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Thread: Long Trail thru-hike

  1. #1
    Senior Member arm's Avatar
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    Long Trail thru-hike

    Vermont's Long Trail - A Footpath in the Wilderness

    haven't posted many trip reports lately ... thought this one might help friends considering a Long Trail thru-hike, or help insomniacs catch up on their beauty sleep (zzz)

    posted some pics on picasa, since webshots is shutting down:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/winterh...ilVermont2012#

    looking for something fun to do in the fall for 2 or 3 weeks, hiking the Long Trail section from Mass to Canada seemed to fit well

    with a few popular LT re-supply options closing up north, i cruised up a week before and stashed a couple bear canisters at road crossings

    trimmed pack weight, making a stove out of Long Trail Ale cans, bringing lightweight clothes and sleeping gear (pack light, freeze at night), water drops instead of a filter, etc

    targeted starting just after labor day, but Mass MoCA set up a fun FreshGrass Festival, sept 21-23, so a bunch of us camped out and caught great bluegrass bands in North Adams

    sep 23 - after a hearty breakfast, Donna Jen MtnMa MtnPa dropped me at Mass Ave trailhead in North Adams ... happy as a pig in poop knowing i'd be on the trail for a couple weeks

    tented near Congdon Shelter ... most shelters had their fair share of mice and glory holes ...

    sep 24 - another easy hike to Goddard ... saw a few nice illegal tent sites along the trail but shelters had reliable water sources and plenty of room with grim forecasts on the way

    sep 25 - Glastenbury's summit tower yielded the first great views in Vermont, despite "scenic view" stars on the map that sometimes reminded me of passayawnaway

    misty cold air set in as i hiked over Stratton after the sun set ... sneakers i had broken my feet into over the summer were now breaking my feet, which were pounding by the time i reached Stratton Pond Shelter

    sep 26 - woke with blisters giving birth to more blisters ... thought my thru-hike was done ... rested a while then bandaged my frankentoes, telling my aching trenchfeet to quit their bitchin' and get their arses back in to them cold wet sneakers, then trekked on after lunch

    pushed on through misty wet fog and reached Bromley Summit Hut after dark ... Happy i did, had the Hut to myself, then heavy rain and high winds raged outside, while i was warm and toasty inside, drying clothes ... would not have made it here if i hadn't pushed on to Stratton Pond the night before ...

    sep 27 - Incredible undercast sunrise from Bromley Summit Hut, warm dark orange sunshine pouring into windows ... ate breakfast on a bench basking in the morninglow ... considered a Nero Day, but pushed on til the day ... last time i'd see the sun for the next nine days ... maybe the Mountain Gods revenge for a prank i pulled on Michelle when she thru-hiked the LT, delivering news of spirit-crushing rain after she endured a week of rain ?

    Mad Tom Notch Road pump w*rked, but water was murky ... irony water was kind of ironic

    sep 28 - pushed on to Little Rock Pond Shelter ... rained hard all day ... good thing i like rain, because i was gettin' some ... Robert Plant once said, "it's just a little rain" ...

    SueBiscuit met me on the trail, bringing steak tips and beer for dinner at Clarendon Shelter, where we tented because the shelter roof leaks like a sieve ... i felt a bit more chatty than usual as we hiked and figured that was due to hiking solo for the previous five days, letting piles of words build up in my brain that were eager to escape ...

    sep 29 - hiked along the temporary trail relocation between Cold River Roads, because this 1.5 mile section is still closed due to Hurricane Irene ...

    met Jen on the south side of Killington, then hiked up to Cooper Lodge for lunch ... hiked up over the summit to see if we could score a raspberry pumpernickel avocado crappuccino at the Oxygen Bar we read about, but it was closed ? wet slog out to route 4 on tired feet ...

    grabbed dinner at a nearby pizza place, then camped at Gifford Woods, where we met BoB and Ellen the next day ... took a zero day to rest my achy breaky feet, shower, laundry, go for the Best Breakfast In The World at the Swiss Farm Inn in Pittsfield, and tasty Guinness and Beef Stew with live Irish music at the Long Trail Inn ...

    oct 01 - Jen offered to slackpack me, dropping me off at route 4 while she went to w*rk, then meeting me that evening at Brandon Gap ... it was tough climbing out of her car at 7am with howling 40+MPH winds, sub-40F temps and horizontal rain, but the slackpack went well, chewing up 20 miles of viewless forestwalk ...

    rarely needed a shower since it rained most days, showering me while i trekked on ... at least i was saving a ton of money on sunblock ... theme songs of the day were "i don't like mondays", and "walking in the rain"

    pretty sure i'm part polar bear, but raw cold wet air has a way of setting up camp in the marrow of your bones, dampening your spirit, and grim weather delivered a couple weeks of hypothermic conditions that wouldn't allow me to really feel warm until the trip was over ... Jen offered crash space that night, which made a huge difference heading north the next day ...

    doubt i would have reached Canada if i hadn't swapped from sneakers to boots at route 4 ...

    oct 02 - hiked on a cloudy day to Boyce Shelter, which i had to myself ... most people on the trail were SoBo AT section hikers south of route 4 ... most shelters north of route 4 were empty ...

    trail conditions between Brandon Gap and Whiteface were treacherous ... an obstacle course of greasy boardwalks, slickery schist, rocks roots reggae ...

    oct 03 - rainy Misty Mountain Hop from Boyce Shelter to Battell Shelter, which i reached after dark ... Woody showed up a while later, to backpack up to App Gap ...

    oct 04 - Woody and i hiked over Abraham and Ellen ... it was great to hike with friends after hiking solo most of the way ... cloudy ridge felt a lot like Kilkenny and Bigelow Ridges, with green mossy fern groves

    Chinook and Jen met us at App Gap, where Chinook was planning to backpack up to Birch Glen ... i was hypothermic, so we ended up grabbing yummy BBQ and Lawson's Triple IPA at Localfolk Smokehouse in Waitsfield, then we crashed at Jen's place ...

    oct 05 - the SUN came out for the first time in nine days you couldn't pry the smile off my face with a crowbar !

    grabbed breakfast at Old Hancock Hotel with Chinook and Woody, then Woody headed up to Duxbury Road to hike the LT south, hoping to meet me on Camels Hump ...

    Chinook dropped me off at App Gap, where Green Mountain Club was interviewing hikers ... i slackpacked over Camels Hump, meeting Woody at Duxbury Road lot, then we camped at Elmore State Park with Chinook, my Dad, Donna, Jen, MtnMa and MtnPa ... i had originally planned on camping on the LT the entire trip but was very grateful to have friends and family take good care of me off the trail

    oct 06 - spotted a car on Bolton Notch Road, then roadwalked from Duxbury Road lot with Jen and Woody, meeting my Dad, Donna and MtnPa on the trail north of Jonesville ... it was great to hike with hiking friends along the trail, but really cool to hike a couple sections with my Dad who was up visiting from florida ... we had a birthday party for him back at the campground that night ...

    oct 07 - met Frodo in Waterbury, then we got dropped off on Bolton Notch Road, where we slackpacked over Mansfield to Smugglers Notch, meeting Jen and MtnPa on the Forehead ... saw our first snow! while we were hiking down from Mansfield, which unfortunately turned to hypothermic rain ... warmed up around the campfire back at Elmore, where MtnMa had hot dinner waiting for us ...
    "In that cool mountain air, on an Appalachian Trail; Life is better there" - Yonder Mountain String Band
    .

  2. #2
    Senior Member arm's Avatar
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    oct 08 - packed up camp at Elmore, then MtnMa and MtnPa dropped me off at Smugglers Notch ... nice views of Mansfield frosted with snow on the pines hiking up from Smugglers Notch ... built a small snowman on Madonna Peak, then headed to Whiteface Shelter, which i had to myself

    oct 09 - hiked over slickery Whiteface, then tough trail conditions gave way to a gentler path through deep fallen leaves weaving its way through golden valleys ... picked up my final stash north of Johnson then decided to push on to Corliss Camp ... felt like a long day but i was happy to go the extra miles and camp in a cabin, especially when i woke the next morning to heavy rain on what was forecast to be a decent day

    oct 10 - rain was supposed to hold off, but it reached biblical proportions early and often ... perfect conditions for hypothermia and tricky trail conditions made for an uncomfortable slog to Tillotson Camp, which i reached after dark ... coldest night on the trail so far, a rough night's "rest" ... another perfect day in paradise ?

    oct 11 - woke to find a few fresh inches of snow outside ... another chilly morning in Brrrmont, but the sun was trying to break through clouds on the horizon ... opened Tillotson's fold-down window to let the sun shine in, cooked breakfast then packed up

    after breakfast on cold mornings, i'd muster up a pile of will power and get a good running start to trick myself into thinking that climbing out of my warm dry clothes and into my frozen wet shirt, socks, boots was a good idea ... once i put my big boy pants on and quit my bitchin', it wasn't so bad after the first mile warming up on the trail ...

    spooked a sleeping moose north of Tillotson Camp, the highlight of what would be a long day ... plenty of elevation and mileage to reach Shooting Star Shelter, which would make for an easy final approach to the Canadian border the following day ...

    Donna was planning to drive my Dad and whoever else could make it up the following day, to meet me at the route 105 crossing, to hike the final few miles to Journey's End, so i hoped to get there the following morning ...

    Haystack was snowy and slickery ... didn't seem likely i'd get 19 miles in if the rest of the trail would be treacherous, but it cleared up north of Hazen's Notch ... Jay Peak still looked far away, and Shooting Star is an extra six miles north from there ...

    reached Jay Peak at sunset and pushed on ... the trail followed ski trails for a while, darting in and out of the woods, sometimes grown in, leading to a bit of route-finding after dark, but i made it to Shooting Star before midnight ... woke two young SoBo section hikers and their dogs ...

    oct 12 - packed camp and hiked north to route 105 ... MtnMa arrived a few minutes later, with my Dad and Donna ... dropped my pack in the car, changed in to warm dry clothes and shoes, then hiked over Carleton Mountain, downhill to the Canadian border, where we enjoyed yummy homemade sandwiches, Long Trail Ale and Heady Topper

    we were "through" hiking the Long Trail, so we turned east on to Journey's End Trail, following blue blazes down to the Camp, stopped for a quick tug-o-war, then walked down to the trailhead while soft hail and snow fell from the sky ... i had hoped it would snow at least once during the thru-hike, and it seemed as though the Mountain Gods were granting my wish, some sign of approval on reaching my journey's end

    returning to the unreal world after an extended fun trip lends a peace of mind that helps you realize what's really important in life, and refreshes your spirit ... the world would be a better place if everybody could escape the daily grind and explore the world more often ...

    Life is a journey ... may the journey never end Viva Vermont !
    "In that cool mountain air, on an Appalachian Trail; Life is better there" - Yonder Mountain String Band
    .

  3. #3
    Senior Member TDawg's Avatar
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    Quite the journey, eh? Thanks for taking me back with the report and pics, congrats on the finish.

    I hiked it SoBo in '10 during the same time of year. I also dealt with pretty brutal blisters on my toes after the 2nd day so I can relate to that pain-in-the-ass. (foot? ) I was able to keep them clean, dressing them every day and they eventually healed without further issue.

    Seems like you had similar weather that my buddy and I did, makes you really appreciate the sunny days.

    Viva la 'Footbath!'
    Last edited by TDawg; 11-04-2012 at 11:40 AM. Reason: spelling

  4. #4
    Senior Member Michelle's Avatar
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    Awesome Arm!! Congrats!!

    Sorry to hear about the trenchfoot..........but maybe it wouldn't have been a full LT experience without it?!
    ~Chickety

  5. #5
    Moderator Peakbagr's Avatar
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    Arm,

    Wow, when you return with a trip report, you don't fool around. Terrific and great photos. Excellent time of the year to hike. I was section hiking the LT in the 80's and we got about 2/3's of the way. Your TR has re-piqued my interest. Thanks for posting.

    Alan
    "The fact that going off the deep end appears
    to be a requisite to doing anything of consequence
    in this life has not escaped me." Jim Harrison

  6. #6
    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    Most people would have baled but not Arm. Looks like you had a great gang providing moral support and more. Great pics and captions.

  7. #7
    Senior Member natron's Avatar
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    nice! very interesting to see the diversity of the shelters and campsites in your pix, the long trail ale stove is very fitting and awesome!

  8. #8
    Senior Member roadtripper's Avatar
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    Good stuff, Arm. Thanks for posting. I might have to go tell my Boss tomorrow that I'm taking 3 weeks off next September.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mirabela's Avatar
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    Wow, man. Tillotson to Shooting Star is a tough day, even after 200+ miles of toughening up. Favorite line: "Brandon Gap to Whiteface was kind of slippery." That's, like, 100 miles ... but that's the LT, no foolin'!

    Congrats on your trek & thanks for posting this cool report.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Bombadil's Avatar
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    Nice TR arm, I enjoyed the comedy. Glad I can live vicariously through your suffering though b/c 2+ weeks of hiking through cold rainy days is my nightmare that'll probably always keep this wimp from considering something like the AT (or LT). Ramble on!
    All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    -J. R. R. Tolkien

  11. #11
    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    Dang! I don't think I could have handled that rainy stretch. Kudos to your perseverance.
    You donít have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things ó to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated. - Edmund Hillary

  12. #12
    Senior Member The Unstrung Harp's Avatar
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    Awesome, awesome awesome awesome. What a badass. Love it. Go Arm!!! Would love to hike with you this winter sometime...!!
    0/1 NH48-THRU

    Trek For Peace

  13. #13
    Senior Member Red Oak's Avatar
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    Way to push through with bad feet and nasty rain...Always incredible how quickly one can become hypothermic in 40 degree weather with downpours even with the "correct" gear,glad your core heat stayed ok.Hopefully you had some good Dead bootlegs to get you through....When is the next Manch. beer night?Yo!
    Last edited by Red Oak; 11-02-2012 at 07:42 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member una_dogger's Avatar
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    Nice Arm! Bet ya didnt see to many other thru hikers :-)

    Just remembering when I was a backpacker - long before the lists took hold- ya got up, got walking no matter what the weather or how you felt to get to your next night's rest- mountains in between? No problem! :-). Its not the individual steps - its the journey.

    Happy you had the time to get out there!
    ADK 46'r NE115'r NEHH NH 48 x 6 NH48W NH 329/576
    Terra NH 48 x 6+ ~93/100 NEHH ~ ADK 35/46 ~Rest in Peace Sweet One~
    Pemi NH4K~ Gem 47/48

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    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    I could not believe we saw a SOBO on the AT in Maine yesterday!
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
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