I did a solo trip on a southern portion of the Long Trail/AT in Vermont from July 22 to 24 of this year. I debated which direction to do the hike, and in the end decided to go SOBO. It's been a difficult summer to get out for a number of reasons so I was very appreciative of my wife's encouragement to do this hike during the first three days of my one and only week of vacation this summer. The temperature during the first two days was HOT and humid, in the 90's - I didn't look up the heat index, but there's no doubt it was up there True to form (for me anyway) it rained while I was out - but just one little thunder storm - the thing is, when I last looked at the weather forecast on the morning I left, there was 0% chance of rain until three days later! Oh well. I wasn't the only one throwing up a tarp in the middle of the night
The trip was about 43-44 miles through mainly mixed hardwood forest, most of the time in the Green Mountain National Forest. I traveled through three designated "Wilderness Areas" while on the trip. Water wasn't a problem though many of the streams were quite low. In spite of this, there are many wet, boggy areas in this part of Vermont and "bog boards" are common along this section of trail. I crossed many dry "seasonal" stream beds that would be a big problem during snow melt.
The first day covered between 16 and 17 miles from VT route 140 in Wallingford to Griffith Lake. There are designated tent sites with platforms at Griffith Lake, as well as a caretaker collecting the $5 fee to camp there. I met a few NOBO AT through hikers there as well as a couple SOBO LT through hikers I had passed earlier in the day. The lake was great for swimming and I thoroughly enjoyed cooling off after hiking throughout the very hot day. We all cooked and chatted around the campfire that evening. One of the NOBO's is a hammocker, but not active on HF.
Day two started with a thunder storm between 4 and 5 a.m. I, and my neighbors, had to scramble out of our hammocks and tents to put up tarps for the unexpected storm. I should have known better, with the high humidity and all, the conditions were just right for a thunder storm. The storm and ensuing rain delayed the start of my day by a couple of hours, but nevertheless I ended up putting in a big day (for me) and spent my second night at Stratton Pond. It was another hot day, in the 90's and humid again. I climbed a few mountains: Peru, Styles, Bromley, and Spruce, met some SOBO AT through hikers who are also hammockers, and saw a black bear. I met my first "trail angel" at the Rte 11 crossing where many through hikers go into Manchester, VT for resupply and rest at a popular hostel - this trail angel gave a frisbee to the SOBO hammockers I mentioned above. He also gave us all ice cold beer, which, at that particular moment, was just the right thing I had planned on spending the night at the Spruce Peak shelter just 3 miles from the Route 11 crossing, but I arrived there around 4 p.m. and felt pretty good so I opted to press on to Stratton Pond, 8 miles further, in the hopes of having a shorter day on Sunday, day three. I saw a bear a couple of miles before reaching Stratton Pond - I was within fifty feet of it before we saw each other - it saw me first; if I was walking a little dazed before I saw it, I was wide awake after I couldn't wait to crawl into my hammock, it's all I thought about for the last few miles, at least until I saw the bear. But... some time between tearing down my set-up that morning and attempting to hang it at Stratton Pond, I pulled my adjustable loop into the whoopie sling I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes, it was dark, so I made a beeline for the shelter, which fortunately had plenty of room for me. It was a terrible night, lots of mosquitoes and very noisy late arrivers with a noisy dog. I had to sleep (tried to sleep) with a head net on and zipped-up in my summer bag (my TQ). BTW, temp still in 80's-90's.
Day three was short and sweet. Up early with a good breakfast and coffee, faster than expected climb of Stratton Mountain, and a very nice visit with the caretakers at the top. Jeanne and Hugh have been the caretakers there since the 60's, and Hugh actually helped build the current lookout tower in the 30's. While visiting with them, a friend of theirs arrived, a fellow named Robert Hauptman. He is a very interesting man, among other things he is a mountaineer and an author. He wrote "The Mountain Encyclopedia" as well as his most recent book, "Grasping For Heaven" a book of interviews with north American mountaineers. I spend an hour on Stratton visiting with these folks and could easily have spent the entire day visiting with them. I finished the trip at the foot of Stratton Mountain on the Kelley Stand Road where my son and I had left a car three days before.
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