Sunday, August 17, 2014

Vermont's Long Trail Slideshow

As a closing summary to Vermont's Long Trail, here is the photo slideshow of the 273mi trail from Massachusetts to Canada. I did the first ~100mi that overlapped the AT in early July. Then I returned immediately after completing the AT in early August to complete the final 173mi of the Long Trail.

Vermont's Long Trail Slideshow(273mi)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 14: CANADA BABY!

Buchanan Mtn(258.3)-CANADA(272.8)
Aug 15th
14.5mi+1.3mi Journey's End Tr=15.8mi

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook's Long Trail Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT, CDT, and AT.


I took lots of photos and typed in detail for the final day, so I hope you enjoy this final entry! I had a good night of sleep for my final night and awoke to an odd crinkling noise. I was a bit disoriented and then realized the sound was RAIN! Not acceptable for a final day! It was just a slight mist as if I was in a cloud and it was pretty cold out in the upper 40s, so I lounged in the tent hoping it would stop...and it did, whew. I packed up and wore my rain pants, long sleeves, and rain jacket. The rain had stopped, but I knew I had lots of cold wet brush to go through and I was right. I warmed up, but the temps stayed cool for the day and it cleared a bit as I headed up the last major climb of Jay Peak. There is a lodge there that usually sells food, but it was closed. The clouds were still coming in and out, so the view was a bit obstructed.




The hiking today was much smoother with more trail that I could relax on and less of the jarring slick up and downhill on mossy rocks and roots. It was a good way to end the hike. There was still brush and mud to contend with, but it wasn't bad.








I've been holding back on commenting about this because I didn't want to jinx anything, but I am shocked at how well my body has responded to the hiking this summer. I actually feel like I could physically keep hiking...mentally, I am ready to take a break for awhile. I am most shocked by my weak ankles (known in previous journals as bad and fat ankles) and that they survived. They rolled from time to time each day, but nothing major and I feel really fortunate to have survived without a major issue. I was extra careful today as I was paranoid that I'd do something stupid on the last day. I was just careful in my footing not wanting to fall on the last day. I kid you not, just ten minutes from the border, I came to a slick log in a muddy spot, told myself to take my time and my first step slipped right off the log sucking my leg almost to my knee...I had to laugh at myself and take a photo. One last farewell kiss from the Long Trail!


I saw many southbounders today who started in the morning and they had seen other northbounders well ahead of me that were also finishing today. I found it funny as I have seen practically no one all week! I didn't run into anyone at the border so I was creative and found ways to prop up the camera for some delayed shots at the end and at the monument. Pretty proud of what I got...




I loved the sky today! The clouds, dark blue hues, and distant mountain ranges reminded me of the Cascades and the end of the PCT. It was pretty perfect in my book. At the end of the Long Trail, there is a rocky outcropping and when you climb up on it, this is the view you are hit with. I was stoked!


There is a swath cut through the trees like the other border endings, but it is less defined and you can see it slightly in the distance behind the monument. I saw CANADA carved into the monument and got a great rush. I made the right choice to end the summer here!




I had time and took an hour to sit on the rock and have lunch hoping a hiker might pass by to help with photos. I was happy to be having the last of my trail food for awhile and look forward to regular meals. Speaking of which, I want to thank my step mom, Robin, who did another amazing job of sending out my resupplies and being a home base for all of you that sent care packages. Robin is now a triple crown resupplier! THANK YOU ROBIN!!!

So, no such luck with another hiker coming along, but I was fortunately able to get the camera propped up again for good shots. I can say that this past week and especially being solo today seemed quite fitting to end this summer. I always think these trails have something to teach me if I'm open to receiving the message and I think the LT was hitting me over the head with solitude to realize how fortunate I was to have bonded with others on the AT. It really drove home much of what I learned on the AT about sharing the experience with others and I'm going to do my best to be more open to that in the future...ok Long Trail!? Did you hear that!? I'm calling mercy!


Those of you that have followed all summer will remember Ferris who I overlapped with for a week my first month on trail. He coincidentally finished on Katahdin today so here's his finishing photo which is just great! Way to go Ferris!!!

In order to get to civilization, there is a 1.3mi trail called "Journey's End Trail." How perfect is that!? I had no idea that it was named that until today and I got goosebumps of pride when I saw it written on the sign at the end. Pretty darn great way to end this summer!


I mentioned the other day that I had met hikers Terry and Sherry earlier this summer in July when the AT overlapped with the LT. They offered to shuttle me at the end and host me on my final night. The timing was perfect and they even arrived with pink lemonade and chocolate milk!


On the drive out, I noticed a sign that had two big American and Canadian flags...I couldn't resist so we jumped out of the car and got a shot with the flags before someone came to stop us...


Terry and Sherry were awesome hosts and I got to end the hike with a celebratory homemade steak dinner! It was fun to talk trail as they have done the Long Trail and know it quite well. They even had a great framed poster of the trail and it was cool to see all I had done. THANK YOU Terry and Sherry for sharing this great day with me and making it even more memorable!




So, that's the end of our trip this summer everyone! I hope you enjoyed it and stick around for what may come next. I want to thank everyone for being so interactive and supportive. It really does feel like I'm hiking with all of you on my end, so it's been just as motivating and inspiring for me as it has for all of you. My goal with the blog is to bring everyone along with me as best I can and I hope that I've done that for you. I've been hooked on hiking blogs before and I know there will be some withdrawal, but I'm not done yet. This will be my last daily entry for awhile, but I'll be writing some post trail things on gear and AT/LT advice in the next month or two, so stay tuned...

So What's Next?
I get the question, "What's next?" all the time and my first answer to this is REST and HERMIT TIME! I am not done hiking and there are many options on the list. It was mentioned after the AT that Jett Cat and I are contemplating the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand this winter. It will be some time before we can figure out if finances and timing will align for that, but if it doesn't happen this year, I know I have things I would like to hike this coming spring and summer. Don't worry, I'm not done yet.

As for the immediate future, I'm going to Boston tomorrow and then I will fly to Chicago where my twin sister, Siobhan, is with my two nephews(1yr and almost 3yrs old). My sister has done a ton to make it easier for me while I'm trail and actually does a lot to help with the blog each night by doing final photo edits I can't do from my phone and then posting them to Facebook for everyone. I definitely owe her big time so I will be helping to take care of my nephews for two weeks so she can get a break. I think this may wear me out more than the hiking, ha! Here they are attempting Wired poses with my sister, so we will work on perfecting that!


Plus, just yesterday, little Aidan started walking! I'm the proud aunt so I'm attaching the video as I'm sure he'll grow up to be an awesome hiker someday. For now, I'm just excited he'll be ready to walk with aunt Wired!


I'll return to Portland, OR in September get right back to the life I love there. Substitute teaching and nannying to save up for the next big venture. So hopefully, I'll be back sooner than later. If you haven't subscribed to get my updates by email, the link is in the upper left hand corner of the blog. I also throw things on my Wired Facebook page from time to time that doesn't make the blog. Again, thanks for sharing this journey with me and best wishes to all of you on your future journeys as well!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 13: It's Time

Corliss Camp(235.6)-Buchanan Mtn(258.3)
Aug 14th
22.7mi+.4mi side trail=23.1mi

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook's Long Trail Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT, CDT, and AT.


It was a good night to sleep in the shelter. It rained pretty hard most of the night and temps dropped significantly. It would have been a rough night in a tent. I took my time getting ready as it was chilly and damp outside. It was barely 50 degrees, but felt colder with the dampness and wind. I left at 6:45am and kept my jacket on most of the morning. There was more brush today too so the jacket helped with all the wet brush, which was sometimes over my head.


Again, I really don't have too much to say about the day as there just isn't much going on here. The fall like weather and extended solitude has me ready to be done. I've had my fill for the summer and am ready to return to the "real world" for awhile. It's time. I know it's time when I find myself thinking of home and off trail life than I the trail. I feel like this was just the right amount of time I needed to reflect on this summer and say goodbye to the trail for awhile. I did see this sign later in the day and get excited!


There is almost no one on trail and a few day hikers from time to time, so I've been alone 90% of the time this last week. I don't think I'd mind it too much if there was more going on, but I think I've had my fill of forested hiking without views. The morning hiking got me to Mt Belvidere for lunch and it wasn't too bad. Gradual trail from time to time, but also some of the slow going slick rock, root, and mud. There were moments partway through the morning that were images I wanted to remember that stood out so here are some.











Mt Belvidere had a viewpoint and lookout tower that was .2 off trail so I technically had no views over the ~23mi of hiking today. I needed a motivator so I took the side trail to the view and had lunch. It was a great view and well worth it! It was really gusty up top so I went up quickly to get some panoramic shots. It was still cold out so I wore all my layers while I ate, but it was worth having lunch there for my own sanity.








The seven miles after lunch were tough for me. A ton of PUDs(Pointless Ups & Downs)! It suuucccked! The terrain was pretty rugged and wet. Each step required a ton of focus and precision. It would go up steeply less than 100ft and then right back down for hours. Lots of close calls and slips, but thankfully I got out alive and nothing major. I felt like I wasn't making any progress and I was surprised to see I had still done 19mi by 4pm. Here's some of the terrain but difficult to show steepness. Just trying to show slickness.








I wanted to try to end at a viewpoint for my last campsite, but all the mountains were forested summits. There was an overlook .2mi after Buchanan Mtn and I aimed for that hoping a spot would be nearby to put the tent. No such luck. The overlook was on top of a rock and barely anything between trees.


It was super brushy and I ended up hiking back .2mi to the summit to an open space.


The trail was wet and muddy today so my feet were soaked for the second day in a row and it wasn't pretty. Of course I had to document it...


So not the ending I would have liked, but it's not raining and nice and cold for good sleeping. After being alone so much and having no view today, I decided to do a fb post on my Wired page so people could say hi. That was fun and lifted my spirits, so thanks to those who commented! I also got to talk on the phone with LoveNote who is a great person to reflect with. I did the best with what I had and it was fun to end with a wired night, ha! 14mi left to CANADA BABY!!! Goodnight everyone...



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 12: Bring On The Rain

Sterling Pond Shelter(213.3)-Corliss Camp(235.6)
Aug 13th
22.3mi

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook's Long Trail Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT, CDT, and AT.


By some stroke of luck, it didn't rain last night. The forecast was ominous saying that thunderstorms were expected and then so much rain today that it would accumulate to 1-3" and possibly cause flooding in some areas. When I got up, I was in a cloud with mist in the air, but no rain. I started hiking just before 6:30am. The trail had some uphill before descending down. The higher I went, the stronger the wind gusts and thicker the clouds. I was so glad that I did all the high elevation stuff yesterday as it would have taken me more than twice as long do it in these conditions. As I hiked up, I came upon another ski lift with a warming hut and had been told there was a good view there, but it was not visible today. After this photo, I stowed the camera away for the day to keep it dry and used my iPhone in its case to take pictures the rest of the day.


Light rain started early this morning and lasted most of the day. I had 10.5mi to hike down to a road where I had trail magic waiting for me! That was my motivation for the rainy morning. Back in July when I did the first part of the Long Trail that overlapped the AT, I met a couple (Terry & Sherry) out on a section hike. They have followed the blog since and live near the trail in northern Vermont. They will be picking me up and hosting me when I reach Canada the day after tomorrow. Today I was crossing a road where Terry was able to meet me for a trail magic lunch! I made it there at 11:15am and Terry had brought a big turkey sub sandwich and some chocolate milk!


I got to eat lunch out of the rain and in a warm car. It was great! Terry has hiked the LT and does sections all the time, so it was fun to talk trail too. I look forward to spending more time with him and Sherry when they pick me up in a couple days at the border and I stay with them before heading to Boston. THANK YOU Terry! It was definitely the highlight of this rainy day that did have some brush at finds.


Not much to say about the rest of the day. The elevation and terrain was the best it's been on the whole trail probably. Before lunch was at least 3mi of a gravel dirt road walk and after lunch was gradual ups and downs. It wasn't even as muddy and puddly as I thought it would be.





In the later afternoon the rain stopped and drops were still falling from the trees, so I kept the umbrella up. The umbrella worked like a charm today. There was some brush in places where I'd momentarily collapse it and they were short lived. In the gusty parts this morning, I held it with my hand to position it most optimally. Gotta love the umbrella!


The last hour or two of the day, I didn't need the umbrella at all and it was nice to walk without rain for a bit. All day, I was sluggish as I had done a lot yesterday and wind gusts kept me up last night. My legs were like lead on the uphills today so I just tried to go slow and take my time. One foot in front of the other. The plan worked though. I wanted to do all the miles yesterday on dry trail and the trail today was much easier to do in the rain. There weren't many viewpoints and when there was one, it was momentary as the fog and clouds rolled through.


I intentionally ended at a shelter again and was hoping to keep everything dry and get a spot in there. It was the Corliss shelter with room for over 10 people. Fortunately, when I got there at 5:45pm was just one couple there who had been there all day due to the rain. I took the loft so we could each have our own space. Within 30mins of getting to the shelter, the rain started to come down harder and it's been going for a couple hours now predicted to last until early morning.


So happy with my timing! It's the best sound ever to hear that rain on the roof above me and have all my things dry. I am getting to bed early(9:30) and I'm sure I'll finally get the sleep I've been needing. Just two days left!



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 11: Fire From Rain

Jonesville/Duxbury Rd(187)-Sterling Pond Shelter(213.3)
Aug 12th
26.3mi

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook's Long Trail Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT, CDT, and AT.


I slept hard at Shiver and BAM's after staying up til midnight doing blog stuff and then booking a bus and flights for after the hike. I'm very happy to have it all done, but it was definitely a drain and I got less than 6hrs of sleep. The dates are set and I will go to Boston for a couple nights after I finish the Long Trail. From there, I will fly to Chicago as I owe my twin sister some child care for all she's done to help with the blog and just regular life maintenance. I'll be there a couple weeks until September when I fly home to Portland, OR, whew! It feels real now that tickets are bought that I only have a few days of hiking left! As for today, Shivers and BAM got me back on trail by 6:45 and even did some of a road walk with me before saying goodbye. THANKS again Shivers and BAM for being awesome hosts!


I had two goals for today. There is a lot of rain in the forecast for tonight and through tomorrow that could bring 1-3" of rain in a 24hr period. The imminent rain lit a fire under me and I was motivated to HIKE while I still could on dry trail. Knowing that rain was on the way, the main goal was to get over Mt Mansfield( Vermont's highest peak) before the rain. The second goal was to do bigger miles today to hike as many as I could on dry trail before it all becomes mud.





What I soon noticed was that I was climbing uphill almost all morning. At least the temps were great in the 70s with little humidity and nice breezes. With a full pack of four days of food, I was definitely feeling that uncomfortable burn in my legs. Not enjoyable, but early on I just told myself to accept that feeling for most of the day. Not much else I could do about it with all the uphill. The trail wasn't too rough and there was enough good trail that I was able to stretch my legs in parts.


I saw few others the first half of the day and spent most of the day in the zone with my music. I was determined to get over Mansfield as soon as I could and I knew it was 20mi into the day, so I found a rhythm and kept it going with motivating music most of the day. I ate lunch near a water source and a woman doing a section southbound talked with me as I ate. That was the longest conversation I had today and it was enjoyable. Most others were southbounders or sectioners who I briefly said hi to as we crossed paths. I enjoyed having the day to myself and was on a mission to kick some trail ass!


I liked going up Mansfield as it has a nice exposed ridge walk. There was some scrambling at first.





The stretch before the summit is called the Forehead and it was nice to walk along. The first photo is looking back on where I came.






When I got near the summit, I saw a parking lot! Again, not as remote as I thought I was. It was discouraging to see cars and a visitors center when I had come 20mi on tough terrain to get there.


It was really gusty up top as I got up there by 4:15pm as the clouds were gathering. I got quick photos and exchanged cameras with others trying not to get blown over. I'm not super happy with the photos, as the wind was a factor and I wanted down quickly.








I was worried about rain and storms, so I booked it down after going over Mansfield.


By the time I got halfway down, I realized that I had time to hike on to the next shelter by 7pm. It was going to be a push, but good motivation. Right on cue, the sprinkles of rain started around the predicted 6pm. That got me to really kick it into gear the final three miles.








I arrived at the shelter , which was near a pond) just a few minutes after 7pmto see a full shelter and one admitted to being a loud snorer, so I set up my tent in a space nearby. The weather now says 50% chance with no storms overnight, so I prefer my tent.


I'm really happy with the mileage I pulled out today! It was 26.3mi with about 8,000ft of uphill and about 5,000ft of downhill. I don't think I've done this much elevation change in one day all summer. I like days like these when I can push and see want I'm capable of. I don't plan to do this all leg and will surely hike more relaxed tomorrow. I need to average 22mi/day to finish on my projected day. The added mileage today allows for more relaxed days with rain and mud expected over next few days. I'm definitely a tired camper and nodding off as I write tonight, so excuse the disjointed brevity. It was another day I'm quite proud of. I'm going to sleep well and it's definitely a vitamin-I night for my legs, whew! Only three days of hiking left!