Goodbye to the AT

Day 7. After a good night’s sleep I ate breakfast with a couple guys in their 50’s that were test hiking to decide if they could handle the AT. They had hiked most of the LT before and said I’d love the northern section other than a few specific climbs. We talked a bit about gear and they were entranced by my $8 canister stove w igniter. After eating I packed up quickly and was walking by 7 am. Looking at the map the morning looked to be a rough one. The trail climbs 2,400 feet in just over 4 miles to top out at the Killington. The grade up the mountain turned out to be very smooth dirt. Easy on feet. Good as they are sore. The area was also toad central and they were acting as if they owned the trail. None hopped out of my way. At most they might walk a few steps to the side.

Killer view from Killington
Killer view from Killington

The climb up Killington was tough but doable as the trail wound up the mountain. Just a couple short scrambles over boulders. After passing the trail to Shrewsberry Peak, the trail got nice n smooth, even somewhat flat the rest of the way to the peak. After a few photos at the top, it was time to start dropping in elevation again.

If any purists are still reading this, prepare to be upset. I was soon once again following blue blazes, but this time on purpose. The Shelburne Pass trail was the historic LT and AT up until 1999 and is a more direct path to the Inn on the Long Trail than the new route. To follow the “new upstart” official LT to the Inn (and my next re supply box) I’d have had to walk farther and add a mile of road walking. My thought at the time was, “That ain’t happening.” Since I’m an old guy, it seems fair to walk the old route. HYOH.

Inn on the Long Trail. A welcome sight and great spot to relax
Inn on the Long Trail. A welcome sight and great spot to relax

I arrived at the Inn at about 12:30 for a ten mile day. My resupply box was actually there! Happy day! No more microwave Mac n cheese cooked without a microwave. The Inn is a neat, rustic old place and I got a room for the night. Had plenty of time to clean up, do laundry and arrange my new supplies. An Irish pub on site had Guinness stew, giant burgers and cold beer. Made for a productive afternoon.

After the burger settled, time to try the stew. More than a little better than freeze-dried.
After the burger settled, time to try the stew. More than a little better than freeze-dried.

My schedule had me taking the next day off. The weather said go, but my feet said stay. The decision was put off until the morning.  Dropped off a couple extra items into the hiker box. Noticed some big bags of oatmeal and instant potatoes. They looked like the food Dave and Paul were trying to palm off on me way back on my 2nd night on the trail. They also got a resupply at the Inn and must have decided to lighten the food load right away.

Breakfast was included with the room and I got an omelet, sausage, hash browns, toast and OJ. Should hold me for a couple hours. The weather called for a beautiful day followed by days of rain. It would be tough to leave a nice Inn and walk out into miserable weather. The decision was made. Skip the zero day and head out while the getting was good. I hit the trail about 8 am.

From the Inn, the most direct route is to continue on the Sherburne Pass trail for just a short distance until hitting the AT. Then follow the AT SOUTH for about a mile to where the AT and LT split. At that point, it’s northbound on the Long Trail again, but the path is no longer shared with the AT. Early on the LT only trail has a nice dirt tread. Less wear and tear exposing the rocks and roots? Definitely less hikers on the trail through the day.

The trail had no big climbs or drops on that section, but it was a tough day. May have been because I was scheduled for a zero day. Weather was too good to skip, sunny and cool however, body may have been planning on the zero. Also, trail was a tunnel of green with no big views.

Not quite as comfortable as the Inn, but a welcome sight regardless.
Not quite as comfortable as the Inn, but a welcome sight regardless.

Arrived at Sunrise Shelter at about 6:30, completing a 19+ mile day. The shelter was empty when I arrived. Steam from England, Ben from Belgium and couple from California rolled in a little later. Steam had walked 19 like I did, the others 14, but all agreed it was a tough day.