Our first zero day

Day 17

Wednesday August 31, 2016

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We took our first and only planned zero day today. A zero day is a day off from the trail. No miles were hiked today. We spent the day sleeping in, cleaning gear, doing laundry, making plans for the next nine days and shopping for more food.

I have to leave in ten days so we have nine days to finish the trail. We planned out millage for each day depending on the difficulty of the terrain and location of the shelters.

We also went shopping for stuff for lunches. We were looking for things that didn’t need to be cooked. Cooking and the 20 mins wait for rehydration just takes too long. I got some gluten free ramen type noodles with seasoning that I’ll just add some water to in the morning and let them soak all day to soften up. I also got some crackers, cheese and hummus. This will make things quick and easy.

Uncle Brian took me to a farm that is just a short ways down the road for me to get some maple syrup to bring home. I also got to feed a 3 month old calf some corn from the cob. Aunt Julie also wanted us to pick a pint of blueberries for a fresh fruit salad. I did more eating of the blueberries than filling up the pint container when I realized how delicious they were.

Day 16

Tuesday August 30, 2016

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The Hump Brook tenting area was really nice. There was an eating/cooking area with a huge picnic table that was under a tarp. It also had a bear box so we didn’t have to hang our food in a tree. Unfortunately I was up at 5 am again looking for the privy. I don’t usually have to go so urgently, but out here on the trail as soon as I wake up its time to go!?!?

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My home away for home.

We left camp at 7:15 am to tackle Camels Hump the climb up wasn’t too bad, but the 6 mile 4000 foot descent was hell on the knees.

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Me on top of Camels Hump with Mt Mansfield in the back ground.

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We reached the summit at 9 am and the views were amazing. There was fog covering the Winooski river and only a few us up at the top. As we were talking to the caretaker we learned that as many as 500 people a day would summit Camels Hump on the weekends. We were thankful to have it mostly to ourselves.

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View looking back at Camels Hump after our climb down.

 

Aunt Julie is Bad Ass!

Day 15
Monday August 29, 2016

My Aunt Julie is the coolest aunt. She is an amazing hiker and great partner on this trip. Check her out in the video below. She has been leading every day and coaching me through some of the ascents or descents and getting me past my panic attacks. She is the first one to camp with me always showing up later after she’s got her shoes off or her tent half way set up. And she is 15 years older than me. I feel like such a slacker.

My Uncle Brian is pretty bad ass too. He can fly down these mountains on a pair of skies at almost 60 mph.  He has been awesome picking us up or dropping us off at the trailheads and cooking whatever we request for dinner.  Thank you Uncle Brian. These two are top notch in my book.


I was up early and hiking by 7:30 am. We climbed Burnt Rock Mountain first. There were a few open exposed areas on large rock slabs and one ledge that made me pretty nervous, but I did it. The views from this mountain were breath taking.

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The next mountain was Mt Ethan Allen, which had us doing a few rock scrambles and a ladder descent that would have been ok if the ladder was easily accessible, but it was pretty nerve racking trying to get to it.

I was glad we didn’t have many miles planned for today, since the terrain was so rough. It gave us more time to rest and eat on our breaks and I was feeling much better today.

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Our lunch spot for the day.

My knees still bothered me some on the downhills and my right achilles bothered me a little, but not as bad as yesterday. We will see what tomorrow brings…we have a 4000 foot descent!?!? The knees aught to love it. 😦
The weather was pretty cool today and cold in some sections where it was windy. You can hear how windy it was on some of my videos. This was nice for the climbing we did. It kept me from getting all sweaty and wet. Which is nice for when you take a break. When you take a break to snack or eat and you are all wet you can get really cold. I was looking forward to getting my night time clothes on and climbing into my sleeping bag to get all toasty.

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View of Camels Hump that we will be climbing tomorrow.

We arrived at camp at 3:30pm after almost 10 miles completed for the day. We are camped at Hump Brook tenting area. We will be climbing Camels Hump tomorrow, which is tied for third highest mountain in VT with Mt Ellen(which we already climbed a couple of days ago).The picture below is a view of Camels Hump on our way into camp tonight. We have now finished 174 miles of the Long Trail!

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Another view of Camels Hump.

Day 14

Sunday August 28, 2016

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The trail is marked with white blazes for you to follow.

We completed about 14 miles today and 11 was a slack pack. I was amazed how much easier it was to move with just a tiny little backpack on. We slacked from Lincoln gap to Appalachian gap where we meet Uncle Brian and he had our packs for us then we continued on to camp. The last 2.5 miles to camp took me 2 hours to complete. The terrain was really difficult and technical. It seemed more like climbing than hiking. We had several areas with rebar rungs attached to rock faces to climb down and one ladder, none of which I was happy to see with my fear of heights. I think there is another ladder in tomorrows hike. When you add a 20+ lb backpack and trekking poles going down a ladder or rebar rungs is pretty difficult. Then add in my lack of coordination and that amps up the difficulty.

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I climbed up these rock that you see in this picture.
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These rock are also part of the trail that I climbed up.

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If you look closely you will see a wooden ladder in the upper right corner of the photo.

There were many great views to be seen today. We crossed Mt Abraham, the fifth highest mountain in VT, Mt Ellen, one of two mountains tired for third highest and two other peaks. I was thankful to slack pack some of it. Thank you, Uncle Brian for shuttling us this morning and bringing us our packs this afternoon.


We ate lunch at this really cool shelter. It is one of a few that is totally enclosed.

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Our lunch spot this afternoon.

I finally arrived at the Birch Glen shelter at 5:30 pm with sore feet, knees and a Achilles tendon on my right foot. I was exhausted. Never have I worked so hard on a hike. Granted I have been going at it for two solid weeks, the terrain is just more difficult than I thought it would be. This is much harder than the section I hiked in the Smokey mountains.

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Mad River Glen has a single chair ski lift.

Shortly after arriving at the shelter I got an emergency alert on my phone, warning about flash flooding in the area. We were expecting rain this evening, but we never got a drop. Which is great for keeping the trails dry.

Day 13

Saturday August 27,2016

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I wake up at 5 this morning and had to poop again. UGH! The guide book says this shelter does have a privy it’s just somewhere north of here on a side trail. So I get up in the dark and head up the trail looking for a side trail that leads to the privy. I do find it, but it is just a toilet in the woods. So there I am sitting on a toilet in the woods in the dark. It was definitely the best view while sitting on a toilet with the sky just staring to lighten. Another first experience for me.

Julie and I are moving early, leaving Cooley Glen Shelter at 6:50 am. Uncle Brian is picking us up today at 1pm and we have 10 miles to cover.

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The terrain is difficult again today. When we reach the half way point we realize we are not going to make it on time. We message Uncle Brian to last him know we will be late so he doesn’t worry.

When I was hiking last month in the Smokies I was able to average 2 miles per hour pretty easily but not here. This is much more difficult.

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I had a pretty difficult day today. I didn’t get a chance to sit and rest my feet all day since we were running late to meet Brian. My feet were pretty sore and tired. I couldn’t wait to sit down.

Once we got to Aunt Julie’s we rested for a spell. Oh it felt good to get off my feet. Then we had a lot to do. Cleaning gear, doing laundry, gathering food and making plans for the rest of the hike.

We are going to slack pack (travel without our backpacks) for the first 11 miles tomorrow then Uncle Brian will bring us our backpacks and we will hike the last 2.5 miles to our camp spot for the night. Traveling without a pack sounds so awesome! I’m looking forward to this.

Uncle Brian made us a huge stir fry dinner tonight with a large piece of Steel Head Trout. I think this is my new favorite fish. This is the first time I have had it and it was amazing. Thank you Uncle Brian.

Day 12

Day 12 August 26, 2016

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It started raining at 5:30 this morning and it wasn’t a light rain it’s pouring. I didn’t have service here so I couldn’t check the weather. We decide to wait to see if it would stop soon. I laid in my sleeping bag for an hour reading and listening to the rain, but now I really have to pee and the privy doesn’t have a roof. I wonder if the shelter has an awning all the way around it…no such luck.

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We left the shelter at 8:30. It was still raining, but it was pretty light and only continued for another 45 minutes. The sun came out shortly after and out ended up being a beautiful day. The trail however was a mess. A very MUDDY mess!

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I finally walked into camp for the night a 5:00 pm with wet and muddy socks, shoes and feet. We completed 11 miles for the day and there were NO easy miles today. We have now passed the half way point, completing 140 trail miles.
I had to dig my first cat hole tonight. I thought this shelter had a privy but I couldn’t find it and I had to go since I didn’t use the very open privy at the last shelter because it was raining.

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Day 11

Day 11 August 25, 2016

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Yesterday, when we rolled into camp I found a nice tent spot with a nice bed of leaves that I was pretty excited about. After laying down in the tent I realize that the tent site was NOT level. So I shoved my clothes bag under my sleeping pad on the low side to kind of act like brakes and level things out. When you put a silky sleeping bag on a sleeping pad it’s like a slip and slide so I was a little worried, but I slept fantastic and didn’t have my normal hip soreness from sleeping on the ground. Normally I start out on my right side then roll to my back when that hip gets sore, then from my back I roll to my left side, to my back and back to my right side. This gets repeated several times throughout the night. But last night I hardly moved and woke up rested and ready to go.

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We left camp at 7:30 am and completed 14 miles for the day. We had a great morning and I think we had a couple of miles of cruiser trail, which was a first. We were making great time until we hit another mountain than it was back to roots, rocks and lots of elevation change. We finely rolled into camp at 3:20 pm exhausted with sore feet and legs. As I rounded the front of the shelter I hear my name called, and there is Caraboose. She and I met online. We were both doing a Long Trail hike starting just a few days apart. Only she was hiking it south bound and I was hiking north bound. I was hoping I would see her out here and we are staying at the same shelter tonight.

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We had some light rain today and really no sunshine. It kept things cooler which is nice on the hard climbs.
I stepped in a mud pit by accident today. It was disgusting! I could feel the mud soaking through to my sock. UGH! I’m also sad to say that wasn’t the only accident that I had. This one is kind of embarrassing, but I ran into a tree. A tree had fallen across the trail about head height and I was looking down watching where I was stepping and ran right into it. I had my visor on so it cushioned my head some so I wasn’t hurt, just my pride. Julie usually gives me a heads up warning, but she was far ahead of me.
We are staying in a shelter tonight, because we may get some more rain tonight. This is our third night staying in a shelter and every time it has been a full house. It is harder to sleep well with so many people. Someone is usually tossing and turning (these sleeping pads sound like you are laying on a bag of potato chips) or snoring.
So far all of the shelters that we have stayed at have a privy, but this is the first open one we have had. Usually when I use the privy I leave the door open, because they smell bad, but I don’t have that option on this one. This one is pretty aired out.

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While Aunt Julie and I are laying in our sleeping bags getting ready to go to sleep we were looking at each others pictures that we had taken throughout the last few days and we just start giggling like high school girls when we see this picture. I am in some loaner clothes at The Long Trail Inn, while my clothes are in the wash. Most places that cater to hikers have clothes for you to wear while yours are in the wash.

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Day 10

Day 10 August 24, 2016

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Well the days surely aren’t getting any easier. Today was pretty rugged and I had some sore feet when we finished up the day at 4:30, completing about 14 miles. Usually I am recovered by the next morning and feeling good again. I’m hoping that my body continues to recover overnight.
We ate breakfast at the Inn this morning and it was delicious. It was a large serving and I couldn’t even finish it all. I packed out 2 slices of gluten free toast with jelly for my first snack of the day. Best thing about it was that it was complementary and we didn’t even know until we went to pay for it. What a surprise that was!

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I’ve been thankful that I haven’t had any muscle soreness, all those squats and lunges I started 3 months ago have paid off. I probably should have worked on some balance exercises as well because some how I managed to fall off a boardwalk today. I’m really not sure what happened. I didn’t trip over my feet or anything I think I just walked off the boardwalk. Next thing I know I am on the ground kind of like an upside down turtle. The good news is I was able to get up with my backpack still on and I didn’t break anything. I hit my shoulder on something and it is a little sore. I think it’s just bruised.

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This isn’t the walk that I fell off of but one similar to this one. I was lucky enough that the boardwalk I fell off of had a dry bed of leaves on either side to fall on.

We separated from the Appalachian Trail today and it was like going from a freeway to a back country road. We only saw a few hikers today. The Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail are the same trail for the first 105 miles into Vermont.

Day 9

Day 9 August 23, 2016

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Today we climbed the second highest mountain in Vermont, Mt Killington. I think the climb would have been really fun without a 20+ lb. backpack on. It was a lot of climbing over rocks and tree roots on the edge of the mountain, but it warmed us up quickly, since it was in the upper 40’s when we woke up this morning. Once we reached the top there was a .2 mile side trail to the summit. Julie reach the top before me and proceeded up to the summit. It was a very steep climb up a lot of rocks and I made it most of the way up before calling it quits. My fear of hights was kicking in and I didn’t want to get hurt. When I an climbing over large rocks/ boulders my backpack can really throw me off balance so I don’t have a summit picture, but Aunt Julie shared her’s with me.

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Even though today was only a 10 mile day it was pretty tough, because after going up the mountain you of course go back down the mountain. Going down is my least favorite. It is very rough on the knees. Then add in lots of roots and rocks and you have sore feet and knees.
We ended the day a 2pm at the “Inn at Long Trail” our destionation for today. Showers and laundry here we come!!! I have to admit that this 4 day section was much better than the first 5 day section we did. The weather was cooler so we weren’t getting as sweaty and sticky. Which helps a lot with body odor. I’m pretty lucky that I don’t sweat a lot, but some of the guys out here really smell BAD!!! I can smell them when they walk by or are just sitting across from you at the picnic table at a shelter. When we get to camp at night I wash down the best I can with a wet bandanna and wet wipes then put on clean clothes that I only wear to sleep in.

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I am really enjoying my time out here. Life is pretty simple with minimal worries. There is really something to be said about living a minimalist lifestyle. I left home for 4 weeks with 2 bras, 2 pairs of underwear, 4 pairs of socks, 4 shirts and 4 bottom layers plus my camping gear. I usually bring more stuff on a weekend trip.

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Our destination for the day. The Inn at Long Trail.
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The trail went under this arched tree trunk.

Day 8

Day 8 August 22, 2016

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Last night ended up being a full house in the shelter. Lots of hikers trying to avoid the rain. Julie had a horrible night and didn’t sleep well. She said the guy next to her had horrible gas and Johnny Walker who was sleeping next to me was snoring so loud that she and another guy sat up doing the night and were just laughing about it. I managed to sleep through it all. It was my lucky night!

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Vermont has been so green. Lots of life to view out here. There’s been so many different mushrooms on the trail and today I was just fascinated with them.

I haven’t had many challenges as far as my fear of heights goes, but this suspension bridge gave me a fast heart rate. I very slowly made my way across and even managed to stop in the middle and take a picture.

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The rain moved in about 5:30 pm and rained most of the night. I stayed toasty warm and dry in the shelter. I was up at 5:30am the next morning and it looked like the rain was done, but it was pretty chilly and stayed cool through the day. We left the shelter at 6:50 am our earliest start yet.

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We had some pretty awesome views today and even walked through a little meadow of flowers. Julie told me the name of them, but I can’t remember what it was. They were tall, about shoulder height so it was kinda like walking through a corn maze.

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After last night’s rain there were a few of these cute little guys on the trail.

Today was a long day of 15 miles and my feet legs and back were feeling it. I hope to rest well tonight and tomorrow we hit the town of Killington for resupply, showers and laundry. Wahoo!!! 🙂