Monday, July 1, 2013

Finishing the Long Trail (part 1)

Back in 2007 John, Kip, and I spent a few days on the northern parts of the Long Trail in Vermont.  Together we completed a couple more little sections in 2009, then last year John and I did a short run at the very southern end while helping Mom finish her LT side trail quest.

The net result was that we had completed probably the hardest parts of the Long Trail, but there was still a lot of ground left to be covered.  We decided it would be great if we could finish section-hiking the LT this summer.  With more time on my hands now, and Mom interested in coming to help with car shuttles, we set up a week of running/hiking, visiting with Mom and Renee, and exploring the southern half of Vermont.

Day 1/June 12: Near Seth Warner/Broad Brook Trail to Route 9, 12.7 miles

John and I started with a short day by ourselves.  It rained that morning but mostly cleared up by the time I dropped John off at the route 9 trailhead right after lunch.

Warm-up stretches as only John can do them:

I drove the truck up a small road to a small parking spot next to the trail.  I was happy that all worked out so we didn't have to retrace our steps up from North Adams.

Tug waiting for John to show up later:

Back on the Long Trail again!  Ah yes, I remember these rocks.

It was great to be greeted by one of Dad's signs right off the bat - hi Dad!

I did a short out-and-back south to the road that takes off toward Broad Book Trail (our loop from 2012):

Starting north for real now... crossing a powerline cut with a view of the low clouds that were lingering:

An interesting (and muddy) marsh.  John later met a family of geese and goslings in that area, so he had the better story for the day.

Although it had stopped raining, the trail was still completely wet and muddy.  It made for slow going.  Occasionally I found a short section where I could actually run, that was fun!  It never lasted.

John demonstrating what he might look like if the trail were more runnable:

After a quick "hello!" to John going in the opposite direction, I found a neat little pond with the trail on boardwalks below the height of the water.  The beavers have been really busy here.

Further along, a roaring creek.  Lovely!  And yay for not having to cross it!

A pretty flower - lots of things growing with all the rain lately.

Top of the hill before descending a bunch of rocks to route 9.  Only 557 miles to Katahdin (quite a few more to Springer Mountain)!  And no, we're not doing that (or that).

We got a camping spot with a lean-to at Woodford State Park.  That was really helpful for keeping out of the rain while cooking.  Hanging the clothes to dry was more of a pointless effort.

Day 2/June 13: Route 9 to Kelly Stand Road, 22.6 miles

Today we would see Mom and Renee, excellent!  Less exciting was the high likelihood of rain.  We left the truck at Route 9 and Mom drove to meet us at Kelly Stand at the end of the day.  At least it wasn't raining at the start.

John "stretching":

Long climb up to Glastenbury Mountain:

Helpful bridge:

The trail goes right through here, reminding me of Catskill geology:

John was taking his time getting ready, so I went on ahead for a while, trying to see how far I could get before it started raining.

Powerline view down to Bennington:

Entering the Glastenbury Wilderness:

That's it for photos of day 2.  We kept moving, climbing, passed a couple guys, and eventually there was a patter of raindrops in the trees above.  We saw moose tracks but no moose.  I didn't mind the rain at first, it was light enough to be pleasant even.  Gradually the intensity ramped up and then it was just wet.

Goddard Shelter was right at the intersection with a side trail, and the rain sounded much worse from under the roof, so it was better to just keep moving.  The fire tower, so high up into the sky, was sort of inviting except that it was in the middle of a rain cloud so we didn't climb up.

The second half of the trek deteriorated into a drenched, muddy, sloppy mess.  It just rained and rained and didn't stop.  We kept moving the best we could.  Wet, wet, wet.  There were 2 shelters on the way that were the only landmarks to work from and eventually we passed them both.  Two overnight hikers were attempting to get comfortable in the 2nd one and I did not envy them in the least.

Finally a small road crossing and then 2 more ridiculously slow miles before reaching Kelly Stand Road where Mom and Renee were waiting in a warm, dry car!  Thank you Mom!

Day 3/June 14: Kelly Stand Road to Route 11/30, 17.5 miles

Mom drove us from Woodford SP back to Kelly Stand to start the morning from there.  Much better weather, excellent news.

Good morning!

The trail was in better shape than we had anticipated.  It's amazing how it can go from streams running down the middle to mostly passable in less than 24 hours.  We did still have to work our way around and over many mud puddles.  John showed more finesse at this than I did.

At the top of Stratton Mountain.  No rain but still socked in by clouds.

Another fire tower that was missing a view (but hey, it's not raining):

It was a nice run down the other side of Stratton:

More signs from Dad - good morning Dad!

Sometimes I ask John to "do a pose or something" just to see what happens.  Sometimes the results are my favorite pictures!

The Lye Brook Wilderness section was a bit up-and-down and slow but then suddenly we were done with it.

Dancing in the sun on Prospect Rock:

Sunning himself on Prospect Rock:

Overlooking Manchester, happy for some nice weather:

We continued the last several miles on a downhill angled traverse over to the highway.

John demonstrating his rock-hopping ability for the camera:

It was a much nicer day for Mom to hang out and wait for us.  We were happy to get a motel room for a couple nights.  Camping was fun, but actually being able to dry out our clothes and shoes was better.  Thai food in Manchester was even better!

Day 4/June 15: Route 11/30 to USFS 10, 17.3 miles

It was a little chilly starting out, like normal, but we almost always started with an uphill that would warm us right up.  Renee looks like she wants to join us today:

An overview on the way up the hill toward Bromley Mountain:

A ski run to follow the last section up the mountain - that would be great except the ski run doesn't drain nearly as well as the trail for some reason.  Ah well, it wouldn't be the first (or last) time our feet would be wet.  At least the sun is shining!

Futuristic ski lift building at the top of Bromley:

View to the north where we were aiming to link up with our "previous selves":

John could nap here, of course...

Yoga on the mountain:

It was another fun downhill to Mad Tom Notch.  John was moving well and I was trying to keep up.  We climbed Styles and Peru Peaks and then descended to Peru Peak shelter.  Here we met a couple AT through-hikers and had fun talking with them about their experiences.  Good luck Inchworm and Samson!

John doing some trail clean-up work:

If I ran caption contests, I would use this photo:

Griffith Lake, very pretty this morning.  I believe John is in agreement.

My right shin was starting to ache, perhaps from all the abnormal rock-hopping and puddle jumping that I wasn't used to.  We made it up the fun little scramble to the top of Baker Peak and took a short break:

Originally we were planning to finish the day at route 140, but I was not moving very quickly on the way down from Baker.  It was more frustrating because the trail turned nice and runnable and sloped gently downhill.  But my shin started hurting more, and we didn't have an Ace bandage for wrapping it.  John ran on ahead and found Mom waiting at the next road (USFS 10).  She had been hiking in that area and was hoping to catch us in the middle of our hike.

That was really lucky, because now John didn't have to run the next section to find her.  We all decided to stop at that point and head back to the motel.  We picked up an Ace bandage and some other supplies at the store, then spent the sunny afternoon recovering and relaxing and wondering what my shin was up to.  A shorter-than-planned day was not a bad thing, after all.

To be continued...

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