I'm going to have to try and make this fast. The library I'm posting from is limiting me to a half hour and I don't know if I'll get another chance. Those of you keeping up with the blog may have noted a fairly significant time gap between this post and the last. There have been a few factors that have been slowing me down, but I'll get to that in a minute.
I left Great Barrington on an exceedingly hot day. It had to be in the mid 90's and it was really buggy to boot. Even with that though, it was a good day. I felt strong and the hiking was not too difficult. That being said I was very glad to reach my destination that night, the Upper Goose Pond Cabin. I was even more glad when I discovered how awesome a place it was. It was a two-story, enclosed, honest-to-god building with a working kitchen and a bunk room upstairs. This was kind of cool since rain was expected. The pond itself was even better however. Almost immediatly upon arrival I stripped to my boxers and went for a swim. The water felt amazing. I don't think I have ever been quite so refreshed. I wish I could do that after every hot, sweaty day.
It was raining when I woke the next morning, but that broke just before I left for the day. It was not a particularly interesting day. I walked through some fairly nice territory, including a brief section overlooking a lake, but there wasn't a whole lot to set it apart; sort of a run of the mill kind of day.
I had to pass through two towns the next day on the way to my goal of 15.5 miles. I was going to pick up some powerade in the second to replenish me before a pretty big climb up Mt. Greylock, but just as I arrived at the store, most of the power in town went off. I was unable to make a transaction. It was rather disheartening. The climb up Greylock was tough, but it wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting, although in truth I didn't go quite all the way to the summit that evening. The shelter I stopped at that night had quite a few people including Lily (a flip-flopping thru-hiker) and Diesel as well as numerous section hikers. We had some good, if fairly nerdy conversation that produced a lot of laughter. One kind of weird note on the evening though, was that two of the sectioners tried to teach Lily to play cribbage, WITH DIRTY PLAYING CARDS! It was so strange, the guys didn't seem even a little bit uncomfortable with having them right out in public (there were also a couple of pre-teen boyscouts at the shelter.) Also that evening I discovered that there was a sizeable rip in my pack and my Steripen stopped working. Hooray for gear malfunctions!
Next day we headed into Williamstown. I had been wanting to get what I needed and keep rolling, or at the most spend the night there. Unfortunately, with my gear dilemmas that did not appear to be in the cards. Fortunately for me, Lily was staying in town with friends who turned out to be unbelievingly gracious and put me up too. Thus to Dave Weimer and his family I say an enormous thank you. So while I was waiting in Williamstown I got a loaner pack from Gregory and managed to wrangle a new Steripen as well. So after an unexpected zero it was back into the woods for me.
Even though it was not in my plans, that extra day off might have been a gift from God because just as I was coming to the Vermont border I ran into MYSTERY CHICKEN. I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned Chicken on this board but hes a guy I know from way back but haven't seen in ages. It was an awesome surprise to see one of the old faces again. Anyhow, we met there at the border and discussed the lamentable lack of signs actually saying, "Welcome to, (name of state)". This made us decide to make our own sign so we got a handful of mud and scrawled a big VT on the sign about entering the Green Mountains. Incidentally, that makes state #12.
Chicken and I got going early the next morning, it was like 6:30 and hauled about 11 miles by 11 o' clock. Along the way we passed a beaver dam that I thought had to be manmade because of its effectiveness. It was only later that I was disabused of this idea. Chicken was trying to get to a road so he could try and call some of our other old compatriots to maybe come pick him up for a party in a nearby town. I was in no hurry so I hung out with him there more or less all day. By 3:30 we had pretty much given up hope of telephone contact so we headed on back into the woods. We had been planning on doing another 7 miles that day but ended up stopping after 2 just cause we felt like being lazy. Hanging around for 4 hours in the middle of the day tends to kind of suck your will to move. That night we also participated in the Bear Bag Follies where all 5 of us at the shelter tried to hang our mostly full food bags from a clearly dead limb. Needless to say we brought the limb down immediatly and actually managed to whack Old Graceful in the head.
Chicken and I left togethor again the next morning. We had pretty much just decided to walk togethor by mutual assumption. We had some good walking and checked out one of the first good observation towers in some time. Unfortunately, we also got caught in a wicked thunderstorm just before lunch. While waiting the storm out we actually ended up falling asleep in the shelter for awhile. Walk, eat, sleep. If we aren't doing one we're doing one of the others. There were a bunch of people at the shelter that night but oddly everyone kept saying they were going to tent to avoid the full shelter, until in the end there were only two guys in the shelter! I joined them later in the evening when I was unable to fall asleep on the slant I had pitched my tent on. Another sidenote about tenting in Vermont, there are slugs everywhere. They come in force during the night. Flicking slugs off ones stuff before packing is a fairly gross job. Ah...my kingdom for a salt shaker.
I'd been planning to do 18 to the shelter just before Manchester but in an attempt to stay with Chicken (I've been getting used to hiking with someone again) I decided to go on into town. During the day we summited Stratton Mountain which had a tower that provided what was arguably the best view we have had thus far. A full 360 degrees. Amazing. Also that day Chicken and I were greeted by the most fearless chipmunk in history as we ate lunch by Stratton Pond. It kept coming right up to Chicken in order to check out his food. Eventually it was actually sitting on his foot! Anyway, that night I ended up splitting a room with Chicken and the Walking Cowboy. We ate a lot, but Manchester was really just a stop over. We were out the next day which just so happened to be my 4 MONTH ANNIVERSARY! I've been out here for 1/4 year. It is astounding. It took us a while to get out of Manchester than expected becuase Chicken had some errands that ended up taking longer than they should have thanks to an incompetent employee at the picture store. Even so we got going around noon and were still able to do sixteen miles to Big Branch Shelter before we needed to camp for the night. Incidentally, Big Branch was a really nice place for a shelter, with a big stream running right next to it. It was a very pretty spot.
The next day started Rain Fest '07. It was raining when we left and we only got a brief respite all day long. During that respite we just happened to be at this really weird spot where someone had taken a bunch of stones and formed a bunch of little standing figures. It was such an odd thing to come across. Shortly thereafter however, the rain began again in earnest and any part of us that had managed to stay only damp became completely soaked through.
It had been such a nasty day that Chicken and I decided we were going to call it at this shelter that was 16 miles from where we started. Unfortunately, when we got there a single group of boyscouts had taken over the entire shelter. Incidentally, it is very poor etiquette to take a group this large out and use the shelter. If you have that many you need to be tenting. Anyhow, it was still actively raining so Chicken and I didn't particularly want to pitch our tents in the rain so we decided to push on another five to a secret shelter we had heard existed. When we got to where we thought the directions were supposed to be located and couldn't find them, we were highly displeased. Fortunately, the directions to the shelter showed up a bit further down the trail. In about the last mile we walked that day we had to ford a stream that was seriously swollen. The water was up to my knees. Fortunately, my boots were already soaked through, so there wasn't much more the stream could do to them. Of course, when we got to the secret shelter, we discovered it wasn't all that secret. It was full too, so we ended up tenting anyway. Quite a day.
The next day began kind of dry. Everything was still wet, but the rain at least held off until we had climbed Killington. It came back with a vengeance around 12 however, and the remaining miles we walked that day were once again in the pouring rain. Fortunately, that was the day I was getting off in Killington for a break, and Chicken and I had a really good time warming up and hanging out in the bar at the Long Trail Inn.
We spent the night there and Chicken headed out yesterday and I will be gone in about an hour. Hopefully I'll be able to catch him up in a few days around Hanover. It actually looks kind of sunny out, so hopefully my boots which are still waterlogged will dry out a bit as I walk.
The Breadless Horseman
PS - Sorry, this computer isn't allowing me to upload pictures. I swear I will get some more up as soon as I can.