Day 129 – Killington Me Softly

I slept in until nearly 8:00 a.m. It was a warmer night and contrary to what I previously believed, there are still some mosquitoes this far north. I was packed up hiking shortly after 9:00. I ran into Highlight not long after starting. Her vape had fallen under my hat in the shelter, and I held on to it, knowing I’d catch up to her at some point.

Along the way I ran into a porcupine friend on trail. I stopped at Clarendon Gorge a few miles in for second breakfast (poptarts). I’d have gotten in the water if I was feeling sweaty or if it had been hotter out, but the sound of the river was soothing to listen to, nonetheless. The climb out of the Gorge was steep and a premonition of things to come.

Around noon, I took a lunch break at Stones Throw Farmstead. It’s a picturesque farm and farmhouse with local produce, and products of all kinds.

I had berry sorbet, an apple, salami, and chocolate milk. The chocolate milk was phenomenal, it was the kind you need to shake up to reincorporate the milk fat that had accumulated at the top. I wanted a second, but Karen, who showed up as well, got the last one.

Karen and I had a good one-on-one chat. We’ve been in the same bubble of hikers since Virginia, but this is the chance we’ve had to really get to know each other. He’s a very kind soul and makes me think of Soda every time I see him. If you recall from earlier posts, Soda used to work at Trader Joe’s and had a name badge that said “Karen” on it. He left it in a hiker box and Karen found it and has been wearing it ever since, which makes me smile.

I took some selfies with the Alpacas on the farm before heading back to trail. It was eight miles to the top of Mount Killington. The uphill was steep but manageable.

I listened to a few more chapters of ‘12 Rules for Life.” I try to listen to no more than three chapters and then do some self-reflection. I keep finding myself recognizing people in my life that could find this book useful (myself included obviously). Today’s chapters focused on communication, specifically listening, which is a place I would like to improve upon.

There were a couple downed trees near the peak of the mountain today. I saw a trail leading around them, which split into multiple smaller trails leading in many different directions. I was in a thicket of trees and carpet of moss covering all sorts of decaying organic matter. I had to consult my GPS to direct me back to trail because I’d lost the trail I followed in.

I arrived at Cooper Lodge, the shelter near the peak, at the same time as Karen and Groundhog. Groundhog wanted to check out the very peak of the mountain to scout out potential tent sites. It was only 0.2 miles but very steep to the top of the mountain. I went up without my pack, which helped. The views we found were breathtaking. 360 views from a viewpoint over 4k feet in elevation, gave us quite the sight.

We found a couple suitable spots that would work as tent sites. I set my phone up on the rocks to take a timelapse of the sunset. I rushed back down the hill to grab my pack and water. On my way back up, everything turned a hue of orange. I looked behind me to see all of the clouds in the sky had turned a bright orange color. To see the timelapse peep my Instagram story @barkleycharles

I made it back up to the top to catch the last few moments of sunset. I don’t think I’ve ever heard or used the term “sunset slut” but I think it accurately describes me as a person. We also ran into some green mountain club trail volunteers.

They had come up to watch sunset as well, and I got to bend their ear a bit about the trail maintenance in the area. According to them, funding and plans for trail maintenance are allocated years in advance. It’s unfortunate the first 30 miles of trail has not been a priority, because the rest of the state has been spectacular thus far.

Groundhog and I set our tents up at the peak and retired for the night. It’s going to be a cold night, and I’m fortunate I got a sleeping bag liner while in Manchester. The wind is certainly whipping up here at the top of the mountain. I’m bundled up and my tent is set up near some windbreaks for the night.

I plan to get up early to catch the sunrise from this location. If the sunset was any indication, the sunrise should be worth getting up early for.

Until then, stow away in my pack for day 130 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

  • Mammy : Aug 22nd

    Always enjoy your pictures, writing and view points. I am enjoying the trail by stowing away in your pack. I’ll be honest….I almost hate for it to end, it’s been such a wonderful journey. Your an amazing young man and I can see how good your heart is. Life doesn’t always treat us kind, but you certainly treat others with great kindness and respect. As you have been; Keep on the good path journey and I will stow away in your pack awaiting tomorrow. 😎🍪🍩

    • Derek Witteman : Aug 28th

      Mammy your words are really moving and bring a smile to my face. It definitely will be bittersweet when it ends but I’m enjoying everyday until then. It won’t be my last thru-hike as I would like to do the PCT and CDT in the future. Thanks for following

  • Chris : Aug 23rd

    The timelapse was a nice treat for us who also follow you on Instagram. Thanks for taking it!

    • Derek Witteman : Aug 28th

      I’ll keep them coming provided weather cooperates (a big ask out here sometimes)

  • Mike OTuel : Aug 23rd

    Witch Doctor, great narratives of your hike and stellar photos! Lucky to thruhike the AT 3 x in the 1980 ‘s, your photos really resonate and invite people to explore the trail,both actively,as well as remotely. I hope you submit some of your photos,like the recent sunset, to the Long Trail. They publish a bulletin 4 x a year. Its filled w high quality photos, like those created by yourself! I hope that you can continue to hike and share your medical knowledge,as well as personal experience, to help hikers succeed. You have truly captured some of the beauty of the trail, as well as, the humanitarian aspects that continue to popularize long distance hiking. Through hiking is mainly psychological and you have made the cognitive shifting required for success. It would be interesting to see how the resilience built from the self-mastery of goal directed long distance hiking and enduring the rigors of med school is similar or not. I have been following you since the start of your hike and have really enjoyed it. 2 Spirits

    • Derek Witteman : Aug 28th

      Hey 2 Spirits! What is the website for submitting photos to the Long Trail? I’d be interested in checking it out. I think I’ve always been a fairly resilient person, mostly likely thanks to my parents, but med school and this trail have definitely tested that resolve and so far it hasn’t broken. I don’t expect it to anytime soon. Thanks for following!

  • Peggy : Aug 24th

    Your photos are fantastic, next best thing to being there. I enjoy your enthusiasm and positivity as well as your appreciation for dogs, nature and other humans. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Derek Witteman : Aug 28th

      I’m glad that you’re enjoying it. It’s an amazing time out here and I’m probably only capturing a fraction of it, but that fraction I’m happy to share

  • CB : Aug 27th

    I’ve been following from the start also. One of the interesting things about your journey for me is how I’ve enjoyed many of the comments you’ve elicited. Like these last two. I started out the season following several hiker’s posts. Yours, for several reasons, is the only one I continue with. A reason for that, to a degree, is the comments. Strange?

    • Derek Witteman : Aug 28th

      Not strange at all. The comments so find equally interesting. The comments and the people out here (for the most part) help restore your faith in humanity. Definitely something from the trail I’m going to try to bring home with me. Thanks for following since the beginning!


What Do You Think?