I got the chance to co-lead a women’s intro to backpacking trip for GMC this weekend. I love getting people introduced to the outdoors! We choose to do a loop over Stratton Mountain and around Stratton Pond since it’s on the easier side, but it does have views from the mountain and at the pond. We had eight women total, from teen to 60s in age, so it was a varied group but everyone got along well and was excited to learn and be there.
Driving south from Waterbury, it was raining. The forecast looked like it would improve though and it ended up stopping raining right as we arrived. As we were passing Route 4 on the way, I saw a hiker hitching, and knew they’d want to go to the town we’d be driving through next so I pulled over to grab them. Turns out it was Mrs. Joy, a hiker I’d met years ago at the Northern Ruck before I even started my thru hiking adventures. Trail magic is amazing sometimes.
We met up with our group of hikers to go over gear and make sure everyone was ready, and then we headed to the trailhead on Stratton-Arlington Road. There, we hopped on the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail and started heading up Stratton Mountain. The trail was way easier than I remembered from when I was there on my thru hike, although I had just broken my big toe at the time.
There was actually a view when we reached the top too, also missing last time I was there. We stopped for a snack and to talk to Jeanne and Hugh, GMC’s caretakers who live in a small cabin on the mountain. The black flies were buzzing around a lot but mostly not biting. A headnet made it very comfortable to hang out up there.
Eventually we had to get moving again so we continued north on the trail to Stratton Pond. We all filled up on water from a spring before finishing the hike around the pond to find camping spots after 7.6 miles.
It was very full so we had to split up and squeeze into a few smaller camping areas. Then we met up at the pond shore to cook dinner and enjoy sunset.
In the morning we hiked back over to the Stratton Pond Shelter and then got on the Stratton Pond Trail to hike back to the road on a loop. The weather was beautiful and even though the trail was muddy, it was a wonderful day. 5.3 miles hiked.