Welcome to my Blog

This is the first time I have ever blogged so mistakes will likely be the order of the day! This past winter I committed myself to hiking the Vermont Long Trail (LT) in a series of day and overnight hikes over the course of hopefully no more than two summers. I have decided to create a blog to document my adventures and to provide a chance for any photos I take to be viewed by anyone interested in hiking in general or the LT specifically. I am a novice hiker whose prior experience basically consists of earning the hiking merit badge as a 12 year old. My father and I took five 10-mile hikes and one 20-mile hike as a part of earning the badge in 1974. Since that time I have hiked occasionally but never seriously. I was a long distance runner for many years and am in better than typical shape though in recent years my focus has been on weight lifting more than on endurance activity. I expect the trek to be challenging but manageable.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Route 4 to Brandon Gap - Stage Six - Overmight Hike


This hike started on Route 4 near the Inn at the Long Trail in Killington, Vermont (1,880 ft) and traveled North to Brandon Gap. I arrive at the start at 9:30 am on a beautiful day with the weather forecast calling for scattered thunderstorms this evening. My son, Jon, who turned 21 on Thursday, was supposed to go with me but decided to forego the experience at 9:00 pm last night so I continue to make the journey on my own.

Within one mile of my start I arrive at Maine Junction.
This is where the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail separate with the AT heading east to New Hampshire and, ultimately, 467 miles to its northern terminous while the LT continues north to Canada. At 1.4 miles I arrive at the Tucker-Johnson Shelter (Built 1969, sleeps eight, 2,250 ft). The trail is not as hilly as previous sections I have been on, but the footing is not so good so I am only able to average about 2 miles an hour over the first five miles. With little change in elevation I arrive at Rolston Rest Shelter (Built 2004, sleeps 8, 2,240 ft) after 5.0 miles on the trail. Continuing north, I pass several vistas giving me a brief view of the Chittenden Reservior, one of which is my lead picture to this post.

I now begin to ascend to Green Road, a private drive that crosses the trail (2,500 ft) before descending into Telephone Gap (2,300 ft). For the life of me I see no evidence of a telephone or telephone lines so I can't fathom why it has such a name. I have now hiked 11 miles and am feeling well as I start to ascend the south slope of Mt Carmel. The weather quickly becomes threatening and a lightning storm passes to the south of me but largely misses where I am at. At about 12 miles, however, another one comes through and this one is vicious. I hear lightning stikes just south of me and am pummelled by peanut-sized hail as I scramble to reach the next shelter. On unsure footing, in a pouring hailstorm, I practically jog the remaining one mile in about 20 minutes. The hail stings my arms a bit, but other than that, and being soaked, I arrive at David Logan Shelter with no harm done.(Built 1976, sleeps 8, 2,760 ft).
I have travel 13 miles today. I intended to follow the New Boston trail, a side trail, out and back for a total of 2.0 miles in order to be able to mark that trail down as complete, but the rain is too hard and I'm cold and wet. I strip down to my boxers and hang my clothes to dry in the shelter (fat chance of that). My backpack has done its job and items enclosed are only a bit damp. I sread out my pad and sleeping bag and decide to go to bed early. It's only 7:30 but it feels much later.

Within an hour I'm awakened by two noisy hikers who come in from the rain. About 15 minutes after that, two more even noisier hikers arrive. They chatter and carry on, sharing loud stories of the rain without regard for the old man trying to go to sleep. After about 15 minutes of this rude banter I turn towards them and the one female says, "Oh! Your awake...What's your trail name?" I reflect for a moment and say "Serial Killer" and then roll back over to face the cabin wall. I think they caught my drift as they were much quieter the rest of the night.

I awake at 7:00 am before the wild ones and quietly pack up to head out. I fill my water pack as I leave the shelter at a spring about 50 yards from the camp and decide to eat my breakfast while hiking. Considering how wet I was last night, I feel pretty good this morning. The only problem is that my shoes are soaked and, in no time, my fresh socks are wet as well.

I continue to climb Mt. Carmel a short ways and then drop to Wetmore Gap (2,600 ft). I then begin to climb the east ridge of Bloodroot Mountain, what a great name,
as it begins to start drizzling again. By the time I reach Bloodroot Gap (3,110 ft) it is raining steadily and I am starting to get a blister on my right pinky toe due to the wet shoes and socks. This section of the trail is only marked sporatically by white blazes so I'm constantly concerned I may have taken the wrong path (even though there are few, if any, other paths to choose from). I cross several nice streams although it is overcast out and the pictures don't do them justice.

I slab the east ridge of Farr Peak in the rain and pick up the pace as I descend along a nice trail to Sunrise Shelter (Built 1964, sleeps 8, 2,564 feet) I have now hiked 19+ miles and only have one mile to go. It is raining too hard to break out the camera and I decide to stop for a while at the shelter to squeeze the water out of my socks and maybe let the rain pass by.

The rain slacks off after a 30 minute wait and I decide I might as well finish up. I quickly come to a beautiful stream that, once again, isn't well-captured by a camera in the overcast weather. It takes me only 25 minutes to hike to Vt. 73 and Brandon Gap.

I have hiked just over 20 miles, with fairly limited ups and downs, but in the nastiest weather to date. I'm actually feeling good at the end and feeling like I could go on for several more miles if I needed to. It was probably a good thing Jon chose to sit this one out as it would not have been a good introduction to overnight hiking.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I actually did this hike in reverse in mid-September (Brandon Gap to Rt 4), but I did it in one day...actually spent the last hour hiking in darkness (thank you Black Diamond for the terrific headlamp)...not bragging, I'd planned for two, but after about 7 miles my right knee began to bother me and I did not want to be out overnight with a bad knee in case it stiffened up. I waited until September to make sure that the black flies were well out of season, and I met only four others on this division. Leaving Brandon Gap, I saw places next to the trail where (probably) moose had bedded down for the night; large areas of flattened grass. Also saw several piles of what had to be moose droppings (different from deer); I have pictures, if I can I will post later. Further along the trail, I saw bear tracks in the mud and bear droppings as well. I can report for certain that, as the joke goes, this bear did indeed go (or insert the s-word here) in the woods. No whistles or pepper spray in the droppings (another old joke), but after seeing the bear sign, I did talk aloud for about 10 minutes as I walked along...to warn any wildlife away. I did feel a bit silly after a while, but apparently that worked since I'm here to tell the tale. At several points along the trail, I flushed ruffed grouse from the undergrowth...that'll get your heart going!
I took the same picture of the reservoir that you did, Ty. I found that there are not very many scenic views along this section, at least not many long views, though I did find the views thru the woods interesting. It seemed to me that there were quite a few places where water was easily available here...but a filter/pump is a good idea.
One of the things I've enjoyed most about hiking the LT is the differentiation of climatic/environmental zones (?) you see as you travel. You go thru areas of hardwood, evergreen, wetland, and different stages of forestation depending on the orientation of the slope to the sun and the altitude.
This division of the trail is marked by many rocky sections, but much was relatively flat as well; the next division south (which I did north to south as Rt 140 to Rt4) is considerably more up-and-down. In both cases I was glad that I had hiking poles with me...I would not hike without them. I was a bit surprised that, as I approached Rt 4, I could hear traffic from some distance, but was not able to see signs of the road (it was full dark well before I arrived) until I was almost on top of it.