I Open at the Close: Long Trail Day 0


On Friday, September 28, I load Dobby in my car after work and drive through the night to reach my brother’s apartment in New York at 7 a.m. on September 29th. After a three-hour nap, some last-minute packing, and lunch, we drive to the Long Trail’s Southern Terminus at the Vermont/Massachusetts border, where we leave my car.

My brother then drives me another five hours to the Northern Terminus at the Canadian border. He’s a saint.

Since you cannot drive to the actual Northern Terminus, he drops me off at the Journey’s End trailhead around 9 p.m.

The trail is aptly named, as this is where the majority of hikers finish their trek. For me, though, this is the very scary beginning.

I sign in to my first-ever trail register!

Even though it’s pretty late, (9 p.m. is called hiker midnight because you’re usually asleep way before then) I figure no one would sleep in the last shelter on the trail, they would finish their hike and walk into town. As a result I wasn’t worried about bothering anyone with my late arrival.

I was wrong.

Dobby and I walk 0.8 miles to the Journey’s End Shelter in the dark and when I open the door the light from my headlamp falls right into the face of a man who had probably been asleep for over an hour.

Sorry, Mike.

Mike is a NOBO (northbound) hiker who had just completed his thru hike that very day. He speaks with me good-naturedly while I set up my sleeping pad and bag on the platform opposite his.

Though I set up quickly, I feel bad for every creak and rustle, every sound that might be disturbing Mike. Dobby takes a long time to get comfortable. I feel guilty over every sound we make.

We sleep fitfully, unused to the sound of another person sleeping nearby and the wind in the trees. It is warm enough for me to sleep in my hiking clothes: Nike shorts and a Smartwool base layer short-sleeve shirt.


I wake up with the sun, too excited to cook breakfast, and set out with a protein bar in hand.

I forget my trekking poles at the privy, where I use too much toilet paper.

After retrieving my poles I fill my water bottles at the nearby stream using my Sawyer mini filter and Platypus bladder.

A quarter mile later I have to stop and de-layer; hiking is hot work!

Another quarter mile after that I reach the Northern Terminus sign, located at the Canada border, which indicates the beginning (or end) of the Long Trail, and snap an obligatory picture.

This is really happening. Dobby and I are doing this. We’ve entered the wilderness.

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