Sunrise from a shelter before heading to Mount Mansfield on the Vermont Long Trail.
General Blog, hiking

Long Trail Journal 5

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 5.

Enjoy!

August 27, Day 12: Sterling Pond Shelter

No sunrise this morning. Just clouds and fog. A bit upsetting, but maybe Roundrock had a good sunrise. It has a viewpoint star next to it on the map, so maybe.

Kind of slow going day. Downhill then up then down then kind of flat. Walked a whole extra half mile to get water ad the Taylor Lodge shelter, but I needed it so worth it I guess.

Photo of the summit of Mount Mansfield on the Long Trail in Vermont. Hiking up took a long time and a lot of miles.
Heading up to the Mount Mansfield Summit.

Going up the south side of Mansfield was hella hard. Loads of ladders and a few sketchy places. Sure glad Benny is a smaller dog, no idea how anyone could do it with a big dog. I was pretty tired of lifting him up. But after the forehead, it was so much easier. Like day hike easy. For some reason, once I crossed the parking lot area the day hikers became hugely annoying. I do hate it a bit when there’s this awesome cool mountain and then there’s a road to the top or close to the top. Almost ruins the whole journey of getting there.

Pass a bunch of people on the way to the top. It does amaze me sometimes what people wear to go up a mountain even if it’s just from the parking lot. Someone was wearing a bright pink velvet tracksuit, but hey whatever works!

But… Dan was at the top to meet me!

Not sure how many other boyfriends would haul ass up a long climb to meet their super gross and dirty and unshowered girlfriend and do it with beer and veggies and a smile.

With Dan and my parents, I’ve been incredibly supported throughout this trip. It’s crazy how much the people around me love me and help me do these awesome things. And it’s so cool that Dan is so willing to do these things for me. It makes me feel like I do have value and worth and that I might actually be special to someone.

We hung out on the top for a little while. Had a beer and some snacks. So much food today, I might die.

Benny the hiking dog and Dan the boyfriend post for a summit photo on Mount Mansfield in Vermont on the Long Trail.
The best guy in the world and some weirdo in blue who wanted to be in the photo with Benny. (JK, it’s Dan)

Dan brought me up a hard-boiled egg and veggies and had a muffin for me in the parking lot. Plus a new water filter! Amazing! I’m never using the small one again. It’s a waste of time and I never end up drinking enough water.

But Dan is so awesome. Not sure many other people would be able to put up with all the shit I want to do.

It was a good time. I’m excited to be back at home with him. And get down to figuring out what I’m actually going to be doing with my life.

In the shelter, there’s a ton of new college kids. There’s some drama some dude talking about his girlfriend form high school. So glad I’m not in school anymore. Like so so glad. They’re going to be up early tomorrow on one of my short days, not sure I’d be able to sleep in any way.

August 28, Day 13: Roundtop Shelter

Weird how hiking makes you feel so removed from civilization and normalcy, then you look down from the shelter and see a town. Everyone going about their lives. Work, home, eat, sleep, repeat. The idea of doing that forever is terrifying. I don’t want a life of so much repetition, where every day looks and feels the same.

I like being a whole body tired. Where you’re not just tired in your legs and muscles, but you can feel it in your bones. It’s a tired from working hard that has leeched all energy. Your eyes hurt and your joints and brain and its tiring to breath to think. A tired where you just sit and enjoy the view and your mind is quiet.

I like the kind of tired where you mind is quiet. Still.

No negative self-loathing thoughts. No wishing you were something you can never be. The thoughts of self-hatred and thoughts of all your flaws are at least momentarily silences in the tiredness of your body.

Woke up this morning to huge amounts of rain. Enough so that it was blowing into the shelter. The school trip left early, I slept in until about 8am. So a nice late start.

Felt like a really long day even though it was just a bit over 14 miles. Did get to pick some blueberries this morning, going to have them in the oatmeal tomorrow for breakfast. Should be pretty good. Ran into another NoBo as well. Man of very few words, a bit weird. Think he went into town. Maybe see him at the shelter tonight. Not sure though. Road walked for what felt like forever, probably wasn’t really that long.

Photo of the Lamoille River, swimming after a long day of hiking on the Vermont Long Trail is refreshing and gives new life to hiking legs.
Coming to rivers on the trail is always magical.

Then came to a river, the Lamoille River. Took a swim, it was magical. Made Benny get in too. He wasn’t too psyched about that but probably felt better after.

Another thing I like about being out here is that there are no mirrors. I never have to see what I actually look like and can momentarily be without seeing what I am. I don’t have any pressure to be up to society standards, I don’t have to be embarrassed about stray body hair or thick thighs or extra tummy rolls. For the time I’m in the woods I see myself as more than just my body and all my flaws. I can see myself for who I am and what I am currently achieving rather than wishing I was 20 pounds lighter or anything else that doesn’t really matter.

The author takes a selfie showing how much sweat happens on the Vermont Long Trail.
Just sweating my body weight on the trail, no big deal. Sweat smells good.

Had a nice chat with another NoBo at the shelter. Seems like a pretty cool guy. We both complained at having to haul water up, none at the shelter, but he did give me some airhead candy!

It’s incredibly peaceful here with the wind and the crickets and even getting to talk hiker stuff.

I did feel pretty lonely when I was by the river, wishing I had someone to share it with. As much as I like being alone, there are moments where I desperately would like someone else to be there. Hard to explain because I don’t want just anyone there, but someone who I have a relationship with. Not just a random stranger.

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