Manchester Center, VT to Hanover, NH



Green Mountain House, Manchester Center VT to Lost Pond Shelter

Friday, 7/31

AT Miles = 14.8 / 1655.4
Other Miles = 0 / 54.1
Total Miles = 14.8 / 1698.6

Miles to Katahdin = 522.9

Rain. Goodness but it rained!

It started a couple of hours before I left town, and didn't stop until after I had set up camp for the night. In between, I waded and wallowed, slogged and sloshed, squished and squelched my way up the trail.

Apparently the Green Mountain Club has initiated some experiment in multi-modal backwoods recreation, whereby certain parts of the trail are meant to be walked, and other parts are meant to be navigated via white water kayak. I guess I just never got the memo, and I spent the day hiking the GMC kayak course. I lost count of the times I stepped in mud and water deeper than my boots. It didn't matter though, as my boots had long ago reached the point of maximum saturation where any additional water just squished out the top.

My goal for the day was Little Rock Pond, but it took me 8 hours of hiking to cover the less than 15 miles to Lost Pond Shelter, and being after 5:00PM I called it quits here.

The ground here is just flowing with water everywhere. It has rained so much, so often, that there is simply no place for the water to go. The ground is completely saturated. With these conditions, I am glad I use a hammock and not a tent.

Here's hoping for drier weather tomorrow.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Lost Pond Shelter to Back Home Again Hostel in Rutland VT

Saturday, 8/1

AT Miles = 17.6 / 1673.0
Other Miles = 0 / 54.1
Total Miles = 17.6 / 1716.2

Miles to Katahdin = 505.3

So far, the month of August has a perfect record for sunny skies! Wonder how long that will last.

Today was a beautiful day. My boots were absolutely saturated from yesterday, and for some stupid reason I did not put yesterday's wet socks back on, but rather started the day with clean socks. Within minutes they were squelchingly wet from my boots. What a waste of clean, dry socks!

The trail was still running with water and deep in mud, so my feet never had a chance to dry out. Since I came up short in mileage yesterday, I had to make it up today. I hiked hard all day to get to the road by mid-afternoon and hitch a ride into Rutland, where I am staying at the hiker hostel run by the Twelve Tribes here. The bunk room is on the second floor above their restaurant, the Back Home Again Cafe. There is a street fair going on today, right outside the window. That's rather fun. I understand they feed us well here. I'll find out in another hour or so.

I came into town from Rt 103, rather than from Rt 4 as most hikers do. The hitch proved a bit problematic, but eventually I talked one guy that stopped into going out of his way to take me to Rutland. In the end he refused my offer of gas money, and we had a great conversation on the way here. I hope getting back to the trail in the morning doesn't prove too difficult.

The last few hiking days I have been covering ground my dad and I covered on my very first Long Trail hike, back in... '73 or '74 I guess. I have been thinking about that hike and my dad a lot while hiking. So Dad, do you remember that hike? Stratton Pond? Prospect Rock? Camping on top of Bromley Mountain? Those awful freeze dried eggs we ate at Mad Tom Notch Shelter (which no longer exists)? Little Rock Pond? I think I remember everything about that hike.

Well, rain coming again tomorrow, so I'll be back on the trail. If I get to Sherburne Pass tomorrow, I think I'll try to get a room at The Inn at Long Trail.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Back Home Again Hostel to The Inn at Long Trail

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

Monday, August 03, 2009

My Broken Backpack


Not only is the stay broken, but the broken end has worn a hole in the packbag.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

The Inn at Long Trail to Winturri Shelter

Monday, 8/3

AT Miles = 19.9 / 1710.3
Other Miles = 0.2 / 54.3
Total Miles = 20.1 / 1753.7

Miles to Katahdin = 468.0

Whew! Up, down, repeat ad nauseum. That was today's hike. I haven't had to climb like this since I don't know when. I am tired tonight in a way I haven't been tired since probably back in the Smokies.

One might think that since the trail left the crest of the Green Mountains and turned east towards the Connecticut River, the trail would be gradually descending down to the river valley. Well if one did think that, one would be very stupid. There are multiple ridges to the Green Mountains, and the trail has to climb up and over every one of them before it gets to the river.

Most of these climbs were really steep, and many of them were quite long. And it's not like there is a reward for climbing; maybe a nice view with a sunny spot to sit and rest and appreciate it. Oh, no. This is Vermon t. You climb in the trees. You summit in the trees. You descend in the trees.

I got a late start today, and even though I hiked flat out, it took me from 9:00AM until 6:00PM to cover the twenty miles. And it absolutelt kicked my butt! Tomorrow's hike will be a little bit longer, and I hope my legs recover enough over night to be able to do it.

It's not that I think 20 miles is the perfect distance for a day's hike or anything. Rather, it works out this way because the shelters / campsites in this area are spaced about 10 miles apart, and 10 miles is too short a day so the days end up being 20 miles by default.

I am sharing the campsite tonight with a woman and her son. She started section hiking last summer and is now on her third ever backpacking trip, while this is her son's first ever trip.

Oh, a first today! I met, on the trail, an actual United States Forest Service Ranger. In 1700 miles he is the only USFS or NPS employee I've met out on the trail. I've seen plenty in frontcountry settings, but never in the backcountry.

You might have noticed that I passed the 1700 mile mark today, and I have well under 500 miles to go. I told someone today that I wished the trail were 500 miles shorter, as then I would be done and back home now.

Hiking isn't all misery or anything like that, but it hasn't been fun for quite a while either. I hope it becomes fun again.

Oh, I almost forgot. I spent about 35 minutes on the phone with someone at Osprey this morning, and they are supposed to be shipping the part needed to fix my backpack to the EMS store in Lebanon, NH by Wednesday. I will be in Haanover on Wednesday, and if the stars align correctly Jodi will be meeting me there, so then we can drive over to Lebanon and get my pack fixed. If Jodi does meet me, I will likely take a zero day on Thursday.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

No Blog Tonight

Very tired after hiking 11 hours today. Will catch up tomorrow, from New Hampshire!

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Winturri Shelter to Happy Hill Shelter

Tuesday, 8/4

AT Miles = 20.4 / 1730.7
Other Miles = 0.5 / 54.8
Total Miles = 20.9 / 1774.6

Miles to Katahdin = 447.6

My apologies for being a couple of days late with this entry.
Tuesday's hike just kicked my butt. I started hiking at 6:45 in the
morning, and I hiked hard all day until I finally reached Happy Hill
Shelter at a few minutes before 6:00 in the evening. That made just a
bit over 11 hours to cover less than 21 miles. I sincerely hope it was
because the terrain was difficult, and not that I am simply losing my
ability to hike.

It was really nice outside, and the trail even offered up a nice view
now and then. In the afternoon I came to one spot where there was a
grassy knoll -- not THE Grassy Knoll -- high atop a ridge with a long
view of the Green Mountains stretching into the distance, and someone
had even taken the trouble to put a comfortable looking Adirondack
style chair up there. It looked like a perfect spot to relax for a
while and enjoy life. But I didn't have time to stop, and just pushed
right on through without breaking stride. I find that so frustrating!

When I arrived at Happy Hill Shelter there was one other hiker there;
a young woman with the trail name Nico. I hadn't met her before so I
asked if she was a southbounder. "Well, sort of," she replied. When I
pressed a little bit more, she told me that she had just finished her
northbound thru-hike, and was now hiking back to the Long Trail to
finish hiking that trail as well. So, she left Springer Mountain on
March 25 -- one week after me -- and summited Katahdin on August 2nd.
On the 3rd she got a ride back to Hanover, NH, and was now hiking from
Hanover back to the junction of the Long Trail and the Appalachian
Trail, in Sherburne Pass. I told her I hated her. She understood.

Allen F. Freeman

Happy Hill Shelter to Hanover, NH

Wednesday, 8/5

AT Miles = 5.8 / 1736.5
Other Miles = 0.1 / 54.9
Total Miles = 5.9 / 1780.5

Miles to Katahdin = 441.8

It was warm last night.Warm enough, and muggy enough, that I actually
had a bit of trouble sleeping. Also, I think I was just so tired that
it actually made it even harder to relax and fall asleep, if that
makes any sense at all.

I slept a bit later than usual this morning. I usually wake up about
5:30, and lie in my hammock for another 10 or 15 minutes waiting for
it to become just a bit lighter outside before getting up. This
morning I didn't wake up until about 6:10. I knew I had only 3.5 miles
to hike before reaching the town of Norwich, so I didn't even bother
to eat my usual breakfast of cold cereal. Instead I put a granola bar
in my pocket, packed up my gear, and started walking.

Wow. Knowing I had only a few miles to go, and no time pressure on me
today, I relaxed and really enjoyed hiking for the first time in a
long time. By 8:30 I was walking down Elm Street in Norwich, past some
lovely little homes tucked into the lush summer landscape. A few
minutes later I was at the corner of Elm and Main Street, and walked a
block up Main Street to Dan & Whits Grocery, where I bought a bacon,
egg, and cheese sandwich, a bottle of orange juice, and a copy of the
New York Times. I took my purchases back down Main Street to a bench
in front of the post office, where I sat reading the paper, eating my
breakfast snack, and chatting with the occasional passer-by. Boy, was
that wonderful. I so enjoyed this morning. I need to slow down this
hike, even though I am already moving so darned slowly, so I can enjoy
the places and moments that come along.

Eventually, though, I hoisted my backpack onto my back and turned east
heading for the bridge over the Connecticut River and thus into New
Hampshire. I was at the post office in Hanover a few minutes before
10:00, where I picked up my bounce box that I had mailed from
Manchester Center, VT. Then I went outside and sat on a bench while I
waited for Jodi to appear about 10 minutes later.

Allen F. Freeman


Photos for the section from Manchester Center VT to Hanover NH are

Allen F. Freeman

Zero Day in Hanover, NH

Thursday, 8/6

AT Miles = 0 / 1736.5
Other Miles = 0 / 54.9
Total Miles = 0 / 1780.5

Miles to Katahdin = 441.8

The title of this post is a bit misleading. Jodi and I aren't staying
in Hanover. Hanover is quite an expensive town. The Hanover Inn,
directly across the green from Dartmouth College, has rooms starting
at $275 per night, and goes up from there. Jodi and I are comfortably
settled into the Holiday Inn Express at an exit off I-91 in
Springfield Vermont, where the prices are much more reasonable. But
Hanover is where I got off the trail, and where I will get back on
tomorrow morning, so in reference to my hike, Hanover is where I am.

Yesterday afternoon Jodi and I drove to the Eastern Mountain Sports
store in West Lebanon, NH, wigth my broken backpack. That is where
Osprey had sent the part to repair my pack. Sure enough, the package
was there, marked in bold to "HOLD FOR APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER ALLEN
FREEMAN." Their backpack expert, Jeff, and I set out to figure out how
to replace the broken rod. Getting the broken one out was easy enough,
but installing the new one was a whole other story. With the new rod
in place, there is a large flap of fabric at the top of the pack that
has to be stretched until it goes over the rod. This places the whole
mechanism under tension, and gives the pack its stability. When I had
talked to the woman at Osprey she had told me we would have to pry the
fabric over with some kind of lever. Well, we tried several different
tools, and even enlisted the aid of another employee so that there
were three of us trying to lever this rod into place, but to no avail.
After struggling wityh the pack for what must have been close to an
hour, Jeff decided to simply replace my pack wqith a brand new one,
and to send my old one back to Osprey. Considering that I did not buy
my pack at EMS, and that EMS received nothing for all their effort in
helping me try to install the replacement rod, this was a very
generous offer. Jeff went well above and beyond in helping me out, and
I am now the happy owner of a brand new backpack, so I expect no
further troubles in that department for the rest of my hike.

I told Jeff I thought they should hold on to the broken backpack, and
the next time the Osprey rep is in their store, he should ask him to
demonstrate just how easy it is to replace a broken side rod. ;-)

I slept late this morning, then after breakfast did all of my errands;
laundry, food shopping, gear cleaning, etc. The weather is mostly
sunny and dry.I can hardly express how happy it makes me to think of
the trail drying out every day. I am starting to get my hopes up that
this summer's weather pattern has finally broken, and we might get a
string of dry weather.

My next stage of the hike is the 40+ miles from Hanover to Glencliff.
The terrain outside of Hanover starts to get a bit more vertical, and
I have decided that I am not going to push hard for miles for a while,
so I am giving myself four days to get to Glencliff, which gets me
there on Monday. It would do me no good to get there sooner anyway, as
I have a food and equipment drop at the post office there, which I
won't be able to collect until Monday anyway. After Glencliff I head
up into the WHite Mountains, so I will pick up my warm clothing again,
and also my Thermarest pad. I need the Thermarest because I hope to
get work-for-stay at at least some of the AMC Huts in the Whites, and
work-for-stay just gets you a place on the floor to sleep, and
whatever the paying guests don't eat for dinner and breakfast.

Right now I am sitting outside at the hotel typing this. I am thinking
about going swimming in the pool, but that almost seems like too much

Oh, I seem to have created some confusion with my reference to blue
blazing a few days ago. To clear things up, blue blazing means simply
to hike a trail other than the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian
Trail is marked with white blazes, and many side trail are marked with
blue blazes. My reference to blue blazing as a "gateway drug" was just
an analogy, folks! Here are a few definitions to help clear things up:

White blazing - following the Appalachian Trail (AT). Sometimes the
term is used to denote a hiker who makes it a point to pass every
single white blaze along the entire length of the trail. Some hikers
even mark the trail in some way whenever they leave the AT, so that
they can be sure to start back up in the exact same spot.

Blue blazing - walking some trail other than the AT

Yellow blazing - hitching rides along the road, and thus bypassing
parts of the trail. So called because of the yellow lines on a road.

Pink blazing - this can have a couple of different meanings, but
usually it refers to a male hiker who is hiking long, hard days trying
to catch up to a female hiker he has taken a fancy to.

So, I have blue blazed a little bit. I have never yellow blazed, and I
certainly haven't pink blazed, unless you count that morning I nearly
dropped from exhaustion trying to get to my rendezvous with Jodi way
back in Virginia.

Allen F. Freeman


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Copyright 1996 - 2011 Allen F. Freeman
Last modified: November 03, 2011