Added posts from 9/30 to 10/12.
We are asleep by 7 last night. Set an alarm for 6. About 11 Sherman was asking to be under the quilt. So it was a cold, snugly night.
Sunrise is now 7am. Sunset 6:30pm. A short hiking window. I want to be in the trail by 7:30. Looks like it’ll be 8. Nope. We walk at 8:30. How is that possible? The alarm went off at 6 and it takes 2.5 hours to leave the shelter? I don’t understand. Our normal awake to hike time is 1.5 hours. I don’t know what happened.
I decide not to take the quarter mile side trail to the actual peak of Killington. I’ve talked to a few people who did and they said it’s a big scramble. I’m not up for another scramble. So we head south. My intent is the 2nd shelter, about 8.5 hours. I’m hoping to make it to the 3rd shelter, about 11 hours. It’ll depend on how long it really takes and how we’re feeling.
The trail on the south side of Killington is much rougher than the north side. Lots of rock and tree root staircases. In one stretch where we’re walking on a pretty level trail, there has been some kind of large storm impact, maybe — a wild guess — 10 years ago. There are trees down all over. The trail now snakes around, over and under fallen trees and their root balls. It’s a mile long game of moving through pick-up-sticks.
Also, it’s a 7 mile downhill from Killington’s 4000 feet to the low point of 1400 feet. Long downhills hurt my feet, ankles and knees. Taking short steps and landing on the heel instead of the ball of the foot also helps.
A slow motion video of walking on fall leaves. The growling sounds are the slowed down audio of my steps on the leaves.
A video of Sherman following the trail covered by leaves. There are times when we disagree which way to go. When that happens, we stop. I look around. Feel around. He’s right about 75% of the time.
We arrive at Governor Clements Shelter in 3 hr. The Long Trail guide book estimate was 5.25 hr. This makes me hopeful that we can make it to the 3rd shelter.
Gov. Clements Shelter is a 3-sided stone building. It has a built in fireplace and bunk space for 8
Every shelter has one of these maps showing where the privy, water and any other needed resource are located.
I wonder about the history of this shelter? It’s been here a long time. I’d guess as long or longer than the trail. I’ll ask the Green Mountain Club about it. Cooper Lodge is also a stone building. It had a stone chimney with a hole for a stovepipe.
We take a break and share half of a Trader Joe’s Turkey Summer Sausage. Onward to Clarendon Shelter. It’s almost 6 miles and the guide says 3 hours. Well, it takes us 5 hours. I think I got the hike times from the book reversed.
The trail to Clarendon winds though some farmland. After walking through some tall grass I feel movement on my calf. My first tick. I pick it off and flick it back into the grass.
We pass a beaver pond. Go up and down hills. Pass or cross small creeks.
One of those small creeks we hike along side of and then cross.
A large stand of pines. The straight trunks create a very different experience while passing through than the usual forest randomness.
Crossing a rock wall is a reminder of the farming that was done in this area in the past. The fields were cleared rocks enough to grow a crop or to herd sheep.
We encounter two steep stretches on the way our target shelter. One going up a small mountain and the other where the trail just seems to fall out from under our feet going down to the shelter where the blue ball is on the map. Mostly the trail here is dirt. Just very steep.
We arrive at the shelter and I’m unpacking when I hear a motor. It keeps getting louder. Then I see a tractor drive out of the woods toward the shelter. There’s an old man driving. He comes up to the shelter, turns off the tractor and we talk. He’s almost 90. He’s the shelter monitor for the GMC. Has been for 15 years.
He has a 24 inch circular saw attached to the back of the tractor. I ask him if he came up just to check on things. No. He came up with his tractor and saw wanting to cut up three trees that are on the ground. They’ve been long stripped of branches. I ask if he wants any help? He says yes. He can’t do it alone. Only one of his arms works properly any more.
I find it interesting that he’s come up intending to cut the trees and can’t do it himself. He had no way of knowing that I was at the shelter. And so it all works out…
One of the tree trunks is saturated with water and is too heavy to move. I can lift one end and drag the other two and we cut them up into about 2 foot pieces. He’s very pleased. He says he comes up every month and cuts the grass that grows in front of the shelter, cleans out the fire pit and with his leaf blower gets all the leaves and dirt out of the shelter. We talk a little more and he heads home.
I feed Sherman and heat up my dinner. It’s ready to eat and I bump the bench it’s on. It falls to the ground. I grabs the pot and it has about a quarter of the food still in it. I grab the spoon and places where the stew is thick enough I scoop it up and put it in the pot. Then I get my snow tent stake and scrape the food and some dirt into a pile. It’s mostly dirt, so I take it to the outhouse and deposit it.
This is a breach of leave no trace. But, since it was mostly dirt, it seemed like an acceptable solution. I thought about putting it in the food screen and pouring water on it until the dirt was washed away and I could gather up the food pieces to carry out. Since my food/dirt glop was 3/4 dirt, I opted for the privy.
I cleaned up and tried a new way of organizing the food and clothes thinking it’ll get us out of camp faster. Tomorrow is the test. I want to be walking by 7:15. Just after sunrise. I’m setting the alarm for 5:45am. That still gives me 90 minutes. Hoping it be ready in an hour. I want to be hiking early because it’s supposed to rain between 2-6. It’s a 6 hour hike to our next stop. If we start at 7, we should beat the rain. The rain gear will be packed on the top, just in case…