July 10, 2013
Today’s mileage: 18.3
Total mileage: 1699.5
A miracle happened this morning. I woke up at 5:45 and we were on the trail by 7:00. I never thought I could get up that early without batting an eye, but it did indeed happen. We had a big climb up Killington today and a hurricane-damaged area to hike through, so we needed an early start.
In 2011, Hurricane Irene had washed out several bridges in a three mile section of the AT. There was a road detour that added a half-mile, but after talking to a few SOBO hikers, we decided to hike through the effected area after knowing it was passable. We figured it would be good training for our stream fording in Maine. I would have preferred to caulk the wagon and float, but I didn’t have the time to do that this morning. The first brook crossing wasn’t too bad and we didn’t even get our feet wet. We shuffled across a small log while holding on to another at the same height, then rock-hopped across the rest of the brook. The next brook was the most difficult crossing. Our options were either to ford across the raging brook or to walk across a wet, fallen tree that was about eight feet above the water. We chose the latter, despite the danger. We had to do something exciting today! Miles went across with ease, while I questioned my ability to cross without falling violently into the rushing water. If I took one misstep, I was sure to hurt myself quite badly. I lost my balance several times as I attempted to keep my feet on the tree before I even began walking over the brook. I took a deep breath and focused with all of my energy on the task at hand. I side-stepped across the slippery wood, my poles out at my sides. I breathed loudly and my body shook as I made my way across one step at a time. The deer flies were biting my arms, attempting to break my concentration. I yelled obscenities at them before moving on over a knot in the tree and then two protruding nails. I was almost there. I took a few more steps, my breathing growing louder and my urge to land safely on the opposite bank growing with every millisecond. As I reached the stump, I dropped my poles down from the tree and swung myself around a standing tree to safety. I did it. And I couldn’t believe that I had done something, that under normal circumstances, I would never do. The AT will get you to so crazy things and in my case, it will help you overcome many fears.
We had to ford the third brook, which was just before a shelter. We threw our shoes and socks across since it wasn’t far and one of my shoes almost landed in a small stream that ran into the brook. I overshot my target and I was lucky that my shoe didn’t end up floating down the stream and into the brook. The water was ice cold as we trekked across in our Crocs, the current testing our strength. It was a short crossing and we enjoyed airing our feet out at the shelter just up the hill. The Governor Clement Shelter, built in 1929, is the second oldest shelter on the AT. It reminded me of the shelters in the Smokies with the stone walls and fireplace.
We had our big climb up to Shrewsbury Peak and Killington after our break. And just as it does everyday, it rained. We were so hot, that we couldn’t put on our rain gear, so we just got wet. I fell once today on the everlasting mud. Nearing the end our day, we arrived at the Maine Junction, where the AT splits off from the Long Trail and heads east towards Hanover and Maine, of course! Any sign that has the word, “Maine” gets us excited, so we took the opportunity to savor the moment as we left the Long Trail for good. We have just a few days left here in Vermont.
Our shoes and socks were soaking wet and just about everything else too, so we unexpectedly decided to take the half-mile side trail to the Inn at Long Trail. We desperately wanted to do laundry and have dry socks for the next few days and we weren’t going to protest to a shower, bed, burgers, and beer (or in my case, a Woodchuck). The inn is a great place for us to rest for the night and we’re looking forward to a hearty breakfast in the morning.
Back to the trail once more tomorrow and on to Hanover, New Hampshire!