7/13 – Williamstown to Congdon shelter
7/14 – Congdon shelter to Kid Gore shelter
7/15 – Kid Gore shelter to Stratton Pond shelter
7/16 – Stratton Pond to Manchester Center (Green Mountain hostel)
7/17 – Zero at Green Mountain hostel
7/18 – Manchester Center (Green Mountain hostel) to Big Branch shelter
7/19 – Big Branch shelter to Clarendon shelter
The first week in Vermont featured two climbs up well-known ski resort mountains – Bromley and Stratton – some beautiful ponds, generally great trails (thanks to GMC), a stay at one of the Trail’s best hostels, a brief visit to a great trail town, excellent weather, and many new and old hiking friends.
As we do almost anytime we reach a road crossing or come into a town, when we leave we must climb back up a ridge or mountain. When I left Williamstown (home of Williams College in the northwest corner of Massachusetts) I literally was climbing “out” of the state and into Vermont – my twelfth state. After four miles I reached the start of the “Long Trail” and the border between MA and VT. The Long Trail runs the north-south length of Vermont from Massachusetts to the Canadian border. It is both the country’s first long distance hiking trail (approx. 273 miles) and the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail.
Just before the border I ran into Hawk who was getting ready to hike the Long Trail. We headed off together and would hike together for the entire week. Early we had pleasant hiking trails with grades that made most climbing very manageable, but no views until we climbed Glastonbury Mountain and its fire tower. The views were 360 degrees, but the sky was mostly cloudy. Perhaps the more “unique” views were the two 70 year-old nudists that were hiking on the Trail in this vicinity.
Mid-week featured a climb up Stratton Mountain – a 4,000 foot (3,936’ actually) mountain that reminded me of some of the long, significant climbs from the southern Appalachian mountains. It seemed particularly difficult or perhaps I was sluggish. The climb took two or three hours, but the trail was very fair and the final reward were great views from a fire tower at the summit. We finished this day of hiking by staying at Stratton Pond, where a large group of hikers (old friends and new) enjoyed swimming and socializing by the shore – including a beautiful sunset.
Many of us went into Manchester Center after a half-day of hiking to get resupply and take a “zero.” Some of my friends planned and cooked a big dinner at the hostel for a number of us, which included a surprise birthday cake to help celebrate my 61st birthday. This was followed the next day with a day off the trail or a “zero” day – which proved to be a lucky decision because the weather was horrendous. I spent a peaceful day resting and catching up on a number of writing projects.
The storm ushered in the best hiking weather of the entire trip which we enjoyed for the rest of the week. First up was Bromley Mountain, which Hawk and I climbed fairly early to great 360 degree views. After descending Bromley and then climbing Styles Mountain, we descended down to Big Branch stream and some beautiful ponds. The week ended by climbing still another “Bear Mountain” and setting ourselves up for the second half of Vermont, which would include one of the highlights of the entire hike.
Vermont had continued the trails and hiking I had enjoyed so much in Connecticut and Massachusetts, which continued to lift my spirits about the hike and put any additional “ banana pudding moments” further into the background.
Last modified: August 1, 2018