I didn’t wake at 5:00 as I had planned but did get up by 6:15, ate, packed quickly, and was on the trail by 6:30. My hiking distance and planned stopping point were up in the air. Part of me wanted a normal 20 mile day to Stratton Pond shelter and the other wanted to hike the 30 miles to Manchester Center to catch up with Tandem.
But first, I needed to hike to and up 1,700 feet on Stratton Mountain, which loomed 16 trail miles away. I hiked solo and listened to the Podcacher podcasts from May. I was passed in the morning by a speedy Mombo heading to the Stratton Pond shelter before the projected rain in the afternoon.
I reached the base of Stratton Mountain at 14:30, and the climb wasn’t bad. I entertained myself with a couple more of the podcasts from early June. Toward the top, I found a beautiful piped spring where I sat and ate lunch. I got water but had to rig up my filter again to the dromedary due to my new Platypus bag not fitting the filter.
When I reached the top of the mountain, the caretaker came out of his building and told me that rain was coming, so I stopped and put on my pack cover and rain jacket. It was chilly in the wind, and the clouds were as low as the top of the mountain.
The descent down the back side of the mountain was harder than the climb. On the way, I felt water dripping down the back of my legs. I stopped to find out why and discovered the filter tube had come off if the dromedary in my pack, which meant my sleeping bag was wet. To add insult to injury, it started to rain toward the bottom of the mountain.
So, I was headed to Manchester Center to dry my stuff. It was 16:30, and I had 11 more miles to get there. I picked up my pace and texted Tandem to let her know my plans. She was staying at a $25 hostel and found out that there was an extra bunk for me in the bunkhouse.
I hiked on and got another text saying that Mio and Jukebox wanted to split a hotel room due to the rain and had reserved a room at the Red Sled motel. I reached VT 11 & 30 at 19:45 in a steady rain, crossed the road, and started hitching. Three vehicles later, a car passed and turned around for me. The guys in the car were happy to take me to the hotel, but both smoked constantly on the way.
I arrived at the Red Sled motel at 20:00 and found Tandem and the guys relaxing in room 9. I unpacked and hung up my sleeping bag to dry. We were all tired, so we had lights out by 21:30.