LONG TRAIL – Week 1: 14-21 Aug 2015

Aug 14:  My buddy Dave Doyon gave me a ride to North Adams, MA after work on Friday.  He was most helpful by driving me to GA and then meeting me a couple times in MA and NH to exchange some gear when I did the AT.  I dub thee “Pancho Villa” for a trail name.

I rented an overpriced room at the Holiday Inn for the night.  On the way into North Adams there were thunderstorms for the evening with a lot of rain – I was concerned the trip would start out very wet.  But, watching the news during dinner, they said VT would be having a heat wave with temps in the high 80’s to low 90’s and very humid.  They were correct!  Although temps were a few degrees cooler in the woods and at higher altitudes, it was very hot & humid the first week.

On a unplanned coincidence, two years ago when I was hiking the AT, I started in North Adams, MA on August 15th.  I happened to start on the same date this year for my LT hike.  The first 100+ miles of the Long Trail and the AT are the same until you reach Mount Killington, VT.  There the AT takes a sharp turn east towards Hanover, NH while the Long Trail continues straight north through VT to the Canadian border.  Just for laughs, I have included my mileage to compare my AT hike with the LT hike I did this year.
AT – Aug 2013 LT – Aug 2015
15-Aug 14.1 14.0
16-Aug 18.7 14.4
17-Aug 22.9 11.6
18-Aug 12.9 12.6
19-Aug 19.6 8.8
20-Aug 20.1 13.5
21-Aug 1.0 16.9
22-Aug 17.4
109.3 109.2
To reach the same spot at Route 4 near Killington, it took me two extra days compared to when I did the AT.

Aug 15, 14 miles:  “Pancho Villa” (Dave) dropped me off at the trailhead in North Adams, MA which is about 3-4 miles short of the VT border.  I started hiking and ended up at the Congdon shelter the night.  It was a hot day and I was soaked with sweat by the time the day was over.  It was a long day and the last two hours seemed to take forever to reach the shelter.  Nighttime temps the first week were in the high 70’s, maybe even the low 80’s.  It was very warm.

Aug 16, 14.4 miles:  This was another long day due to the heat and my lack of hiking long distances for a number of months.  I stayed at the Goddard shelter.  The first 3-4 days of hiking I suffered the last 2-3 hours each day – I kept thinking “the shelter must be just up ahead” or some such nonsense…my sense of distance, hiking speed, etc. were way off!
Aug 17, 11.6 miles: This day started out poorly as I hiked up from the shelter approximately 0.5 miles to the top of the hill and started down the other side before I realized I had the wrong shirt on and I left my hiking shirt at the last shelter.  What a pain. I hiked back up to the top, dropped my pack and went back to the shelter to change shirts.  The rest of the day was OK, partly cloudy and warm.  I stealth camped with another guy at Black Brook near the footbridge for the night.

Aug 18, 12.6 miles:   Another warm day of hiking.  At the top of Stratton Mountain, there is a lookout tower and there were some great views with minor clouds off the peak.  Stratton Mountain is where Benton MacKaye conceived of the idea for the AT.  I did get to hike near Stratton Pond and contemplated jumping in to cool off but decided to keep hiking.

Aug 19, 8.8 miles:  This was a short day as I stopped into Manchester Center, VT to resupply and buy some gear.  I spent 4 or so hours there and had a burger on my way out of town. I have been absolutely soaked the past few days and some of my gear in the pack was wet every night when I stopped.  I assumed this was because the weather was so hot and my water bladder was sweating due to the humidity.  I almost purchased new water bladder at the gear store and was holding it in my hand but declined at the last minute.  This was a mistake as we will see later!  I hiked out 3 miles to the summit of Bromley Mountain.  This is a ski mountain and they let hikers use the Ski Patrol hut at the summit.  I arrived at the peak around 4:30pm and the weather was great. Nice temperatures with a good breeze.  I took apart a lot of my gear and changed clothes so I could lay everything out to dry off.  I decided to stay in the hut for the night and 3 other hikers rolled in also.

Aug 20, 13.5 miles:  Woke up to a cloudy, misty morning on top of Bromley.  This was a great day of hiking…somewhat cooler and I just made the Big Branch Shelter before some rain moved in.  Honeybee and I thought we might have the shelter to ourselves but then 7-8 AT hikers rolled in and another 4-5 LT hikers!  It was a busy night at the shelter but the river was just in front of us and you could rinse some clothes out and wash a bit which was nice.

Aug 21, 16.9 miles:  It rained overnight and a little in the morning but it turned into a sunny day later.  I made some good miles and ended up at the Clarendon Shelter for the night.
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