Left Madonna Ski Hut at 9:15 headed for Taft Lodge. Half way up Mansfield. The B&B we we’re thinking about wouldn’t let Sherman stay in an inside room because another guest may be allergic to dogs. The separate guest house was open but at $130. Too much. A motel had room for us and Sherman but no ride. Taxi ride if 10 mi round trip was $20. So… more hiking. I’ll get to charge my stuff at the Mansfield Visitors Center in a couple days.
Got to Sterling Pond Shelter in an hour. Lyric was there. Got water from the pond. She was having a down day. Not sure what to do. Where to stay. She’d slipped on a rock and bruised her butt. Not a happy morning.

We left her there and headed on. It was like leaving a sister behind in a funk. Hike your own hike. We’re all out here in our own living process. Help and be generous. Also allow each person to have their own life.
fullsizeoutput_1f70 Reminds me of a Star Wars character.
fullsizeoutput_1f6e Break Time.
fullsizeoutput_1f53 Many requests for selfies. Here’s one…
fullsizeoutput_1f49We got to climb many of these ladders today.
The trail is what we’ve been hiking on. No harder. We’d been told that the hike down Smugglers Notch was extremely difficult. We get to the bottom and I don’t know what the big deal is. We exit at a historical site on 108. I look at the map and see that the picnic area I expect to be at is half mile down the road. What happened? No idea. We stayed on white blaze trail all the way. There as even a sign that said LT South. Oh well. We walk to the picnic area. I unpack for lunch. I hook Sherman’s leash to the picnic table and go get water. I’m about done when he starts barking. A woman is talking to him. He’s barking. I stand up and look. It’s Lyric!
She made it. She goes to get a bag of food she’d hung from a tree before she started. A food drop. We eat lunch. She says she’s leaving the trail. I ask why? “Because I’m weak,” she says. “Weak mind. Weak body. I can’t go more than 5 miles a day. It’s not working out like I wanted.” I ask about the sections she’s hiked before? She’s hiked at least a third of the trail. Maybe more. I say, “No shame in being a section hiker. Doing the whole thing over a number of years.” She says, “Yeah, but it’s not the same.”
We talk and eat some more. She offers me some of the food she’d hung. I accept 3 Cliff Bars, 2 tuna packs, and 3 mayos. I pack up. Put Sherman’s pack on him and we say goodbye for now. I’ll stop to visit her in Massachusetts on my way to RI to visit potter friends.
We head up the side of Mt Mansfield.
This is a 2100 foot elevation climb in 2.5 miles. It’s steep. It’s hard. We take a break every 20 min now instead of 30 min. We cross a good sized stream and I wash out my wiping towel and start wiping my neck and head. After 3 hours we make it to Taft Lodge. What a sweet sight!
This is one of the lodges with caretakers. They manage the lodge, campers, and trail maintenance in area with large numbers of visitors. There were 5 of us plus the caretaker, Tim. The Lodge holds 16. This is my first caretaker Lodge. A difference! Cleaner. Better repair. Makes sense. The caretakers live there for 3-6 months. So it’s a home. Not a lean-to in the woods.