Today marks our four month trailaversary! We started hiking the AT on March 16. We also passed mile 1,685, which takes us under 500 miles remaining to Mount Katahdin!
I woke at 5:00 below the Greenwall shelter to the pitter patter of rain falling on my tent fly. It had rained all night. I rolled over and slept until 7:00. By then, the rain had ceased and the only falling water was from the leaves when the wind blew. I heard others chatting quietly at the shelter as I packed my gear in my dry tent.
I joined them and ate my breakfast at the shelter while we discussed the day and destinations. Key Lime’s parents were providing trail magic on the gravel road near the Governor Clement shelter, 15 miles north of us.
We packed our packs and hit the trail at 8:15. Tandem stopped in front of the shelter for water, so I stopped with her to chat. We discussed my desire to do daily miles of fewer than 20 and to slow down and enjoy the trail. She respected that need but also wanted to continue to hike with Jukebox and Mio who do 20+ mile days. I told her we’d play it by ear as to whether we split up for the last 500 miles.
We hiked out, and she moved ahead to catch the guys. I passed several of the VT section hikers then caught up with the trio at the Minerva Hinchey shelter five miles out. We snacked and ate more breakfast while discussing names that you should not name your children.
We saddled back up and headed back to the trail. When I reached the Claredon shelter, they were resting at the blue blazed trail to it. They were moving on to the trail magic six miles ahead without eating to work up a big appetite. I chose to go the the shelter and eat my lunch at a picnic table. There I met two guys who had day hiked to the shelter via the fire road. We talked as I ate, and I learned that their father had managed the AT maintenance group for years while they were kids. In the early 60’s, he was responsible for the rerouting of the trail from the fire road to the more interesting route that we had just taken; it now climbs the mountain with a steep rock scramble and a great view.
One of the brothers is named ABOS, and he lives in Philly. He talked about his father with great respect and honor. The brothers were also there on a mission for their third brother from TX. That brother had placed a virtual geocache at a historic sign eight years ago, but the cache never got approved. Next to the cache he had hidden an unactivated Texas geocoin in a hollow tree. The local brother had been up to look for the coin with vague hints multiple times but never has found it.
I said my goodbyes and hiked on, moving swiftly toward the trail magic. When I reached the gravel Upper Cold River Road, I found an AT detour sign. The trail has been rerouted on three gravel roads while they rebuild the bridge over Cold River after it was destroyed by Hurricane Irene. I hiked the detour and found the trail magic party shortly before the last road.
Key Lime’s parents had really gone all out! They had meats like burgers, bratwurst, and homemade venison sausages, grilled corn and baked potatoes with butter, guacamole, cheeses, and spices. There were chips and candy, and for dessert there were grandma’s homemade brownies and a delicious pudding cake made in the field. Beverages included bourbon, whiskey, beer, sodas, and water.
At the high point of the trail magic, there were ten hikers eating and partying. Tandem really enjoyed herself, which made me happy. After a few hours, the younger hikers were very full and very drunk. I grabbed some bratwursts, candy, and a couple of Mountain Dews for my pack and put it on. I said my thanks and Tandem came over to check if I was all right to hike the five miles up to the top of Killington Mountain as was planned. I told her that I was, and we gave each other a hug with love.
I hiked for two hours from 18:30 to 20:30 to the top of Killington. I had a close encounter with a deer that I surprised and got within 20 feet of it. We had a little talk.
The 2,300 foot climb was a mixed bag of fire road, switchbacks, straight ups, and steep rock scrambles. I arrived at the Copper Lodge shelter and found a group of boys and leaders camping on the tent platforms behind it. They said that there was also camping .2 miles up a rock scramble on the top of the mountain. I grabbed a sunset shot in front of the shelter through the trees and then headed up. The camping area at the top was full of another group of boys and leaders. So, after shooting a couple of late sunset shots, I wandered in the waning light to the south side of the mountain near the cell towers and found a less rocky spot for my tent. This is why we carry air pads to sleep on!
I texted the trio as to my location and wrote this blog until 23:30, but they never showed up.