The Appalachian Trail in Vermont: Home Sweet Home!

Appalachian Trail in Vermont

  • Tuesday, July 27, 2021
  • Trail Day: 128
  • Location: Congdon Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 7:30/6:00
  • Weather Conditions: Morning Sun and an Afternoon Thunderstorm

There are few things I detest more than being woken up by giggling in the woods. Especially at 5:45 by a group of women than didn’t even leave camp until over an hour and a half later. It was a frustrating morning to say the least, but no one is stopping my excitement about making it home to Vermont!

I needed a little bit of food so I walked a mile to the Stop and shop in Williamstown. I got a deli sandwich for dinner so I didn’t have to cook. Upchuck joined me and he ate an entire half of a watermelon. 

Tough climb out of town, especially at the top of the hill. The rock scramble would be nearly impossible wet.

I entered Vermont and couldn’t believe that I actually walked home. I thought when I got there I’d be overwhelmed with emotion, but I wasn’t. My day was so long and hard that I couldn’t be fully present in the moment. 

Soon after I hit the 1600 mile mark and felt the same way. I sincerely hope I’m not becoming jaded by the trail.

Then the rain came and there was more mud. Like so much mud. At one point I had to rock jump and I thought there was a rock and wasn’t. I got covered in mud up to the middle of my calf. How is it there is that much mud in the middle of the trail?

I feel 4 times in the mud throughout the day. I just kept slipping. I’d put my foot down and would slide down a hill or over a rock or a root.

I arrived at the Congdon Shelter to find Upchuck sitting on a rock sulking because there were a bunch of people there. He didn’t even go up to see if there was space inside. 

The shelter was filled with backpacks from the group. They were Girl Scouts from Camp Runels, a camp where I know the camp director. I won’t lie, it was a bit overwhelming, but there was plenty of space in the shelter and I stayed. Upchuck kept walking. 

  • Wednesday, July 28, 2021
  • Trail Day: 129
  • Location: Glastonbury Fire Tower
  • Start/End Time: 7:45/6:30
  • Weather Conditions: Partly Sunny but Chilly

All my clothes were still wet and cold when I woke up. While I’m not surprised I was definitely not thrilled to put them on either. As a result it took my a while to leave camp this morning.

Soon after I started hiking I took a wrong turn on Harmon Hill and ended up going down an old road about half a mile before realizing it. During that time I stepped in some mud that looked solid but wasn’t and nearly lost a shoe.

Once I was back on the trail I did the long rocky stairs down to Route 9. I did these same stairs (and everything so far in Vermont) when I did The Long Trail last year. It really sucks to have to do so much of it all over again, but I knew what I signed up for back in March.

When I finally reached the bottom of the stairs my friend and adventure buddy Amy was standing across the street in the parking lot! I didn’t know she was going to be there, it was such an amazing surprise!

I darted across the street, don’t worry I looked both ways, tossed my trekking poles aside and gave her a giant hug! We both had tears in our eyes. After 4 long months it was so great to see Amy. We did the Long Trail together last year and she gave me my trail name, Pikachu.

Amy had clif bars and hard seltzer. Then a family from Connecticut showed up and they had chips, candy, and a bunch of other goodies.

I said good bye to Amy and hiked up, up, up. I’m thankful it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t too hot. 

TP, Ryan, and Lost/Found?, all of whom I haven’t seen in a long time passed me. Then Green did too. They were all headed to the Glastonbury Fire Tower for the night. Soon after my knee started bothering me on the way up.

I arrived at the Fire Tower to find 8 people setting up tents. I was lucky enough to find a tent spot off in the woods.

After eating Mac and cheese with Buffalo chicken for dinner I climbed up the fire tower alone. The mountains all around where silhouetted in shades of blue. And these weren’t any mountains, they were my mountains. I could name almost all of them along with the ponds dotting the landscape. Magical is the only word to describe this moment.

Then, as the sun started to set we all squeezed up at the top to watch the sunset. Photos don’t do it justice.

  • Thursday, July 29, 2021
  • Trail Day: 130
  • Location: Home!
  • Start/End Time: 6:45/2:00
  • Weather Conditions: Partly Sunny with afternoon rain

While I’m not really a get up to watch the sunrise kind of girl, when tents and sleeping bags start to rustle around in the morning I get up. I climbed the fire tower, but the sunrise was mediocre. Since I was awake, I get my stuff organized. I was excited to see Will today and didn’t want to be late to see him.

After a few miles I took a break at the Kid Gore Shelter. I’ve always loved the view there. Once I left, the mud kicked into high gear.

I have to share that the mud is killing my soul. It makes hiking difficult and sucks all the fun out of it. Usually I love stopping at beaver ponds, but since there is no much mud in those areas I didn’t even want to take a break to look for beavers. 

At Story Spring Shelter I took a short break. However, it was cold so I didn’t stay too long.

At one point I stepped on what I thought was a rock, but was just sandy mud and my left foot got sucked under. Luckily, I didn’t lose my shoe in the mud.

Around 2pm I arrived at Kelly Stand Road. Somehow Upchuck beat me there. He must have passed me when I was at Kid Gore. It has started to sprinkle, so we were sitting there in our rain jackets waiting.

Will came at 2:20ish and drove us to the house, then he had to take care of the “Secret Mission”.

Chuck and I were starving so we went to a new general store that has food and I got a delicious pulled pork sandwich. Afterwards we showered and did laundry at my place.

A couple hours later we went to Manchester and picked up Syrup and Maple. On the way there we saw Pegasus smoking a cigarette outside the Econo-Lodge. We stopped on the way back and called him to come outside. We convinced him to come back with us and go out to dinner.

When we arrived back at the house Will was sitting in the porch with Joey! I hadn’t seen him in over a year when he moved to Florida. It was an amazing surprise!

After we got organized and Syrup took a shower we all squeezed into Will’s truck and headed to the Union Underground to meet Amy. It was an amazing meal.

Oh the ran! So much flooding! Left the restaurant and ran to get into the truck. Pegasus took off his shirt and ran down the street so he wouldn’t get his clothes wet. The roads were flooded in places. The water flowed down the streets like a river.

It was weird and amazing sleeping in my own bed, but it was great being home.

  • Friday, July 29-Sunday, August 1, 2021
  • Trail Day: 131-133
  • Location: Home!
  • Start/End Time:
  • Weather Conditions: Who cares I’m not hiking

I spent 3 full days at home! And since this isn’t about hiking I’m just going to make a list of the fun things I did so I can focus on being here and not on writing this journal.

1. Slept in my own bed!

2. Enjoyed my town like a hiker and not a local.

3. Had my house overrun by Hiker Trash and nearly gave my boyfriend a heart attack because of it.

4. Spent an hour sitting in a hot tub with hiker friends where we all wore loner clothing that didn’t fit.

5. Had a BBQ and caught up with some of my favorite people from home.

6. Dropped everyone back off at the trail.

7. Cleaned up after the BBQ

8. Took a really long hot bath

9. Enjoy wood fired pizza night at a local B&B then got ice cream

10. Played lawn games at a friend’s house

11. Surprised my Nanny Family with a visit

12. A couple of friends came over to visit

13. Had cheeseburgers for lunch with Will

  • Monday, August 2, 2021
  • Trail Day: 134
  • Location: Spruce Peak Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 8:45/6:30
  • Weather Conditions: Chilly with a little rain

Will and I had planned to get up early so he could hike with me for a few hours before heading to work. However, we slept in so that didn’t happen.

I feel like I didn’t rest at all this weekend, like I wanted to. I was running around so much seeing friends and helping hikers. I had an amazing weekend though. I really didn’t want to leave.

We got to the trailhead around 8:45. Will hiked a little under a mile with me before he had to go to work. As always, it was bittersweet parting ways with him.

I climbed Stratton and didn’t see anything because of fog. It was definitely a bummer, but I can’t always get amazing views. While I was taking my break I talked to the caretaker who is been there every summer for 53 years.

Then it got cold. I had to put on my raincoat, warm hat, and gloves. So glad I have all my winter gear back again!

Just before the Stratton Pond Shelter I found a great rock for a break. Sadly, I spilled some of my pretzels on the ground. It was a big bummer, I love those Snyder flavored pretzel bits.

I saw a loon at Stratton Pond so I sat down to watch it swim a d wait for it to call. It just kept floating around. After I walked away I heard it call several times.

The view from Prospect Rock was nice today. It’s still so strange to know that I’ve hiked all the way to trails I know so we’ll.

Got a spot at Spruce Peak Shelter. It has a wood stove inside and Kiki and Puff where there. Kiki already made a fire inside. It was nice and cozy!

Vista showed up and I gave her Polly. It was absolutely hilarious. She didn’t see it coming at all.

When I get tired I always have a hard time hanging my bear bag. Tonight I tried more than a dozen times and I just couldn’t to it. I had a complete meltdown. Like a full on temper tantrum. It wasn’t pretty.

I really shouldn’t have gone home. I don’t particularly want to hike anymore, but there is no way in hell I’m quitting. I’ve come too far and am too stubborn to stop before this is finished.

  • Tuesday, August 3, 2021
  • Trail Day: 135
  • Location: Lost Pond Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 8:30/6:30
  • Weather Conditions: Partly Sunny

I’m so thankful for Kiki’s fire last night. It kept the shelter toasty warm!

I didn’t want to get up and moving this morning. It was a little chilly and getting out of my sleeping bag took a lot of effort. I deflated my sleeping pad so it wasn’t as comfortable to lay there.

Hiked with Vista a bit this morning. We discussed sticking together for the Whites and are both on board. This will not only cut our costs was we’ll share hotel rooms, but we’ll you have a buddy to hike with for what is arguably the most challenging part of the trail.

There was Trail Magic of water and bananas at the 11/30 Rod crossing and I’ve never had a more delicious banana.

Hiked up Bromley. Ran into a trail family of 7 people at the summit. They said they were going to the same shelter as us. That’s so many people!

The summit was beautiful as always. Vista and I both stopped to enjoy the view and have a snack.

I forgot how many boardwalks there are in this section. It made some of the hiking easier today. At the same time there was a ton of mud. I just can’t hike at anything resembling a fast pace when there’s this much mud. It really slows me down.

Baker Peak has less and less of a view each time I’m up there. It makes me so sad as it’s such a fun hike, but the reward isn’t as good as it used to be. It was such a bummer.

Arrived at Lost Pond Shelter to find Vista and a SOBO named Mashed Potato hanging out. After a while the large trail family showed up along with about 4 others. I haven’t been in a shelter area this full in a long time.

It took a while for me to find a tree to hang my food. I forgot how difficult it is to put up a proper bear hang at some of these shelters in Vermont.

  • Wednesday, August 4, 2021
  • Trail Day: 136
  • Location: Clarendon Gorge
  • Start/End Time: 8:00/6:30
  • Weather Conditions: Partly Sunny

I got an amazing nights sleep! There were only 3 of us in the shelter and no one snored!

It was an easy hike this morning, but I wasn’t feeling great. I had to stop several times to eat, drink, and rest. For some reason I was a little dizzy and constantly hungry. After a long stop at USFS Road 10 I felt better.

A few miles up the trail I took another break at Little Rock Pond just to gaze at how beautiful it is! While I was there I met an older hiker who told me in the 1960s there used to be a shelter on the small island in the pond.

Today I reached an area of the trail where everything smelled like Christmas. I love that smell so much, and it only happens when I’m way up in the mountains.

In the afternoon I finished listening to To Sit Philip, with Love. While I’m still enjoying the Bridgerton books they’re all pretty much the same, and I’m starting to get bored with them.

Right after I passed the trail to the Greenwall Shelter I walked up on a guy playing the harmonica. He wasn’t very good at it, but I think he was playing to distract passers by from his friend that was pooping right next to the trail. If I have a nickel for every person I saw pooping on the trail this year I’d have an awful lot of nickels.

When I reached the airport lookout and all I could think of was sitting up there with Amy in the Fall sipping on tea watching the planes take off. I adore that spot.

The plan was to meet Vista at Clarendon Gorge to camp for the night. When I arrived she had a turkey sub and beer waiting for me! She had gotten there early and gone to the store and deli down the road from the trail. Best trail buddy ever!

While I ate my tasty sun I booked our room for Friday night at The Inn at Long Trail for Friday night. We’re going to do a Nero day to the Inn, resupply, and hang out at the Irish pub.

We spent the rest of the night shooting the breeze and planning the next couple of days.

  • Thursday, August 5, 2021
  • Trail Day: 137
  • Location: Churchill Scott Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 8:15/6:45
  • Weather Conditions: Partly Sunny

All night last night people walked by our tents. Why someone needs to be walking in the woods at 2 in the morning is beyond me, but it happened. As a result, neither Vista nor I got much sleep last night. 

There is a suspension bridge over Clarendon Gorge so Vista and I clearly had to jump on it like children.

Little Killington is a rock scramble and I hate it! I’ve done this hike before with both Amy and Will and found it difficult each time. 

Soon after going up Little Killington I reach the 500 miles to Katahdin marker. The fact that I only have 500 miles to go blows my mind. And that I say only 500 miles is even crazier.

On the way up Killington I ran into Kiki and Puff. I walked with them for a bit, but they’re just so fast I couldn’t keep up. However, after about 30 minutes I caught up with them at the Cooper Lodge, the shelter close to the summit.

Vista had already climbed to the summit and Puff and I climbed up after her. The sky was so blue and we saw for miles and miles! Being able to share such gorgeous views with friends makes them so much better.

Soon after we came off the summit we hit the 1700 mile mark. 

Arrived at the shelter completely exhausted. There were lots of lots people reading out loud from the shelter log book, running down the trail, climbing trees. 

  • Friday, August 6, 2021
  • Trail Day: 138
  • Location: Inn at Long Trail
  • Start/End Time: 8:00/10:15
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny

Woken up by some of the people that stayed at the shelter talking extremely loud at 6:15.

Hiked with Vista to Route 4, chatting and being excited about the day. Nearly hyper-extended my left knee and put my knee brace on as I had run out of KT Tape.

Kiki and Puff came up behind me and I hiked with them For a little bit,  it their pace is much faster than mine.

Met Vista, Kiki, and Puff at Maine Junction. They met the GMC Ridge Runner and he is from their town in South Carolina. I started hiking again as I’m the slowest and we’re all trying to make the 10:20 bus into Rutland.

Made the bus! And it was free!

We got off at Burger King. I got a Whopper meal and an additional Whipper. I also got an ice cream cone.

Went to the laundromat. We all did our laundry together as it was cheaper. We had to get a laundry card first then then buy things. It was so difficult.

Vista and Kiki went to Walmart and Puff and I stayed at the laundromat.

Went to Walgreens to get my protein powder. Found a protein powder and electrolytes packet. Also got turmeric tablets to help with inflammation.

Rainman was at the laundromat when I got back! It was nice to see him. Unfortunately, he’s doing work for stay at the Yellow Deli. It’s a cult! No seriously. If you’re hiking the AT please to go there.

When everyone got back I went to the grocery store to resupply. Afterward, we got the bus back to the Inn, but before we left a lady gave us brownies!

Checked in, took showers, and rested in the room.

Went to the pub. Got Shepard’s Pie and lots of beer. The band, Erin’s Guild was awesome! They sang plenty of Irish songs we knew. As we all drank more we kept requesting songs, and made friends with the 2 guys in the band.

Fullmoon and Pretty in Pink showed up too!

Kiki and Puff even got the leader singer’s little daughter to yell out Freebird and he actually sang some of it! It laughed so hard!

After they finished their set Vista asked if he knew Wagon Wheel and he went up to play it. We asked if I could sing it too and he said yes! I went up and we sang it together. I haven’t done anything like that in a long time!

Then we went to check out the hiker box and ended up talking to 4 guys that did a section hike. One of them had done the entire AT in the early 2000s. We chatted about the trail with them for a while. 

Off to bed we went!

  • Saturday, August 7, 2021
  • Trail Day: 139
  • Location: The Lookout
  • Start/End Time: 9:00/6:45
  • Weather Conditions: Cloudy with a small afternoon thunderstorm 

I had too much to drink last night and I’m super tired. Here’s a list of my pretty boring day:

1. Breakfast at the Inn. They have the best hot chocolate ever!

2. Because I drank too much beer last night my stomach was upset all day. So much pooping.

3. My bag is too heavy. I suck at shopping when there is a real grocery store.

4. I came across Thundering Falls with Vista. It’s a beautiful waterfall.

5. Really steep uphill. I need to reframe how I look at uphills again. They’re starting to get bigger and I need to remember that it’s OK that they take a long time.

6. Lots of PUDS (pointless ups and downs.)

7. Slept at The Lookout, but sadly no beautiful sunset.

  • Sunday, August 8, 2021
  • Trail Day: 140
  • Location: Stealth site at mile 1740
  • Start/End Time: 7:45/6:45
  • Weather Conditions: Cloudy and humid

I hate today. Nothing super exciting happened, but I did fall and sprain my ankle. This made me entire day difficult. I was in pain and had to go extra slow. 

It all happened so fast. One minute I was walking then next I was in the ground, I heard a pop, and there was a surge of pain. My pack was stuck to my body and I was pounding the ground it hurt so much. My first thought was, I broke my ankle and my hike is over.

Vista was there when it happened and we stopped to eat lunch right where I got hurt.  After the initial pain I was able to laugh about how I tripped on a stupid Little Rock. I can’t believe the rock was so small.

Afterwards, Vista hiked with me for over 7 miles to make sure I was OK, that’s an amazing hiking buddy.

Throughout the day the downhills, which are usually where I excel, where hard because I had to go so slow for the pain. 

I didn’t take my shoe off until I got to camp  so it wouldn’t swell and have a difficult time putting my shoe back on and cause my foot to be in worse shape.

Once I got to camp and my tent was up I spent the rest of the night in my tent sulking. Is my hike over? We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

  • Monday, August 9, 2021
  • Trail Day: 141
  • Location: Hanover Adventure Tours and Hostel
  • Start/End Time: 8:00/2:00
  • Weather Conditions: Hot and Humid

Woke up to a very swollen foot. There was no definition between my foot and leg, no ankle at all. I wrapped my foot in KT tape and left before everyone to get a head start. I only had to do 10 miles town and then I can rest.

Not long after I left everyone caught up with me. I was going to much slower than I normally do. The fast that everything is downhill this morning didn’t help. I took extra care placing my foot before putting weight on it.

In addition, the mosquitoes sucked, literally. Their were so many that my bug spray didn’t help at all.

I met everyone at the road and we walked to town together. Either I was going a bit faster than I thought or the crew was hiking slower than they normally do.

Before we knew it we were crossing the VT/NH border! This is the first time since entering New Jersey that I had friends to share the moment with and it made it extra special to have Vista, Puff Buddy, and Kiki there.

We walked up the side walked hill into town. Why is this hill so steep? We were in direct sun and it was really humid.

Into town Vista stopped to get a street hot dog, because hot dogs. Then we went to Molly’s for $3 Margaritas! There was AC and tasty food and it was absolutely amazing.

Ramuntos, a small pizza chain in Vermont and New Hampshire, gives a free slice of pizza to all thru hikers. We got the pizza and some beer, and hung out on their patio.

I took the short walk over to the CVS for an ankle brace and epsom salt. On my way back I called Hoagie to catch up.

Then I had more beer at Ramuntos and booked our beds at Hanover Adventure Tours and Hostel. They picked Vista and I up at the CVS. Puff Buddy and Kiki went back out to the trail.

It was a slow going night. I showered, ordered more pizza for dinner, and went to bed early.

  • Tuesday, August 10, 2021
  • Trail Day: 142
  • Location: Hanover Adventure Tours and Hostel (HAT)
  • Start/End Time: 
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny

Took a zero day to rest my ankle and got the best nights sleep in a long time. The bunk room at HAT was so comfortable with the AC and no one snores. I had a blanket to elevate my foot and slept like a baby!

Unfortunately, my ankle super swollen when I woke up despite keeping it elevated with some blankets.

Vista and I split breakfast duties. I made pancakes and she whipped up the eggs.

After we cleaned up from breakfast we had a mini Leonardo DiCaprio movie marathon. We watched Catch me if you Can, The Departed, and Shudder Island.

During the movie marathon I soaked my foot in epsom salt and iced it a TON. To help with the swelling I drank some turmeric powder tea which was disgusting so I added a bunch of maple syrup to it. It wasn’t great, but tasted a little better.

I also ate pizza and drank beer. When Vista and I went for the beer we found out that some ass hole drank 3 of our beers last night even though they were labeled with our names on them in the fridge. You know who you are and what you did and you suck.

In the early afternoon Puff and Kiki came to the hostel. With the heat and Puff not feeling great they decided to come back into town.

One of the perks of staying at HAT is they give anyone who stays there a free tube rental. They have small dock across the street on the Connecticut River. Puff, Kiki, and I grabbed tubes and drinks and Flores around in the sunshine. It was glorious!

Then Sweet William came to visit! Went out to Molly’s again with the crew for Margaritas and dinner.

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