Back in August 2018, I decided to go hike the Long Trail with my dog, Benny. The trail starts at the very bottom of Vermont and winds its way up to the very top meeting with Canada. After hiking 270 miles with everything on your back, staying in one of the 25 shelters each night and summiting more than 20 peaks, Benny and I finished the trail in 16 days. Here I’m going to share my journal thoughts from each night. This is part 2.
August 18, Day 3: Stratton Pond
Pretty terrible rainy day! So much mud through Vermont. Quote from the shelter at lunch was “Vermont’s state flower is mud.” Pretty accurate I’d say.
Benny was an absolute trooper. Pounded through the mud and rain like it was nothing. If I’m taking a breather, he’ll stop and look back at me or come running to me. He’s just so adorable!
Really awesome thunderstorm last night, tons of lightning too.
Random thought while hiking: There’s a certain point on the trail where the miles just roll one after another and everything becomes background. All the aches and blisters and sore feet and soggy socks fade and for a while, there is nothing except one foot after another. There’s almost a constant high, as close as you can get to a state of euphoria. The shitter the weather, the harder the miles, the more blissed out. I love the suffering and the stupidity of why anyone would ever choose tromping through mud pits and wet shoes over a comfortable day on the couch. But the people who do are my favorite.
The pain and suffering are momentary compared to the feeling of elation and complete freedom being out here gives.
The simplicity of it, the mental and physical demands, the ability of the woods to allows us to escape the endless stream of meaningless thoughts and just go and just be.
It’s hard to explain to people who don’t get it, but when they do it’s so easy to understand.
If someone gets so much from whatever activity they are doing, who is anyone to take that away from them?
Up and over Stratton today. Carried Benny to the top of the tower and back down. I didn’t want him missing out on any views. Even though there weren’t any.
It feels as though the AT/LT is definitely graded for a NoBo trip, seemed harder going south.
Need to remember to get some cash out, lots of shelters charging money.
Going to try and see if Dan can meet me on Killington because that would be amazing. I do miss him, wish he was here, and wish he could hike as fast as me. Ha!
It is super great having Benny though. I have a constant companion, someone I can look out for and someone who is looking out for me. Itis nice to have him to snuggle with.
August 19, Day 4: Peru Peak Shelter
Longer day than expected, but made it! Was supposed to call Dan, thought there might be served here, but that seems like a pretty solid no. Hopefully, I can pop a message to him tomorrow. Maybe I can get him to bring his tent down and spend the night.
Had a pretty solid day. Hiked 10 miles by 12 so pretty good. Trying to decide whether to go 20 miles or 24 miles tomorrow. I guess it’ll depend on the shelter if it’s full or not. Super busy tonight. Makes me a bit worried since I have Benny with me and since I have no tent. Always slightly risky.
Feeling pretty tired right now. Going to try and go to bed early. Looking forward to a burger at the Killington Long Trail Pub.
August 20, Day 5: Clarendon Shelter
Up early, some AT SoBo’s said they were getting up at 6, so I kind of woke up with them. Was on the trail by 7:20am, so that was good.
I really do like hiking. I like the uncomfortableness of it all. The way that pain settles in as part of the day or that you settle in with the pain. Granted it does take a few minutes for things to get in motion again, but once they do, the constant heels rubs, aching shoulders and hips, stiff knees and calf muscles, it becomes part of the hike, part of the day.
And I like it.
I like the gross blisters that form everywhere and anywhere on my feet and even hands. I like the rubbed skin on my hips and the oozing pimple like blisters there. I like the dirt and mud that clings to me like a second skin. The way my socks stiffen with each day and stand up on their own. I like the way you can smell a hiker before you see them and how we’re all in this miserable idea together.
I like how raw and open the trail makes you feel. How you can go through every emotion from absolute despair to giddy euphoria with minutes.
I like how the smallest thing makes miles easier or harder. That someone offering up a cold drink makes the next miles so much better. That trail magic comes in all shapes and sizes and is so welcomed.
I like that hikers are some of the friendliest, dirtiest, most disgusting people who would give the tattered shirt off their backs for you. That eating two oatmeal packets, a granola bar and peanut butter is considered a small snack.
No one judges your miles or speed or how many hours a day you hike. It’s your hike, so hike how you want.
The woods were amazing today. It was the perfect hiking day. Sunny and cool, the leaves were perfectly dappled. It smelled like fall. The miles were fast and easy to start. Had 10 miles in by 11:00am. I felt great, like that’s what hiking is supposed to feel like.
My feet are killing me now. I can feel them throbbing and pulsing away. Happy, sore, tired feet.
I’m not sure why I like it so much. But I do.
Nothing has made me more confident or self-assured as much as this has. What I’ve taken from the trail it has given me so much more.
Did get some awesome trail magic today. Coming through Clarendon Gap. Got Benny a bunch of burgers, had some kebabs, brownies and slugged down a bottle or 2 of ice cold water. It was amazing.
Up and over Killington tomorrow, maybe or maybe no meeting Dan. Dang cell service.
Benny was amazing today, it’s like he’s my little demon and it hurts to pull apart.