Sunday, 8/2

AT Miles = 17.4 / 1690.4
Other Miles = 0 / 54.1
Total Miles = 17.4 / 1733.6

Miles to Katahdin = 487.9

In this episode, our hero solves a mystery, gets stung by a bee, drinks a Coke, climbs a mountain, and (gasp!) blue blazes. Oh, and it rains, of course.

At the hostel yesterday afternoon I chose the bunk right next to the window, of course. I like fresh air. At home Jodi and I keep the bedroom window open almost all the time, even into the winter.

Well, it might not have been the best choice last night. The street fair happeniong right outside the window included bands that played until fairly late ("late" here means pretty much anything past sunset, otherwise known as "hiker midnight"). Then at first light this morning the Rutland Public Works crew was out in the street packing away all the street barriers so they could reopen the street, so I was woken up by their equipment and their yelling back and forth. Not the best night's sleep I've ever had.

After breakfast at a cafe down the street, I called a local guy who I was told provides shuttles for hikers and arranged for him to pick me up at 8:30 and drive me back to the trail. While I was out front on the sidewalk waiting for him, I was checking the suspension on my backpack, as I have been having a lot of trouble lately with the load seeming to shift to the right until the pack becomes very uncomfortable to carry. Well lo and behold, I discovered that one of the aluminum stays on my pack is broken. For those that aren't "into" backpacking, stays are thin aluminum rods that run down either side of the pack and lend it some stiffness, and serve to transfer the load down to the hip belt. I will have to call Osprey tomorrow and find out what I need to do to get this fixed. I hope I can get it taken care of when I am in Hanover, NH on Wednesday.

So, that takes care of solving a mystery. Now, as to thaqt bee sting. Well, I was walking up the trail and Yeeow! A bee stung me directly on my right Achilles, just below the cuff of my boot. I don't know how he stung me through my sock, but darn, it hurt! Alright, so I'm a wimp. It was just a bee sting. But even now, some 10 hous later, it still hurts.

As the morning progressed the sky was getting darker and darker, and it was obvious it was going to rain sooner orlater. I was hiking pretty hard, determined to get as many of the day's miles in while it was still dry, and to try to limit the amount of time I would have to slog through the rain. Still, when I came upon the cooler sitting at the base of a tree, with a lawn chair invitingly open next to it, I had to stop and look. Score! The cooler was full of cans of Coke, and there was even a bit of ice left in it. It must have just been set out Friday or yesterday. So I took off my pack, sat down in the chair, and enjoyed a nice cold Coke. My sock had been rubbing the top of the big toe on my left foot, so I also used this opportunity to put a bit of duct tape on my toe to help lessen the abrasion. I know it's stupid, but I often walk for hours with something bothering my feet because I don't like to stop and take my pack off.

Soon after my Coke break the trail started climbing up the south side of Killington. I was still laboring under some fantasy that I could get to the top before the rain and fog rolled in, and could then actually enjoy the views from the summit. Poor deluded hiker! Of course by the time I got to Cooper Lodge it was raining and the fog was rolling in thicker and thicker. From the lodge the summit can be reached via a 0.2 mile spur trail, but with no visibility it would have been a waste of time and effort, so I stopped at the lodge to eat some lunch and chat with another hiker that was there — it was 2:00PM already — and then I pushed on down the north side of Killington.

Okay, so now we come to confession time. I blue blazed this afternoon. There, I said it. I blue blazed. I am no longer pure. I am sullied; unclean. For those of you who have now lost all respect for me as a person and a hiker, feel free to throw brick bats, to unsubscribe from this blog, and to shun me forevermore.

The AT north of Killington used to slab the east side of Pico Peak, pass Pico Camp, and head north across land owned by the Pico Ski Resort until it crossed Rt 4 right at The Inn at Long Trail. But the AT is mandated to have a permanently protected right of way, and in order to procure that the AT was relocated a few years ago so that it slabbed the west side of Pico Peak, on land owned by the state, and then head north to cross Rt 4 0.8 miles west of The Inn at Long Trail. The old trail still exists, it just isn't the AT anymore. It is now called the SHerburne Pass Trail. Well, the Sherburne Pass Trail was going exactly where I wanted to go, so I took it. There. It's done. I am a blue blazer. Let's just hope blue blazing isn't a gateway drug. Next thing you know I could be yellow blazing, and I could be at Katahdin by the end of the week!

As the day progressed the rain of course became steadier and more intense. By the time I arrived at the Inn it was raining hard and I was soaked. I dripped all over the counter while registering for my room. They have a great hiker discount, but it is onmly available as a walk up. If you call ahead and reserve a room you have to pay full rate. It being Sunday it was very doubtful they would be full, and indeed I got the walk-up hiker discount rate. It is really nice to be inside and dry on a night like this. The weather is supposed to be dry tomorrow. I know I am a bit of a whiner, but wouldn't it be nice to string two, or three, or maybe even more, dry days together? It sure would be nice if the trail could dry out a bit and I could end a day with dry feet for a change.

I have two long days planned tomorrow and Tuesday, then a short day across the Connecticut River and into Hanover, New Hampshire on Wednesday. I hope I can get my backpack fixed in Hanover, before I head on into the White Mountains.

Good night from Sherburne Pass, Vermont!

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman