Propulsion

Mile 1788.3

Operation “Moosilauke on Thursday” is in full swing! I’m at a flat spot mentioned in GH, waaaay too close to a road. But it’s not actally visible from the road, and it’s Tuesday in New Hampshire, not Saturday in Virginia, so I feel OK about it. At least there shouldn’t be bears! Yesterday at a stealth site about 3 miles before Hexacuba, I saw a giant black thing that could have been fungus, old wood, or a mighty ball of dried bear crap. I’m so paranoid about bears at the moment that I didn’t stay there, but marched on to the shelter.

From here, it’ll be an easy walk to Glencliff—about 5 miles, with one mountain. I’ll get there at 9ish, after they’ve had breakfast and after the slackpackers have left, and hopefully I’ll get a good bunk near a plug and won’t have a long line for laundry.

No signal here. Just me, the mosquitoes, and the Half-Blood Prince (again).

Today was hot. So was yesterday. The humidity’s off the charts, and climbing mountains hasn’t been easy. I think I found a new way to pack my pack, though, which relieves some of the shoulder pain I’ve been having. (The pack’s really beat. It’s not uncommon for thru-hikers to need to order a second pack at some point. This one’s pretty OK, though, except that the shoulder padding has basically worn away. I’ve got some workarounds.)

Cube Mountain! I don’t know why, but I really like that one. I liked it SOBO, and I liked it NOBO. Later I stopped at one of my favorite privies, the one that’s built like a castle. It’s full of trash and leaves now, but the structure still looks good.

Ohmygod, you guys! Speaking of privies! Remember when I said that thru-hiking turns you into an animal? Well, I was setting up my tent in the area between the road and this little creek maybe 20 feet away. I’m hot and sweaty. I ate a bag of chickpeas for second breakfast and a half-pound of dried cherries for lunch, because they’re heavy and I’m tired. But the effect has been… explosive. 😅 So I’m setting up the tent, and I’m farting. I mean, I’m farting, with great enthusiasm. I’m doing a Betty Boop dance, and farting. I’m lifting one leg and trumpeting. I’m practically farting the alphabet… and I glance down at the creek and see a guy filtering water, maybe 15 feet away, looking directly at me. Oh. My. God.

I stopped farting out loud. Then I went down and apologized for the noise. He laughed and was like, “Hey, you do what you gotta do.” Turns out he’s a SOBO. There are so many SOBOs! I forget to watch for them. The funniest thing, though, was when this guy got back on trail. He hiked north past my tent and said, “You can get back to your stealthing and farting now!” 😝

Anyway, here I am. I lost my train of thought in the amusing gaseous interlude.

Tomorrow: Glencliff hostel, I hope. It would be good if it didn’t rain tonight, but if it does, I’ll deal. Oh, and for what it’s worth, it seems that plenty of people are still doing Moosilauke northbound. So… OK. I think I’m good.

Frogs, +1! Go, frogs!

Smart Mountain

Looks like Vermont’s instituted some new rules for food storage on the AT—functionally, a bear can requirement (because good hanging trees are actually pretty rare). Good for them. The bears in Vermont were a big problem (which is a sad way to talk about bears acting like bears, but here we are). Frankly, if I ever camp anywhere on the AT again, whether section or thru or weekend, I’ll carry a bear can. And I’m telling people that, if they ask. Just bite the bullet and carry the bear can. Dump your Ursacks and your terrible bear hangs, and use a damn canister. I regret not having mine.

New Hampshire is New Hampshirey! 😁 That is, endlessly steep and rocky and rooty. Smart Mountain kicked my ass. I was supposed to do Cube, too, but I think it’s gnarly, and everybody I talked to was heading for the same stealth site, which only holds like… three tents, per Guthooks. Since I’m sure to get there last, I was pretty certain I’d end up desperate with no site. So I stopped partway up Cube, at Hexacuba Shelter. Mama Lion and her son are here. So is a guy named Warrior Priest, whom I’ve heard of, but I can’t remember whose orbit he was in.

Stopping here makes it 15 to Glencliff instead of 11, including Cube and a couple of smaller ones. I don’t want to get to the hostel at 6 and be fighting to do laundry. I’m thinking I’ll get there Wednesday instead of Tuesday, and take the long nero for laundry, recharging, organizing my resupply, and figuring out the first few days in the Whites. That still puts me exactly where I wanted to be: with five days in the bank heading into the Whites. The goal is to have as many of them as possible, but at least two, when I hit the Hundred Mile Wilderness.

Anyway, just chewing and perusing. Maybe tomorrow’ll be an easy 15. HAHAHA! 😆

Oh! Frogs +1! New Hampshire is bringing the frogs!

Did I mention that I’ve gone totally overboard, and I’m now filtering my water and using Aqua Mira? I’m basically drinking municipal water. 🤣

Hellooo, New Hampshire!

Mile 1766.5

(I’m including mileage only in case WP posts out of order, which could happen in the next weeks, with limited signal. Please don’t quote me my “miles per day” or anything. I’m keeping my own useful statistics.)

So! Vermont! You know, I guess everybody has that one state where conditions are bad, and some unlucky things happen, and other events conspire to make it “the worst.” Vermont was that, for me. Interesting, because it was my favorite last time! I was glad to see the end of it.

I did a quick resupply in… Norwich, I think. And I saw Coach Paws and Dead Cat (I have no idea, and I didn’t ask). They took a zero in Hanover. A lot of people took a zero in Hanover, getting ready for the Whites! It was great to see those guys. I haven’t seen them since Greylock.

Hanover was NUTS. It was Saturday, and Dartmouth Day, so the town was crazy crowded, like a street festival. I grabbed lunch, got water, and got out of there. There’s a steep climb to the first shelter (welcome to New Hampshire!), and I stopped there, alone. There was some sort of concert or dance going on right below, so I listened to the loud, bouncy music and used that for company. 🙂

Today I climbed two Mooses and that cliff where the protected peregrines live. I’m already feeling brighter and more spacious in New Hampshire, where the undergrowth is sparser and you can actually see what’s around you. I’m at a shelter with people I know: Monk and Easy-O, Q and Halo and RG (Roaming Geezer).

Tomorrow: More mountains! I’m planning to hit the Glencliff Hostel on Tuesday, and into the Whites on Wednesday. I’m pretty scared about Mt. Moosilauke, and I could get slackpacked southbound, but I think I’ll go ahead and do it NOBO with my pack. Hundreds of people do it every year, right?🤔I’ll camel and dump all my water, and refill at the bottom. That’s my current thinking. We’ll see how it goes.

It’s thundering. Looks like our week in the Whites is going to be a rainy one.

Divorced beheaded died. Divorced beheaded survived.

Bet you’re expecting something about Henry VIII. Not so! The mnemonic was going through my head all morning, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I realized: Queen Anne’s lace. It was everywhere, along with black-eyed Susans, daisies, thistle flowers. Vermont was all blooming meadows and steep hills for our last day together. There were plenty of monarch butterflies, too.

It was chilly this morning! I had to start hiking in my fleece hat and long-sleeve shirt, and the bugs were a non-factor until about noon.

The trail today was so overgrown in spots that the hiking amounted to bushwacking through weeds and grass that were taller than the hikers. Everybody was paranoid about ticks. I didn’t find any on me, thankfully. They must be hurting for volunteers here. Well… everywhere, I’m sure.

Had snacks at a couple of farm stands. Climbed hills. Blueberry accidentally left her underwear at the secret hostel, so there was conversation about that. 😅 Saw some truly epic piles of bear scat, but thankfully no bears.

I’m currently tenting in the backyard of trail angels Linda and Bernie in… a town. There’s a train, I just found out. Just like Boiling Springs. 😆 And I smell dog poop. I hope I’m not tenting in it.

Tomorrow: New Hampshire! And a quick resupply in Hanover for three days into Glencliff and the Whites. Let the games begin!

Lazy crazy hazy days of summer

Vermont continues, for one more day. I’m tenting at “the secret hostel.” The AT has all these “secret” things that everybody knows about. Unkept secrets. Anyway, this great guy named Dan runs this secret hostel: camp in his barn or tent on his lawn, take a shower, he’ll schlep you around if he has time. Leave a donation or do a little work for stay, if you want. It’s great, because this part of Vermont is either 22-mile days or 8-mile days, and all the shelters have crazy bear activity, per Guthooks. And there aren’t many reliable stealth sites listed. I saw two bears today. They were… assertive. But not aggressive.

The terrain was rigorous yesterday, but it gentled out today. Still a lot of up and down, but not a lot of rocky stuff. Lots of soft pine. Pretty waterfalls and ponds. That section that’s so steep it has an actual ladder; I’d misremembered that as being in New York. I’m looking forward to New Hampshire.

What else? I haven’t seen any NOBOs all day. The lady at the fabulous farm stand up the street said 40 came through yesterday. I wonder if I knew any of them? Today I met Blueberry the flipflopper, which is funny because a few weeks ago somebody asked me if I was Blueberry; I’ve become accidentally color coordinated in the blue-purple neighborhood.

Zero in Vermont

Ohmygod, it’s pouring. I usually have weird luck with zeroes; when I’m in town, it’s sunny, then when I get out again, it rains. Not today! The dining room is full of glum hikers getting ready to head out. People I know are here! Like Womble and Morph, from England! Every time I think I’m seeing somebody for the last time, I see them again. I love this trail. It’s probably the same on the other two trails, if you can keep up.

Everybody’s talking about their weight loss. It’s a typical thing, at this point going NOBO. Just like ticks and bears, skininess is an inevitable part of long-distance hiking (they say that at the end all the men look like POWs and the women look like supermodels 😂). People are currently obsessing long and hard about how to pound more calories. Packing out mayonnaise. Drinking olive oil. Me, the plan today is three big meals, maybe four if I’m ballsy enough to go down to that tiny restaurant that many times, and a pound of trail mix that I found in the hiker box. I’ll probably scrounge in the hiker box later, too. Also, I’m adding serious condiment calories. Five butters on my French toast. 🤣 I’d go seven, but I’m too embarrassed to empty the little bowl.

I really love this place. It’s comfy and cozy—not posh enough for my mother, but all fireplacey and lodgey and woody and dark, stuffed with vintage children’s toys and fat photography books and a spinnet piano, and it’s probably a great place to spend time if you’re skiing or leaf peeping. Irish music in the background. Irish food in the pub (plus regular burgers and such). Irish kitsch everywhere. (Live Irish music on weekends.) I’d love to come here for my birthday one year, except Vermont in winter (no freaking way) and it’s New Year’s weekend (no freaking way). 🤓

Is syrup good for phones? Asking for a friend.

My new shoes are sprayed, my food is half organized, and I poked at my schedule. I’ll be staying in Glencliff in a couple of weeks, so I’ll hash out the Whites there. I’m seriously considering slackpacking Mt. Moosilauke. We’ll see.

Random thing I’ve wanted to mention but haven’t had the leisure to do so. There was this one major highway crossing a week or two back. I hate highway crossings. I’m more afraid of them than anything I’ve encountered on trail, except the Knife’s Edge in PA. My glasses are so terrible that I don’t trust I’m seeing all the cars in the glare, and some of these are major, four-lane, high-speed highways. I’m full of dread for hours if a highway is coming up. (We might be done with the big ones at this point.) So there was this one highway, and Guthooks was full of warnings. “Take care! Cars zoom! Bad crossing!” And for the first couple of hiking hours, I’d pass southbound hikers saying “Be careful! Lots of construction! You’re going to die!” I was vomitous by the time I got to the highway—and don’t you know, they were paving it and there was an actual flagwoman right there. 😅 She stopped all the traffic for me, so it was the easiest highway crossing yet! But that’s not the point of the story. The point of the story is that the new asphalt was smoking hot. They’d just laid it down and were steamrolling it smooth. The crossing guard said, “That surface is super hot, so don’t use your poles.” OK, I nodded, and when she stopped the cars, I ran. I could feel the burning right up through my shoes! And that’s the point: I think I melted the bottoms of my shoes a little, or melted or wrecked some coating or treatment of the rubber that gave them traction. I’ve been slip-sliding like crazy. So I’m thrilled to get these shiny new shoes in my resupply box! Last new shoes before Monson. I want fresh ones for Katahdin (and home).

The hiking today was BWAHAHA there was no hiking today!

What else? Nothing! Futzing with my gear for a couple of hours until the restaurant opens at 11. Maybe I’ll take a shower. And then another shower!

Killington! 4200 feet

Back up to elevation! OK, not a ton of elevation, but a lot more than in the Midatlantic. Killington! The mountain that people usually ski down!

It was steep. The top part anyway. But so beautiful. So much like Maine, with the carpet of rust-colored pine needles, the mossy old-growth forest, the slick roots… and the moose poop. Moose poop! I honestly had no idea that there are moose in Vermont. Apparently NOBOs have already seen them, and one guy saw one near the Massachusetts border. Whaaaat?

I got past the peak before the rain started—a fine drizzle, then a steady rain, then a downpour that lasted the rest of the afternoon. It’s still pouring, in fact. But I don’t care because I’m zeroing, baby!

I love this place, but their dryer broke today. I hope my socks can air dry tonight and tomorrow.

I had a nice goodbye dinner with Fire Girl from Sweden (Long Trail, which is now separate from the AT again) and Tex, the NOBO who went a mile in the wrong direction the other day. Funny, funny people! Tex carries a chair. He started 2 weeks later than I did and has apparently been watching me creep out at 4:45 AM. 😁

If the scale downstairs is right, I’m down to about 117. Underweight. (The boundary for my height is 118.) I don’t trust the scale, though. It’s a regular dial one that gets used by thousands of hikers a year. Still, I’ve been thinking that calories are part of my slump. I just got an enormous resupply box from my wonderful brother, and I’ll up my calorie game. (I think it’s pretty much boxes until the end now, but I’ll sort that out tomorrow.) Hey, I even included a pound of almond M&Ms in that box! It’s almost like I’ve stayed here before! 😀 (They don’t sell candy. There’s not even a soda machine. If you want a soda, you go to the Irish pub downstairs. Ha! I wish they had a soda machine. Then again, weekenders here could just drive up the road and buy sodas!)

My hair is an epic old-lady disaster now. Wish I could shave it off! Time to start wearing a bandana in public!

The alarms are turned off. The earplugs are ready. Breakfast is at 7:30 (which’ll be interesting on Wednesday morning!). Tomorrow: three big meals, showers, foot soaking, and Harry Potter. It’s raining now, it’ll be raining tomorrow, and I’m taking a genuine zero!

(Oh. I did about 10 or 11 today. Tex hitched to the Inn. FG did the 0.9-mile roadwalk. I’m apparently the only idiot who did the 2.5 miles on the trail in the downpour. I’m still a bit of a purist!)

(Oh, also… 1700!)

(And… frogs +1. This one was cute. He didn’t hop out of the way. He slow-walked to a root to hide, like if he tiptoed I wouldn’t notice him. Tiptoad!)

Props to the Sticks and Stoned squad for the shrines this year!

Pride and Prejudice

Walking today was like pulling teeth. I suspect sugar withdrawal! That or the fact that there was yet another heat advisory today. I was on trail by 4:45 AM (not a typo; I’ve been night-hiking in the predawn again), and I was sweating by 5:30. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity! 😁 Anyway, when I got to the rock overlooking the Rutland airport, I knew I’d have a signal, and I wasn’t worried about battery because I’ll be in town tomorrow night. So as an experiment I downloaded the LibriVox app (free, public domain audiobooks) and the audiobook of Pride and Prejudice. I listened to 25 chapters. 😁 It did drain the battery by quite a bit—like 80%, I think. But I listened for half the day. It might be useful for a more reasonable half-hour a day or something. We’ll see. I’m heading into the more remote sections soon, so I won’t be able to recharge, and I’ll be watching my battery usage. (And I’m still reading Harry Potter at night. Second go-round. I’m in the Order of the Phoenix for the second time this trip.)

It’s really starting to feel like Maine. Pine forests, ridiculously steep climbs, crazy rock scrambles. I saw a couple of SOBOs, but only one NOBO—a guy named Tex who accidentally went the wrong way for 3/4 of a mile, and was still planning to bash out 24 to get to town today. Wow. These guys, they astonish me. Such athleticism!

I’m at the shelter before Killington with Fire Girl, from Sweden/Vermont. I told her to give me a call if she wants to do the CDT in 3, 4 years. 😁

Tomorrow: Killington, first thing in the morning. The Inn is 12.5 miles from here. I’m hoping to get there before 2, but it depends on what the trail hands me! It’s probably going to rain, but maybe I can beat it. We’ll see! The good news is that because of the long carry, my food weight is like… next to nothing. 😁 My pack is really light at the moment (still bulky, though). Oh! Speaking of bulky, I discovered a fantastic trail meal: spam and spray cheese on a cinnamon raisin bagel. It was an accident, and it’s delicious! Calories, protein, fat, carbs. Does a body good!

White Rocks and little ponds (with leeches)

17.8 today. With a heat index of 98, per AT Weather. No wonder I’m whipped! But I finally caught up to my schedule. Fifteen tomorrow—nothing drastic, it doesn’t look like, but it’s crazy Vermont, so who knows? Then on Monday, 12 miles including Killington, then I’m at the Inn. I remember Killington as being pretty steep, but the elevation profile only shows a 9% grade, so hopefully I’m misremembering.

The day was gorgeous, if brutally hot. (My heat rash is back again. I can’t WAIT for that shower on Monday afternoon!) This was the Vermont I remembered—lots of rolling ups and downs, lots of ponds and pretty waterfalls. What I didn’t remember were the miles of Pennsylvania-grade ankle busters, and the biting flies and mosquitoes, which were off the charts.

Approaching the sculpture gardens at White Rocks from the south was another thing I missed when I flipped. Saw ‘em today!

I also saw the Girl Squad! 😄 Kiwi, Hufflepuff, Sneaky Pockets, Tangles, Trash Panda. They’re at the next shelter tonight, 5 miles upstream, after pulling a 19. I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to see so many strong women on the trail. They’re amazing! Honest to god, these hikers are kicking serious ass.

Tomorrow: I’ll stick to the underdrive, if I can. Looks like the heat advisory is in effect tomorrow, too. Blah.

Heat!

Did I make 18.5? No. 15.7. But it’s because late in the day I checked the description of the shelter, and it has one… one… tent platform. There’s a caretaker, and nothing in the comments says anything about additional tent sites. I didn’t want to risk getting there at 6 and having them tell me to hike on—particularly since the next tent site, also with a caretaker, has platforms. My tent isn’t freestanding. Platforms are very difficult. (I’m about done with non-freestanding tents, I think. I want my next one to be freestanding.)

It worked out OK. There’s a heat advisory in effect, with like… 100% humidity. It wasn’t bad at elevation, but now I have a heat rash on my chest and shoulders, from the wet pack straps, I assume.

I don’t have an overdrive, but I have an underdrive—meaning I got up at 3:30 and started night hiking at 4:45. Yeah, still creepy. After dawn, at around 6:30, I’m pretty sure I saw a bear. Could have been a deer, though. It was around a bend, so there were trees in the way, and I had my bug net on. Something crashed, I looked ahead, we saw each other, then it instantly bounded off into the woods and went silent.

Today was the beginning of tough, I think. Bromley Mountain was steep, and the top mile was actually the ski slope. 😄 I remember going down that and thinking, ‘Thank god I’m going SOBO.’

Oh! Speaking of SOBOs, I’m starting to see them! Met a guy named Glucose today. It’s interesting to hear how they handled the Katahdin situation. These’s a lot of variation.

And speaking of glucose, I’m out of candy. The next two days should be interesting. 😆

Made my reservation at Inn at Long Trail. I cannot WAIT for this zero. I haven’t taken a zero since Harpers Ferry (plenty of neros, though).

Wallow!

Oh, deargod, what a mud wallow this state is! OK, I get it now! 😆 You know what else I get now? The “green tunnel.” Despite my hiking in Pennsylvania, I never realized how claustrophobic this trail can get day after day after day. Green walls pushing in, a green ceiling, tight green everywhere. Honestly, sometimes I’d give up coffee for just a piece of rock and an open vista where I can grab some calories. (There are no meals anymore. Just “calories.”) (And actually that’s a lie. I’m too addicted to coffee!) 😁

I was slow getting up because half the stuff in my tent was drenched, it was cold out, it was drizzling, and I couldn’t face the thought of putting on my drenched, cold, stinking clothes. Not the compression calf things, not the shorts, not the clammy shirt, not the revolting sports bra. Eventually I got it done, except for the socks, but the girls in the shelter were also up and around by 6 AM. I’ve lost my mutant superpower. Everybody gets up early now.

So. I decided to continue with the plan—just do as many miles as I can manage (which isn’t a lot right now), take the zeroes (because I need the rest and I need the meals), and deal with the fallout in Monson. I wanted those days in the bank for a reason: I might need them! Also, the momentary euphoria of seeing those gals doesn’t change the fact that they’re doing 19s and 20s, and I’m getting zonked after 12 or 13. Even if I pushed to finish in August, we’d likely be out of sync. So it’s me and the trail, and in Monson I’ll see where things stand. I hope I see them again, though. I might. They did 20 today to get into Manchester, so I’m thinking they’ll stay in town tomorrow. Maybe.

Hiking today was muuuuudddddyyyy. It didn’t rain, though. I ran out of steam 3 miles short of where I wanted to be, so tomorrow I have to find some way to do 18.5. I’m not sure why I’m running out of gas like this. Could be calories. More likely, though, I’m really struggling with boredom. Vermont is so green and close that every step feels like every other step. And I can only walk a treadmill for about 9 hours before my brain is screaming for me to quit. (And the steep climbs and rock walls slow me down, too.) I might get Audible in Rutland—but phone battery is an issue, too. It’s always something!

Tomorrow: Bromley Mountain. Wish me luck, lol. I hate walking up next to the ski slopes! But if I recall, the tread is decent. That’s what I need… a solid bunch of miles of good, easy tread. You know what would thrill me right now? An 18-mile roadwalk!

It starts to get darkish at 5:30, 6 PM now. Days are getting shorter in the forest! (But dawn is still starting by 5 AM.)

Look how black and disgusting my shoes are!

Orbits and spirals

Rain! Hard, hard rain all day, except for an hour around lunchtime! “Rain may be heavy at times.” Yeah, it was. Still is, in fact. I’m so happy to have my Xtherm! Having this much sopping wet stuff inside the tent would be a disaster with that accordion pad.

So, I stopped early again! Because after 8 hours of slow going in the pouring rain, I was freezing. Guess how long it takes for Vermont to become Vermud? About… oh… 4 hours. Like… a sea of sucking black mud. And blackflies, by the way. My face got chewed up.

No pictures. It was too wet to take out the phone. I’m only updating because guess who just rolled into this shelter? Kiwi and Sneaky Pockets and Hufflepuff! I’m ecstatic! Friends!

Those guys are aiming to finish on the last day of August. It occurs to me that everybody I know is aiming to finish in August. That’s how this bubble is rolling. I can probably stay in their orbit if I just decide to summit at the end of August. (Although I’ll have no ride out of Baxter, and that never goes well for me if I leave it to chance.) Or at least, I could get to Abol Bridge at the end of August and kill 4 days in Milinocket and summit on the 5th, as planned. With a ride.

I don’t even have to do anything superhuman. Just un-slow my roll. And maybe skip the zero in Killington. As it stands, I’m 8 days ahead, even with the zero. All things staying the same, that would organically give me an August 30 finish.

Hmmm….

The Long Trail

Most of the people on trail right now are on the Long Trail, not the AT. It’s a strange dynamic. Everybody’s hiking, but it’s like the 45s and the 78s (for you old people) are jumbled together, and the result doesn’t quite mesh. We’re on different wavelengths. Everybody’s nice, though. It’s just… weird.

Didn’t see anybody I know today. Oh! I take that back. I’ve been leapfrogging with two older hikers named Stingray and Roaming Geezer. Met them about… 3 days ago? I think. But nobody I’ve known for a while.

So. Last night. The new air mattress was great, the new Houdini was magnificent. But as it turned out, I think I camped on an animal turnpike. I was already freaking out a bit about the aggressive bear 15 miles away, and at around 11 something big started crashing around in the woods. It walked through my campsite at least twice. I’m thinking it was one or several deer, rather than a bear, because I’d occasionally hear clickety-clicks like hooves on rock. But I was still scared. I talked, I shined my headlamp, I made myself big under my sleeping bag, and they went away. Then an hour later, something lower to the ground came SOBO up the AT and wandered near my site. or around it, or in it. Sound comes from everywhere, at night in the woods. That beastie could have been a coyote or a raccoon or a fox, or who knows? At that point, my heart was pounding so hard that I was afraid I’d get no sleep at all. So I put in my earplugs loosely, just enough to muffle, and I put my headlamp on my forehead, and I slept in my glasses, in case I had to move fast. Luckily, I didn’t. 😀

People are still using Goddard Shelter. The LTers don’t seem to know it was closed, although everybody seems to know the bear’s been shot. I’d been planning to camp a couple miles before or after that area, but I came across this perfect spot about 5 miles away, and I decided to grab it. It doesn’t look like a superhighway. 😁

I think I can make up the miles tomorrow, but Vermont is really throwing me for a loop. I don’t remember these steep rock climbs at all! I remember gently rolling hills, covered in red and gold. It’s really interesting how the NOBO trail slowly ramps you up before the Whites. NY is harder than NJ. Connecticut is harder than NY. Massachusetts is harder than Connecticut. And Vermont, so far, has been steeper and rockiet than Massachusetts. When I flipped from Virginia to Katahdin, I thought I had trail legs. But I’d missed all this preparatory work. No wonder I felt like I’d been hit by a truck after I summited!

Signal has been really spotty. I guess that’ll be the case going forward.

I finally came across signage with rules for dispersed camping, so here I am, perfectly legal (although I have short-day remorse). Also, I’ve been pack-shamed twice, and trail-splained numerous times. One old guy (an LTer, I think, and a sectioner, to boot) looked at my shorts and trailrunners and tsked, and said, “I don’t know how you’re gonna manage. It’s all brambles and mud.” I don’t think he said that to the young guys in shorts and trailrunners who were in front of me. Just me. Why do you think that is? 😉The pack-shamers, at least, shut up when I mention it’s my second rodeo.

What else? Oh! Frogs +1. Here are the standings, in case you care😆:

Snakes: 8
Frogs: 11
Turtles: 6
Red salamanders (efts): 14

Bears: 5 (2 Shenandoah, 2 New Jersey, 1 Connecticut)
Wild turkeys: 1
Deer: a lot
Rabbits: yes