Well That Was Fast – 40 Miles on the Long Trail

I set out last Sunday, excited and scared to start my first thru-hike. The approach trail seemed to stretch on forever, but every passing person shared my excitement for getting to Vermont.

By the end of the first day, I’d covered 14 miles and a rollercoaster of emotions. I took a wrong turn and ended up walking through a dozen unnecessary mud puddles. As my pack and five days of food weighed down on me, it started to set in that this terrain was going to be tough to cover with gear as heavy as mine.

Now This is a Section Hike

So I started seeing my trek as a section hike. I could make it to my first resupply, and hop off trail. I was embarrassed to already be giving up, but the more thru-hikers I met, the less it mattered to me how many miles I was going. I was amazed at how much I got to experience the community aspect of the trail despite only being out there a few days.

It’s that community spirit that makes me certain I’ll go back to chip off some more of the trail. Piece-by-piece, with a lighter backpack and better shoes.

The Importance of Good Shoes

After only a couple of days, I could feel my shoes clearly weren’t working for me. By day three, my ankles were stiff and my arches were aching and I was hobbling with a lot of help from my trekking poles.

On the morning of day four, we left camp and hobbled for a mile before I checked Guthook. With a big climb only a couple of miles ahead and another night in the 40s in the forecast. I decided to call my family. It wasn’t worth risking hurting myself and feeling Chloe shiver through another night to make it those last 15 miles.

As we wound through the back roads of Vermont, I didn’t feel defeated. I’m so proud of my accomplishments and the friends I made. The car ride home gave me plenty of time to figure out what I can do better the next time I hit the trail. My new sock liners are already in my day pack, ready to be tested on my next hike.

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Comments 2

  • Ruth Anne : Jun 28th

    Way to go! Good for you! Glad you’ll be back. My two past attempts at the Long Trail had me coming off trail after a few days. Last time was because of the never-ending mud–I swear, I was hiking through ankle deep muddy water for a couple days. Since my two “failed” attempts, I have a ton more mileage under my belt and a lighter pack weight. Can’t wait to make the time to try a thru hike again, or at least add to the sections I have done. It’s a fun process, right?

  • Turtle Man : Jul 3rd

    I resonated with this. I set out in 2019 to do the Long Trail. Preparation was kind of rushed, trying to fill in gear gaps, prepare food, etc. while still working, extra, in fact, to be able to clear my schedule for a month i had allotted for the hike.

    My planned late-August start date slipped to almost mid-September by the time i finally had all my sh*t together. But with no chance to have done a shake-down hike, my pack weight was more than i had hoped for, tipping over 40 pounds with water and full food.

    Starting NOBO just over the border in Massachusetts, i was out for about a week and was realizing that i could do this, but i would be going slower than i had hoped, and the whole trip would take longer than i had budgeted the time for, so i decided to come out in Bennington and call off this attempt.

    I’ve make some gear changes and reductions, and will get out for some overnight trips this month to see how the new system works. If all goes well (and i can clear my work schedule), i’ll give it another go later this summer.

    The trails will be there, whenever we are able to get out to hike them!


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