Woke up around 545 and felt like a pile of rocks, but I managed to fall back asleep until about 7. As I lay there debating whether to stay somewhere else to take a zero day to sleep, tornado crept in to finish packing his bag. He’s on the early bird shuttle back to the trail. I opted for the 9am so I could finish the blog editing I didn’t get to last night, and so I could be a lazy blob a little longer. I gave my calves and feet their morning massage to help return some semblance of range of motion before I stood up. Then I went downstairs in my sweet loaner clothes outfit (cat pajama pants and a striped men’s tshirt that’s about 4 sizes too big) and put together my yogurt granola banana breakfast. I passed on the folgers coffee brewing in the drip machine. Pretty tough choice though (said me, never). Lewis and Clark sat drinking their steaming cups of brown water and talked to me while I ate. They’re a funny bunch, and I’m sad we’re going to be a day off of each other for the foreseeable future. They’ve been married for 43 years and you can tell how well they manage conflict and the small abrasions of everyday life. When Clark found out that I’m a therapist he said “oh noooo, does that mean you’ve figured out what’s wrong with me already?” On his way to bed last night he popped his head into the computer area and said he had enjoyed getting to know me, which felt genuine and warm. He’s constantly whining about being out here, but I’m pretty sure he secretly loves it. His wife Lewis is the one who pushed for the goal and he’s out here because she didn’t want to do it alone.
I had to rip myself away from the table to pack up my gear and get one more post out. I weighed my food bag on the bathroom scale and it came in at exactly 10 pounds. This is why my pack is so damn heavy. The whole thing, with 5 days of food, the gifted poptarts, and a little over a liter of water weighed 29 pounds. That’s about 7 more than I wanted when I first started planning. After getting my gear straight, I laid on the floor in the living room lounge and iced my feet while I setup yesterday’s post. I wish I had known there were ice packs sooner because I would have done it all afternoon.
Shutterbug and I left around 9 with Jeff, the owner of the hostel who sounds like Casey Casem and knew just how much space to take up in the house. It might be the first time I didn’t feel suffocated by a hostel owner. We were on trail by about 915 and were met with an immediate climb up bromley mountain. I texted with a few people, which slowed me down even more than my heavy pack. I asked my mom and stepdad to mail me the footbed from my old shoes so I could put them on top of my current ones for extra cushion. I think it’s going to help as long as my pinky toes don’t get too squished. The grade of the climb felt steeper than stratton, which made my right Achilles’ tendon protest. I took a short break to eat poptarts while sweat dripped in my eyes at this viewpoint.
I sat on the ski lift bench for another break with flip phone and shutterbug. Flip phone actually lost his phone at the yoga festival. He must have been drunk off of all the free granola bars he was handed, which he later made into a Nutella wrap. By the time I made moves to leave it was about 1130, which was just late enough to justify staying in the sun to eat lunch on the summit instead on a rock somewhere in the woods. A woman named picnic also ate with us. We were actually at upper goose pond at the same time, but I didn’t remember her. Oops. None of us had much to talk about so it was a somewhat silent but congenial lunch. Here’s flip phone making his organic hiker trash special:
A gaggle of day hikers showed up as I was preparing my pb Frito wrap. A kid of about 12 was there with his grandparents (they had adorable brown bag sandwich lunches). he stared and smiled at me while I made my food.
The descent from bromley was much like that of Stratton and Glastenbury in terms of grade and terrain. It’s interesting to see the patterns between mountains. Vermont seems to have a lot of super green forest with pines and moss for the first mile from each summit. It smells like Christmas. Then it switches to drier vegetation with a bit more brown and far less moss. Near the bottom of bromley, I ran into a family of 3 repainting the white blazes on trees. I felt so excited to see this in action, which I told them as they approached. I thanked them for helping and then they gave me a peanut butter cup as trail magic. I walked away thinking about how great it would be to share this small encounter with you guys and realized I should have gotten their picture. I debated the effort and the anxiety of asking for a few seconds, but decided it was worth it. I dumped my pack on the ground and went back up the hill a few yards to take this:
The trail continued down to Mad Tom Notch rd, which seemed like a popular place to park. I ran into shutterbug taking the end of his lunch break on a good rock. He said something about how we had to climb after this, so I took the opportunity for yet another break on his rock. Flip phone passed through and we lamented the lack of water today. Yesterday there had been numerous streams that weren’t on my map, so I loaded the minimum amount of water when I left the hostel. It’s good that it wasn’t hotter or I would have been painfully dehydrated versus mildly so. The weather was in fact perfect for hiking. There was a cloudy stint over styles peak that included a passing drizzle, but otherwise it was a sunny day with a generous breeze.
After my break, I made the climb up to styles peak. It felt endless with several false summits. In other words, I climbed and the trail flattened out to what seemed like the top, but then it continued to climb yet again. I finally reached the summit with a small viewpoint where I intended to take a break. However, a massive swarm of flies descended upon me as I took the first bite of my snack. I cursed and slapped and hurried back into my pack. I had to scarf my food while picking my way down the rocky descent that was steeper than my knees cared for with a full pack.
The trail climbed to yet another ridge that allowed for partial views of mountains to either side of me. Then it took a sharp left and headed down the hillside at an unfortunate angle that let me know my legs were tired. Somewhere in there I was passed by moss and disco.
Moss must think I’m ridiculous because every time he approaches I’m taking pictures of his dog like I’ve never seen one before. About a mile and a half later, I was at my campsite for the night. 415pm! This is what moderation looks like. Getting to camp early enough that you have to wait for dinner. My feet were sore throughout the day, but markedly less so than they have been.
When I got to camp, shutterbug was swatting at the air. Not a good sign for the bug quotient. I surveyed the tenting options and found a nice spot on pine needles that I meant to take a picture of and forgot. I set up my bed and filtered water immediately so I could try to catch up on hydrating. As I sat at the picnic table reminding myself of the rough sketch I had mapped out for the week, I heard a hiker approach saying well, well, look who’s here. I turned to find fearless with her neon pink gaiters heading into camp. She’s part of the group of women that I met at the cookie lady’s. She said Snow White and peregrina were somewhere far behind her. Then she set about filtering water for both of them so they would have less work to do when they arrived. She told me a bit about peregrina’s story. Apparently she’s not thru hiking. She’s simply walking from PA to a book group retreat in VT in July.
I decided to build a fire to help with the bugs and to keep me from eating dinner at 5p. Shutterbug was a good sport and helped me collect firewood. Then we tried to start a fire in the ring by the picnic table, but he kept overstacking the kindling teepee I had made. I finally had to ask him to stop because it was driving me crazy. The fire took forever to get started and then was anemic at best until the wind kicked up and snow white piled on more wood than I would have expected to be functional (top picture). She arrived around 6, immediately plopped down at the table and started shoving food in her face, which she did for the next 40 minutes. We had an amusing dinner together with fearless and Snow White picking at each other as old friends do. We were all a bit worried about peregrina, but her pattern is to arrive pretty late. She gets distracted easily and doesn’t walk very quickly.
After dinner we threw our bear lines. Fearless made fun of how heavy my food bag is and I made her show me what she eats. I’m pretty sure I eat about twice the amount she does. But you should see her stockpile of mini payday bars. I think she had like 20 of them. As we wound down and started to retreat to our tents, two NOBOs arrived. I thought for sure they would keep walking because there was at least another hour of daylight to be had, but they stopped for the night. One of them has a prosthetic leg from the knee down. I felt horrified by the way fearless pointed and said “what is that? What happened?” The kid joked that he’d been attacked by a bear, but then he gave the real answer which is that he was born without a fibula.
I went over to the shelter to sign the register while the NOBOs settled in. They were chatty and amusing. The one named bumblebee kept pulling stuff out of his bag, including foot balm and a novel. I couldn’t help but remark that he carried more than any NOBO I’d seen so far. He joked that he was actually a heavyweight hiker and loathed the self righteous ultralight people. They mocked our bear lines and gave the typical NOBO response that goes something like: I haven’t hung a bear bag since (insert many, many miles) ago and I’ve never had a problem. I think I’ll stick with my system even if it’s possibly pointless.
Peregrina strolled in around 730. She had apparently carried like 7 pounds of water from a stream about a mile south of camp because she was worried the water source would be running at the shelter. I busied myself with getting ready for bed to avoid her conversation vortex, which I felt guilty about but being polite conflicted with my sleep campaign. Now I’m finishing this to the sound of Snow White snoring, the stream running just below the shelter (which I forgot to mention is right on the trail – my favorite because it involves less walking), and the NOBOs shooting the shit in the shelter. My eyes burn from the smoke and my legs are on fire from the newest batch of bug bites. There’s no cell service here, which I know is one of the reasons I’m about to go to sleep at 9p instead of 10 or later.
Mile 1650.7 to mile 1660.8 (10.1)
Total miles: 657.6
Creature feature: another quiet day in the woods BUT I saw many, many piles of poop with giant hoof tracks nearby. I wondered if they might actually be moose, because treebeard had mentioned seeing moosetracks. Fearless confirmed later that they were indeed moose droppings. So that’s exciting. I doubt I’ll get to see an actual moose, but this means there’s a remote possibility.