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GREETINGS FROM VERMONT!

VERMONT’S LONG TRAIL, END-TO-END, 2021-22









I: WILLIAMSTOWN TO RUTLAND






DAY 1: WILLIAMSTOWN - CONGDON


Day 1: 13.6 miles, sunny/warm. I began my trek just after 09:00, making my way up along the Appalachian Trail to the Massachusetts-Vermont border. I crossed some scenic power lines, a beaver pond, and the aptly-named, viewless, Consultation Peak. I made it into camp at Congdon Shelter around 18:00, where I made dinner and conversed with Rocky, Over the Hill, and another older fellow. As the ambient twilight faded into night, I built my tent and settled into my evening’s entertainment: Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary.






My tech fared OK today, though my power consumption was higher than anticipated. The GoPro is the worst offender of the day, though my phone discharged to 30% due to unforeseen user error. Not a bad showing today but I am certainly feeling it. Everything aches.



DAY 2: CONGDON - GODDARD (GLASTENBURY)


14.6 miles. Sunny/warm. I started off with a muddy 2.5 mile gentle ascent up Harmon Hill, where I was greeted by views of Bennington below. The ascent was a bit rocky, and I stopped for lunch after I crossed Route 9 at the bottom. On my way up into the Glastenbury Wilderness, I played a bit of hiker tag with Jay, before falling behind in the last miles before the shelter.



Bonk! To my dismay, I realized as gold became grey that I had overlooked and underestimated those final miles to camp, and I found myself crashing on the final staircases approaching Glastenbury Peak. I made it to Goddard Shelter, mostly full with a larger assortment of SOBOs. I found a log and dug into my turkey jerky to lift my gloom. In the gloaming, I probed for a decent tent site and found “good enough” for the night.



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DAY 3: GLASTENBURY - STORY SPRING




8.9 miles. Sunny/warm.

Today started out rough but ended on a higher note. This morning, my Sawyer Squeeze broke about its threads while prepping water for the day, after I burnt my breakfast— these may both be due to fatigue from yesterday. I climbed the fire tower at Glastenbury and then made my way down to Kid Gore for lunch. A trail guardian gave me his Sawyer as a backup (thank you!). It’s slow but functional. It seems they’re putting in a new privy there; I believe the construction supplies are air-dropped by helicopter or carried in on foot.


Between my two Sawyers, I almost have a functional filtering system now. My filter flows well enough, but only when set in the one exact position where the remaining threads catch those of the bottle. This seal is improved by taking a trash bag and wrapping it around the joint, taking care to tightly cover the broken bit so it can form enough of a seal to function. This is reinforced with a shock tie to keep it stable enough to use. The whole process is repeated every time I filter water, several times in a row to produce 1-1.5 liters of water. The backup works consistently, but like many Sawyers after time/use, it’s in need of a thorough backwashing session to make it flow efficiently.



I decided to call it a shorter recovery day and made it to Story Spring around 17:00. There’s a couple dudes from Maryland and upstate NY at the camp. I have a good tenting spot nearly out of view of the shelter, but very well situated on level clear ground. Also met an older SOBO couple that has done this half a dozen times, who visited for a bit before pressing onward to the road.




DAY 4: STORY SPRING SHELTER - WILLIAM DOUGLAS SHELTER 



15 miles. Wet/mild into sunny/warm. Morning drizzle covered my first few miles but tapered off as I began my climb up Stratton Mountain. Dense, rolling fog obscured any distant views from the summit, but my ascent passed through stunning misty vignettes, both mycological and evergreen.


I lingered at the summit, enjoying the ambiance of my misty surroundings from atop the fire tower. I took a leisurely lunch nearby, but I quickly grew chilly and began a brisk descent to Stratton Pond, where I took a quick break by the waterfront.


I pushed through the last 4.5 miles through the Lye Brook Wilderness to the spur trail leading to William Douglas Shelter, arriving just before dark. I was drained: my feet hurt, I was very tired, and I had earned myself a headache for my trouble, but the day’s journey was finished. I tented outside the shelter and ate dinner over light conversation with Manchego and Boulder Patrol, both SOBOs.




DAY 5: WILLIAM DOUGLAS SHELTER - PERU PEAK SHELTER




16 miles today, Douglas Shelter to Peru Peak Shelter. Started going up Styles peak around 16:50 and ended up making it off the mountain a little after dark. The camp is nice and I’m sharing it with a SOBO AT thruhiker (did 24 miles today, i forget his name... Midnight Dinner?) and a tarp user across the camp. My tech is using hella juice but I’m getting better at using the gopro as an effective tool (shorter clips a few mins apiece every hour- couple hours). Today pushed me hard physically and after a very rough morning I was up to the challenge. I focused on rehydrating and taking more frequent meal breaks to keep myself going strong.


This morning I ran into Dinosaur (74M, LASH NOBO, 12 years retired). Said he camped with Jay last night at Stratford Pond. Nice guys (the both of them). Would have talked more but had to zoom onwards. Also met a helpful older couple at Spruce Peak (wife Janet and husband). The husband pointed me to the blue blaze and showed me to service. They also took my trash.


The climb up Styles was eerie, almost surreal in parts. As the noise fades away and gives way to wind, you start to feel as though you’re entering another realm. Up there, the mountain forest is nearly silent. Old pine trees with clenched roots wrap around mossy rock formations, refreshed by the intermittent waves of fog. Deeper in lie fractals of little green plants, mosses, and mushrooms. This forest is alive, and walking through you can hear its presence call out. One would be a fool to be caught there in the dark.



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(c) 2022 Dylan G Kenseth