I hiked the first 105 miles of the 272 mile Long Trail in 2013, as it coincided with the Appalachian Trail. With that much of the trail done, I decided I should finish it at some point and will start doing section hikes when I can. The first section picked up right where I left off.
Jenn and I hopped on the Long Trail northbound at Sherburne Pass. We ran into some AT thru hikers right away. I hadn’t even thought there’d be any this far north yet so I didn’t have trail magic with me. We chatted for a while any way. One of the hikers asked me if he should do the PCT next year. FYI, the answer to “should I hike a long trail?” is always YES.
We reached Maine Junction in Willard Gap after a mile, where the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail split. This time, I followed the LT north. It felt great to be back on Vermont trail, and so familiar, despite not having hiked that section before. Just green everywhere, water every few miles, and so much shade. I love Vermont!
The Long Trail is notoriously rugged, but this was actually a pretty gentle stretch, with not too many rocks and steep parts. The only times I tripped were when avoiding toads. We saw ten of them on the trail. Their favorite activity seems to be blending into the ground and waiting until the very last moment to leap from beneath your descending foot, causing you to practically fall over trying not to squish them.
We were aiming for a shelter for the night but had gotten a late start and didn’t want to hike all the way until dark. Instead, we found a flat area to camp near a snowmobile trail after about 9 miles. There was even a fire ring already there and Jenn got started making a fire right away to drive off the bugs. We cooked dinner and sat at the fire until the sun was mostly down.
The next morning, we both woke up early, only to have the rain start just after. We quickly packed up and got moving. We’d known it was going to rain and it started out lightly enough at first. We made it to the New Boston Trail and went down it a quarter mile to the David Logan Shelter to take a break out of the rain. The rain became heavier while we were there.
Before getting to the shelter, I hadn’t been wearing a rain jacket and still only the shoulders of my shirt were wet. After leaving the shelter, the rest of my shirt was quickly sopping wet, along with my shorts and socks. I was having a hard time staying warm so I eventually stopped and wrestled on my rain jacket, difficult to do when you’re soaking wet already. We didn’t plan any more stops because of the rain so I starting moving faster.
I passed Telephone Gap, Wetmore Gap, and Bloodroot Gap. I love the names of places in the forest. We didn’t summit any mountains, but did pass close to the summits of Deer Leap Mountain, Mt Carmel, Bloodroot Mountain, Farr Peak, and Goshen Mountain. There was also one view towards the end of this stretch, of the Great Cliffs on Mount Horrid, which are currently closed for nesting peregrine falcons.
A while later, the rain did stop. For about an hour. I made it to the car at Brandon Gap, 11 miles from camp, just as it was starting up again. Jenn wasn’t so lucky, getting one last dousing before she caught up.