The Appalachian Trail follows the Long Trail (the first long distance trail established) up to Killington, where it splits off. It was pretty awesome to see all of the new people just starting out on their Long Trail trek. It kind of brought me back to my first couple of days starting out on the Appalachian Trail back in March. Their conversations of gear and how they prepped were all too familiar. The addition of the End-to-Enders made for crowded shelters and limited camping, but the addition of new faces was pretty refreshing.
Vermont holds some of my favorite camp spots along the trail thus far. After we spent the day in Manchester Center with some awesome locals, we hiked a few miles out of town to the top of Bromley Mountain. In the winter months this mountain is home to a ski resort and the trail happens to go straight up one of the ski runs. At the top everyone pitched their tents, but since I switched to a hammock, I cowboy camped it underneath the stars. We had a perfect sunset and a clear night for stars. The Milky Way streaked across the sky, satellites orbited overhead, and shooting stars zipped in between.
Vermont has definitely been my favorite state thus far on this journey. It's beauty and locals have a special place in my heart. Who knows, maybe when I am done exploring this beautiful world I can settle down there.
New Hampshire is that state that you hear about all the way back in Georgia. Big mountains like Mt. Moosilauke and The Whites, with the worst weather in the country, strike fear and excitement in the hearts of thru hikers early on. Well now it was at our front door step and the beast must be tamed. The Whites were absolutely gorgeous. The "hiking" (more like rock climbing) was mostly above treeline and offered views in every direction. Feel like your heart is about to jump out of your chest while you are climbing? Just stop and turn around to catch your breath, there is an incredible view right behind you. We really lucked out with weather for the most part. A perfect sunny day on Franconia Ridge was definitely the highlight for me. Our climb up to Mt. Washington was rainy and foggy which made for some really sketchy trail. Luckily when we made it to the Lake of the Clouds Hut they allowed us to do work for stay. We got left over dinner, breakfast, and we were allowed to sleep on the dining room floor. All I had to do was sweep the dining room after breakfast. All in all it was a pretty sweet deal. After Washington, we had a relatively clear day over the Presidential Range. All of it was absolutely breathtaking.
Once we exited The Whites, we needed time to recover. We ended up staying at the White Mountain Hostel for two days. The hostel was the best I have stayed in on the entire trail. The staff was incredibly friendly and the place was so so clean, not a trace of hiker funk. The breakfast was banging and fueled us for our 21 mile slack pack over the Wildcat Mountain range (which people seemed to forget to mention back in Georgia). Unfortunately, after my slack pack my trekking poles were stolen from the hostel garage. Looks like it will have to be a trusty stick that takes me to Katahdin.
From the hostel we had under 20 miles to the New Hampshire/Maine border. My last state of this epic journey was on the horizon. I can definitely feel that my body is ready to be done, but my mind and spirit are ready for the home stretch. Bring on Maine!