LONG TRAIL – Week 3: 30 Aug –  7 Sep 2015

Aug 30, 8-11.5 miles:  The day started out with a tough climb over Camel’s Hump mountain.  This is a bald peak with a lot of scrambling on the rocks to get to the top.  The exact distance hiked is difficult to determine since there is a 3+ mile hike along a road to the Post Office in Jonesville, VT.  When I planned this hike, I figured this was a good spot to mail myself some extra food and meals since the trail went right by the post office.  But, this became the “Debacle in Jonesville” as I will explain…
Problem #1 – I neglected to check the Green Mountain Club (GMC) website and found out later that the trail no longer went right by the post office.  They had build a new suspension bridge for the hikers over the Winooski River and it cut off a couple miles of boring hiking along roads.  The first 1-1.5 miles were still along a road which was not really fun hiking, then, the trail started into farmers fields until the suspension bridge.  Once you cross that, the trail crosses Route 2 and continues north.  However, I had to get a couple miles West to the post office to get my mail.  So, the first problem was extra mileage that I did not have to travel.
Problem #2 – When I mailed myself the box, I thought the odds were pretty good that I would get into this town sometime Monday – Saturday.  Of course I came in on a Sunday when the post office is not even open.  So I thumbed into the town of Richmond and had a late lunch and hung out.  I then thumbed back to Jonesville to find a place to camp for the night.  After an hour or so, I was not having much luck so I started thumbing towards Richmond and a guy ended up taking me 12+ miles to Willitson, VT where I stayed at a Fairfield Inn for the night.  I did manage to do some laundry in the sink and dry out my gear.
Camels Hump from a distance.
Aug 31, 7.3 miles:  After a night at the Fairfield Inn, I got up and walked a couple miles to a major crossroad so I could thumb 12+ miles back to the post office in Jonesville.  My goal was to get there at 8am and I was very close to that.
Problem #3 – If you go to the official USPS web site it states that the hours are 8-12:30pm and 1:30 – 5pm, Mon – Fri.  However, when I showed up at the post office, the service window opens at 12:45pm Mon – Fri!!!!  So, I had to hang out almost 5 hours to wait for my box.  What a pain.  Luckily a couple of south-bound hikers came in also and we chatted for the morning.
All-in-all, I lost 3-4 hours of hiking on the previous afternoon and another 6 or so hours of hiking today.
Once I got my box and sorted out my pack with the additional food, I hiked 7.3 miles to the Buchanan shelter for the night.  The hike was very warm and slow since I had 7+ days of food in my pack.
Waiting at the exciting post office in Jonesville, VT!

Sep 1, 10.6 miles:  Another warm and sunny day hiking to Butler shelter for the night.  My left achilles was bothering me and there was some tough hiking so it was not a day for big mileage.

This picture is looking down.  In that middle of the picture you can just see the top of a ladder between two trees.  This is another short, steep ladder climb down.
The trail is actually in the middle of this picture.  Lots of roots and rocks.  You can just see the white blaze on the left tree.
A nice sunset at Butler shelter.
Sep 2, 12.1 miles to Whiteface shelter.  The climb up Mt. Mansfield was short but steep.  Lots of rock scrambling and tough areas.  The weather up top was cloudy and cool early in the morning. The rest of the day was nicer and warm again.
This is a good picture of the rock scrambling required.  The trail is straight up these rocks.
Another interesting spot going up Mt. Mansfield.  Although the picture makes it look harmless, under this wooden bridge there is a straight drop down 50+ feet with a bunch of trees and brush growing there.
Mt. Mansfield first thing in the morning.  Lots of clouds at the summit in the distance.
This shot is looking almost straight down.  You can see a couple white blazes marking the trail in the middle of the photo and then on the right side of the rocks heading down.  There were a number of very steep sections going down and it was a good thing it was not rainy or wet.  In any case, these are areas where you just have to slow down and be careful.
Sep 3, 10.4 miles:  Another mild day – it was cloudy but warm and humid.  A couple sprinkles in the morning but when I say a couple, I mean you could see a couple wet spots in the rocks and that was it.  We had some dirt road walking for a while which was a nice change from the steep up and down.  I could let my legs stretch out and relax without paying strict attention to every step.  I was rolling along with Passion Flower and Zippy who I had met the night before.  We stayed at the Roundtop shelter which I really liked – it had skylights which helped bring in the natural light.  We had a nice fire that evening too.
Zippy and Passion Flower hiking ahead of me.
Roundtop shelter
Sep 4, 8.1 miles:  Great weather for hiking today.  Sunny and comfortable.  Great views from Laraway Lookout which was near the top of Laraway Mountain.  At the top I heard a lot of barking.  I assumed from dogs at first and wondered if the trail was near some houses.  Then my imagination started getting the better of me and I thought it was a pack of wild coyotes. But, coyotes aren’t in the northeast to my knowledge so I didn’t know what to think.  I hiked on until the barking receded.  Later at the Corliss Camp shelter, I met other hikers who saw a couple hunters and they were their dogs that were making all the racket.  It seems they were doing some illegal hunting with their dogs.
Near the top of Laraway Mountain the trail followed huge rock overhangs on our right.
This is the trail in a notch near the top of Laraway Mountain.  Lots of rocks and no way around them.
Great views from Laraway Lookout.
Corliss Shelter with Brooke, Passion Flower, Murphy and Zippy.

This is probably the last email on this hike.  Just 3 days to the end.

Sep 5, 14.5 miles:  The only notes I have for this day state “tough day”.  Made it to Tillotson Camp for the night.  It was a sunny and hot day.  Getting through Devil’s Gulch and then the climb after was painful.  Everyone that rolled into camp was beat.
A great day for hiking…nice weather.
Top left bunk was my spot.
Sep 6, 11.2 miles:  Another tough day…very hot.  I was running on fumes at the Hazen’s Notch Camp (about 6 miles into the hike) and had to cook up some Raman noodles and hydrate a bunch before moving on.  It was a steep climb down Haystack Mountain and then up from Hazen’s Notch to the camp.  Brooke and Murphy rolled in after me and were beat also.  After an hour to rest and eat, the hike to Jay Camp was not as bad.
We had been hearing rumors that the Cafe on the top of Jay Peak Ski resort was going to be open the next morning at 10am.  We are all very excited to get some good food!!!
Jay Camp for the night of Sep 6th.
Sep 7th, 11.9 miles to the border and another 1.3 miles to the parking lot:  The day started out cool which was a good thing since we had to gain around 1,500+ feet in 1.7 miles.  The climb was smooth though and I was up top around 9:00am.  The peak was cool, windy and cloudy for the most part. There was a small entryway in the cafe that was open to hikers and I decided to relax in there for a while until Brooke and Murphy made it up.  Once we were together, we tried to figure out if the cafe was going to open or not. Murphy called the resort and they said it would not be open until 11am.  We were all frustrated since we did not want to wait another  1-2 hours when we could be hiking on our last day on the trail.  But, we decided to relax for a bit and I went outside to explore and noticed that the lift had arrived with some workers.  They were nice enough to let us in the cafe around 10:00am so we could charge our phones, use the restrooms and relax.  I think they actually worked hard to open the cafe early for the hikers as we decided to wait and they started serving food around 10:30am.  We were VERY happy!
The rest of the day was fairly long since it got warm again and we had heard there was no water except at the Shooting Star shelter which was about 4 miles before the Canadian border.  By the time I made it to that shelter, I only had a half liter of water left.  Unfortunately, the water source was a pump that was broken.  When you pumped you had to use your other hand to hold the top on, once the water started coming out, I tried to put my water bottle under it while pumping with the other hand but every time I took my hand off the top, it popped off and the water pressure died.  So, I said the heck with it and decided to gut it out.
The rest of the hike looked easier but actually it got very warm and there were some tough up and down sections.  I was getting pretty parched when I reached route 105 which is the last road the trail crosses before the end.  Brooke was ahead of me somewhere and I was kind of relying on hitching a ride when her father and brother picked her up at the end.  Otherwise, I was planning on staying at the Journey’s End Camp and hitching somewhere the next day.
At the road crossing, it was not clear where the trail went so I took my pack off and checked my guide book. While doing this, I noticed there was some construction work going on and a big tractor in the parking lot.  I happened to see a box and a couple bottles lying on the ground around it and I had a quick flash that this might be some trail magic!  However, when I got closer, the pepsi bottle was half full and it was a box of trash.  BUT, there was a full gatorade bottle lying on it’s side in the dirt.  With some trepidation, I picked it up and the seal seemed to be intact – so I made a gut decision to take it as I was pretty dehydrated and was worried about catching up to Brooke with only a few sips of water left and at least another two hours of hiking to go.
The Gatorade was a huge help for the last few miles.  I made it to the border around 6pm and took a few quick photos before hiking out the next half mile to the shelter.  Brooke heard me coming and yelled that we had to get going. She had written a note to Murphy and me saying she had to move on and “good luck”.  But, I just made it and we hiked the last .7 miles to the parking lot.  Her father and brother were very nice to let me hitch along.  We went a couple hours towards Burlington, VT and they dumped me at a nice hotel called The Essex.  I was able to get some laundry done and had dinner and a celebratory beer in their Tavern.
The next day, I set up a 4pm bus from Burlington, VT to Boston, MA.  At 9pm, I took another bus north to Newburyport, MA and then a taxi home to Hampton, NH.  I was home around 11pm.
Who says you can’t have a beer and a hot dog at 10:30am?!
Almost at the end…
At the border.