Sunset Ledge(153.6)-Camel’s Hump(177.4)
Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook’s Long Trail Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT, CDT, and AT.
I didn’t sleep as well as I would have liked last night. It was pretty quiet and I kept waking up. At 2:10am, I woke up hearing some kind of animal(s) walking around. Before I knew it, something was walking right in front of my tent door and I could see it fairly well in the moonlight. You can see by my tent photo last night that there isn’t much space to walk in front of the tent. Just one foot from my face a porcupine waddled by on a night stroll. A few seconds later, another one. It was so quiet that their movement was keeping me up. After a few minutes, I heard them scratch and claw their way up a tree. I then woke up again before 5am needing to dig a hole. I didn’t even need my headlamp to light the way as the orange, almost full moon was shining bright almost level with the sunset I had watched just hours before.
I tried to sleep a bit more and got my regular 6:30am start, but was pretty groggy. After yesterday’s post lunch mental hiccup, I decided to give myself a pep talk this morning. A lot of hiking is mental and it’s a slippery slope if you start to head downhill. I needed to nip it in the bud and reminded myself of what I’m doing out here. I seriously love the act of hiking. It’s very rewarding for me physically and mentally. I like challenges and seeing what I can do. I decided to add the remaining 173mi of the Long Trail on after the AT for a couple of reasons. I like the idea of ending the summer in Canada. My other thru hike summers ended in Canada and it just feels like the right way to end this one. Today I saw the first sign that mentioned Canada and got a rush.
Also, the Long Trail is America’s original long distance trail. I feel like it’s worth experiencing it while I’m out here. Plus, I may as well do this strenuous trial when I’m already in shape to do it. After reminding myself of all the reasons I like to hike and enjoy hiking solo, I was pumped and ready to have a great day. Not only was I ready to hike today, I wanted to HIKE!
The weather cannot get better than this on the Long Trail. I can’t believe I’ve gotten three days in a row of temps in the upper 70s, a nice breeze, clear skies, and no rain or humidity. It’s really amazing! The trail may not be the most entertaining, but it would be much more difficult in rain, mud, and slippery rocks. I’ve heard rain may come in a couple days, so I’m going to appreciate the days like this that I do get. As for today, I was told this was one of the best sections on the LT with a combination of good views and pretty good trail. The morning did have a good mix of rugged ups/downs and also good cruising trail, so I enjoyed the variety. Here is some level trail and then the steep hike up Mt Abraham.
I took my lunch at a viewpoint called Molly Stark’s Balcony. I could see north to where the trail was headed and the two main peaks of Burnt Rock and Camel’s Hump. Another guy was eating lunch there and pointed them out for me and was nice enough to take a photo for me. After he left, I had relaxing lunch and the longer I looked at the view, I thought I wanted to make it to Camel’s Hump today. Here I am pointing at Camel’s Hump. Burnt Mtn is in front of it.
I didn’t know how far it was(10.7mi) or the terrain ahead(rugged!), but I decided not to look. I wanted to just hike and see what I could do in the next couple hours and then see where I was. If I couldn’t make it there, I knew I wanted to make it somewhere to see the super moon tonight if I could. The terrain was not easy with a lot of rocky ups and downs, but I was motivated and in a groove. I was feelin’ it and it was great! Even with these climbs I was keeping a good pace.
I kept waiting for myself to get tired and looked to see if Camel’s Hump was even possible…it was! I was in the zone and really wanted to get there. I wasn’t sure if I could camp there, but I just wanted to first get there and then decide as there was an option just over the mountain to camp if I needed. I have to say that my mileage isn’t super high today, but it was really tough hiking and those who have done this can agree that it’s like a 30mi day. The terrain and elevation was not easy and I kicked ass! I am very proud of what did today both physically and mentally. There are some days like this that I like to say I HIKE. I was in a zone and it was very rewarding personally to do what I did today. It is definitely going down as one of my personally proudest days. It will be a day I’ll always remember as significant.
At the bottom of the climb to Camel’s Hump I had to make a decision. I could relax and camp low or push to the top and risk not having a campsite and having to hike further. I chose to push on up the steep climb with plenty of water to dry camp. As I climbed, I got it in my head that I could cowboy camp (camping without a tent) for the first time ever on the rocks if there weren’t any camp spots. A woman at the last lodge also said that there is a meteor shower tonight. It would be perfect! I had lots of steep climbing to do. The views on the way up were inspiring.
I got to the top by 7pm and to my surprise, there were a couple dozen day hikers who were there for the sunset and super moon. Apparently, there is a trailhead within a couple miles. The mountain was casting a shadow on one side.
I almost hiked on and then a nice group was there and I saw the perfect ledge sheltered from the breeze that I could cowboy on. I decided to go for it. The group was fun to hang out and watch the sunset and then super moon. The sun set over Lake Champlain and reflected in the lake. Beautiful!
Some had done the Long Trail and one man had section hiked the whole AT. Once the moon came out, the crowd left and I now have the whole mountain and sky to myself. The moon is so bright that I don’t need a headlamp and I can even see my shadow on the rock. The photo doesn’t do it justice.
The stars are also coming out. I’m setting my alarm for 2am as I hear that’s when the meteor shower will be at it’s peak. There is a light breeze and I’m toasty warm, so I should be good for the night. This is very rare that it’s possible to do this up here. It’s pretty epic and quite a memorable night for me. Quite a day! Just what I needed and a reminder of why I’m out here for sure!