Vermud Was Only Slightly Vermuddy

Day 151: 3,160 ft ascent, 9.6 miles

After a day off in North Adams, we were ready to get back to the trail and on to a new state. We were packing up the tent as usual when we heard the sound no hiker wants to hear: the snap of a tent pole. With no outfitters nearby, we headed back into the woods with a broken tent.  We hoped we could figure out how to rig it to keep it over us the next few days.

Backwoods engineering.

There’s always a climb out of town, and North Adams was no different. As we got towards the top of the climb, we came to the Vermont border and the sign introducing the Long Trail. The Long Trail existed before the Appalachian Trail and the two share approximately 100 miles of trail in Vermont.

Vermont as a state is nicknamed ‘Vermud’ by AT hikers because of how muddy the trail is after the winter melt. The extreme rainfall in the northeast this summer extended the Vermud season and made it worse than usual. The mud started right at the state border sign. Our pace slowed significantly as we tried to learn how to find rocks and roots to hop on to avoid the mud. My feet stayed dry the first day but I knew that wouldn’t last through the state.

Day 152: 3,600 ft ascent, 15.3 miles

A late afternoon rainstorm the day before did not help trail conditions. Erik’s feet quickly got soaked in his shoes. I was determined to keep my feet dry, but this meant I was going extra slow to find the right path to avoid the mud. Although the trail felt muddy, we had heard it was much better than it had been most of the season. Our streak of having better hiking conditions by being behind most of the other hikers continued.

Since we were on the Long Trail too, we started seeing many more people on the trail than we were used to. Many of these hikers were attempting to thru hike the Long Trail. These hikers brought a different energy to the trail than we were used to experiencing with AT hikers. They were excited and trying to feel each other out. They weren’t worn down after months of hiking. It was very noticeable and reminded us of AT hikers at the start of the trail when we were in the middle of the hiking bubble.

Day 153: 2,650 ft ascent, 16.2 miles

Rain wasn’t expected when we broke camp in the morning, but when we checked our phones at lunch we saw we were in for an afternoon storm. We got to the Stoney Brook Shelter about 30 minutes before the rain was forecast to hit. We decided we would hang out there and let the storm pass before moving on.  

An hour and a half later the rain still hadn’t started but we had miles we wanted to make before sundown. We took off down the trail knowing we would probably get wet. It only took about five minutes before we had to get our packa’s out, and maybe ten minutes before we were in an outright downpour. Lovely.

The already muddy trail became a swamp. Avoiding the mud puddles became impossible. I went from trying to avoid the mud to stepping in puddles to avoid mud that looked like it could eat my shoes. We started passing potential campsites from our guides that were completely flooded out from the downpour. I was soaked and done with the day.

Eventually we made it to a gravel road and found a gravel parking lot just down the road from the trail. It wasn’t a puddle, so we decided that would be our home for the night. We typically try to break down or set up our tent when it’s not raining because it allows us to keep everything inside our packs dry. We didn’t have cell service and didn’t know when the rain would stop, so we had to set up the tent in the rain.

The inside of the tent was soaked by the time we got inside it, but we tried to wipe it down the best we could before we got out our sleeping gear. Of course as soon as we were finishing getting set up the rain started to slow and quickly stopped. I knew I was going to have to put on wet shoes the next day, but if we could push out a big day (for us) we could get to a hotel and really get ourselves dried out the next night. As miserable as I felt in that moment, it helped that I knew it was only temporary.

Day 154: 2,940 ft ascent, 17.5 miles

We were slow getting out of camp the next morning. Everything was wet. Erik put on his wet clothes, I decided to wear my sleeping clothes for the day. We started the morning climbing straight up Stratton Mountain. This was the first of what we later found out would be many climbs of mountains that had ski resorts on them.

The top of the mountain had a fire tower. I quickly scampered up it when we got to the top and got some partial views of the surrounding mountains. It was the first time I got that ‘northeast views’ feeling with mountains in different layers as far as the clouds would let me see.

We made it to the Pinnacle Lodge right before sunset. The afternoon had been a grind. After the night before I was extremely happy to have a bed to sleep in that night. We got into town late, so we decided we would put off our town chores until the next morning. I got a pizza delivered and ate as much as I could before quickly falling asleep.

Day 155: 2,480 ft ascent, 7.1 miles

We loved our stay at the Pinnacle Lodge. My dad had raved about it when he stayed there a couple of weeks prior and it lived up to expectations. We got laundry done in the morning, and then one of the owners kindly drove us six miles into town so we could get groceries. A little after lunchtime we were back on the trail and headed up Bromley Mountain.

There was a ski patrol hut at the top of the mountain. I really wanted to stay there, but with the amount of food we had purchased we needed to push on and get a few more miles in that day so we didn’t risk getting hungry. We ended up finding a nice stealth spot beside an overlook at the top of the next mountain right before dark. As the sun went down we knew we were in for a much colder night than we had been used to. I had all of my winter gear except for my winter sleeping quilt, and I went to sleep hoping that would be enough to keep me warm that night.

Day 156: 2,360 ft ascent, 18.1 miles

We woke up right before sunrise. My sleep system had barely kept me warm enough to sleep well. I knew it was time for me to make plans to switch to my winter sleeping quilt before we got too much further North.

The prospect of a sunrise view got me out of the tent quickly. Some fog had settled in overnight and obstructed the valley views, but the sunrise was still beautiful through the clouds. We had mountain views at multiple overlooks throughout the day. I was enjoying moving north and getting rewarded with views for my hard work climbing.

Day 157: 5,720 ft ascent, 18.4 miles

We had shipped multiple items to the post office in Killington. Today was the Friday before Labor Day. We needed to get to the post office before noon the next day and we had almost 27 miles to hike to get there. We had our work cut out for us.

Around 11:30 that morning we came to a road crossing. I had read that there was a small store with a deli about a half mile down the road. I knew we had a lot of miles to hike, but I also knew that I had a lot more energy when I could eat more food. I left Erik at the road crossing with our packs and hiked the mile round trip on the road to get myself a sandwich and get both of us some chips and a drink. I wasn’t sure how many more deli opportunities we would come across, so I was glad to be able to take advantage of this one.

The sandwhich fueled me that afternoon as we climbed up and up and up. About 20 minutes before sunset we made it to the shelter at the top of the mountain. We quickly set up the tent and then raced up the 0.2 mile side trail up a rock face to get to the summit of the mountain. We got there just in time to watch an incredible sunset. It had been a hard day of hiking to get to that moment, but I knew it would end up being one of my favorite memories of the trail.

Day 158: 1,090 ft ascent, 8.3 miles

We blue blazed to the Inn at the Long trail in the morning. The trail used to be the original route of the AT, but rumor was it was rerouted because hikers had to cross over a pipe used to make snow for the ski slope. The pipe wasn’t any more annoying than the 200 downed trees we had walked over up to this point, but I’m not the one in charge of the trail design. We got into town and caught a free bus to the post office.

After collecting our packages (and spending an hour calling to figure out where the missing ones were at), we went back to the Inn at the Long Trail where we planned to stay for the evening. After a trip to town for groceries, I got to watch college football in the evening.

The AT split off from the Long Trail heading north. It was rumored the mud significantly reduced after this split. I went to bed hopeful we might have a less frustrating trail as we finished Vermont.

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Comments 1

  • thetentman : Oct 8th

    The broken tent poles almost made me cry.

    Nice post.



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