Day 34: North Adams, MA to intersection for Bennington, VT (18.4 mi)
We started off today with a nice climb out of town up to the mountains. I kept feeling like Massachusetts wanted to make sure we remembered that there was tough terrain there. The last climb out of MA was a bit challenging. I also think we needed to warm up our hiking muscles and feet again after the zero day. The first few miles of the climb we walked along a beautiful brook and saw a spring bubbling right off the trail. It was pretty idyllic.
We climbed for 4 miles and at the top we reached the Vermont border! Yes! A new state!! We met a Dad and his son there and the son (20) was starting the Long Trail and his pops was seeing him off.
We walked along the ridge for a bit and walked in plenty of mud. Vermont is known for its mud, especially in the early season, but today we walked through more mud than we have this whole time, so it is definitely living up to its nickname of Vermud.
We crossed the road that leads into Bennington, Vermont and crossed a small footbridge over a very large creek. There were a few tent sites so we decided to set up our tent and call it a day. Ate penne for dinner and chatted with a few other hikers.
The weather today couldn’t have been more perfect. The high was 80 and the low was 50. I wore my pants again, which definitely felt better for bug protection, and was super comfortable temperature-wise all day! Yay!
Day 35: Bennington, VT tentsite to Story Spring Shelter (19 mi):
Brrrr! Last night was chilly! It dipped down into the upper 40s. I slept with earplugs in for the first time because we were so close to a road. It seemed to really help.
We got kind of a late start because it was too hard to get out of our sleeping bags in such frigid weather. Hit the trail by about 8 am with a nice steep climb.
We ended up walking with another hiker, Josh, and his dog for some miles and the chatting helped the miles go by.
We took our first break 10 miles in at a shelter after much climbing. Made afternoon smoothies, chatted with Earthheart a bit, and then continued on to the next shelter, 4 miles away.
Got to the next shelter, hung out with Earthheart again, and we pushed on another 4.6 miles to Story Spring shelter.
We had quite a climb leaving that last shelter, and I was moving slowly. I ate two caffeine cliff chews and about 15 minutes later I started to feel a surge of energy. I put in a headphone and listened to some music and started running down the descent. The descent was rolly, not very steep, but sort of technical. It was filled with rocks, roots, stream crossings, and mud pits. At certain moments I felt like I was dancing with the rocks, moving rhythmically in between them as I flew. Running felt so good and so fun. I didn’t feel stiff with my poles, and I wasn’t overthinking the challenging bits. I almost fell a few times, but my poles caught me. I was having so much fun I didn’t want it to end.
I got to the shelter and proposed going another 2.6 miles, but Fresh Feet was done for the day. Bean was at the shelter! Yay! I have no idea how we caught her, but it was exciting to hang out again! We had dinner, convo, and laughs with Bean and Earthheart and a bunch of other hikers came in for the night.
Day 36: Story Spring Shelter to Manchester, VT (21.1 mi) JAMIE’S birthday!!!
We reunited with Bean! It was so fun having a hiking buddy again today!
We started off today climbing Stratton Mountain, and climbed the tower at the top for a BEAUTIFUL view all around.
After the 3 mile descent we ended up at Stratton Pond, where I took a quick dip and we had our pm smoothies.
The next 10.5 miles were relatively flat and easy walking, Bean and I stuck together and chatted about the last three weeks apart as well as other convo. The miles flew by. I was so astonished by our pace. It’s amazing how company can really help with pace!
We got to the parking lot at about 4:30 and waited a little while for Jamie’s friend Derek to pick us up. Jamie had gotten in touch with him yesterday on a whim to see if he was around and available to hang out and maybe host us. Derek and Jamie basically share birthdays (1 day apart), so it would be pretty perfect to get to celebrate birthdays together. We invited Bean along as well.
Derek pulled up and we went to a grocery store and got local veggie burger patties and salad ingredients for dinner. It turns out that they were having friends over for dessert because one of their friends ALSO has a July 21 birthday.
We made a big vegan feast (Derek’s lovely wife Teri is also vegan), and had dessert and mingled with good people. We had a fire in the back, kids were jumping on the trampoline, the two dogs were running around chasing each other, and it was just a completely different scene than trail life. We had been plopped into a community and it felt so good and comforting. Their home was just so full of love, warmth, and laughter and it filled my heart.
*** WE HIT 500 miles today!!! ***
Day 37: Manchester, VT to Peru Peak Shelter (10 mi)
We went to bed at about 1 am and I really didn’t get much sleep at all. Bean and I shared bunk beds and she kind of snored and was up at 6, so I didn’t get the rest I needed.
We ate the brunch to beat all brunches at Derek and Teri’s this morning. Teri whipped up and amazing tofu scramble and we had bagels with hummus, avocado and microgreens on them. It was SO DELICIOUS!
We were slow to leave the house and didn’t hit the trail until probably close to 1:00. I was totally worthless today. When I’m sleep deprived I feel like I’m a zombie walking. I was just totally zapped of all energy. I felt like I could fall asleep on the ground.
We had two climbs today, Bromley Mtn and Styles Peak. It was super misty and foggy the whole time with winds blowing the rain off the leaves onto us. The forecast said it was supposed to rain pretty badly today, but we didn’t get rained on much. Everything was really wet. Descending on slippery rocks made me super nervous and slow. The slick rocks looked metallic in the light today. The way the light came through the thick cloud coverage reminded me of golden hour light, and it made some of the rocks look shimmery like silver, bronze and gold.
We stopped at the top of Bromley Mtn and hung out a little in the ski patrol hut. The last 0.3 mi up Bromley were on the ski path which was kind of cool. We hear the summit is usually pretty open and there are nice views, but today we were totally in a cloud.
We got some trail magic (banana and chips for me) in between the two peaks from a guy who had just completed the Long Trail. It is just so nice of people to buy food and bring it out to us. I thought it was cool that he was a fellow hiker returning to the area to sprinkle some happiness on us.
We didn’t see any hikers after the Bromley summit until the shelter. The weather made everything feel a little eerie and creepy. There were winds blowing the fog and you couldn’t see too far in any direction.
We shared the shelter with Wanderer, NoBo from Germany, and another SoBo hiker. No tent tonight because rain is in the forecast.