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The Long Trail - Vermont

Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Rutland, VT

Well, tomorrow is the big day. We hop an AMTRAK train from Union Station in Washington, DC and sometime late in the evening we will arrive in Rutland, VT. Our plan is to stay the night at the 12 Tribes Hostel, do some last minute supply shopping on Friday and stay at one of our favorite places, The Inn at the Long Trail, on Friday night. On Saturday morning, we are off and, if all goes well, we will be in Canada right before Labor Day weekend. We are both really excited about this trip and will be doing it with no "rolling trail support" which will be a new experience for us but one we are looking forward to. Our journal updates will be a bit more sporatic than they were when we did the AT last year because the towns are a bit further apart and there are less services. Having no laptop at our disposal means we will have to locate a computer when we get into town. Don't think we fell off a mountain or something if you do not see a journal update for a few days. We will keep you posted as often as we can. In the meantime,please follow along with us and we would appreciate your prayers as we take on some of the roughest mountains in the Northeast. Osiyo ("Peace", in Cherokee)

-Windtalker & Mom

Thursday, August 09, 2007
Rutland, VT

Grabbed the AMTRAK train to Rutland which was an upgrade because our regular train was going to be late which meant that we would miss our connection in New York. Unlike United Airlines, a representative from AMTRAK paged us and personally took us to the Acela train that woud get us to New York in time to get our connection. Wow! Now that is customer service. We arrived in Rutland at 8:45 p.m., took a shuttle to the Comfort Inn and called it a day. I love taking trains. It lets you ride through the backyards of America so you can see how people really live and you also get to see historic buildings that are no longer in use. One bad thing did happen on the train: the zipper on my new Mountain Hardware windshirt broke so now I have to stop at the outfitter in Rutland to pick up a replacement. Tomorrow we get some last minute food supplies and then on to Killington.

-Windtalker & Mom

Friday, August 10, 2007
        Destination: Rolston Rest Shelter
Starting Location: Killington, VT
Today's Miles: 5.00
Trip Miles: 5.00

Finished our shopping early so we stopped in at the Back Home Again Cafe for lunch because everyone raves about their sandwiches. They rocked! These folks also run the 12 Tribes Hostel which we hear is also wonderful. We jumped on a local bus with AT thru-hikers, "Alpine" and "Pony Whisperer", and headed up Rte 4 so we could stop at the Mountain Travelers Outfitter. I was lucky to find a lightweight fleece and then it was out to the road to hitch a ride to The Inn at the Long Trail. We didn't have to wait long before 3 counselors from a local wilderness summer camp, Claire, Maggie and Ryan, stopped to pick us up. The car was a bit full with all our gear and theirs, but we made it fit and had a fun ride to Killington.
Well, it was only 1:00 p.m. so we decided to not waste the beautiful weather by staying at the inn, so off we went to get a head start on our adventure. By the way, the weather here is awesome; unlike the 100 degree, plus, temps at home, it is in the high 70's and low 80's here. Oh, so nice!
Immediately upon starting up Sherburne Pass, we were reminded that it has been a year since we hiked with heavy packs on. Whew! It was a bit of a climb for us and we are carrying two new packs that we have never used before. We stopped at Tucker Johnson Shelter for a snack and in the shelter register was a note to us from "Trickster and What?" Seems that they are also on the trail but have a week's headstart on us. It was great that they remembered that we were doing the LT this summer and thought enough of us to leave us a note. I doubt we will get to see them - They are "Gazelles" you know.
We arrived at the Rolston Rest Shelter at about 3:00 p.m. to find "Miss America" already there. We had a great evening chatting with her and she and "Mom" really hit it off when the conversations turned to yoga, tai kwon do and accupuncture. Bummer! I lost my titanium spoon somewhere! "Mom" and I had to share hers which made dinner last a long time. I was glad that I bought that fleece shirt at the outfitters because it got downright cool at night (Mom said 50 F). I guess this is my trip to have to stop at every outfitter on the trail. Last year it was "Mom" and boots. This year it is me and gear. And, NO we have not yet seen any moose!

-Windtalker & Mom

Saturday, August 11, 2007
        Destination: David Logan Shelter
Starting Location: Rolsten Rest Shelter
Today's Miles: 7.70
Trip Miles: 12.70

As you may have already noticed, our mileage each day is a bit low but that is O.K.. We have alotted ourselves plenty of time to complete this trip and we have yet to get our mountain legs and our lungs back to where they were last year. A few more days should do it though. We got a late start today (8:00 a.m.) and by 10:00, we were wondering if we had really hiked the AT last year -we were wiped! This section reminded us of Georgia with the ever-so-nasty, "PUDS" (Pointless Ups and Downs). We found that we needed to take a lot of breaks but that was O.K. as well. We had expected that we would struggle the first week of this trip. We took a long lunch at Telephone Gap (at least in Vermont they are creative enough to come up with original names for their gaps unlike the AT in Georgia where every gap is called "low gap") Even with all the breaks, we arrived at the David Logan Shelter at 2:00 p.m. and were the first ones there. We settled in, took a brief nap and in rolled "Leo" who is thru-hiking the LT. He has also done the PCT and the AT so we just talked for hours about trails, relived our adventures and compared notes about our experiences on the AT. "Miss America" showed up about an hour later which was a bit disheartening for us. You see she had left the shelter 2.5 hours after we did and got to the David Logan Shelter an hour after we did. Boy, to be young again and have long legs! "Low Impact", "Quaddy" and "Bear" arrived a bit later and we had a great time chatting away the hours until "hiker midnight" (7:00 p.m.)Two other hikers showed up but decided to keep going so they could make it to MT. Horrid and see the meteor shower. A bit warmer tonight so fleece wasn't required.

-Windtalker & Mom

Sunday, August 12, 2007
        Destination: Brandon Gap
Starting Location: David Logan Shelter
Today's Miles: 7.20
Trip Miles: 19.90

Hit the trail at 7:00 a.m. with a new sense of purpose that lasted until we hit the first steep up. Once we got over that one though, it was a "walk in the park". It really hit us this morning; we are back in the "Sanctuarty of Silence". It is so quiet out here that you can not help but be at peace and have the stress of life just drain out of you with the sweat. And, today the smells we love so much are back; the smell of damp ferns and real pine. Not that pine fragrance that you hang from your rear view mirror but the kind that says "Isn't being out here wonderful?"
We ran into LT SoBo, "Nine Lives" and talked for awhile about what was ahead of us and his plans for the rest of the summer. As soon as he finishes this section of the LT, he is heading to Virginia to hike south and complete 300 miles of the AT he has yet to do. (Then he will have done it all)
By noon we were at VT-73 (Brandon Gap) and were looking forward to a night at the Churchill House B&B where we could take a shower and relax. They say that VT-73 is a busy road so we figured that we would not have any trouble hitching a ride to Brandon, 7 miles away. Well, "busy road" is a relative term and this is Vermont afterall. "Busy" here means one car every 10 minutes (if you are lucky). After having our thumbs out for 45 minutes, we started walking the road down to Brandon. Thank God, after only a mile or so, "Trail Angel" Kevin, stopped to pick us up. He had passed us once, as he was going up the hill, and decided, "You know I need to go back and give those folks a ride". Thank You Kevin. He took us to the Grand Union where we bought a few items, called the B&B for a shuttle and before we knew it Seth, the owner of the B&B (with his wife Olya)showed up to take us to their wonderful place. The Churchill House B&B is part of a network of B&Bs along the trail who provide lodging to dayhikers who put together an "inn-to-inn" hike. After hearing that, we may alter our plans a bit. (NOT!)(Mom says maybe!)
Even though we were not able to do laundry here, they are going to provide us with dinner, which they typically do not do on Sunday nights. Really nice folks.
Still NO moose! PS from Mom - Photos will have to wait until we get to Stowe where we shipped the card reader and the laptop... no moose to post anyway and a lot of green tunnels....

-Windtalker & Mom

Monday, August 13, 2007
        Destination: Lake Pleiad
Starting Location: Brandon Gap
Today's Miles: 9.50
Trip Miles: 29.40

Seth and Olya lent us their car last night so we could drive to Brandon to do laundry and get dinner. When we returned we met a nice family from Kansas. Got started a bit later than usual this morning because of a gourmet breakfast at the Churchill House but what a difference a day makes. "Mom's" feet are feeling better and I picked up a couple of sponges to put between my shoulder straps and my collar bone/shoulders to ease the pain. They worked like a champ. Perhaps I will patent them for other hikers who have the same problem. We were gung-ho today. Tough climb to the Great Cliffs of Mt. Horrid but had no view because of the fog. Then it was up to Mt. Horrid(3,216'), then Gillespie Peak (3,366') and then stopped at the Sucker Brook Shelter to have lunch with "Black Bear". It was a strange weather day with rain to the west of us and sunshine to the east of us with cool breezes keeping the rain at bay. Ran into a SoBo, "Night Rain" who said he had seen "Trickster and What" two days ago. We stopped at the Middlebury Snow Bowl for a snack and then it was down, down, down to Lake Pleiad where we found "Miss Amerika" and "Black Bear" sunning themselves on the rocks after a brief swim. We pitched our tents in the pines near the lake, had dinner and just sat and talked until the sun was ready to go down. What a gorgeous location to spend the night. "Mom" took a nasty head-first fall today and narrowly missed getting severely injured. The trail here is vey narrow and the brush is sometimes so tight to the trail that you can see where to put your feet or to be able to use your trekking poles. She managed to survive the fall with only some nasty looking bruises. There is a different mindset with the Long Trail hikers as compared to the AT hikers last year. The AT hikers have an obsession with hiking as many miles a day as possible and sometimes it even appeared to be a competition of sorts to see who could do the most. The LT hikers rarely talk about doing big miles and take a lot of pride in just hiking as far as they feel like each day. They have no regrets about doing a 6-7 mile day. They are in no rush and seem to enjoy the journey more. It is quite refreshing. "Trickster and What?" left us a message in one of the shelter registers that said, "This is a lot like Maine." We would have to agree but with one caveat. In Maine when you hike 1,000' up to the top of a mountain you are rewarded with a view or a beautiful lake. That is definitely not the case on The Long Trail. You hike up and down and up and down and climb to 4,000' and there is rarely a "payoff". Just more trees! It can become quite discouraging especially after climbing over roots and rocks all day. NO moose, yet.

-Windtalker & Mom

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
        Destination: Cooley Glen Shelter
Starting Location: Lake Pleiad
Today's Miles: 13.00
Trip Miles: 42.40

Water is scarce on this trail so you can not just tent between shelters because there is generally no water available except at the shelters themselves. That minimizes your options to hike short days if you so choose. This was a very long and grueling day. There are rarely any flat stretches to hike and it is constantly up and down, if only 50' at a time. Again, another day of multiple ascents with no payoffs. Thank God that the temperature here in the mountains stays in the 55-60 degree range most of the day or it would really be tough. We stopped at the Emily Proctor Shelter and had lunch after pushing ourselves to do 7.3 miles by lunch. We figured that doing the remaining six or so miles before dark would be easy but the rocks and roots are just never-ending and kept our pace to a crawl. We stopped in the afternoon at a vista on Mt. Wilson and met two SoBo's, "Troll" and "What" (yes, another "What" on the trail. How bizarre is that?) The highest peak we ascended today was Breadloaf Mountain at 3,835' which is not really that high compared to many of the peaks we did last year but the terrain here is like nothing we have ever experienced anywhere. It is ruthlessly tough on your body and your mind. We arrived at the shelter in plenty of time to set up our tent, make dinner and have a chance to chat with our campmates, "Quoddy", "Pidge", "Jaybird" and their two dogs, before sunset. We were more exhausted than we remember ever being. Another thing that has been weighing on us is that, despite the fact we have each other to talk to during the day, it is incredibly lonely out here. There are so few hikers on the LT and I guess we miss the comraderie on the trail more than we realized.

-Windtalker & Mom

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
        Destination: Glen Ellen Lodge
Starting Location: Cooley Glen Shelter
Today's Miles: 12.90
Trip Miles: 55.30

Last night the weather took a change for the worse and it became very cold and windy. We worried all night about "Quoddy" freezing in the shelter because he said he did not have extra clothes to put on to stay warm and his bag was only rated for 50 degrees. He was O.K. though and said he was plenty warm when we saw him the next morning. We started a bit late because we wanted to wait out a bit of rain so it was 8:00 before we were on our way. We finally had a few views, such as at Mt. Abraham (4,000') and Mt. Ellen (4,083')and it was incredibly windy all day with highs in the mid-fifties. At Lincoln Peak we ran into a dad and his two kids on the observation tower there and they were reveling in the fact that we were above an ominous set of rain clouds and the clouds were hitting them in the chest. It actually was pretty cool but they had ridden up to the top on a chair lift and could retreat just as quickly if things went bad. We, on the otherhand, had to hike down 500' to get out of the weather if it decided to rain. We stopped at Castlerock Ski Area at one of the many ski slope warming huts that dot the ridgelines here, for a snack. These warming huts are also the few places where there are decent views. As the day wore on and we wore out we headed from the trail, 0.3 mile down a steep,rocky slope to the Glen Ellen Lodge. By now it was already 6:30 and it was getting dark fast. The lodge is not really a lodge, per se, but a log cabin that sleeps 8, has windows overlooking the valley and even a front door. Since we were the only ones there, we had our sweaty/wet clothes and gear hanging from every beam and ended up eating our dinner with headlamps on because it was so dark. This was not the way we like to end our days. We were both exhausted again and even more discouraged than we had been the previous day. In all the time we spent on the AT last year, we never once even hinted at quitting but this trail is different and an undercurrent of discouragement was rearing its ugly head.

-Windtalker & Mom

Thursday, August 16, 2007
        Destination: Waitsfield, VT
Starting Location: Glen Ellen Lodge
Today's Miles: 3.40
Trip Miles: 58.70

3.4 miles in 4 hours! That should give you some idea how tough this trail is. In fact "Mom" quipped that if we had done this trail before the AT, she probably would not have even attempted it. We arose to a beautiful sunrise from our cabin on the ledge (we had a beautiful star show there last night). Over breakfast we discussed our plan for the remaining two weeks of our vacation, having forgotten that this is our vacation for 2007. Maybe it is because we did the AT last year and can't seem to get away from comparing that trail to this one. With completing something so dramatic in 2006, doing the rest of the Long Trail a year later seems so anti-climactic. Maybe it is because there are so few people on this trail and virtually no Trail Magic or Trail Angels and these things help make the hiking experience memorable. Maybe it is because we finally realized that we do not have anything to prove to ourselves or anyone else by completing this trail in the next two weeks. It is already a trail that we are doing in sections, so we can complete it that way if we so choose. The bottom line is that we are not having FUN and that is what this vacation is supposed to be about. So, with heavy hearts but less weight on our shoulders, we are now in Waitsfield, VT at the wonderful Millbrook Inn with its marvelous hosts, Joan and Thom - deciding how to weave some day hikes, hiker assistance, and trail magic into our continuous quest for a moose siting. Just to backtrack a bit: As we came within 50' of the road crossing at Appalachain Gap, where we would hopefully catch a ride to the B&B, "Mom" stepped off the side of the trail with her left foot and crashed headfirst onto the steep trail just missing a huge rock with her head. For an instant, I thought I had lost my hiking partner. It was very scary and left her with a few more cuts and bruises to add to her collection. Cell service up here is virtually non-existent so calling for a shuttle to a town is impossible. The folks up here are very liberal when it comes to most things but moving communications technology into the 21st century is not one of them. Luckily, a hiker by the name of "Rough" (his wife is "Tumble", so they are "Rough" and "Tumble") emerged from the woods and offered us a ride to the Millbrook Inn. Our first "Trail Angel". At the inn, we took showers as Joan did our laundry and then we walked into town to pick up our mail drop at the post office. Now that we are not going to be hiking full time on the trail, we have a lot of stuff to get rid of from our mail drops further up the trail. Thom, picked us up at the post office and took us to Waterbury where we rented a car for a couple of days. While in Waterbury we stopped in at the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters headquarters and then headed back, where we stopped at Clearwater Sports Outfitters (neither of us needed anything. We just can't pass an outfitter without stopping in) and then to the B&B for dinner. "Quaddy" had just arrived and looked totally worn out. We suggested that he take a zero day since he had not doner so since starting his hike back on the Mass/Vermont border some time ago. We had a great dinner. Thom is quithe a chef and his specialty is Indian food. He picked up this skill whjen he was in the Peace Corp in India and when he got back home to Vermont, he could not find Indian food anywhere. So, he taught himself the craft and now does it for others. The dinner was magnificent. If you are ever up this way, pay these folks a visit. They are great. Still NO moose! So to all of you who are following this journey and who are looking forward to celebrating our completion, we apologize for having to bring this part of the adventure to an end. The Long Trail will be here for years to come and we fully intend to complete it. We have already done Camels Hump in 2005 and hope to do Mt Mansfield as a day hike next week and maybe a few more on our way to the north end of the trail. We'll keep you up to date as we have access. We also plan to take our leftover supplies from our mail drops and try to hook up with AT hikers in Killington or Rutland in the next few days so they can have them. We are also planning to shuttle some hikers from the Long Trail Festival in Rutland back to the trail. Much like last year when we summitted Mt Katahdin and were happy that it was over and, at the same time, sad that it was over, we are happy that we are off the trail (24/7) but sad that we are off the trail. We will continue to update our journals with news of what we are doing and our adventures with the other hikers out here. Thanks for your prayers and support.

-Windtalker & Mom

Friday, August 17, 2007
        Destination: Waitsfield, VT
Starting Location: Waitsfield, VT
Today's Miles: 0.00
Trip Miles: 58.70

We woke up early today and had breakfast out on the patio with "Quoddy", who was heading back out on the trail. He has not had a zero day since he started his LT hike , so we tried to convince him to take one before he began what is notoriously the hardest part of the trail. With the erratic weather here, if it is a nice day, you probably should be on the trail, because tomorrow it could rain all day. Since it was nice, "Quoddy" decided he should take advantage of it and packed to leave. We gave him the remainder of our "vitamin I" and some of our "Emergen C" drink mixes for the rest of his journey. Since it is probably going to get colder as he heads further north, he decided that he should get a warm shirt to take along so, before dropping him off at the trailhead, we took him to the outfitters where we had seen some warm shirts the day before. At 11:30 a.m., with new shirt in his pack, we bid our new friend a fond adiue and off he went. We hope to hear from him in the next few days and possibly meet him at a road crossing where we can run him into town. The towns here are very far from the trail, so having a pre-planned ride can be a good thing. The rest of our day consisted of planning our next fews days so that we can still be in contact with the trail and be part of the trail community, assisting other hikers. We also put on a lot of miles driving around to line things up so it was a relaxing day and gave us a chance to do some sightseeing. Still NO MOOSE!

-Windtalker & Mom

Saturday, August 18, 2007
        Destination: Rutland, VT
Starting Location: Waitsfield, VT
Today's Miles: 0.00
Trip Miles: 58.70

This morning we bid farewell to our wonderful hosts at the Millbrook Inn, Joan and Thom and set out on a full day of errand-running and, what turned out to be, unique opportunities to serve the hiker community. We were still dealing with the emotional toll of not completing the LT to Canada this time out, so staying busy and thinking of ways to stay connected to the trail helped ease the pain(emotionally and physically). The first thing was for "Mom" to get a massage to ease the uncharateristic level of pain she has been experiencing in her legs and ankles. While she was enjoying herself, I headed to the town farmers's market where I wandered amongst some of the most fabulous looking fruits and vegetables I have ever seen. Active farms are alive and well in this part of the country and the towns' people support their local farmers by purchasing their goods. It is very hard to find a large supermarket in this area. Before I went to pick up "Mom", I purchased a bottle of Vermont maple syrup. (Can't go home without some of what the area is famous for.) The folks up here are also adamant about supporting anything local; artists, artisans, athletes and restaurants. There are virtually no chain stores up here at all except for a few Subways or Quizno's sub shops. Aside from these, everything is a "mom and pop" operation. In a sense, it is refreshing. Then it was off to Stowe, VT to pick up a mail drop at the post office and to also stop by the Green Mountian Inn to see if a box we had shipped from Rutland had arrived yet. Unfortunately it had not, which was a major concern to us since it contained our computer. We had insured it but that was not much consolation. While "Mom" was at the Inn tryng to retrieve the box, I returned to Stowe Post Office and, as I was entering the parking lot, a Volvo backed out of a parking space in front of the Post Office and headed right for me. I honked my horn several times while alternating spewing profanities and questioning the driver's mental capacity. (I get a lot of practice doing this with drivers in the DC area). I threw the car in reverse to avoid being struck and eventually the Volvo stopped moving so I could pull around it and confront its driver face to face. But alas, there was no one in the car! Evidently, the driver had left the car in neutral and went into the Post Office. It was then that the car decided to roll backwards. I wish I could have been there to see the look on the driver's face when he/she came back out. With our longe-range plans in mind, we drove to Burlington, where we would be staying the final night of our stay in Vermont, and rented a car at the airport. We then drove both cars back to Waterbury and dropped the first rental car off. With that chore completed, we drove to Rutland where we planned to stay for the night and attend the 1st Annual Long Trail Festival at the fairgrounds there. We arrived at the festival late in the afternoon but still in time to participate in some great seminars and entertainment. When we arrived for a panel discussion on long distance hiking, the first person to meet us was one of the organizers, "Mad Hatter" and he recognized us from last year. He had given us a ride from The Inn at the Long Trail to the chiropractor. It was great seeing him again. He announced that the presentation on "Eating Well on the Trail", scheduled for the following afternoon, had been cancelled because the presenters could not make it. "Mom" volunteered our services and said that we would fill in. We were both extremely excited about this opportunity and it completely changed our attitudes. The panel discussion was great and the panel was made up of "Baltimore Jack" (who we had heared of but had never met), "Old Ridge Runner" who has done both the AT and the LT and knows more about the LT than anyone alive, "Luna", a young female hiker who had done the AT in three sections hikes, each one during the best time of the year for each section, and "Pipe Smoke", who still hikes with an old external frame pack because he likes the convenience of having most of his gear in pockets. (I can relate to that). It was very enlightening and the audience was made up of current long-distance hikers, prior long-distance hikers, day hikers and future hikers. There were many hiking organizations represented such as, AMC, ATC, ALDHA, GMC and each had their own display table and people you could talk to about their organizations. There were also food vendors, such as the folks from the 12 Tribes Hostel (Back Home Again Cafe) and even a person giving massages. There was a tent city set up for hikers and, in some ways, it had the feel of Trail Days in Damascus. The difference with the Long Trail Festival, as told to us by its creator, "Ma Budda" ("Mad Hatter's wife), is that the central focus of this event, in adition to lots of music, is to bring together both the trail and the town communities to promote peace and understanding of our relationship with the environmnet we live in. There were also "hardcore" actvities where, like Trail Days, hikers worked on re-locating a part of the AT because of erosion. The highlight of the day, for us, was the keynote speaker, local storyteller, Willem Lange. Mr. Lange has a weekly column, "A Yankee Notebook", in the Rutland Herald, has a radio program on Vermont Public Radio and is also featured on Vermont Public Television. He kept us in stitches for a solid hour with a non-stop, down-home, Vermont-style ramblings that were thoroughly entertaining. He is sort of a New England version of Will Rogers (or as "Mom" said Prairie Home Companion). The evening went on with an extensive list of local bands on the main stage but we did not stay for them because we needed to get back to the hotel to work on our presentation for the next day. After a great dinner at a local restaurant we went back to the hotel, used their computer to do up an outline of our nutrition talk and then spent an hour or so, in our room, rehearsing it. By then it was 10:00 and time to call it a day. We were jazzed about Sunday! Our list of presentation topics is growing. See this website to find out the date for the 2008 Long Trail Festival! http://www.longtrailfestivalvt.com

-Windtalker & Mom

Sunday, August 19, 2007
        Destination: Waterbury, VT
Starting Location: Rutland, VT
Today's Miles: 0.00
Trip Miles: 58.70

Took advantage of the ability to sleep in a bit later than usual and then, after breakfast, ran through our presentation a few more times. We checked out, headed over to the fairgrounds (across the street) and just spent some time talking with the folks who were stil there. A lot of the vendors and hiking organizations had already left but we still were able to make some key contacts. At the ALDHA table we spoke with "Old Phart", who we had met on the trail last year and also, as were were eating lunch at the 12 Tribes booth, ran into "Gary", a photographer who had been on the AT last year and who photograped us eating lunch on Mt. Moosilauke. We sat in on a discusion of "Trail Etiquette", led by "Stitches", and learned a lot we did not know about trail etiquette. Did you know that, years ago, it was the norm for the first hiker arriving at a shelter to sweep it out? Or that, before leaving a shelter, hikers would put some firewood in/near the shelter where it would stay dry, should it rain, so hikers arriving would have dry wood to use? We discussed several distrurbing trends on the trail over the last several years that are putting the future of the services along the trail in jeopardy and that hinder the trail experience. At 1:00 we started our talk on trail nutrition and had a very good turn out, considering the number of people still at the festival. There were many good questions and we even got to a point where folks were asking us questions about things other than food, such as packs, shoes and water consumption. "Mad Hatter" later told us that he had heard a number of good comments about our talk and we let him know that we would be happy to do it agin next year. After we were done, we sat and watched a film by "The Lion King" about his 2003 thru-hike of the AT. Seeing all the places we had visited during our hike made us both nostalgic and a bit teary-eyed by the time the film was over. It was the best film we had seen so far on what it is like to thru-hike the AT and the soundtarck was wonderful. As the sun sank low in the August sky, we headed to Waterbury for the night and stopped in at "The Alchemist", a local restaurant and pub, and talked about how good we felt about being able to help out other hikers and would-be hikers. We had been able to make lemonade! Still, NO MOOSE! We saw moose crossing signs along the road and thought, "Wow, this could be the spot." Unfortunately, moose can not read the signs so there is no guarantee that they will cross near them. We also saw the one Windtalker posed with....

-Windtalker & Mom

Monday, August 20, 2007
        Destination: Waterbury, VT
Starting Location: Waterbury, VT
Today's Miles: 0.00
Trip Miles: 58.70

We are getting "antsy" to get back on the trail, if only for day hikes, so we vowed to finish up "errands" today and look at places we can get on the trail for a few hours or days. It was back to Stowe to get our box, since an early morning phone call confirmed that they did, indeed, have it. We breathed a sigh of relief. During our travels we stopped at Umiak Outfitters to pick up a Mt Mansfield map so we could plan a hike or two to the top and we also stopped to pick up some gifts for folks back home. We also heard from "Quoddy". He had made it over Camel's Hump yesterday and was, finally, taking a zero day in Richmond. He said that the descent from the summit of Camel's Hump was the most brutal thing he had done so far. It took him four hours to get down from 4,083' to 300' at the road to Richmond. The highlight of the day, however, was this: Having consumed so many pints of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream during our thru-hike last year, I just had to see where that life-saving culinary delight comes from. So, we took a tour of the B&J plant and we substituted lunch with a bowl and a waffle cone full of their creamy delicasies. Ah, if only we could eat that stuff again every night. But, that would require miles and miles of hiking again. Tomorrow it is off to the top of Mt. Mansfield. The moose conspiracy continues!

-Windtalker & Mom

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
        Destination: Stowe, VT
Starting Location: Waterbury, VT
Today's Miles: 3.00
Trip Miles: 61.70

We can't stand not being on the trail, so today we drove from Waterbury to Stowe and took the toll road up to the top of Mt. Mansfield. It was an amazingly cool and clear day and the views were breathtaking. We hiked from the information center, near "The Nose" (4,040') to "The Chin" (4,395'), some 1.5 miles away. It was my kind of hiking; almost all above treeline. We were on the trail early, thank goodness, because this is a very popular hiking spot and it got pretty crowded and way too noisy later in the day as we were returning. We spent a good hour just sitting on a rock outcropping, listening to the quiet and looking at what was off in the distance. To the west we could see the Adirondack Mountains and to the east we could even see Mt. Washington and the White Mountains. It was very emotional for us to see that ridgeline again from so far away knowing that last year we were hiking on them.

When we were back at the bottom, we did some logistical work and drove to locate where the trail crossed Rte 108, which is where we hope to hook up with "Quoddy" tomorrow. Having located the road crossing, we traveled a bit further, to another trailhead, and there ran into "Hiker with No Name" who we had met briefly at the Battel Shelter last week. She did not recognize us at first but eventually she did. We ended up giving her a ride back to her car a short distance down the road. Being starved, and it being way past lunchtime, we drove over Mt. Mansfield (a drive not for the faint of heart) and stopped at a wonderful deli in Smuggler's Notch for some great sandwiches.

Knowing that we would need to be familiar with the town of Johnson a few days from now, we decided to drive there and pick up our last mail drop at the post office. Sitting out front were "Low Impact" and "Backtrack" who had come into town earlier in the day for their mail drops and to do laundry. They informed us that they were staying at a B&B in Jeffersonville so we asked them if they needed a ride. They thanked us but let us know that a shuttle from the B&B was already on the way. "Low Imact" told us that their plans to get back from the end of the trail were a bit sketchy right now. The Rose Apple Acres hostel was being renovated and there was some doubt as to whether or not the renovations would be done in time for their arrival. Just to give them an alternative, we gave them our phone number should they need a ride back to Burlington when their hike was done. As it turned out, they called us later that evening and firmed up a pick-up date with us rather than deal with the hostel. For us, it will be great because we can help some fellow hikers live out their dream. We will hike to the trail's end, camp overnight and wait for them to arrive. It will be wonderful to see tham finish.

By now it was late in the day, so we headed to The Green Mountain Inn, in Stowe, and checked in. What a wonderful old hotel and Green Mountain Club members get a 50% discount on a standard room. What a great deal! We hit the hot tub so "Mom" could soothe her still-aching legs and ankles and then it was to the restaurant for a nice dinner.

When we were at the Long Trail Festival over the weekend, we gave a talk on "Trail Nutrition". As part of that talk, we promised everyone that we would post the recipe for "Anita's AT Power Cookies", on this site as well as our own website, www.rmghadventures.com. Anita, Trail Angel "A", is "Mom's" mom, and she reguarly made these cookies for us. They got us through many a grueling afternoon on the trail. So, with out further adiue, here is the recipe.

Anita’s AT Power Cookies

NOTE: If you do freeze them, package them individually because they don't separate well. The original recipe was called Baker's Breakfast Cookie (the recipe is online), but Anita (Trail Angel name, "A") altered the recipe somewhat. http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/32/Bakers_Breakfast_Cookie41962.shtml

Servings Per Recipe: 30

INGREDIENTS: 2 cups brown sugar 2 1/2 cups rolled oats 4 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/3 cup Canola oil 3/4 cup prune plum pastry filling (1/2 can) 2 tablespoons water 3/4 cup egg whites (refrigerated section @ grocery) 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3/4 cup raisins 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (or ¼ cup of each) 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray cool cookie sheets with canola cooking oil spray. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Blend in oats. Make a well in the center and pour in the canola oil, prune puree, water, egg whites and vanilla. Mix until well blended. (Mixture will be extremely stiff.) Stir in the raisins, walnuts, sunflower seeds and apricots. Scoop cookies with large spoon into golf-ball sizes. Place cookies 2" apart onto the prepared cookie sheets and flatten to ½" tall with wet fingers. Bake 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 10 minutes for dry cookies. Do not over-bake; cookies will not get crisp. Remove from cookie sheets to cool.

ENJOY!

-Windtalker & Mom

Wednesday, August 22, 2007
        Destination: Stowe, VT
Starting Location: Stowe, VT
Today's Miles: 0.00
Trip Miles: 61.70

Today was a bit of a lazy day with all the intentions of helping out a fellow hiker. We arose late and had a continental breakfast downstairs at the hotel. This was not the kind of continental breakfast that we had become accustomed to at minor hotels over the last few weeks. Those breakfasts are generally a neverending array of bread products (bagels, donuts, bread for toast and waffles). Today's breakfast was a grand misture of fresh fruit, homemade pastries with real fruit, exotic concoctions with sausage in the middle and healthy cereals. Since we had already read the books we had brought with us from home, we paid a visit to the bookstore next door to the hotel and picked up a few books by local authors. The folks up here are almost fantical in their support of anything from Vermont be it stuff from local farms, artwork by local artisans and even music and books by local artists and writers. We had some things to ship home, so we were off to the UPS store and took care of that. Of course, their computers went down while we were there so our transaction was handled the "old fashioned" way. Netwoking problems seem to be a regulr occurence up here but the locals do not seem to mind and take it all in stride. I have to believe that each time their computers fail it simply supports their belief that the way they did things before computers was more reliable and that computers are just a pain in the butt. Our one goal for today was to meet our hiking friend, "Quoddy" at the road crossing at Rte 108 which is where we calculated he would be some time today. He had tried to reach us by cell phone while we were at the UPS store but that connection disappeared as well. Verizon has a long way to go up here to be able to live up to their well-worn slogan of, "Can you hear me now? Good". We parked the car at the road/trail crossing, pulled out our new readig material and settled in to wait. We did run into northbounder,"Zip-Off" at the picnic area and asked if he had seen "Quoddy" and he said he had not. So we waited. As the day wore on and darkness began to settle in, we decided that there was little chance that "Quoddy" would be coming through this late in he day because the next shelter was to far north to make by dark. We left him notes at the trailhead sign in/sign out boards giving him our intentions for tomorrow and headed back to town. As we got closer to town, we got a cell signal and retrieved a phone mesage from our good friend that he had held up at Butler Lodge, and would be coming through tomorrow. We returned to the road crossing and modified our notes to him; letting him know we would meet him near Johnson. Our mission accomplished, we picked up some subs and beer at Subway, a pint of Cherry Garcia and had a picnic at Smugglers Notch. Tomorrow we are off to go moose hunting! Whopee!

-Windtalker & Mom

Thursday, August 23, 2007
        Destination: Island Pond, VT
Starting Location: Stowe, VT
Today's Miles: 0.00
Trip Miles: 61.70

There is a place in Vermont, called Canaan, where we were told that it is a certainty that you will see a moose if you drive the roads there. In fact, the moose are so much a part of the neighborhood up there, that each year Canaan and four other local towns, come together to hold their annual three-day- long "Moose Festival". And what an event it is, complete with parades, an antique car show, music, a moose-meat cook-off and they even decorate their boats to look like moose and motor around the local lake. This had to be the place where we would finally see a moose so, after checking out of the Green Mountain Inn and catching a cup of coffee and a muffin at the local coffee shop, we were off on our quest. As we got closer to Canaan, there were "moose crossing" signs everywhere and we were ceratin that it would only be a matter of time before one would lazily wander onto the road in front of us and stand there for the photo-op of the century. But, alas, as we pulled into the bustling community of Canaan, we had yet to see one. However, our spirits were once agin lifted when we noticed the "Moose Festival" banner hanging above main street and read that it started the following day. Wow! The moose had to be making their way toward town for the event, so we were certain that realizing our goal was imminent. We stopped the car and "Mom" got out, crossed the street, and as "untouristly" as possible, asked about information on the festival from a local road woker and then the proprietor of the local Gulf station. One was of no help and the other instructed us to go to the the town hall to pick up a schedule of events for the festival. O.K., now we were getting somewhere! The folks at the town hall did not have much for us either, but copied the schedule of events for the area from the local newspaper, and then directed us to the Chamber of Commerce/Rest Area just off the highay leading out of town to Colebrook. Off we went and within minutes were standing at the C of C information desk where we found more moose information than we could ever digest in a day. And, there was the schedule of events! Unfortunately, the festival did not start until 9:00 a.m. the following day, with a huge sidewalk sale (which we assumed could not be too huge since there is only one sidewalk in Canaan), followed by a street fair and all forms of local talent. Since we had made a commitment to help out a fellow hiker the following day, we would have to miss this event. Bummer! We drove what is termed the "Moose Loop" on Rtes 114, 102 and 105 from Vermont, into New Hampshire and back into Vermont all the while scanning every bog within eyesight for our prey. We even spent a couple of hours driving through the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, certain that if we were "off-road" our chances would be better. Thank goodnes we rented an SUV because we spent most of our time dodging boulders and ruts in the road that wound its way through the refuge. Not only did we not see a moose here, we did not see any wildlife at all - not even a single bird. We did locate a beautiful lake, however, and spent some time there sitting and just listening to the quiet. It was starting to get late, so we headed back toward the town of Island Pond where we could pick up some sandwiches and drinks and then head back to a place along Rte 105 where we had seen an inordinate number of moose tracks in the mud right by the road. Suddenly, "Mom" stuttered, "Sto.....p!I just saw a red wolf by the side of the road!" This was something that we had not expected to see, red wolves are very rare, and we just had to check it out. I turned the car around and sped back to a rutted dirt road off the side of Rte 105, dropped it into low gear and plowed ahead. Unfortunately, in the time it had taken us to turned around, the wolf had made a hasty retreat. Continuing on our way to town, we also stopped at Brighton State Park where we procurred a a "lean-too" (3-sided shelter) for the night. What a beautifully maintained state park! On our way out of town, I spied a grey fox which I had never seen either. This trip was working out after all. With food in hand, we made our way to our vantage point, pulled into a dirt road right across from all the moose tracks and settled in like two detectives doing surveillence on a suspect. We sat and sat and sat and all we saw were cars slowing down to look for moose when they saw us sitting by the road. We sat there until we could barely see across the road and decided that we were destined to never see a moose (in real life). It was back to the campground to lick our wounds. But, as we approached a set of train tracks near town, we spotted two objects glowing in our headlights about a half mile up ahead. "I think that there is someone walking in the road ahead. You had better slow down", "Mom" said. But, as we got closer to this mysterious traveler, it became obvious that this was not a person at all and that it was coming right up the middle of the road toward us. "Is that a UPS truck coming at us with no lights on?" I quipped. "Oh man! It's a moose!" Yes, there it was, directly in front of us; a cow moose. Awesome! We drove as close to it as we could and "Mom" opened her window in the faint hope that it would stand still long enough for her to get close enough for a flash photo. This moose would have nothing of it and darted off the side of the road into the woods. So, there you have it. We finally saw our first moose though we have absolutely no photographic proof to back it up. You will simply have to believe us, I guess. We are now officially part of "The Great Moose Conspiracy". We arrived back at our lean-to and set up our tent inside it to keep the mosquitoes at bay. We had no sooner got ourselves settled in, then a wonderful rainstorm hit the park and we just laid in our bags listening to the beautiful sound of rain on the roof and on the leaves.

-Windtalker & Mom

Friday, August 24, 2007
        Destination: Johnson, VT
Starting Location: Island Pond, VT
Today's Miles: 6.00
Trip Miles: 67.70
 

The rain let up last night at about midnight but the constant wind and the dripping from the trees made it apear that it was still raining. The sound was so soothing that we had a great night's rest. Before we left the park, to head back to Johnson to meet "Quoddy", we stopped at the park's lake to see if we could see the bald eagle that one of the park employees told "Mom" was living there. It was sort of overcast, it that unique New England, fall sky, type of way, so the eagle had evidently decided to hold off on its morning flight over the lake until it was a bit clearer out. Always ones to sample the "local flavor" of the places we visit, we stopped in town at "Jennifer's", in Island Pond, and had a wonderful breakfast. What was truly amazing to us was that one waitress handled every table in the entire place, with a smile and a "good morning" and when we left every table was full. Not once did anyone go without a full cup of coffee and they never had to wait for their food. We arrived back in Johnson, VT well before noon and, just outside of town, drove up a logging road that was also the Long Trail till we could go no further. Donning our packs, we were off to the Bear Hollow Shelter where we were scheduled to meet "Quoddy", hike back out with him and then drive him into town. If all went well, we would be back in town before the Post Office closed so he could pick up his mail drop there. We spent a leisurely afternoon at the shelter reading and visiting with other LT hikers who stopped by such as "Monarch", "Finch", "Black Stallion", "Holmes" and "Rainbow Tiger Supreme" (sounds sort of like a type of pizza they would sell at a Domino's in Africa or India, doesn't it?). We began to get a bit concerned because all of these hikers said that "Quoddy" was right behind them and should be arriving soon but by 2:30, he had not yet arrived. (We now have some idea of what "V" & "A" heard about us being behind other hikers last year on the AT!...) Finally, at about 3:00 he showed up, dropped his pack in the shelter and took a well-deserved rest. At this point, it was decided that rushing to get to the Post Office before it closed was not necessary because he also wanted to do laundry, take a shower and stay one last night in a motel before his final push to Canada. We could just pick up his mail drop in the morning when we took him back to the trail. We all stayed at the Sunset Motor Inn, in Morrisville, because there are really no motels in Johnson. They do have the famous Johnson Woolen Mills Factory Store, however, so if you can't find a place in town to sleep, you could always go in and buy a heavy red & black plaid woolen sweater and blanket with a moose on it and sleep outside on their porch. And if it was really cold, you could pick up one of those hats with the flaps for the ears like the McKenzie Brothers used to wear on those beer commercials, years ago. Ah-yup! After we all had a shower and did laundry, which is always an opportunity for hikers to "bond", we were off to, what else, "The House of Pizza". We realized that we had not had pizza this entire adventure and "Quoddy" had been craving it for days. It was obvious to us that "Quoddy's" thru-hiker metabolism had kicked in as he polished off a large pizza, with the works, by himself. We had a small between the two of us, and longed for the days when we had been able to eat like him. The day would not have been complete without a stop to pick up some pints of ice cream, so off to "Price Choppers" we went and then back to the motel to make quick work of our desserts.

-Windtalker & Mom

Saturday, August 25, 2007
       
Destination: Journey's End - Troy, VT
Starting Location: Johnson, VT
Today's Miles: 2.10
Trip Miles: 69.80

Today was a bittersweet day. First, we found out via email, that our friend, and my former worship pastor, spiritual mentor and music teacher, Ric Duncum, passed away a few days ago, in Texas, at the age of 51. This news truly put a cloud over an, otherwise, sunny day. We took care of sending his wife our condolences and flowers and were happy that we had been to Texas to visit them in January. He will be greatly missed. After breakfast, we took "Quoddy" to the Post Office and then back to the trail head so he could begin the final fifty-some miles to Canada. We took his photo, wished him well and promised to stay in touch. As he strode off into the woods, along came "Evan", another LT hiker who was in need of a ride to town so we loaded his gear in the back and off to Johnson we went. Evan, who had somehow managed to hike south from Monson, ME to Killington, VT on the Appalachian Trail and then from Killington to Johnson on The Long Trail, without ever acquiring a trail name, was from California. The Post Office and grocery store are right next to each other, so we dropped him off to pick up what he needed. Since we had plenty of time before we had to be in Troy, VT, while he wandered around the market, we wandered around the Johnson Woolen Mills store. There was a real traffic jam in town because it was Saturday and eveyone was making their way to the mecca of every Vermont town, the "barn sale". It appeared that everyone in town was there to purchase those amazing antiques and knick-knacks that would become part of their own yard sale next spring. With Evan done with his shopping, it was back again to the trailhead where we dropped him off and wished him good luck on the rest of his adventure. Chances were pretty good that he might just catch "Quoddy" at a shelter that evening. For us, we had another mission to accomplish today, so we were off to "Trail's End" near Troy, VT. We reached Troy early in the day and then proceeded up the narrow winding road that would take us to a parking area near "Trail's End". This is the location where the Long Trail thru-hikers, or "end-to-ender" ans they call them here, comes to a breathless climax at the Canadian border. We drove up the logging road as far as we safely could and then hiked in to Journey's End Camp #2, a very nice and relatively new, shelter heading up to the the rail's endpoint. Once at the shelter, we dropped our packs inside and headed up the trail the rest of the way to the border. It was a neat feeling to be standing at the tall marker that designates the US/Canada border knowing that with a single step past the marker, we would be in another country. As we looked north to the mountains in the distance, it did not look any different than where we had been traveling the last week and it was just weird not to see that red line, that designates the border on maps, stretching east to west over the ridges. After taking the obligatory trail's end photos, it was back down to the shelter to wait for "Low Impact" and "BackTrack" to arrive. The plan was to stay the night with them and then drive them to Burlington on Sunday so they could head home. To celebrate their accomplishment, I hauled 4 Bud Lights up in my pack for dinner. Hey, it wasn't champagne, but it tasted just as good (maybe better). At around 4:15 they showed up, covered with mud up to their knees from some battles they had lost with what appeared to them to have been, tiny mud puddles. In reality, some had been almost 3' deep. We were glad to see them and looked forward to being able to "pay it forward" by driving them to Burlington. We sat around and got to know them better over dinner and spent some time with a young couple who were also finishing up and who had met the same fate with the mud. As darkness began to fall, two other "end to enders" arrived to spend the night just as a rain shower began. They used the opportunity to take a shower themselves and to wash the copious amounts of gook out of their boots and socks. With the windows and door of the shelter propped open to catch the evening breezes, it was not long before we were all asleep. I did have to get up during the night to answer nature's call and was blown away by the gorgeous full moon and a sky full of stars ducking behind fleeting whispy clouds.

Windtalker & Mom

Sunday, August 26, 2007
  

     

Destination: Burlington, VT
Starting Location: Journey's End - Troy, VT
Today's Miles: 1.00
Trip Miles: 70.80

At some point during the night, the weather took a dramatic turn and the drop in temperture had most of us snuggled in our bags.(It also got rid of the mosquitoes that had plagued us all night). As we awoke and packed up to hike back out to the car, the sky was getting ever-darker and we wondered if we would beat the rain. Aside from a brief moment of drizzle, we arrived at he car completely dry and loaded up for the drive. "Mom" and I kept thinking back to how long it took for the reality of our AT thru-hike to sink in and wondering when the realization of what they had accomplished would hit "Low Impact" and "BackTrack"? Whenever it happened, we knew how they would be feeling and it made us that much happier for them. On the way back to Burlington we talked about ourselves, our kids, jobs, future plans and passed the time like we had know each other for years. It's a funny thing with hikers; the bonding process never gets bogged down in one-upsmanship, egos, phoney fronts and judgemental attitudes. Everyone is real and open and, because of this transparency, relationships develop quickly. It also has a lot to do with all of us having a shared goal and an understanding of what the other person is, or has, gone through to accomplish what they had set out to do. Time flew and before we knew it, we were saying good-bye to "Low Impact" at the bus station and to "BackTrack" at the ferry that would take him across Lake Champlain to his girlfriend. We all promised to stay in touch and I am sure we all will. We may even see them at the Long Trail Festival next year. Wouldn't that be great? As for us, we have sort of run out of opportunities up here to give back to other hikers what the trails have given to us, so we are going to spend a few days just relaxing, reading and working on our book about our AT adventure last year. Till the wonder and solitude of the next trail calls out to us again, and we leave the chaos of urban life behind, this is Windtalker and Mom saying, "The wonder and peace of the soul can be found through time spent in the wonder and the peace of the wilderness. A peace that is right outside your door, just over the next mountain and only footsteps away."

Windtalker & Mom