I woke up here at Grampa Grumps about 7am. Took Sherman for a walk and got some coffee and a banana nut muffin. Then back to the room to pack. I was also thinking about ordering a new iPhone. Want a shower.
I organize our stuff into functional piles and start packing. I want to be hurrying, but I’m not. I try to eat the muffin. It’s horrible. Very processed. I’m spoiled by simple, natural food. I eat cold pizza from last night. I give Sherman sliced turkey I bought him. He has a few bites and then turns up his nose. I put it in his bowl. He sniffs. Walks away. I take a shower and he eats his turkey. I go back to packing.

I try to order my new iPhone and am told what I want isn’t available in my area. Huh?
Karie said she’d drive me to the trail this morning. I knock. I call. I ring the bell. No answer. Back to packing. When i’m done, I try her again. The kids answer. She’s a late sleeper today. Then the nanny comes out and says she’ll drive me. Awesome. I finish the last bit of packing.
We get to the trail at 10 me start uphill. It’s going to be a long uphill to the top of Haystack Mountain. After a while I notice that the terrain has changed. The rocks are not so exposed. The type of Rick has changed too. It’s now more layered with a lot of mica. The smaller rocks are flatter breaks instead of small boulders. And the are SLIPPERY! The granite further north had enough texture for my shoes to bite. Not on this.
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fullsizeoutput_1fb2 I love the mushrooms. Tiny to almost a foot across. These are 6-8 inches across.
fullsizeoutput_1fbcI have NO idea what this is or how it was taken. But somehow it represents the experience Sherman and I are having…
We get to the top with less effort than I’d expected. Probably a combination of the last 2 days of rest and the easier climb. On Haystack Mountain I check for a signal and it’s strong. So, I order my new iPhone in Vermont while resting on Haystack Mountain.
About 30 min later we reach the peak and take a break there. Nice to get the head out of the green canopy.
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We’re now onward to Tillotson Camp. The sign says 2.3 miles. There’s another small peak then downhill. Some parts are very steep. I slip on a dozen rocks. Most are 4-6 inch slides. A couple are longer and raise some adrenaline. I say out loud, “How many slips do I need to have to stop stepping on these rocks!?” I start being sure to step on at least some dirt by a rock. Or step on indent like steps on the rocks. Better.
fullsizeoutput_1fa7This is a closeup of a hole in one of the mud zones. It’s at least 6 inches deep. No idea what stepped here. To big for a hiking pole. Probably an animal foot. In prior years, before the drought hit Vermont, they used to call the Long Trail the Vermud Trail because of how much muddy and boggy areas you HAD to walk through. This year it’s all walk around-able. Or there’s a bog-bridge walkway over the muck. I’m not grateful for the drought. I am grateful not to have to walk through the muck. Oh… those are contradictory…
We get to the Camp about 5:30. There’s a group of college students here. We say hi. One of the leaders says they’ll make room for me in the Camp and we pick a bottom bunk. Another group shows up. There are three 4-person tents pitched around. The group is from Middlebury College. About 20 freshman on a post orientation week 2-day hike to create a bonding experience.
fullsizeoutput_1facThe view from the front of the Camp.
Sherman’s freaked out. Too many new people. Too much going on at once. I hook him to a tree off to the side and get our food together. He eats. Gives a low growl when someone appears through the narrow trail opening to the Camp. The kids like him and he slowly makes a number of friends.
I see our fist tick of the trail on Sherman after he’s done eating and I’m brushing out some of his mud encrusted fur. A long bodied one. I looked online and couldn’t find it. It’s not one of the 4 varieties that transmit different diseases in VT. Other hikers I’ve asked about ticks said they’ve seen none or one or two. That’s good news!
After dinner it’s dusking. We go in the Camp to setup for the night. A woman comes it to count. There are 4 platforms that are double bed size. I have one. That makes 7 people. Then they’re counting floor spaces. Another 6. So it’ll be 13 plus Sherman. In the middle of the night a couple more people come in to sleep