and volunteer your services after you are done with your personal quest. Thru hikers and locals will be grateful.

    • Derek Witteman : Aug 20th

      All true, but the term “Vermud” was not coined this year alone. It’s a reputation built on this stretch of trail over many years. My Bromley had the same rain but had water mitigation measures in place where the trail is much less affected. If mud is your thing and source of pride (much like Pennsylvania and their rocks) then own it and say so. Believe me, our high school football field was a mud pit come playoff time, but it was ‘our’ mud pit and we loved it. But if you live here and want it to be better it’s disingenuous to ask passers-thru to care more than you do #harshtruths

  • BG : Aug 29th

    Please do travel on the crown point trail if possible. There is rich history hidden on that trail.

  • Leslie Thompson : Sep 6th

    Hi Derek,
    Climate change has greatly affected Vermont. Perhaps you were unaware that we suffered catastrophic flooding in early July. Many citizens lost homes and businesses, many livelihoods took a hard hit from farms to storefronts. Our infrastructure was severely damaged, my small town lost it’s only pharmacy and grocery store. Roads are still being rebuilt and bridges replaced adding many miles to daily commutes. We’ve all been very busy cleaning it all up and trying to return to some type of normal.
    That being said we are so sorry that we inconvenienced your recreational walk. Perhaps you might come join the volunteers next year and offer a hand to future hikers. Most will be done rebuilding their lives and will hopefully have more time to devote to recreational endeavors.
    You may also note Vermonters have a long history of telling yelp reviewers to stick it.
    May your hiking trip be everything you hoped.



What Do You Think?