Day one on The Long Trail.
Bob volunteered to drive us to Journey’s End Road outside of North Tray, VT. About 2 hours from Bristol. We plan on leaving around 8 am. I want to setup my tent again, since it has only been setup one time. And I want to get caught up with the blog. I’ve been writing, but haven’t made the time to post and fold in photos. I stay up til 12:30am last night to get all the posts uploaded as drafts and proof read. I think about getting up to make a cup of tea, but know that i need some sleep 5.5 hours will do. Better that 3 hours!
I wake up with the light about 5:30am. Work more on the blog until about 7. Then go downstairs. We have breakfast and I do the tent test. So glad I did. The first time I just couldn’t get the pattern of actions. This morning it makes sense. I remember! I could do it in the rain without looking for the directions. A milestone in my relationship with this new tent.
Then on to the blog. I’m trying to hurry. But… and I know… you can’t hurry the internet. Uploading photos to WordPress cannot be sped up. It takes the time it takes on this internet connection. It’s not slow. It just takes longer that my anxiety wants it to take.
I check with Bob about his state of mind. Is he anxious about leaving? Stressed that it’s taking me longer that we planned? He laughs. “No. I’m a slow morning person. Just fine. You’re the one that needs to get to the trail. So, let me know when you’re ready.”
I finish about 10. We get the van loaded and ready to go by 10:30. The drive up is very nice. I’m falling in love with New England again. The only two places that have been emotionally home for me are New England and California. I lived in New Hampshire, but always loved Vermont. Being back here is awakening these feelings. These memories.
I get a call from Joe connecting before I disappear into Vermont Woods along the spine of The Green Mountains. Very nice…
I realize that I need to send a message to everyone that the hike is actually happening. I use MC Snap, an iOS app that lets you send a quick message to a mailing list. I send one to the hiking list with the blog URL and how to find and use the map link.
Then I get a very sweet heartfelt message from my friend Diane. Just warmed and expanded my heart. Such lovely connections.
Bob and I find our way to Journey’s End Road. Park. I put Sherman’s pack on him. My pack on me. Bob takes a “here they are at the starting line” photo. We hug. Sherman and I head down the trail.
I let Sherman off the leash soon and he walks along with me. I think it’s because he’s carrying a 2.1lb pack. After about 30 minutes he’s more active. Sniffing and moving in front and back, side to side exploring. The trail is pretty easy for the first half mile. Then it starts uphill. There are a few steep spots thrown in as a hint of what’s to come.
We cross a river that is acting like a creek. A slow flow of water. I can’t find where the trail continues on the other side of the creek. I’m not the only one. In all the possible directions there are footsteps and some dog steps in the mud. I backtrack down the trail the way we came and try it again. I look at the GPS and can’t tell anything. So we approach the creek again. I find a tree with a blue blaze that marks the trail, but there is no visible trail. I go up a feeder creek that is just mud. There are footsteps in the mud. I go to the top and back into the wood. There’s a faint trail where leaves have been crushed. Doesn’t look big enough for a human trail. I go on and see the trail a bit to the left. To see what I missed, I backtrack to the creek. The trail on the other side comes down a steep grade to he mud. I remember this place as we walked by. It looked like a place people looked at the scene. A small cliff by the river. Well, it was the crossing. There isn’t a blaze on the trees on either side of the riven bed. Something good to know. I expect better marking in places like this, but it’s not consistent.
45 minutes from the start we get to Trail End Camp. A closed in, 4 sided shelter. The naming convention is that Camps are 4 sided. Shelters are 3 sided with an open front. We take a break. I offer Sherman food and water. He drinks but won’t eat. He hasn’t eaten all day. We get up to walk on. I can’t find the trail… I know which trail we came in on. There’s a hand drawn map inside the camp showing the location of the privy, the fire pit, the water source and the Long Trail continuing. Every time I go where the map shows, I end up at the privy. Sherman and I wander around for 15 minutes. Then I begin the process of elimination starting at the shelter. I find a small trail that is not in any location marked on the map. We go there and it’s the trail we want. Onward…
We have about a 4.5 mile hike to get to the next shelter. We definitely want to be there before dark. 5-6pm would be good. As late as 7 will work. From the map I know we have to go over two peaks to reach the shelter. In about a mile we start to climb. This is what people talk about regarding The Long Trail and The Appalachian Trail. There are virtually NO switchbacks. The trail just wanders straight ahead up the mountain. These are 3-4000 foot peaks. The gaps or valleys between them can create a 1-3000 foot elevation climb per mountain peak. It’s tough going. Up and up and up and up. Some places are very difficult. Up rocks and exposed tree roots.
We make it to the first peak. Oh! It’s Trail ‘s End. The Northern Terminus of the trail. It’s a marker on the Canadian Border. We’re on a boulder overlooking the monument and the near mountains. Beautiful. And…. this is the country we’re meandering through. There’s a man and dog on the peak. They day hiked in. We chat. We move on.
The marker is on the US-Canada border. The photo is looking into Canada.
So, now, we’re about 4.5 miles from Shooting Star Shelter. The terrain is more of the same with increasingly harder sections both up and down. There are a few places I have to pick Sherman up to get him up or down a rock, tree stump, narrows… He is learning that if he can’t fit through with his pack on, to stop and look at me with a WTF look. I move him to a place he can continue on his own and off he goes.
The woods are becoming magic. A sense of sameness that is always changing. After much upping and downing, we cross VT 105. We drove in on this road. And now we’ve back tracked with much effort in 3 hours to cross it. The trail is much smaller on the other see of the highway for quite a ways. Then it starts to feel like it did before the road. Now we are headed for the 2nd peak before the shelter. It’s not as difficult as the first and then we are on a long downhill.
I’ve started setting a 30 minute timer on my phone. It’s a good check in on Sherman and water. If his tongue is really out, it’s time for a break. It also gives me some sense of how fast we’re going. We need to be close to 2 mph if we’re going to get to the shelter before dusk. When the 2nd alarm goes off, I do a quick assessment and think either we have somehow missed the shelter if there was a turnoff, or it’s just ahead. Onward… In 10 minutes we are there!
As we get close I can see a person watching us. So we’re not alone here. We arrive and there is a couple with 3 small obnoxious pugs. Sherman is not impressed. They are agitated, aggressively friendly and noisy. The people are not like their dogs. At least outwardly. Socially. We talk about what we’re doing. The too started at Trail’s End today. About 90 minutes before we did. They are going to sleep in a tent, so Sherman and I have Shooting Star Shelter to ourselves.
Sherman eats hungrily. I also gave him some Trader Joe’s Rice Chicken rolls and some Lamb Jerky during a break about 2 hours before we got here. He ate them with relish.
I’m not hungry. I eat the remaining ration of Clif and Lara bars.
This is my first night with odor proof backs and bear bags. Wonder if I really need the 2nd bear bag for Sherman’s pack. It’s pretty empty. We’ll see over the next few days.
We lay down about 8. I am not sleepy. I don’t know why. I only had obj one cup of green tea at breakfast. My body is electric. Alert. Open. Changed with the energy of the day. The exertion of the day. I lay still for about an hour, then get up to finish this post. It’s now 10:30. Sherman is crashed out. G’night!
Day one on The Long Trail.