I wake at 6. The alarm is set for 6:30 so I get up. Sherman goes to the door. We walk around the grounds. He empties. We go back inside. He to sleep. Me to pack. I make coffee in the supplied coffeemaker and reload the pack. Done by 7. Our ride is due around 7:30. I was told I can park the van next to the owner’s car while we’re out. I do. Linda, our Trail Angel for the morning, drives up at 7:40. I put our stuff in the back of her Mini. Off we go. She enjoys taking hikers where they need to go. She gets to meet interesting people from around the world. We have a lovely conversation during the 40 minutes to the trailhead.
She walks Sherman around the parking area while I get the gear out of the car and organized. Then we say goodbyes and be wells.
Sherman and I head up the hill headed south. This is a long steep climb out of the gap through which VT 9 runs. Quite rocky and lots of stairs that were built by trail workers in many years past.
fullsizeoutput_24cdLooking up. The climb ahead…
fullsizeoutput_24cfLooking down. The climb accomplished so far…

I wasn’t mentally prepared for this kind of climb. But… the hiking game is to accept what’s actually happening and keep moving forward.
A mile later the trail levels off for a bit before heading steeply up again to Harmon Hill. This is the first, and lower, peak on our exit.
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When we get to around 2000 ft there are snow remnants scattered in the woods. The trail is clean.
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As we continue we begin to see water. Lakes in the trail from the rain the past week. We walk around them as best we can. Some are huge.
fullsizeoutput_24dfSome are just the width of the trail. Whichever, the water is wet and very cold. I do not want to have wet feet today. And as much as possible I’d like Sherman’s feet to be dry. I carry him around many of these lakes. Occasionally through them as I step from rock to rock. And also at times across streets and rivers. The water level is high after the rains. Some rock hop crossings are under water and we have to go downstream to find a crossing. When we do this we have to go cross countryside to get back to the trail.
As we get to our highest mountain today of 3000 ft the ground is snow covered. The trail is mostly free of snow. But not water. As we get back down below 2000 feet the snow is gone.
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We go through a fairly level stretch where the physical energy of climbing is over and we can just enjoy the beauty as we cruise along.
fullsizeoutput_24e0 A large snow spotted meadow…
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fullsizeoutput_24d7A raucous, raging stream that can be heard long before it’s seen…
fullsizeoutput_24d8And this one… A beaver pond. I’m standing on the trail. The water is actually at chest height, just as it looks in the photo. The vegetation you’re seeing is the dam the beaver built. It’s at least 100 yards long. All the others I saw on the trail are in the choke point of a pond where the water spills out creating a small creek. This one is one whole side of the pond. I walk back and forth some to let in and process what I’m actually seeing.
We make it to Seth Warner Shelter spur at 3pm. I think about going the final 7 miles back to the van. I think there enough light. But I don’t think there’s enough energy.
fullsizeoutput_24eaHaving to hike a quarter to half mile off the trial to a shelter always seemed like minor punishment. So, here we are at our last shelter and we have to hike an extra quarter mile each way to get to the hotel. Yuk! But, again… and still… this is what there is to do.
fullsizeoutput_24e6Seth Warner Shelter is one of the oldest shelters on the trail. Built in the ’60’s. But it does it’s job and keeps us dry and sheltered from the winds.
As we walk up to the shelter I see a backpack and poles. There’s a man there who started the trail today. He’s going north, expecting to finish in late November. Interesting that we find ourselves here tonight, together. He started the trail today and has completed 3 miles of the trail. I’m ending the trail tomorrow and have 3 miles left. Another wonderful synchronicity on the trail…
My right knee is sore and slightly stiff and swollen. Yesterday I got out of the van to get gas. As I rotated to exit the van I heard my knee make a sound like a squeaky hinge. It felt weird. Was weird last night. Still this morning. Not really sore. Full range of motion. But feels odd. After almost 12 miles today, it just didn’t feel like it had another 7 miles in it.
So… we finish and exit tomorrow!!