Vermont and the Hope for Sunnier Days
Watching YouTube videos and reading blogs and books prepared me for the pervasive mud that gives the Green Mountain State its nickname: Vermud.
After the particularly rainy July in the northeast, mud was everywhere—the summits, the lowlands, and everywhere in between. My trek through VT was mostly gray, which made the occasional sunbeam extra welcome.
The Appalachian Trail and The Long Trail share 100 miles of the southern portion of VT. Consequently, the trail is almost as crowded as the Georgia AT in March. I met many LT and SOBO AT hikers along the way over the ski mountains and in both Bennington and Rutland before finally feeling lonesome again where the trails diverge just north of Killington.
The trail in Vermont is mostly a choice of mud or rocks with the occasional lovely pine forest.
New in 2023…
Brand new Seth Warner Shelter was ready for hikers in July of 2023. The volunteers who built it did a nice job and left a message on boards inside that they still have more work to do. I hope they put in a second level so more hikers can stay out of the rain, and maybe a porch. Time will tell.
The new Seth Warner Shelter.
Ski in summer?
Both Stratton and Killington ski resorts were socked in with clouds when I crossed them, but Bromley ski area was sunny and clear with fantastic views. I was a little surprised as I crested the mountain and the ski lift appeared looking like something out of a Battlestar Gallactica episode.
At the top of Bromley.
The deeper into New England, the more bogs. Bog bridges by Griffith tentsite slowed my pace (the wood planks are slick after it rains) but definitely kept me from sinking into the mud. Having spent so many days with perpetually wet feet causes me to stop and give thanks for every intact bog bridge.
Bog bridges kept my feet dry.
I set up my tent on a platform and headed to the lake. Griffith Lake was idyllic in the evening but not warm enough for a swim. The high schoolers in the tentsite next to mine didn’t mind the water temperature and gleefully splashed until the sun went down.
Slabs of rock can be just as slippery as the bog bridges and there were plenty of climbs.
A nice change of pace.
Some of the nicest hiking is on trails in a pine forest. The ground springs back with each step, absorbs sound, and the scent of balsam envelops the senses.
Rock garden amidst the pines.
The Yellow Deli
I caught up with quite a few hikers who had been sucked into the vortex of the Yellow Deli. The donation-based hostel prepares a hot breakfast for hikers and provides clean bunks, all located in downtown Rutland. I used the hostel’s central location and local free bus route to do two days of slack-packing and a zero day avoiding thunderstorms.
Thankfully, we all made it back to the trail without being drawn into the cult that runs the deli, The Twelve Tribes.
There were so many creek crossings, most of which were still swollen from the rain, that keeping my feet dry was impossible.
Only 500 miles to Katahdin!
Maple lines for collecting sap in the spring. It is Vermont, after all.
Couples who hike together, stay together.
On top of a steep climb, I met Norwood and Joanna. The are both 88 years old and Joanna said she didn’t think they’d still be on this earth if they didn’t climb the mountain every day. They own a good portion of it and the AT crosses their land. I asked if the maple lines were theirs and they said no, but they get free syrup from the deal.
Hope and Holler cross another swollen creek.
As I mentioned before, the creeks were swollen thanks to too much rain. Hikers had to get creative by crossing on logs that had been swept downstream. I crossed this and made it almost all the way before my foot slipped and went into the water. At least only one foot went squish squish as I hiked.
At the eastern end of VT, the trail winds through the town of Norwich before crossing the Connecticut River into New Hampshire. I made it to Main Street and was reminded of what I’m missing back home—the community fair. Another wave of homesickness was followed by the realization that I’m about six weeks from completing this epic adventure.
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