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Week Nineteen: Vermont and it's many wonders

Sunday 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.

Later 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!

Today I came across a beaver pond along the Appalachian Trail. It ranked as the first one I had seen so far.

A word 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!!

But enough about the AMC.

(Two views from Prospect Mtn) (Sign indicating beginning of The Long Trail) (Beaver Pond in Vermont)

Monday 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.

Since 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!!

Wednesday 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 Pond Shelter.

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 neel
dles 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.
(Advert for Alpine Slide) (Two views from Bromely Mountain) (Bruce Berlin and Eric Olsen from Bromley Lookout)

Thursday 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 didn't matter.

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.

The 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. Wow!!

(Three views of Carendon Gorge area)

Friday 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.

Pico 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 through.

(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)


Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983