I hiked a section of the Long Trail last weekend with a buddy of mine and an old college friend of his. They've been working on hiking the entire trail in sections for a couple of years and invited me to hike with them on this section.
We did a 24 mile section of the Trail from VT Rte 140 in Wallingford to US Rte. 4 in Killington. The Long Trail and the AT run together in this section, in fact they part ways about 1 mile north of our stopping point. The first day we hiked in over 13 miles to the Governor Clement Shelter where we spent the night, they in their tent and me in my hammock. The second day we hiked the final 11 or so miles up and over Killington Peak (4235 ft, the trail passes just below the summit) to Route 4 in Killington.
The first day was gorgeous, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's. It was plenty hot for backpacking though. We had a couple of unusual sightings as we made our way north. First, about 2 or so miles in we came across a chair sitting, no pun intended, in the middle of the trail. Never seen that before! And, not two miles further down the trail we crossed paths with a NAKED HIKER None of us was quick enough on our feet to take a picture, but I swear we saw him! This section of the Long Trail was well maintained and seemed fairly well traveled. We passed several areas with fresh blowdowns. VT had had a few severe thunderstorms pass through recently, in fact I had lost my telephone and power due to a severe storm the evening before the hike . The decent into and climb out of Clarendon Gorge were very steep.
The climb on the north side of the gorge in particular was steep at about 400-500 ft elevation in about 1/2 mile. There isn't much for views on this section of the trail, just a couple of westerly lookouts with a view towards New York state.
The Governor Clement shelter is a beautiful stone structure built in 1929. There are some good hanging (and tenting) sights near the shelter and water from a nice cold stream about 200 ft away. We cooked dinner over a fire and turned-in by 8 p.m. This was my first night out backpacking with my Warbonnet Blackbird and I could not have slept better!!!!
We awoke (around 5 a.m.) to the pitter patter of rain drops on the tarp and temperatures in the 40's. Going into the trip the forecast had been for a chance of showers Saturday with lows in the 50's. Since the rain was light and intermittent at that point, we decided to pack up and get an early start to try to avoid getting too wet before the big climb up Killington Peak (about 2500+/- ft over 4.5 miles). We set out a little after 6 a.m. and the skies proceeded to open up Then, of course, as we climbed the wind also picked up and the temperature dropped as well. We had been anticipating a difficult climb up Killington, but in fact, it went fairly well and we reached the Cooper Lodge, another very nice stone shelter just below the summit, in much less time than we had planned. There was only one technically difficult "short and sweet" area that we had to traverse on the way up. We were fairly cold and wet by the time we reached the shelter so we warmed up some water and had a cup of instant coffee and some snacks. The walk over to Pico Peak and down to Route 4 was easy and steady. I think we may have passed several good lookout points on this day, but we were continually in fog/clouds so we didn't see much beyond the woods around us. The rain stopped within 10 minutes of beginning our long decent from Cooper Lodge. All day we had to watch our step on wet rocks and roots. After reaching the parking area on Route 4 we drove a mile up the road to McGrath's Irish Pub and the Inn at Long Trail and had a great Irish Stew and a pint. It was the perfect ending to a cold, wet day of hiking.