Breaking Ground: The Long Trail North of Maine Junction
After turning left at Maine Junction, against my leftover AT instincts, the trail immediately took on a new persona. A rougher, obviously less traveled dirt path sometimes hidden under the hobble bush forged north toward Canada. The shelters transformed from simple lean-tos to four-sided cabins, complete with windows and doors. The crowds were gone; often it was just me and Patch at any given shelter.
Routine started to take over. Wake up at 6, out of camp by 7:30. I’d stop to eat when I got hungry. Any patch of dirt would do. I didn’t need a view or a shelter to stuff my face. I’d walk until 5ish and then I’d stop for the night.
After leaving Killington, my knee was magically pain free. I would still stretch every night just to make sure it stayed that way. Man, am I glad it got better, though. I had fully prepared my brain to suffer through the rest of the trail if that’s what it took. I am so glad that is not what it took.
Familiar Landscapes in a New Perspective
While I have not hiked the Long Trail north of Maine Junction, I have been to many of the places it crosses. Waitsfield, Warren, Lincoln Gap, App Gap, Mount Ellen, Camel’s Hump, Johnson, and Mad River Glen are all familiar to me. This is a hazard of living in New England. Although it turned out to be really cool. Most of these places I’ve been to in the winter, and getting to see them in a different season was intriguing.
Some of my friends also still live in these areas. So when I came into Waitsfield I was welcomed back to “The Pit” with open arms. They let me sleep, shower, and do laundry in their home. This was also the case when I got to Johnson and saw my friend Zoe. It has been almost a year since I’ve seen some of these people, and getting to reconnect with them was an incredibly wholesome experience. In addition, I bagged the summits of Abe and Mansfield, the only two 4k peaks in Vermont I hadn’t been to yet.
The farther north I get, the fewer people I see. Somewhere along the way, Patch got ahead of me. So now I’m hiking alone most of the day and camping with strangers. It doesn’t concern me, though; I expected there to be less of a party culture on the LT as opposed to the AT. I’m using the solitude to reflect on my summer and think about what comes next (which, by the way, is going to be HUGE. Check out @the.spitfire on IG for details at the beginning of November).
I’m not quite to the border yet, but I’m getting really close. I’m actually having to force myself to slow down so I don’t beat my ride there. It will be nice to get to relax in these last few days, and then it’s on to the Cohos Trail for Take 2!
If you want to follow my adventures you can find me on Instagram @the.spitfire or shoot me an email at erica[email protected]!
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