Hey hey, it’s town day! After the learning curve associated with trail life, I was looking forward to starting the next section of the trail, hopefully bringing a bit more knowledge to the table each time I resupplied and set back out.

Day 4: Stratton Pond Shelter to VT 11/30 (10.5 mi)

Following my long day yesterday, I begrudgingly deflated my pillow at 6:45 AM. A cool 11 miles separated me from a shower, laundry, and some real dang food – easy peasy, right? Well…

I packed up and grabbed my very sparse food bag from the bear box, hitting the trail around 7:30 – only 1800′ of elevation gain total for the day felt super approachable compared to the last three days of more than double that each. The first couple miles were uneventful, even a short road walk mixed in. Until I began running into some ‘early season issues.’ This is a term I’m lovingly using for downed bridges, overgrowth, blowdowns, redirections, and faded blazes. Even on the flatter terrain, the trail beat up my feet with small and sharp rocks to rival Pennsylvania. I just couldn’t get into a good rhythm and it was incredibly frustrating.

Nearing the end of my day, the trail began to meander through a more open forest. Sun trickled through the lack of dense vegetation, a different interpretation of a green tunnel. All that was left were two steep climbs and descents, then a climb up to the road. Sweating bullets on the inclines from the continued threat of early summer, I made it to the only flowing water source of the day. The stream, more of a rock hop, crossed over the trail about 1.2 mi from the road. While in the home stretch, I was once again abased by sliding on moss (bum first) into the frigid water. Some choice words followed, but I picked myself up and carried on telling myself it was intentional – a backcountry slip and slide, if you will. Just like that, I tumbled out of the woods and onto the side of busy 11/30.

The Remix

Get a ride. Resupply. Find lodging. Shower. Laundry. Repack. A new routine all on its own. Sometimes the walking lets you turn your brain off, but the re-entry to civilization threw me for a loop. My head spun with thoughts, trying to remember what I needed, what I’d done, and what I still had to do. Town day is less relaxation and more getting your ducks in a row, a tall order for someone who truly doesn’t have their shit together in the first place.

This all got me thinking how much of a thru-hike isn’t just about the hiking. It’s time and task management, goal-setting, decision-making, problem-solving, being able to think on one’s feet. So as borderline overwhelming all the compounding chores were, I like to think “works well under pressure” is a great thing to add to the toolbox.

We grow, we adapt, we carry on.

And a cold Long Trail Ale certainly helps.


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