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 4.
Day 9, August 24: Theron Dean Shelter
Today felt so much better than yesterday. Amazing what a difference a day can make!
Nothing hugely exciting happened in the morning. Ran into a bunch of spider webs, hugely annoying. I’d say more annoying than the bunch of day hikers I ran into. Stop asking me where the top is, you’ll get there when you get there. Gosh.
Had lunch on Sunset Ledge, probably a beautiful place for that reason. Then down across the road and up Lincoln. Loads of day hikers, these ones at least a bit more competent.
Did run into another LT NoBo, although he was pulling off the trail soon. So alone again in the shelter.
You’d think with all this time just to think I could get my life planned out at least a bit. But I usually find myself making up stupid scenarios in my head of things that will never happen. Maybe on some of the shorter days, I have planned I’ll actually figure out some real life plans.
Saw an amazing sunset. At least the afterglow of it was pretty amazing. Pretty sure I can see Camel’s Hump from here. It looks so far away, way too far to walk to for tomorrow, but I guess it’ll get done. The layers of the mountains are seemingly endless. Tried to take a few photos but the photos never do the real thing justice.
Again alone at the shelter, I find myself wishing Dan were here to watch the sunset with me. It’s nice to be alone but not so much to be lonely. Things are cooler when someone else is there.
It is also odd to be this supported by someone who isn’t related to me. Not in a bad way, it’s actually amazing, but just not anything I’m used to.
Also saw a bunny today, Benny did not see it thankfully. He did try to eat a toad today though while I was on the phone with Dan.
August 25, Day 10: Bamforth Ridge Shelter
Filtering water is almost a therapeutic experience. You need patience to just sit there and squeeze water out at a mind-numbingly slow rate. And then do it again and again. A lesson in waiting and patience.
Getting feet ready for the day is a similar experience.
Putting on a new set of clothes with you haven’t showered in forever is a bit like trying to Fabreeze away a dog poop in the living room.
Was really wishing for a candy bar to magically appear on the trail all morning. Anything really, a Snickers bar, a Twix, I’d even take a payday. Nothing though.
Then we stopped at a shelter to take a look, and bam! A lovely pack of skittles was there waiting for me! Well, lovely might be pushing it. They clearly had gotten wet, might have even fallen into the dirt then shoved back into a plastic bag. But it was like the trail gods were looking out for me.
Lots of climbing today. My feet ache. The top of Camel’s Hump was cool but had been up it way too many times before for it to really be that exciting.
The scariest moment on the trail happened on the way to the shelter. Benny jumped down what looked to be a solid landing and couldn’t catch himself. Fell down like 10 feet. Worst 30 seconds of my life until I was able to get to him. I was sure there would be something broken. He whimpered, it was horrible. But nothing was broken, he wasn’t really even limping at all. I still think there may be something wrong with his tail since he hasn’t lifted it since. Bit worrying. **Benny has since made a full recovery**
August 26, Day 11: Puffer Shelter
Woke up and ate a single cold oatmeal packet and then booked it out of the shelter. Mom was picking me up at the bottom and taking me to breakfast!
We ended up going to a really cute restaurant and had some killer French toast and coffee. I can’t wait to drink all the coffee when I get back. And I’m ending on a Friday so I’ll have the weekend to recuperate until I go back to work. There’s a Ben and Jerry’s calling my name in bed with movies and Benny, and maybe Dan.
Spent the morning chilling and charging electronics. Last time to charge until I finish up. Hopefully, I can make it all last. Benny seemed to be in high spirit, I think his tail was still a little sore, but he was excited to get back on the trail.
Easy day up Bolton. Not super exciting, but nice parts of hiking. Rainy though. Poured for a few then drizzled and cloudy for the rest of the day.
Still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my life. Or more what I’m going to do in it. Van life? A café? Am I really ready to “settle down” somewhere or do I still want to be able to travel more? I loved the family I had in Vietnam, hanging out with a bunch of people from a bunch of places. I like the life I have with Dan but still feel a need to go, a need to see more. Do more?
I really want to van adventure. The life on the road sounds exciting, going through all these new countries and meeting new people and new experiences.
I like the unexpected adventures and the idea of figuring out how to live on the road and how to live from a van with a dog and a boyfriend.
See how the road trip goes in October and see if that’s really the life I’d want for months at a time. Should see if that guy wants to sell his van to me when he’s done. Or start figuring out how much it would all cost to make it work. How much I could rent the house out for, how much I could make on the road. Seems like an awesome life.
Lots of cool people in the shelter tonight. Pretty awesome view, supposed to be a good sunrise. Excited about that!