Its been ten weeks since I finished hiking the Long Trail and I’ve had a hard time deciding to write this follow up. Mostly because of how bad I felt after the hike. I had fatigue that lasted weeks. I was taking a nap every chance I could, which was about 4 times a week. My feet and knees were sore. I refrained from doing any sort of exercise for a couple of weeks, which is way out of the norm for me. I even exercise while on vacation! It is just part of my daily routine. When I started to exercise again it was just walking a mile or two. I felt like I had aged decades! I was depressed. I was wondering how I would ever be able to thru hike something as long as the AT. So after lots of thinking I have decided to just play my thru hike by ear and see how things go. I plan to do a flip flop starting in Harper’s Ferry West Virginia and hike north to Katahdon and hope like hell that I make it there with a smile still on my face. Then I will reassess. If I am able to make forward progress without too much pain and fatigue I will continue.
Hiking Long Trail really humbled me. I realized how I really need to pay attention to my body and rest when I am tired. Sleeping on the ground is really hard on the hips and I don’t sleep well. I am consistently doing what I call the “sleep pad roll”. Rolling from one side to my back then to the other side then repeat through out the night. But there is just something about trail life that I love. The trail was amazingly beautiful and some of the climbs were actually fun. While some were pushing my fear of heights panic button. There was never a day that I thought about quitting, but there were a few that I would have definitely loved to have stopped early.
I was very happy with the gear that I had and only changed a few small things. I had a hiking skirt with built in underwear that I decided to cut the underwear out of and wear some that I could change out and wash regularly. This way I could remove the underwear wash it put clean underwear on and not expose any of my girlie parts. And it just so nice to wear clean undies.
I also add a couple of things…gaiters for my feet. I was sick and tired if getting debris in my shoes and having to clean it out regularly. And I add a small cloth carry bag/backpack that I could put my water bottles, water filter and wash bandana in to carry everything down to the springs where I would get water. This way I could get enough water for the night and next morning and only make one trip to get water. Sometimes the water was a ways away and difficult to get to.
The only thing that I completely eliminated was my keyboard for blogging. I was trying to eliminate any excess weight that wasn’t necessary, when the climbs started to get really difficult and exhaustion was setting in. There were sections that I also did away with my umbrella and rain pants when the weather looked good, but that was only because we stayed some nights back at my Aunt and Uncles since they didn’t live to far from the trail. You can view my gear list at https://lighterpack.com/r/79r1ih.
We did it! We are official Long Trail end2enders! We made it to the Canadian border at 1pm, with huge smiles on our faces. It was hard all the way to the end. Today we climbed Doll Peak, Burnt Mountain and Carleton Mountain.
Yesterday I thought my throat felt funny, like I may be getting a sore throat. This morning I can confirm that. I have a sore throat. I don’t feel bad and I have had sore throats with my lupus flares so this may be a lupus flare or the beginning of getting sick. This hike had been really intense. If I didn’t have a time limit that I had to finish by I wouldn’t have pushed so hard. I know that I have pushed my body harder than I should have, but it has been a good learning experience for me. I will know how to manage things better in the future. Today is my last day on the trail and I will have a rest day at Aunt Julie’s before flying out on Saturday. I will also have two rest days at home before I have to go back to work. Hopefully I can get well before having to go back to work.
OH NO! Just upon waking my knees were sore. Not a good sign. Usually when I wake up they are fine and don’t start to bother me until later in the day when I start to descend a lot. Only 2 more days left. I can do this!!
My knees ended up not being too bad today. They warmed up pretty quick. I had just the normal end of the day soreness. I do feel like I am getting a sore throat. I’m not sure of it is from the dehydration yesterday or if I may be coming down with something. Hopefully what ever it is it will pass.
I saw quite a few signs of moose the last couple days. I saw moose tracks…
and moose poop…
but no actual moose. I have seen many chimpmunks. They are the cutest little things. Near the shelters they are practically under your feet waiting for you to drop some food.
We are tent camping tonight at the Laura Woodward shelter and we met some great guys. They both have a lot to do with the hiking community and were going to send me some contact info of a couple of woman that could greatly help me with my hike. They both seem to think that I will be able to handle an AT thru hike if I can handle the Long Trail. The terrain is easier on the AT.
We will be finishing our hike tomorrow and it seems to have gone by so fast.
I think today nearly killed me! We left camp this morning at 6:40 and didn’t finish until 5:30pm. The sad thing is we only covered about 11.5 miles. Boy they were some very hard, muddy miles.
The climb up Belvidere went well, but everything after that not so great. We had a long stretch without water today and I got pretty dehydrated. We were thinking that we were going to have to make the water that we had last until tomorrow, but luckily we found some tonight. That lifted our spirits, but did nothing for my foot and knee pain.
Tomorrow the milage is less, but the terrain looks just as bad as today.
I was up and ready to go this morning. I felt good after all the rest I got last night. Today we climbed Butternut Mountain then the south and north summits of Bowen Mountain. Plus we climbed our way through Devil’s Gulch, which was littered with slick moss covered boulders. Devil’s Gulch is a mini version of Mahoosec notch on the Appalachian trail, if you are familiar with the AT.
Tonight we are stealth camping at the base of Mt Belvidere, which we will climb tomorrow. I believe it is a 2.4 mile climb with 1900 feet of elevation gain. Jim and I climbed this mountain a couple of years ago with day packs, but I bet tomorrow is going to feel much different with a full pack.
I soaked my feet fit the first time today in a stream and currently they feel pretty good. Today got pretty hot by mid afternoon, so I was dreaming of soaking my feet before we even got to camp.
It was a rough start with a full pack. We just resupplied with 4.5 days of food and it was heavy! The last few times we have resupplied it was with 3.5 days and what a difference that makes.
We had a pretty foggy start this morning, which I thought was pretty cool looking. I made it up and over Prospect Rock pretty well, a 1200 foot climb but Laraway Mountain, did me in. Laraway was a 1500 foot climb and I lost my steam. I had cell service on the way up so I called Jim and he made things better and distracted me from the exertion I was having to put forth. Thank you, Babydoll.
On a positive note I finished the day with clean socks and no dirt or tree debris in my shoes, thanks to my new gators. They were awesome!! I was cleaning out my shoes at least twice a day. I was even getting mud and debris under the insoles!?!?
It is currently 6pm and I have eaten dinner (mac and cheese) had a whole protein bar for dessert and am in bed and I think I could fall asleep right now so I am going to try.
I did fall asleep at 6pm and woke up at 7pm to go to the bathroom then went back to sleep and slept until almost 6 the next morning. These mountains are exhausting.
This morning we met the hiker that walked in on us during the night. We learned that he is a professional bubble maker?!?!
We had 2 mountains to climb today, Madonna and Whiteface. Madonna went well except for us missing the trail back into the woods after walking down a ski slope to far. Which means we had to walk back up the ski slope and wow ski slopes are steep. Whiteface was a different story. It was steep and muddy and gave up very sore knees.
We heard from other hikers that we talked to along the trail that we would be ending the day with 4 miles of flat trail. WHAT?!?! Part of Long Trail is flat? It was going great until we ended up on a dirt road for a couple of miles. That couple of miles nearly killed us! After walking in the woods for over 200 miles, road walking really hurts the feet especially at the end of the day. Our feet were killing us!
We have completed 220 miles of the Long Trail. We will be doing our last resupply tonight before finishing the trail.
When we got back to Aunt Julie’s we showered (oh yeah baby), did laundry, cleaned gear and eat. Tonight we ordered sushi. I had a salad and 9 pieces of sushi plus a California roll and I just felt content I wasn’t stuffed. I have really started to consume a lot of calories. Julie thinks she has lost about 5lbs already. I have been trying to eat enough so I don’t lose any weight.
When we went to bed last night we were the only ones at the shelter, but 2 girls and a dog rolled in just as I was about to fall asleep and the dog decided to give me a goodnight kiss. YUCK!
We were up and hiking by 7am. We were climbing Mt Mansfield today. Mt Mansfield is the tallest mountain in VT. The Long Trail has some really steep and expose areas on Mt Mansfield so we took a bad weather bypass trail around the forehead and the chin. We did hike up to the summit on the chin, but we came back down the same way we went up because the going down the north side of the mountain is very steep and exposed and neither of us like exposed areas. We jumped on the Profanity Trail (a bad weather bypass trail for the chin) to avoid the treacherous descent down the chin. Now the Profanity Trail it’s no cake walk and it surely is named appropriately . It was half mile descent over large rocks/boulders that took us 45 minutes to complete. Some of the steps down were so big that you had to sit down and extend your whole leg just to get your tiptoes on the rock below. And this was the bad weather bypass trail!?!?
I would have to say that the Long Trail is like a double dimond of trails. This trail is hard!!! VERY HARD!!!
On our way up to Sterling Pond shelter we meet the caretaker for the area and asked him about tenting at the shelter and he told us that there was no tenting at the shelter but we could tent on the ski slopes just before the shelter. When we got to the top of the ski slopes there was a lodge there that hikers can also camp inside so we decided to just stay inside the lodge. Plus it was warm and toasty inside. Aunt Julie spotted a sofa in the ski patrol room and decided that looked like a great place to sleep. We ate dinner and went to bed early. At about 10:30 a hiker opens the door to the ski patrol room and shines his headlight right in Julie’s face. It wakes her up and scares the crap out of her. He apologizes and shuts the door. Then about 10 minutes after that, a mouse lands on Aunt Julie’s hand that is kinda hanging off the sofa. Now she is really freaked her out. She tucks all extremities into her sleeping bad and is not coming out no matter how much she is sweating in the sleeping bag.
I was laying on the flooring in the dinning area of the lodge. I used the ground sheet from my tent to put on the floor then put my sleeping pad on top of that. The ground sheet is really crinkle-y so I could hear when a mouse would step on it. When I hear them on it I would move around and it would scurry away. I could also hear them going through all our gear during the night. We both hung our food up so they couldn’t get to it.
We have a 10 mile climb up Bolton mountain this morning that is rumored to be without water. We met two south bound hikers that said this section was dry. We both packed out one 32oz bottle plus one 20oz bottle of water for the day. Oh man was it heavy!!! That is almost 4lbs of water.
The climb started out pretty steep and we were both removing our coats shortly after starting the trail. Even though it was steep we made great time. The ground was flat, free of roots and rocks. We arrived at the shelter we planned to stay at (Puffer Shelter) and the water source was dry plus it was early in the afternoon so we decided to move on to the next shelter. It was only 3.4 miles away, but those miles were pretty difficult and I was dragging. I had no energy.
My feet and knees were pretty sore when we arrived at Taylor lodge. Our home for the night.
We completed 13.4 miles for the day. Tomorrow we will see if we can get over Mt Mansfield the highest mountain in Vermont.
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.