During Week 23 I hiked the second half of Vermont – finishing my 12th state, crossing over the “500 miles to go” mark, and entering into New Hampshire, my next-to-last state. Unexpectedly, this proved to be a somewhat emotional benchmark or accomplishment. I have always anticipated the White Mountains of New Hampshire to be both a special, significant attraction as well as a formidable hurdle. It was so far from the southern Appalachian mountains it was never something that was easy to focus. But now, I was here. Realizing the distance travelled to reach this point (and the fact that this 2,190 mile journey might be realized) caused me a sense of accomplishment AND excitement for the final two states (yet recognizing that New Hampshire and Maine still contained over 400 miles of challenging hiking).
Except for Mt. Killington, this week did not feature as dramatic hiking as the first half of Vermont. That said, Killington was probably the highlight of the Green Mountain State. The day before the climb up the east coast’s largest ski resort mountain, was a pleasant hike featuring some wonderful mountain streams and ponds, including Little Rock Pond.
The climb up Killington was challenging but the trail traversed the mountain making the ascent more manageable. The day was beautiful. After setting up camp just below the summit a number of us took our stoves and dinner to the summit for our evening meal and sunset. It was exceptional because it was so clear. I scrambled back up early the next morning for the sunrise as well.
From Killington I descended towards the road to Rutland, Vermont and made my way to the Inn at the Long Trail for resupply and a zero day – primarily so I could watch the final round of the Open Championship. A number of hikers familiar to me were there and we enjoyed an evening at the pub on site where there was live Irish music. The following day was filled with rain, but I was able to watch the entire coverage of the golf tournament.
From there, on Monday, a group of us hiked 21 miles during a day of clouds and heavy rain. We concluded at a free “barn hostel” (the owner was at the Irish pub and invited us to stay) located right on the trail, where we were able to order pizza, which was a nice treat after a very wet day. It rained so much I couldn’t get my phone/camera to work (because of the need to “swipe” and the presence of rain on the phone’s case) – there were few special views/sites (especially due to the weather), however, earlier we did go by an impressive “Thundering Falls.”
After our stay at the barn hostel, we had another fairly uneventful day. The weather cleared and the day was beautiful. I fell behind the group after hanging out with some southbound thru-hikers at a shelter where we had stopped for lunch.
Arriving in West Hartford, I crossed the White River and finished the day at another private “hostel,” next to the river. We took a swim, some jumped off the bridge into the river, and we were able to order Chinese food.[It is worthy to note that the volume of thru-hikers who started at Katahdin about two months earlier has increased considerably. It’s been fun to talk with them and compare notes and exchange tips and recommendations. We were told that a large northbound “bubble” and the southbound “bubble” was converging right about this time. (Keep in mind, while we are running into the southbound bubble, the number of thru-hikers leaving Katahdin and attempting a southbound hike is only about 10% of the total number of the year’s thru-hikers.)].
Like the two previous days, the last day in Vermont was relatively easy and uneventful hiking as we climbed out of White River (passed under I-89) – and after sometime in the woods – hiked into Norwich, VT, walked under I-91, and then crossed the Connecticut River into Hanover, NH. This involved a 2 and ½ mile road walk, although we were treated to trail magic at the driveways of some of the homes in Norwich. We got to Hanover before the rain came. A large group of hikers who had been together the last few days enjoyed lunch and hiker “freebies” offered by some of the town’s merchants (free pizza and free donut). While awaiting a bus to take me to my motel a local woman offered to take me around town for resupply and then drop me at the motel – a little more trail magic.
While the final two days in Vermont were unspectacular from a hiking perspective and the weather both days was poor, Vermont proved to be a wonderful state for hiking the Appalachian Trail – well-designed trails, well-maintained trails, wonderful earthen and pine-needle paths underfoot (with few rocks), beautiful weather, few bugs, good times with hiker friends, and great scenery, including sunrise/sunsets, views from mountain tops like Bromley, Stratton and Killington and ponds like Little Rock Pond and Stratton Pond – oh Vermont!
Last modified: August 8, 2018