LT/AT

Well I just officially left the long trail and am heading east towards new Hampshire.

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Killington Peak

Today I climbed up and over Killington, the first 4000 foot mountain since southern Virginia. It was a hard climb but well worth the effort. It has inspired me to look into getting a winter job on a ski slope so I can have access to a mountain to learn to ski on.

The past few days on the Long Trail have been gorgeous. The AT follows the long trail for 105 miles from the Vet/Ma border to Killington Vt. I have passed some amazing views and a few beautiful ponds.

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I am in my last quarter of the trail and excited, and scared, to be nearing the end of my journey. I have maybe 50 more miles in Vermont left, and hope to be in Hanover New Hampshire by Saturday morning. Trail talk says that from Hanover expect to take another month to reach Katahdin. Lately I am reminded of Game Of Thrones, winter is coming! I have been watching the mountains, and more and more recently the leaves have been getting colored. I’m hoping to make this last stretch in less than a month and avoid falling into winter weather, it has occurred to me that I’m heading north into the oncoming season.

All in all it is an amazing journey and every day reminds me I’m alive and learning.

Continuing through Vermont

Mile marker 1647.2 otherwise known as Manchester Center, VT. The trail has returned to mountains again, unfortunately it has been filled with mud, rocks, and roots.

Northern Massachusetts was wonderful, Dalton was a great town and I was happy to take a zero there in order to get a package from the post office. Tom Levardi was a generous trail angel who lets hikers camp in his back yard or sleep on his porch, he also offers slack packing and rises around town. On Sunday while we were waiting for the post office Cat, Baird, Dragon Born, Young Gandolf and myself went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Then Monday we decided to slack pack to Cheshire Ma.

The next day Cat and I set out to climb Mount Greylock, the tallest peak on the trail in Mass. It was a gorgeous day, and the climb went well. We got to the top with Ginga Ninga where we got ice cream and played a couple of games of checkers. This allowed us to catch an amazing sunset from the summit.

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Sunset Mount Greylock

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Gnomes on Greylock

We were then lucky enough to start a conversation with a park employee who was checking on the tower and he invited us to climb the tower, currently closed until renovations are completed.

We climbed down the tower to a deserted field where we decided to cowboy camp to catch the sunrise. This was also Cat’s last day on the trail before she had to return to college. There couldn’t be a better end of the trail for her. The next day we did 6 miles into Williamstown where she was able to catch a bus to Connecticut. It was a sad day for me, but there was nothing to be done but continue hiking. They say laughter is the best medicine, if that is the case walking might be the second best. That being said it has been months since I last hiked as a solo hiker, its a strange feeling to not have constant companionship.

From Williamston it was 4 miles to the Vermont line and the beginning of the Long Trail. I met a fellow north bounder, Hermes, and hiked with him for a few days. We went into Bennington together where I got my cold weather clothes and he got a ukulele. We then continued to Stratton mountain, where Benton Mackay developed the idea for the Appalachian Trail. It seemed fitting to me that on the same slopes as I was climbing yesterday that Mackay’s dream of a connector trail between communities has become that and so much more. It serves to connect people on a personal level. Everyone I have met has been a friend I never knew, and all the towns I have been through I have seen the same spirit in the citizens.

It is great to be climbing mountains again, but I’m ready to find a place to settle down for the winter. I have been watching the mountain sides and slowly I am seeing color creep into the leaves. Soon the mountains will be a gorgeous masterpiece, but shortly after that the trees will be bare again. Its an odd sensation knowing that I have hiked all the way through spring and summer.

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Stratton mountain Fire tower

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View from Prospect Rock

Great Barrington

I have finally made it to New England! I feel as if this entire time in the back of my mind I have been pushing hard to get here, there is something alive in the rocks here that constantly pulls me to these mountains.

I left New York, NY on August 2 by taking the metro north from Grand Central Station to The Appalachian Trail Train stop. I hit the trail with the goal of making it to my family’s place in Great Barrington by the 7th for my birthday, requiring an average of 15 miles a day for the 5 days I had to make it. Thanks to the proximity of the trail to civilization in this section I was able to communicate with my sister and find out that one of my cousins and her daughters would be in Boston on my birthday and that if I wanted to see them I would need to get here sooner.

Fortunately the terrain was agreeable and Cat and I were able to make an average of 20 a day. Also once I got to Salisbury CT Nicole would be able to come take most of our gear, except what we needed for a day, so that we could slack pack the last 25 miles into town.

Unfortunately the day we were trying to get to Salisbury I slipped and fell on some muddy wet rocks at Great Falls outside of Falls Village CT. Because my knee took a bad hit on the landing and it was getting late in the afternoon, still with 8 miles till town, we decided to detour and do some road walking bypassing a climb over two mountains. This proved to be a fortunate choice. While we were strolling down the side of a dirt road a man in a pickup truck pulled up and asked where we were heading, then mentioned that his wife likes to take hikers in for the night occasionally. He said that he had to run some errands and talk to his wife, but that he would probably come back our way and pick us up if he could.  Not ten minutes later another pickup truck pulls up from the other direction and a woman tells us her husband mentioned something about two cute hikers walking down the road, seeing as I hadn’t seen anyone else she told us to hop in.

The woman Kiki, and her husband Peter adopted us for the evening, much to Cat’s and my delight, gave us a bed, a shower, got our laundry done, and fed us a great meal.  They had the coziest little house I have seen, and beautiful landscaping.  This was some of the best timed trail magic that I have received, while I was expecting to make it to my cousin’s and uncle’s the next day anyway, my knee was sore and bruised from my fall and I  don’t know if I was going to be able to push I to the miles I wanted out of it.  However I was able to clean off in the shower then take a nice long soak in a tub of hot water to relax my sore joint.  The dinner was also one of the best meals I had had in a long time, charcoal grilled steak!!

During to course of our evening our host noticed one of the Gnomes I am traveling with and expressed  interest in them. I explained to them about Going Gnome, my cousin’s business, and that I had started carrying needle felting supplies. Because of their interest, and the fact that they collect various toys and figurines (the house had 86 pig decorations scattered about) we decided to stay up and make a Gnome for them to share their house with.

The next morning, the 5th we met my sister at the trail head on route 41 outside of Salisbury at 7:45 where we dropped our weight and started our slack pack into Massachusetts. We climbed over Rika, Bear, and Race mountains and were rewarded with some spectacular views. The Berkshire Mountains have not failed to impress with its views.  Halfway through the hike Cats back developed a rash, suspected from a reaction to laundry detergent, and took some Benadryl resulting in us deciding to head down Race Brook Falls Trail, instead of going over Mt Everett, to end the hike for the day and head to the compound.

It is good to be with family and able to relax for a day or two. At the same time so that I don’t fall to far behind on the trail I am still going out to do day hikes with a slack pack. Cat and I went over Mt Everett on the 6th advancing ten miles up trail and making it to Great Barrington officially.  I was able to take my birthday off and explore town and enjoy the day, and got a great surprise of my mom coming up to visit from Baltimore. On the 8th Nicole and I went on a hike yesterday ten miles from route 7 to route 23.

It has been a great break of hiking, and I thoroughly enjoy seeing my family, but inevitably the trail beckons me to return to it and set out again with my home on my back.  I am aiming for Katahdin by the middle of September and to reach that goal I need to do about 16 miles a day, a nice easy pace that I don’t want to fall behind of.

“New” states

When I started hiking this trail I never thought that I would say New Jersey is the best state I walked through, before New England, even though I knew the western part of the state was nothing like the stereotype of the state. The trail through the mountains was gorgeous. Heading out from Delaware Water Gap we passed a fire tower, a bunch of ponds and lakes to swim in, a Sunrise Mountain, and eventually came to High Point NJ. When we got to the High Point monument we climbed up an observation platform that overlooked the mountains and offered a view of the monument and we decided to camp there.

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The High Point Monument

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Our camp at high point

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From High Point the trail turned more East and dropped down into the a series of low valleys along the Jersey New York boarder. These were a very nice section of trail because they were so dynamic, we would change between going through woods to fields. We would be going over hills to marshy boardwalks, and even a few miles of road walking, until we got to the Pochuck Boardwalk, a beautiful mile long boardwalk over a marshy stream and the pochuck river.

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Another part of new Jersey I really enjoyed was the small towns we went through. In the course of one day we passed through three towns that all had nice little grocery stores or farm markets. My favorite town that we visited was Warwick NY, right after crossing out of New Jersey for the last time on the trail. The town had a drive in movie theater that allowed hikers to walk in and camp. An awesome farm market, Pennings,

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that I seriously considered staying at and working for a while. When we were walking out of town on Sunday a woman stopped and offered us a ride, without even having to try hitch hiking, and drove us to the town farmers market walked around for half an hour with us then dropped us off at the trail. The best part of the whole town though was the fact that everyone was supper hiker friendly and wanted to know about the trail.

From Warwick the trail went over some impressive rocks and past a little water fall on the way to Southfields where I got my next resupply, the town had little to note other than a cheap motel for people going to shop at Woodbury Commons.

When Cat and I got back on the trail we ran into old friends of mine who I hadn’t seen since southern Virginia. They told us of their plan to take an upcoming side trail, The Long Path, and hike into New York city. The Long Path runs from upstate NY near the Vermont boarder down to the New York, New Jersey boarder in NYC. From where it crosses the AT it was 50 miles into the city. For a change of pace and renewed perspective on the woods we decided to join them on their adventure. We were able to catch a ferry to a train so we could cut off the section of trail through Harlem and get into the city during the day instead of walking in through a ghetto at night.

So far the city has been great. It is not nearly as overwhelming as I was expecting. Yesterday we hiked around the city with our packs doing some of the tourist things. We visited central park, walked through Times Square, and sat on the steps of the Post office across from Penn station. Everywhere we went people would stop us and ask if we were from survivor, or naked and afraid (apparently a new reality tv show about being stuck in the woods).

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Times Square