Last fall I hiked a section of Long Trail with Switchfoot, intending to go from Route 2 to Smugglers Notch. The weather was crappy so we bailed early before going over Mount Mansfield and down to the notch. I’ve summitted Mount Mansfield before so not getting the summit didn’t bother me, but as for my section hike of the Long Trail, it created a weird piece I’d have to go back and get. It took me three more hikes over the last year to get it, but they were all for work so that’s pretty cool.
First, I realized that I’d already hiked the Long Trail south from Smugglers’ Notch the 1.7 miles to Taft Lodge last September. GMC was doing an airlift of materials to renovate the shelter so I hiked in to take photos.
That really only left me with 3.3 miles of Long Trail on the ridge to hike between the Haselton Trail and Taft Lodge. I figured I could day hike that and then take the gondola down but the opportunity never came.
Back in June of this year, GMC had its annual Alpine Walk for our field staff to learn about alpine vegetation. I tagged along to take photos and got half of the section I needed. I got a ride up the toll road so starting at the Visitor Center, I hiked out the Amherst Trail and then the Long Trail with the group. But when they turned back, I continued north on the Long Trail over the Chin, took a little side trip out to the Adam’s Apple, and then connected my section hike to Taft Lodge.
Now I had 1.4 miles left. We did another airlift to Butler Lodge and that’s right at the beginning of the section I needed. I hiked up the Haselton Trail and then slightly south on the Long Trail and down the Wallace Cutoff to Butler Lodge. After helping unload the materials from the helicopter and taking lots of photos, I set off to finish my missing section of Long Trail.
Back at the Needle’s Eye is where I got off before but this time I kept going north on the Long Trail, over the Forehead and past the Nose to the Visitor Center. I still needed a little bit of LT past the VC to completely connect it so I hiked out another .3 mile before turning back down the Amherst Trail and then getting on the Cliff Trail. I wanted to check out the Cliff Trail, which I’d heard was very climby and fun, but it would also take me over to the gondola, which dropped me off in the parking lot I’d started hiking the Haselton Trail from in the morning.
It took me four hikes but I’ve now hiked the whole Long Trail over Mount Mansfield! I have just one piece left of my section end-to-end hike of the whole trail, which I hope to take care of on a long weekend this fall.