What Goes Down, Must Come Up

After a restless first night with something sniffing at/trotting around my tent, I was up and at ’em by 6:30 AM. The first couple days of a backpacking trip are tough for me to fuel properly. I can only guess it’s the massive influx of strenuous exercise and my body’s general response of “what the hell are you doing to me?” Anyway, no matter how hard I tried to force myself to eat, the most I could stomach the day prior were a few bars and a dehydrated meal.

Day 2: Congdon Shelter to Goddard Shelter (14.4 mi)

The day started with a good climb out of camp up Harmon Hill, a small grassy knob overlooking the town of Bennington. Despite downing 8L of water yesterday (two with electrolyte mix), I felt hazy and dehydrated while nibbling at a protein bar for breakfast. Immediately after came the knee-buckling descent down to Rt 9. Scrambling over loose rock and boulder fields, the grade of close to 1000 ft/mi presented a unique challenge. I’ve done this section of trail twice now. Both times, I’ve landed on my ass.

Right after crossing Rt 9 and the footbridge that followed, the trail started climbing again with the same intensity. The uphill seemed to never end. “It gets easier after Split Rock!” a day hiker I passed called. It did not get easier after Split Rock. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of planning a long day today to set myself up for an easier day over Stratton tomorrow. Because of an unprecedented heat wave, I was really struggling. Not to mention, many marked water sources were barely a trickle as a result of a super dry spring season. The trail has a way of putting you in your place like that.

Soon realizing I was not going to make it to Kid Gore, I settled for a tough push up to Glastenbury Mtn. I could camp up there and enjoy sunrise/sunset from the fire tower. Then I read the comments on FarOut – fire tower is closed as it was deemed structurally unsafe. Well, that’s a bummer.

May be an image of fire tower

They say all’s well that ends well.

Feeling down for not reaching my mileage goal, I opted to stay at the next available shelter. Conveniently, there was a bear box and it was only a 5 min walk from the summit of Glastenbury. I could save it for the morning. By 4:30, I was totally wiped out and once my hiking shoes came off at Goddard for the evening, I was done. I met and chatted with a few more early season AT thru and section hikers. Even though I felt like a rookie, it was nice to feel validated pushing bigger miles on a first thru-hike. I’ve always been tough on myself – this was one of the things I was hoping the trail would help me with.

Chilly temps and the wind whistling through the dewey pines at 3500′, I had a much easier time falling asleep. I forgave myself and chose to trust the process. Things would work out the way they were supposed to.

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Comments 3

  • Smitty : Jun 4th

    Wow the trail is throwing some weather extremes at you, good hiking. I’ll try to think of something interesting to comment next time

  • GearNerd : Jun 6th

    Hey there! We’re a day or so behind you and planning a slower pace so we likely won’t catch up–but it’s great to see your photos and stories! ESPECIALLY that descent (expletive deleted) down to Rt 9. I’ve got two big dogs with packs, leashed securely so it took us almost an hour to inch down that “staircase”. Hope the rest of the trail treats you well, and we’ll look forward to your previews!

  • Leigh : Jun 9th

    Dude! The heat… you’ve suffered through some bama heat and humidity with me! You’re killin it! Love the photos and your hike makes me so happy! The good struggle, eh?


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