Nineteen: Vermont and it's many wonders
August 14th, 1983
I stayed in the pavilion last night by myself with the previous
knowledge that the Perseid meteor shower should be near its peak.
Besides, the night was clear and cool with virtually no interference
from the moon - optimal conditions for viewing. Although the temperature
became quite cool at the top of Mount Greylock, I loved it and the
shower too. Many meteors went streaking through the sky last night.
this morning while coming off the mountain into another town, North
Adams, I hit Burger Chef on Route 2 at about 9:30am. That was the
last time I thought I would see Al. He said that his knee was bothering
him so maybe he won't make it where I was headed tonight. I am staying
at Dunville Hollow Primitive Camping Area after hiking twenty-one
miles into Vermont on the Long Trail. Sorry, but along the way,
I found the AMC up to its old tricks again. They have a series of
shelters in Vermont, with caretakers, and charge $1.50 for an overnight
stay. I marked these shelters in my data book and will avoid them
at all cost. Tim, Bruce Berlin and Eric Olson, and John Beckstrand
just rolled in from Route 2 - and with them was Al!
I came across a beaver pond along the Appalachian Trail. It ranked
as the first one I had seen so far.
about the Appalachian Mountain Club: I personally do not like the
AMC, and have resisted being a member for these many years. Why?
In my opinion they create a problem by having their cabins in places
that are environmentally fragile, and then boast about having all
these techniques that "conserve the area". If you want
to conserve the area then don't make it a destination for hikers.
If the AMC wanted to truly protect ecosystems they would remove
their cabins. Additionally, they set up an exclusionary zone all
around their cabins and each night they or national forest service
employees patrol the area for "illegal camping". You MUST
pay for the privilege of staying in an area that we area laready
paying for through our tax dollars. Granted they lease the land
from the forest service, but I would like the option to lease that
very same land for the sum of one dollar for a fifty year lease.
Bear in mind that the AMC is a private entity - not a public corporation
- and they pay their top level staff a good salary while the hut
masters and tent platform staff live on gratuities from hikers.
They also place their cabins a day's hike away from each other so
the average hiker is forced to use their cabins or tent platforms
or be forced to hike off the ridges each day and climb up to the
ridge in the morning to continue their journey. And they are spreading.
The AMC began in New Hampshire but have since grown to monopolize
Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. You don't see the ADK (Adirondack
Mountain Club) doing this in the Adirondacks of New York? In fact
New York is tearing down structures such as fire towers in the Adirondacks
in order to bring it back to a true wilderness. Now that's conservation!!
enough about the AMC.
(Two views from
beginning of The Long Trail)
(Beaver Pond in
August 15th, 1983
I put in an eighteen miler today to Kid Gore Shelter with all but
John Beckstrand, who had to go into Bennington, Vermont for a food
drop. Along the way, I met a member of the trail crew pushing a
mileage wheel and he proceeded to give us the grand tour. He was
wearing a pressed grey/brown shirt and a green pair of trousers;
and spoke in what I had later came to recognize as a typical Vermont
accent. I met up with the older gentleman guiding the wheel on an
uphill and noticed he was moving pretty fast. This surprised me
because we thru hikers were usually the speedsters on this trail.
I came to find out that he had been maintaining this section of
trail for decades and knew every nook and cranny.
he was moving at nearly our speed we decided to follow and chat.
As we hiked he would tell us where there were springs that were
not even on the map, and interesting terrain that was just out of
sight on either side of us. He also could tell us how much elevation
we were gaining and where the trail would level off. After reaching
his destination, he recorded his mileage and gave us a preview of
what we would encounter along the remainder of our days journey
before we parted company. I guess he was in his sixties, barely
broke a sweat, and did not even have labored breathing while pushing
his wheel, but provided a running commentary even while moving uphill.
An amazing person.
I can tell that I am in Vermont now because the gnats are chewing
on us, but at least the weather is cool.
(Three views from Glastonbury Firetower)
(Alan Savage below Glastonbury firetower)
(Manchester Center, VT from Prospect Rock)
Tuesday August 16th, 1983
Today the trail takes a bypass around the summit of Stratton Mountain.
The trail used to goup and over the summit, but has been relocated
this year for some reason. The philosophers guide recommended the
old trail, but I stuck with the current A.T. and did the bypass.
Along the route I cam across the caretaker at Vondell Shelter on
Stratton Pond. I had to chuckle about the juxtaposition between
myself and the caretaker. Usually thru-hikers are the ones begging
for food, but this time I could sense the caretaker looking forlorn
at my GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) and mentioned that he
had ran out. I just had to share some with him which on a trip like
this is very unlike me to share any food with anyone (except at
maildrop time when I get too much).
Did another twenty-one miler today, and at the end of the day found
a great place to camp near a stream in the Bromley Tenting Area.
Al and I will be staying for the night. The day was nearly all downhill
and very easy.
Tomorrow we hit the Bromley Alpine Slide and I'm psyched!!
August 17th, 1983
Another great day on the trail. Alan and I hiked up to Bromley,
and rode the Alpine Slide until 12:00 noon! While we were at the
lodge we pigged out on ice cream, plus I had a hamburger. Those
alpine slides are great fun.
After such a good time we knocked off another twelve miles to Lost
Aside from the blackflies Vermont was great so far. Lush thick forest
covered in evergreens with deep ravines and plenty of water. One
thing I did notice was a marked change in water coloration. It is
now typically brownish, like tea, from the tannins of the pine neeldles
scattered on the forest floor, but tasted fine. I generally had
a few pine needle floaters in my soup which added a bit of turpentine
flavor when biting into one. Each bite reminded me of where I was,
and how far I had come to get here. It was all good. The trail had
cooled down under the thick canopy as we toiled up and down these
hillocks and mountains. Besides, fall was approaching, but summer
was not done yet. It was beginning to feel like New England - and
not a moment too soon for me.
We are setting our sights on Mount Killington for Saturday.
for Alpine Slide)
views from Bromely Mountain)
Berlin and Eric Olsen from Bromley Lookout)
August 18th, 1983
Last night was loads of laughs. The skies opened up and began to
rain about 2:00am, so I packed up my tent and everything else and
scrambled into the nearby shelter. Of course, it immediately stopped
after I got in. It rained most of the morning, but my attitude is
so positive that it didn't matter, and my immense positive attitude
is probably why it got nice this afternoon. I can't believe that
I have less than 500 miles to the big "K"! This is only
a rough calculation. If I had done the precise calculations I could
have said exactly how many miles to the tenth. I felt that with
this many miles under my feet already, a few more or less really
Clarendon gorge was indeed impressive and took several photos of
it. I was ready to climb down and jump right in when I spotted a
hand written sign in a plastic bag tacked to a tree near the shore.
The sign said that there were leeches in the water! That put me
right off that idea.
day flew by. Today I was a hiking monster. I traveled so fast that
I outdistanced the others such that I had time to visit a convenience
store near one of the road crossings, eat ice cream, purchase beer,
continue on a few miles to the next shelter, and hang out for a
good long time before anybody got there.
I carried that six pack of beer to Clarendon Shelter and waited
for everyone else to roll in. Imagine the smiles on their faces
as each hiker was given a can upon arrival. Eric, Bruce, Al and
possibly Paul each got a beers. I think that Eric passed, but the
remainders were not wasted.
Soon I will be in my back yard, New Hampshire and the White Mountains.
(Three views of
Carendon Gorge area)
August 19th, 1983
The word for today is "slackpack". We hiked only thirteen
and a half miles up to Pico Camp Cabin. I thought that Killington
would be tough, but it was a piece of cake. Yes I summited Killington
even thought the summit is not on the AT. What delighted me to no
end was that I had this strange feeling come over me while up there
that from this vantage point, I could spit down on skiers - had
there been any. That's how high I was. I don't know why, but that
idea just tickled me to death.
cabin, where I am staying tonight, is the most beautiful place that
I had ever been to on this trail. High in the mountains with a view
that I would never tire of. I could live there. Alan Savage and
I are hanging back three miles from Sherburne Pass at this cabin
so we can hit the Post Office early tomorrow via the road that passes
(Killington Center from Killington Summit)
(Cooper Lodge from Killington Peak)
Saturday August 20th, 1983
The town of Killington Center was quite busy and very much a tourist
town. Fortunately the tourists flock in mostly for ski season so
it wasn't too bad at this time. It was a long way down into town,
but I must have gotten a ride there and back or you would be hearing
me bitch about that today. I didn't spend too much time in town,
after all the dinner I was looking forward to wasn't going to wait
for me back at the inn. I received three packages at the Post Office
this morning before moving on to Mountain Meadowns, a ski resort
that in the off season has cheaper rates for hikers.
We traveled a mere two miles once back at the trailhead in Sherburn
Passin this morning to get to Mountain Meadows Inn; and as you can
imagine I was totally exhausted (ya, right!)
Speaking of exhaust, Al and I are in the company of Joe, who has
quite an exhaust himself, to the point that I'll bet he even has
brown spots in his shorts. Joe is probably a short distance hiker
working off his stay and meal by doing the dishes after the meal.
I got an $8:00 meal for free in exchange for stacking cord wood.
Al helped me with this. The guy that owned the Inn showed us both
how he liked to stack and left us. He said that he would be back
in a while to see how we were doing. We came up with the idea that
Alan would pitch the wood to me from a large pile, while I stacked
as prescribed by the owner. Some time passed and when he did come
back he was amazed and upset. Apparently we had stacked way more
than we should have. He thanked us, but his passing remark was,
"what will I give the others to do now that want to work off
their lodging"? We did not realize he worked for the government!
Almost forgot - ate some Haagen Dazs today while in town.
(Mountain Meadows Inn)