Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 12: Saying Goodbye to the Appalachian Trail

Dscn5565September 15: Amanda left early in the morning to go back to work or whatever it is she does when I’m not around. Being a Sunday, I knew I wouldn’t be able to mail my laptop ahead and I definitely wasn’t going to carry it on this time around. With 9 nights and 10 days of food, my pack would already be excruciatingly heavy! So I had Amanda take it for me, to be mailed later to my next resupply point in Stowe a hundred miles up the trail.


I woke up long after Amanda left and headed down for some of the waffles at the breakfast area. The room was packed—far more people this morning than the day before! But surprisingly, not one person was cooking up waffles, so I pushed my way through the crowds, filled a cup with the spice mix and poured it into the waffle-making machine. Not 10 seconds later, someone else who apparently was watching me followed my lead and proceeded to make their own with the other waffle machine.


I picked up some other food while the waffle was cooking and eventually it beeped for my attention and I got my waffle. It looked great. I hadn’t even found a seat at a table before someone else started using the waffle machine I just left. I was rather amused every time I heard one of the waffle machines beeping as I ate breakfast. I think I started a trend. Maybe people weren’t sure how to use them? Maybe they weren’t sure if it was okay to use? I don’t know, but I know the room was packed with people and not a single person had made a waffle, then seconds after I started making one, both machines went beeping non-stop for the next 10 minutes.


After I checked out of the motel, I got online briefly at the computer in the front lobby. AQ was still running fine, and I left heading out the door. I went to put on my hat and sunglasses—it was actually a bit sunny outside—but I couldn’t find them in my pack. Ahh… shoot. They were still in the room!


I told the lady at the front desk of my problem, and she made another key for me to get back into the room where I retrieved the sunglasses and hat before “checking out” of the hotel a second time. And this time, I meant it!


I walked into town to the bus terminal where I jumped on the Diamond Express that was already parked in the garage. I paid the $2, and the driver wanted to know where I was getting off. “The Long Trail!” I answered. And he wanted to know if I meant the Inn at Long Trail or the Long Trail itself—which, if you’ve forgotten, are about 0.8 miles apart from each other. “The Long Trail,” I answered.


Dscn5571He tried to convince me that he could drop me off somewhere else that would save me a climb up a hill, but I told him that I couldn’t be skipping sections, no matter how small. I really needed to get back to the Long Trail—not a side trail of it! And finally, he relented.


I had barely taken my seat when the bus roared to life and started off. My timing was impeccable. (But admittedly, from total luck. I had no idea when the next bus would leave when I arrived at the bus station.)


The driver dropped me off at the Long Trail, and I crossed the street and immediately headed back into the trees.


After a mile or so of hiking, I head reached Maine Junction—where the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail split from each other. The Appalachian Trail continues largely eastward at this point to New Hampshire and (eventually) to Maine while the Long Trail heads north to Canada. From here on out, I’d be on unfamiliar trail through parts of Vermont I’d never seen before.


It’s the one place on the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail where white blazes intersect from three different directions, and I’ve heard stories of people following the wrong one heading to Canada (when they meant to go to Maine) or vise-versa. The junction seemed well marked to me, though. Long Trail, to the left. Appalachian Trail, to the right.


I’d also finally be getting away from those Appalachian Trail hikers that had been filling up the shelters. It’s funny, but when I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, I distinctly remembered being happy to reach this point to finally get to the point where Long Trail thru-hikers would stop filling up the shelters. Now I was happy that the Appalachian Trail hikers wouldn’t be filling up the shelters. Both hikes, that overlapping section seemed too full of hikers.


I took a lunch break at the Rolston Rest Shelter where I met another Long Trail hiker named Slowfoot. I didn’t know Slowfoot, but when he learned I had hiked the AT in 2003, he told me that he was a ridge runner through the Smokies that year. I met a ridgerunner in the Smokies that year, who I shared the Tricorner Knob Shelter with for a night. I have no idea if it was the same person or not, but it’s not like there are a lot of different ridgerunners out here. I even mentioned sharing the shelter with a ridgerunner in my blog, but I failed to note his name at the time. I rather liked the idea that we might have met during my AT thru-hike, though, even if we were never able to conclusively figure out if that actually happened or not. A distinct maybe!


Dscn5572Slowfoot planned to stop for the day, but I continued on to the David Logan Shelter which also had one other hiker in for the night. His name was Chaos, and he had just completed his own AT thru-hike a couple of weeks earlier. After finishing that hike, he jumped down to Vermont to complete the part of the Long Trail he hadn’t covered, and this was to be his last night before finishing the Long Trail. Then he was going to go to New Hampshire and hit as many of the 4,000-ft peaks as he could before the end of the month and he had to go home.


Although Chaos was at the shelter, he decided to set up his tent outside so I actually had the shelter to myself. At least I would unless the predicted rain overnight drove Chaos out of his tent and into the shelter. He hadn’t really been expecting rain when he set up his tarp and when I arrived at the shelter, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was beautiful out! But I had checked the weather forecast before I left the hotel and I knew… it wasn’t a matter of if it would rain overnight, but rather when it would start raining, for how long it would rain, and how hard it would rain.


This information seemed to give him pause, but he decided to tent it anyhow. It was already set up and it was his last night on the trail anyhow. Even if all his gear got wet, he’d be getting off the trail the next day.


Then he headed off to his tent, and I cooked up dinner, read my book, and eventually went to sleep.


The Long Trail is well-marked at Maine Junction, but apparently
some AT hikers accidentally follow it a ways anyhow!




These freshly-fallen trees, I suspect, were part
of the storm damage from a few nights before.


Caterpillars on the trail!










Watch out for snowmobiles! There were everywhere!
(Not really.)


It turned into an absolutely beautiful afternoon, but don’t
be fooled—the weather forecast called for rain overnight!


Chaos at the David Logan Shelter, talking on his
cell phone. (Some people are more connected
than I am!)


Papercrafts by Cindyellen said...

good to see that trailmarker again. North, young man! North!

Anonymous said...

You should have stayed at the Inn At Long Trail, then found the letterboxes hidden above it way back in 1999.