Wetfoot and Arry, Vol. 21, Days 46-48: Green Mountain State of Mind
Day 46: 14.7 Miles
Lots of road walking today. Lots.
Arry and I began the morning slowly and deliberately, relishing our time at the hostel and opting for a midmorning start. Tyger, Frosty’s grandson, was nice enough to drop us off at the post office as we had already hiked the AT to this point yesterday.
From the post office we walked across the Connecticut River and into Vermont! Arry was nonplussed.
And then we kept road walking into Norwich.
Eventually the trail led into the woods. The trail in Vermont is a well-manicured dirt path. Vermont also seems to be a big fan of switchbacks, which is nice because the trail is not quite as steep, but it does seem like it takes forever to get up there.
About five miles in we reached the first shelter. Arry seemed in good spirits and it was just after 1 p.m., so we took a snack break before continuing on to Thistle Hill Shelter. I didn’t quite calculate how fast we would be moving on this flatter trail.
About a mile into that decision I got very nervous about Arry. Her tail went down and she started looking around as if she was paranoid something was in the woods. I heard what sounded like a few gunshots.
I put the umbilical cord on, really just her leash that is attached to my waist. It seemed she could sense something in the woods that made her nervous, versus being tired or hurt. The umbilical cord did bolster her confidence and she walked slowly behind me as I started singing songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Eventually we got through that area and she became her normal happy, confident hiking self.
We crossed a lot of roads today as well. Obviously we took a wrong turn and passed the trail on one of them. But that’s just a normal day of hiking for us.
Soon we walked through another small town, West Hartford. The locals were entranced with Arry. One guy shouted out of his truck window that she was a beautiful dog.
I passed a sign that said “AT water” with an arrow pointing to a couple’s backyard where there was a sign that said “drinking water” above a hose. Any water I don’t have to filter is good water!
Arry and I stopped and topped off our water sources. The lady had a black cat that kept creeping closer and closer to Arry, who would bark at it and the cat still crept closer, unintimidated. It was all quite entertaining, but we left before they got into a scuffle.
We crossed another bridge, the famous one that AT hikers jump off. I didn’t jump off, but we did pause admire it for a bit.
This section of the AT has an abundance of unprecedented scenery! I think part of what made me notice so many individual views was because, for once, I could lift my head to look at my surroundings instead of staring down at the rocks I was trying to walk over.
I noticed trees starting to change color. I’ll bet this area is so beautiful in full autumn!
We crossed through a small orchard. There were two apple trees, with a bench that said “VT, relax and enjoy yourself.” So we did. We sat and I ate one of the teensiest apples off the tree!
As I looked out over the meadow I saw lots of Queen Anne’s lace. I remember one summer picking some with my grandmother and putting it in water with food coloring until the Queen Anne’s lace soaked it up and changed color! I can’t remember why we did that; it’s just a very vivid memory.
We stopped to chat with Amber and August, a trail angel and her sweet pup. Amber had lots of insight about this portion of the trail. She had seen bears in the vicinity, so be careful. Apparently the Vermont AT is state run, and hunters are allowed to hunt around the trail. Hunting season started today. I’m sure that is what freaked Arry out.
Amber takes care of this shelter because she “lives closest to it.” I got the sense that she is very proud to be maintaining this part of the trail, and she should be. It is beautiful.
My favorite part of the day was walking through a meadow full of blackberries! I wondered why it was taking us so long to hike such smooth terrain; it was probably because I kept stopping to grab handfuls of blackberries!
At last we arrived at the shelter. This will be the first time Arry and I will be sleeping in a shelter with other people. It is supposed to rain tonight and all day tomorrow, and after just leaving town this morning I am excited to keep my gear drier. So we shall see what we end up accomplishing tomorrow. I’m becoming a fair weather hiker.
Truth be told, I am really glad that we hiked the extra miles to this shelter today. It was a gorgeous hike and I am thankful that we were able to enjoy the serene views in gorgeous weather.
Day 47: 15.0 Miles
It started raining last night and it didn’t stop.
I contemplated taking a zero in the shelter, in general being a bum. All my shelter-mates were up early, packing gear, and prepping to move on either to town for a hot shower and a dry bed, or to their car waiting for them and then a hot shower and a dry bed. Arry and I were headed to neither.
My original goal for today was the Lookout. It’s a cabin that has an amazing 360-degree view. It isn’t officially on the AT, and is privately owned, but the owners let hikers stay there.
Fifteen miles felt far to travel at 6 a.m. when it was nonstop pouring rain. A NOBO mentioned a trail angel with a barn just off RT12 where Arry and I might get warm and dry, only 8.7 miles away.
And so I packed up our gear and we headed out during a slow pause in the rain, to maybe stay at that barn, but I was prepared go with the flow. One of the section hikers, a Vermont native, told us it never rains all day in Vermont. I was hoping the weather reports would change to reflect that and it gave me hope as we set off.
Today was a Chacos kind of a day in hope that it would keep my hiking shoes dry. In reality, my feet ended banged up and muddy, but my hiking boots did stay dry! For those who don’t know, I am obsessed with my Vibram sole Chacos. Partly for the very reason that I can hike in them!!
I didn’t take a lot of pictures this morning. One view in particular stands out in my mind. There was a beautiful rock wall running along a wide dirt path. The entire time we walked along this area I pictured the trail covered in snow, riding along the path in a sleigh!
The Vermont terrain and constant switchbacks made the hike easygoing. I still had to be careful because the nice dirt trail became slick at parts. And yes, I slipped more than once.
We walked through sections covered by trees, meadows, fields, what looked like some sections of peoples yards and across roads in the rain.
About 10 a.m. I stopped caring I was soaked through. By 10:30 the rain stopped. At 11 a.m. we passed the road where we could potentially stay in the barn. “Ahh, the weather has turned,” I thought. And so we pressed on.
At 11:30 a.m. it started raining again. Harder.
The Winturri Shelter was just a few miles ahead when the heavens opened, so I aimed Arry and me for the shelter. Somehow the rain was able to continue, increasing in strength until finally, drenched, we arrived at the shelter.
I let Arry lie out of the rain while I fetched water; it was full of dirt, I’m sure from the runoff due to the rain. We sat and shared a snack while I debated whether to stay, or press on 2.6 more miles to the Lookout cabin.
It was a lofty goal, to walk all the way to the cabin in this rain. I was starting to get chilly from standing stagnant in wet clothes, so I knew we either had to get moving, or I had to change my clothes and commit to this shelter.
All of sudden, who should appear? Yellow Bear! He was pressing on to the Lookout cabin, and that made up my mind for me. Besides, if it did continue to storm tonight, we would have four walls around us instead of three.
Less than an hour later we arrived at the cabin. I’m sure to most people it wouldn’t look like much, but to hikers this place is a haven. There’s a fireplace and a loft, and stairs to climb to observe that 360 view.
Arry, Yellow Bear, and I changed into dry clothes, I dried Arry off, and we spent the rest of the day with three other hikers. We made a roaring fire, and Arry enjoyed lots of attention and cuddles from her new hiker friends.
It is amazing to me that in the rain we were able to conquer 15 miles and finish just after 4 p.m. It really makes me feel like Arry and I are capable. I am glad we walked in the rain today. We got wet, but we found and experienced so much more than if we had simply remained in the shelter.
As the sun set we climbed onto the roof. The rain had ceased and the clouds rolled away to unveil a beautiful cotton candy sunset.
Day 48: 15.5 Miles
We made it! And are now beginning a much-needed rest at the Inn at the Long Trail. I’m excited to take a zero here tomorrow and not have to leave the premise!
We made it! And are now beginning a much-needed rest at the Inn at the Long Trail. I’m excited to take a zero here tomorrow and not have to leave the premise
The morning started early. We woke up to watch the beautiful sunrise from the rooftop of the cabin. Yellow Bear asked how many times we had watched the sunrise before. As I pondered the question, he said this was his third time in his life. And this is why he was on trail.
I pondered this my entire hike today. I have seen the sunrise many, many times. When I took a trip to New Zealand, my boyfriend and I made a point to get up for sunrise every morning. For years, during our family summer vacation my cousins and I have risen early and walked down to the lake to watch the sunrise over the water. And one random morning Arry woke us up early, so we watched the sunrise.
I’ve paused so many times to watch the sun, I couldn’t imagine only having done it on the trail. I think that’s why so many people hike. It is easy to cast aside the stresses, worries and customs of day to day life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pause and take time to enjoy and appreciate nature and the moment you’re in every day.
It was a smooth 15-mile hike today. We climbed Quimby Mountain and had a partial view of Mount Killington. It is crazy that I skied this mountain years ago when it was covered in fresh powder and soon I will be hiking up it without a trace of snow in sight.
Thundering Falls could be heard from far away, so we took a quick detour to enjoy the powerful falls.
The trail took us around Kent Pond, and it was beautiful. It reminded me of the northern section of the 100-Mile Wilderness as we walked around lakes and ponds.
Eventually we came to Gifford Woods State Park. I never dreamed the AT would take me through an RV park! But there we were.
Once we reached Shelburne Pass we took a half-mile trail to the Inn at the Long Trail. I think we saw more rocks combined on this half mile than we had all day.
Finally, we saw the inn!
I knew the inn only had one hiker dog room, and despite trying to not worry about it being available, there was a little worry in my chest.
Inside I asked about rooms. We were in luck.The hiker dog room is only available on weekdays; on weekends it is reserved for the band. So after reserving the room for two nights, we walked into our fireplace suite. And Arry promptly jumped on the couch for a nap.
I’m excited for Guinness and some delicious food tonight. And for a whole day of relaxation and recovery tomorrow.
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