The Joy of a Sunny Day (or Three)
If I ever questioned the ability of a sunny day to lift my mood, that doubt is gone — because the rain finally stopped this week. The sun came out and started drying the trails, making the mud more manageable. And boy, did we feel better. We actually enjoyed hiking again instead of merely gutting it out.
We put in three solid days, two of them fairly long. In the process, we traveled through most of Vermont. We trekked up a series of mountains: Bromley Mountain, Styles Peak, Baker Peak, Beacon Hill, and Pico/Killington Peak. The last one was the toughest, about 2,600 feet up and 2,000 down in one day. (Our knees weren’t happy about that, but it wasn’t as hard as we’d feared).
So the hiking was much improved, and as usual, the days were packed with a myriad of interesting details, too many to mention here. But here are some things that stood out:
Biggest discovery: Our bug nets work. We’d been warned that when the rain stopped and the wind died, the bugs would begin to come out — and they did. We had head nets in our packs but resisted wearing them, thinking they would limit our sight. When we finally put them on, though, we couldn’t figure out why we’d waited so long. They don’t bother us at all and work great.
Biggest source of frustration: We traveled through prime moose habitat for days — thick pine forests filled with secluded ponds. We saw tons of their droppings along the trail, but never saw a moose. We haven’t given up yet, though.
Scariest moment: Wet rocks are my nemesis. My balance and traction aren’t good, increasing the chance of a fall. Place those rocks in rushing water and you can imagine why my anxiety rises whenever we confront a stream. Usually I follow John across, carefully copying his steps while I try to stay upright, but this week we faced a stream I was just too scared to cross. So I decided to scoot across on a fallen log (straddling it) instead. It wasn’t easy, especially with a backpack making me wobble with every move and the racing water below me giving me vertigo. (I wish I had a photo, but John was too busy standing watch in case he needed to dive in and rescue me.) In the end it worked and felt marginally safer than trying to go over the rocks. But bark is incredibly rough, and it hurt like hell.
Most amazing moment: At the top of Mt. Killington I ran into Ilse Dunbar, a Facebook friend who has been following my posts and recognized me. Seriously, what are the chances of that happening? It was so cool to meet her and totally made my day.
Highlight of the week: We decided to do Killington Mountain in one 18-mile day so we could make it to the Inn at Long Trail for a shower. When we got there, we discovered that not only is there an Irish pub inside, but they were featuring live Irish music that night (which I love). So we spent a great evening listening to the fabulous band Craic agus Ceol — the perfect ending to an upbeat week.
Now for the next phase. Unfortunately, they’re predicting heavy rain in the days ahead. But that sunshine sure was nice while it lasted. Too bad it couldn’t have hung around for a few more days!
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