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.
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