Days 161-167 Vermont Part 2: The Vermommyca Vortex and Beyond

The day after our musical escapade, we slept in. There was no way we were going to do the 17 miles over Killington and down to a Vermontica approved road that day.

We went back and forth all morning about what we wanted to do. Finally, we landed on a late afternoon start, an attempt to hike up Killington for sunset/sunrise, and meeting Banana Bread at the Inn at Long Trail the next day. We called the Inn and they said we could camp in the parking lot across the street, no problem.

Putting the backpacks on was unpleasant. It was also rather hot that day and we had several more PUDs to do. Vermont was really doing a bait and switch on the terrain. By the time we were 2 miles away from the shelter at the base of Killington, we knew we weren’t going to be climbing the mountain that evening. So we decided to stay at the shelter.

The trail crossed a gravel road about a mile before the shelter. Both the trail and the road would take you to the shelter, the road in a bit simpler manner. I was tired and cranky so I chose the road cheat. Pinky is a purist and chose the trail.

I met a sweet couple in front of their adorable vacation cabin with their good dog on the way and beat Pinky to the shelter by about 15 mins. When he arrived, he tried to convince me he’d seen a MOOSE to make me feel guilty for cheating… I didn’t take the bait, and I didn’t feel guilty.

Looks like a tiny Smokies shelter to me!

When we arrived it was just us, Wrist Watch, another couple hiking the Long Trail, and SOS, another NOBO AT hiker we met that afternoon who had recently returned from a hiatus at home. As we were getting set up, Almost and Little John showed up. Then Pie, Weezy, Dragon Queen, Uptown, Sweet Loaf, Spicy Onion, and Rivers. Spicy and Rivers were planning to climb up Killington to camp with Trips and Phoenix! The rest of us were staying put.

We were stoked to be reunited with our friends, it was definitely an emotional boost after a disappointing afternoon.

Overnight, it rained! We weren’t really expecting it. Luckily we had our rain fly on, but Pinky’s backpack was out in the open. I woke him up to retrieve it. While we were doing that, we could see the headlamps of other hikers trying to put their rain flys on. Of course, as soon as everyone got situated, the rain stopped and we didn’t get any more. Classic.

The next morning we were in good moods. We were excited to take on Killington.. and get back to Banana Bread and Vermontica!

Killington was a Fun Climb! We were in our favorite kind of forest. It smelled amazing. There were tiny Christmas trees everywhere. It was technical but not too crazy. We just felt great!

Part way up we passed a south bound section hiker… from Richmond!! Small world!

The actual peak of Killington is not on the AT. We had to take one of the steeper blue blazes to get up to the top. It definitely involved some scrambling.

We had an incredible view before we even got up. It got even better when we made it to the rocks at the top of the blue blaze! The view was incredible. Pie and Weezy were there already. Pie took some very professional photos of us.

We wanted to see the view from the other side, so we took the summit loop trail around to the ski lift side.

There we found Spicy, Trips, Phoenix, and Rivers! They had made it up late the night before and caught a beautiful sunrise in the morning! Clouds were rolling in so we had to take their word for it that they could see the Whites off in the distance. They said the sun rose right over them!

I love clouds so I was loving watching them blow around us. We ate second breakfast while admiring the view and chatting with our friends. After a walk around the building to confirm there was no accessible water spigot (the lodge at the top + the gondola lift were closed that day!) we went back on the loop trail, around to the other side to descend the blue blaze again. It was even trickier going down. I still enjoyed having the view in front of us, we noticed more clouds rolling in.

Just after rejoining the trail was a shelter and a spring. We talked with a pair of SOBOs while we filtered our water. One of them told us she has hiked the Long Trail several times and done both the AT route and the Sherburne Pass trail. She said the Sherburne Pass is much more direct and if she was us, that’s what she would take. We were sold.

We didn’t consider it a true cheat because it’s the old route of the AT and we could take it directly to the Inn, then just a bit further to rejoin the AT. Plus, it was beautiful! We walked across more ski slopes.

Saw some dramatic signs.

And generally enjoyed ourselves.

When we arrived at the Inn, Banana Bread was inside the pub hanging out with her new hiker friends. She rode the gondola up Killington the day before and shared the ride with several other hikers. Many of them stayed at the Inn where she ate dinner and hung out with them all night!

She came over to meet us and helped us get our laundry situated. The Inn had a washer and dryer we could use. While doing laundry we ate some pretty good food, had some beers, and hung out with Dragon Queen and SOS.

Everything about the Inn was adorable. It was one of the first Inns built for skiers in the area. It was literally built into the side of the mountain, part of the rock face protrudes into the dining room!! There is a big cozy common room with couches and rocking chairs. Pinky and Larry Bird (a SOBO from Charlottesville!) played a game of chess while an older man serenaded us on the piano. We just had a lovely time there.

Once clean, we headed back to Vermontica for second dinner and an early bed time. In the morning, it was raining, yuck. We ate an amazing breakfast at the Inn, shared with Two Step and Larry Bird.

Then we headed down the mountain to Rutland so we could take care of a few chores. We hit up the Wal Mart then headed over to the Yellow Deli to drop off some hiker box fuel for Weezy and Pie and eat lunch. The cult sandwiches were absolutely bangin.

We started the morning thinking we’d hit the trail after finishing our chores.. but by the time we finished our Wal Mart run we had agreed we didn’t want to hike. Pinky and I had basically been playing a game of chicken, waiting for the other to fully admit we didn’t want to hike. Ridiculous, I know.

After lunch, we quickly made our way back to Vermontica under increasingly threatening looking storm clouds. Vermontica needed her propane refilled (we were notified of this by a very loud alarm going off in the middle of the night) so we headed over to the Tractor Supply. When Banana Bread went in to ask for help, they told her they couldn’t do propane during a thunderstorm! Duh!

This was no problem for us, though. We were in our home! We just parked and snuggled down to wait out the storm. Pinky and I napped HARD while Banana Bread read on the couch with Ms. Scarlett.

About 2 hrs later, the storm stopped and we woke up. Now we could refill the propane tank! Afterwards, we decided to head back to the Wal Mart parking lot so we could continue bopping around Rutland.

We took a walk around downtown and passed a bar with several thru hikers outside. We decided to head in for a beer with them. It turned into several beers and several deep, wide ranging conversations.

Before too long, we were hungry again. We decided to try the Indian restaurant.. but then some hikers hanging outside the Yellow Deli told us it was about to close! The only restaurant still serving was, of course, the Yellow Deli. We weren’t too disappointed. We each had things on the menu we still wanted to try.

After dinner we drove back to the parking lot across from the Inn. We decided to get an early start the next morning. If we could make it 17 miles, we could stay at The Lookout, a privately owned cabin with a rooftop deck from which we could watch a panoramic sunset and sunrise! Though the rain continued all night, it was supposed to clear up by the afternoon.

The next morning it was hard leaving mom, Ms Scarlett, and Vermontica. It was fairly rainy in the morning, a very demotivating factor. We delayed leaving by chatting with some friends in the parlour. By the time we got back to Vermontica, the sun was trying to come out!

We sadly said goodbye to Banana Bread. The next time we see each other will be after Katahdin! Tears.

Walking after a zero, and with a few days of food, was a bit of a challenge at first but we got into it and had a pretty good day. We started off walking in a somewhat damp, misty forest but the clouds began breaking up by the time we made it to this cute pond.

Shortly after the pond we passed Thundering Falls. We met some sweet day hikers, one took our photo, and we ate our last mom sandwiches.

After the falls, we had one steep climb but it wasn’t a very complicated terrain day, overall. Though there was one spot with a ladder!

We had to fill up on water before going up to the cabin since there was no water there. The last water source was about 2 miles before the cabin. We had to do a small climb between them. We filled up and psyched ourselves up for the climb.

It wasn’t that bad. But did feel like it took forever. The last mile is always the longest.

The cabin was SO CUTE!

We had such a good time there. Mayflower, Franklin’s Mom, Doin It, Lemon Drop, Paddy, and PK were all there. We ate dinner then watched the end of the sunset from the roof.

We slept in the corner next to the fireplace, with our heads oriented so we could see the sky outside.

I woke up in the middle of the night and could see how clear and bright the stars were. I had to go out to see them.

I’m so glad I went out. I laid down on the rocks in front of the porch and stared at the sky until I got cold. I’ve never seen so many stars. There was no moon, and almost no light pollution. When I went back in, I stared through the window until I fell back asleep.

I woke up just as it was starting to get light, a little after 5. I looked around and realized almost everyone else was up and I had slept right through it! Pinky was still asleep, but I woke him up so he wouldn’t miss the sunrise.

When I got up to the deck, it was slightly crowded but they made room for me. Pinky came up not long after and we squeezed some more. I think we wound up with 8 of us up there by the end! Probably not safe!

Luckily, we didn’t fall off and we got to watch the most beautiful sunrise together. It came up around 6. It was amazing! There were clouds between the mountains but the sky around the sun was clear. It was so special experiencing the beginning of the day with everyone.

After a very enthusiastic photo shoot with Doin It, we made our way down to pack up and eat breakfast. It was a pretty drawn out affair, but the good thing about waking up early to watch the sunrise is that you have the time for that!

We did have some motivation to get moving, in the form of PIE! A few miles down the trail at the next road crossing was a farm stand with home made pie! We couldn’t wait for second breakfast.

When we were almost at the road crossing we went through some beautiful fields. At the end of them we met a family out for a day hike. They had two young boys, probably 6 and 8 or so, the younger one could care less about hiking, the older one LOVES meeting thru hikers and hopes to be one some day! We answered all their questions, then continued on our way.

Our timing was impeccable, we were able to snag one of the last small pies (rhubarb blueberry)! Plus we got ice cream, a muffin, fun cheese, and several drinks. While we were checking out, Doin It came in and said we had to come outside- one of the owner’s monarch butterflies (she did the whole caterpillar thing with her grandchildren, like one does in kindergarten) was coming out of its chrysalis!! We all went outside to watch it emerge!! It was so cool!

We ate and hung out with the other hikers, and the family from earlier who all became much more interested in pie than hiking (kid is gonna be a good thru hiker one day.) It was a good thing they didn’t have a hammock there or else we might have taken a post pie nap and never left. As it was, we managed to loiter almost 2 hours. But it was a beautiful day for hiking, and Buttermeister was being a good influence on us, so we headed on.

The rest of the day was a series of steep steep ups and downs. Gone were the chill gradual climbs we had come to know and love in Vermont.

The AT split from the Long Trail after the Inn and it was like the two halves of the trail in Vermont were made by completely different people. This was like being back in Georgia!! But, we were fueled by pie and ice cream! While it was a bit of a shock to the system, we mostly enjoyed ourselves.

Still, we were pretty tired by the end of the day. We filled up on water at the silliest little stream next to a gravel road then hiked on, looking for a stealth spot, crossing our fingers we wouldn’t have to look for too long. We got lucky, not even 5 minutes up the hill we saw Bacon and Yukon set up, with space nearby for us!

We got set up, ate dinner, and hopped in bed. Shortly after we settled in, we heard something large crunching around in the leaves. Everyone had a “Is that you?” moment, but all of us were in our beds! We thought it sounded too small to be a bear, but big enough to be a porcupine or raccoon. It crunched around a bit then moved on… later we woke up and heard something even bigger! This time, we were pretty sure it was a bear. Thank goodness we hung our food bags!

Around 5am it started to rain. Luckily we had our rain fly on! Of course, we took it as an excuse to sleep in. We finally woke up around 8 and decided to get up since the rain had stopped. We continued to be slow getting up and many friends passed us before we got moving.

It looked like the sky was clearing up and maybe we’d have a good day. We were excited because it was our last day in Vermont! We planned to make it to Hanover, the first town in New Hampshire, that evening!

Welcoming SOBOs and giving NOBOs a chance to reflect on the chillest NE state

The first stop of the day would be at a trail angels house where we could get water and check the weather. In the last mile, we started hearing thunder! We booked it as best we could!

When we arrived, the place was crawling with hikers. We got the weather report from Sweet Loaf and Uptown- thunderstorm coming in SOON (didn’t really need the report for that one, we could see all the scary clouds for ourselves!) but should clear up for a bit in the late afternoon.

It was already noon, and Sweet Loaf was taking pizza orders. We decided to stick around and wait out the thunderstorm with some pizza. Plus, there was a really cute puppy, a big porch, WiFi, and a power strip so we could charge our phones. Sold.

We hung out on the porch with the whole Hart family and like 10 hikers. The thunderstorm was really loud and really wet. We were so happy to be on the porch ! Several less lucky hikers rolled in soaking wet. One of them looked familiar… it was our buddy Ninja Turtle!

We met him back in Virginia and last saw each other in Shenandoah. Ninja Turtle decided to flip flop, heading up to Katahdin in July. We had very recently been wondering when we’d see him again. Our hope was that for once he would roll up while WE were cozily sitting in a shelter. Historically, we always arrived to find him already in bed in the shelter. We felt bad that this time he was coming in out of a thunderstorm, but it was a very satisfying reunion nonetheless.

Eventually, pizza arrived and we scarfed it. The storm went on for quite some time. We were able to get in a very one sided game of Catan…. By the time Pinky was done destroying me, the rain had let up a bit.

Vermont was insisting on keeping us one more night! We had relinquished the possibility of making it to Hanover. There were no hotel rooms available and there was the threat of another bout of thunderstorms. Instead, we’d head to a shelter 4 miles away. We didn’t want to stay in the barn since we needed to get to the Hanover post office before it closed at noon the next day. So we rolled the dice and headed out in the rain, hoping we wouldn’t get too soaked.

Linda couldn’t bear to watch us walk out in the rain and generously offered us a ride through the 0.7 mi road walk. Of course, we accepted. When she dropped us off it was drizzling, and by the time we’d made it a mile or so in, it had stopped and we could see some blue sky!

We had a great hike to the shelter. We had to carry extra water since the spring there was dry, but the shelter was so cute we didn’t mind!

Happy Hill Shelter

Since we had the threat of another thunderstorm we chose to sleep in the shelter. At first it was just us, but eventually some more folks showed up. We had a good time talking with everyone. The sky stayed sunny and blue until the sun set, and we never got another thunderstorm!

The next morning we got up early and managed to get on trail at a reasonable time. We hiked fast and made it to the road by 10am! The last 2 miles of Vermont is a road walk through the town of Norwich. We LOVED walking through the neighborhood and were obsessed with every single house we passed. We kept saying “We could get snowed in there!”

Pinky wanted to stop at the Norwich Inn because we read they had a tiny brewery. I was anxious to get to the post office in Hanover so we parted ways. A few blocks later I stopped because I realized this meant we wouldn’t cross the border together! I sat down on the side of the road to wait for him.

I didn’t have to wait long. He came up, disappointed because they wouldn’t let him in to see the brewery! He thought he looked too hiker trash for them. Oh well.

We got to cross the border together, completing our 12th state.

It was sad saying goodbye to Vermont. It was a beautiful state with some lovely trail. We knew it was the last time we’d have it easy for a long time, we were a little scared to find out what New Hampshire had in store…

We were also sad to be entering the second to last state. The end still feels like a lifetime away, but it’s getting closer every day. Of course, we want to finish and are excited to complete this goal, but we know the days when we will look back and wish we were thru hiking are coming soon.

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Comments 1

  • Amy horning : Oct 17th

    I love all of these updates!!!! So excited to see you guys finish


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