Monday, July 11, 2011

Hiking the AT

Zach and I spent last week hiking the Appalachian Trail from Killington, VT to Hanover, NH with our friend, Kelsey, who I met on the farm last year in Hawaii. She has been hiking the trail since Georgia and is en route to Katahdin in Maine. It BLOWS my mind that she has been hiking every day since March. We did it for five days and it totally kicked our butts. In a good way. 

Our plan was to start hiking in Killington and meet up with Kelsey somewhere along the way. Since there is only one trail, we would eventually run into each other.

Day 1 (2 miles)
Mom and Dad dropped us at the Inn at the Long Trail in Killington around 4pm. My Osprey pack started leaking water before we even got on the trail. The first 1/2 mile was a steep, muddy incline to the Appalachian Trail. Once we hit the AT, our route flattened out for a few minutes and I could look at stuff while we walked, without thinking about my butt muscles that apparently I never use. I got lost in thoughts of moss and bird calls and before long was walking sideways down a slippery, muddy descent. Very hard on the knees. I forgot that we were hiking mountains, which are not flat.

In addition to learning that mountains are not flat, I also discovered that all natural bug spray is a crock of shit. The mosquitos were viscous, bountiful and enough to make us hide in our tent that first night. Luckily, we were able to get some Deet from the ranger station on Day 2. 


Kent Pond
Day 2 (8 miles)
We had a super leisurely start to the morning, enjoying life sans mosquitos. We cooked up some oatmeal for breakfast on our tiny, transformer like camp stove before hitting the trail. The trail passed Kent Pond and Thundering Falls and was littered with fun bridges and creeks. Until noon. That is when we reached Quimbly Mountain. Except that we didn't know we had reached Quimby Mountain because we didn't have any maps. So we started to hike up without knowing when it would stop. We hiked up 1,500 feet, which isn't much in terms of mountains, but it felt like we were hiking into oblivion. Why didn't we bring maps again?

At the shelter, we met an old guy who gave us an extra copy of his trail guide. This was the turning point in the trip (from holy shit this is new and hard to an adventure). I was able to see the inclines that were up ahead, determine where I could get more water and get a little peace of mind. We also left a note for Kelsey here, saying that we were on the trail and would probably run into her the next day. Zach and I set out to find some water and a spot to camp, which we found alongside a mountain stream.

Look Clare, climbers have been here!
Day 3 (12 miles)
Day 3 was the best yet. We met up with Kelsey early in the morning. She was traveling with two friends that she met on the trail, Llama Legs and Nocello. Trail names, obvs. But, am I really supposed to call you Llama Legs? Welp, I suppose if I don't know your real name, Llama legs it is. Throughout the day we ran into Cropduster, Southbutt (opposite of Northface), Leafguy, Pepper and a few other through hiker/mountain folk. Miles flew by, snack breaks happened frequently, and there was lots of catching up to do. 

Over the hills and through the woods...

Orange. Go Cuse!
My uphill haiku:
Delivering pain
My hamstrings are powerlines
Lactic acid flows.

Gorgeous vistas of Killington/Pico area
At some point in the day, we heard about a pie stand on rte 12 and picked up the pace in an attempt to catch the pie guy before closing. As we tumbled out of the woods, down the wildflower strewn mountain, across the cow pasture chock full of calves, high on pie filled anticipation, a HUGE storm rolled in. It was the kind you could smell in the air and feel in the wind, but that was such a minute detail compared to the hunger situation. We got to the door of the general store at 5:25. Closed. Just as the disappointment set in, the whole sky opened up in a torrential downpour. Thank god for the wrap around porch. We huddled by the backdoor of this stranger's store and waited out the storm. To our amazement, Mr. Pie guy came back later in the evening, opened the store for us and got us a spot in his neighbor's creepy, but very dry barn.

Crazy rain/hail storm. One of those tall trees snapped in
half right after taking this pic. 

Trail Log
Day 4 (14 miles)
Longest day this week, yet the best I've felt. The morning was hard, with lots of peaks, but each one rewarded us with great views. The trail was littered with fallen trees and branches from the storm the night before. So glad we were inside while that happened. We took a long lunch on a sunny mountain top in the middle of a huge patch of wild raspberries. It was perfection. Ended the day with a long descent through fields of flowers into the arms of a cheeseburger in town. MmMMm

Snack break. Best time of the day.
Raisins never tasted so good. 

(wo) Man down!

Wild rasberries! Om nom. 

Hand picked. Then tossed in my mouth in one swift motion :)
Day 5 (10 miles)
Knowing that we were arriving in Hanover today made our last day a piece of cake. Well that and the fact that there was only one climb and we got it over with right away. Showers and laundry in town and a ride home with Zach's mom made for a relaxing and welcome return to civilization. Kelsey, Llama legs and Nocello have 2 more states (NH and Maine) and about 400 more miles. I don't know how they do it, but they do and I have the utmost respect for them. Ya'll go ahead wit yo bad selves!

Personal Fave
Day 5: Crossing into Hanover, NH


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