Churchill Scott Shelter to Thundering Falls
No Snow Sunset Camp to Clean Freezer Camp
AT miles: 7.5
Total miles: 1719.1
Elevation change: 1047ft gain, 2454ft loss
My first true nero day (less than 10 miles hiked) since the visit to DC was a relaxing affair. The trail was warm and kind for my final stroll through the Green Mountains of Vermont, then a long afternoon of relaxing and getting things done got me prepped for the push through the dreaded, and much anticipated, White Mountains of New Hampshire. SpiceRack kept me fueled with yummy snacks and a stupendous dinner. Not only that, we threw a fresh burrito on the fire for good measure. Whatever comes next, snow or no snow, crazy weather or benign, I feel rested and recharged to handle it. My body will do what it does, my legs will do what they do, and my feet will get beat up, as always. I move north, steady and determined.
The shelter life treated me well again last night. I slept hard on the firm wooden floor, only woken because my alarm buzzed loud between my belly and foam mat. I let it run for a minute before rolling over. My limbs seemed incapable of hefting my weight, or maybe my brain lacked the will power to drive them. When I finally did make it onto my back, the day was already bright and the birds already singing. I finished off my granola and trail mix, then packed up my light load, which was just a few bars and a liter of water above my baseweight.
Back on the trail, the air was cool, but like many a morning during summer, I could sense that the heat of the day was already in the air. It hid below the surface, or above my head, gathering its strength before blasting away the final chill of nighttime. There was blue sky above, and green leaves at my feet. The walking was fine as I finished the last of the descent from Pico Peak, away from the awful snows of yesterday.
I crossed a busy highway, reentering the spacious forest of hardwoods. Here, on a different facing aspect, the spring bloom was leading the charge. Wide green leaves sprouted like clumps of donkey ears, and tiny white flowers knitted a verge of loose carpet along the trail. It all glowed vibrant and green in the unshaded sunlight. I began to sweat my own vibrant sheen as I followed the trail gradually up and around.
At the next junction, I turned east towards Maine, off the Long Trail’s path to Canada. Briefly, there were two white-blazed trails splitting in different directions, but after just a few yards, there was once again only one. It brought me up and over, down and around to a campground that had yet to open for the season. They must have been waiting for the mosquitoes to hatch, because the weather was perfect. Next, I followed the trail in its most pleasant form around Kent Pond, which to me seemed a lot like a lake. It was big, clear, and not filled with green slop or choked with reeds. It seemed like a nice place to hang out and swim, but on another day.
The final miles came and went smoothly. I found SpiceRack and Tango coming up the trail to find me, and turned them around to visit Thundering Falls, which was impressive, if not truly thundering. My escort showed me back to the trailhead where Blackbird awaited, large and welcoming. I kicked off my shoes, sat in the dirt, and ate the things that Spice put in front of me. Chips and salsa, booch, beans, and chocolate milk.
Before we could lounge away the whole afternoon, we packed up and headed to Rutland, VT to take care of some business. I turned over my nasty hiking clothes to a washing machine (1st laundry since DC), then we sat, ready for a phone call from Canada to discuss our permits for hiking in Quebec on the northern portion of the ECT. The call never came, and all of our attempts to figure out why hit an impenetrable wall of French, spoken and written. Still, like good, strong, American-speaking Americans, we did not get overwhelmed by the strangeness of the wider world and went in search of food to reassure ourselves. The burritos at Bueno Burrito did the trick, and I felt a lot better after scarfing it down.
Back at the trailhead, I chipped away the ice accumulation that threatened to fill the entire freezer, and dug around in every nook and cranny for my next pair of shoes. Spice, being the squirrel that she is, had hidden them deep in our bulk foods bin, and I found them just before giving up all hope. I also grabbed my microspikes. I’d thought that I got away without using them after sending them home in Hot Springs, but now I wasn’t so sure. Hopefully I wouldn’t need to use them in The Whites, but it seemed like carrying them was the right thing to do.
I resupplied for the next 41 miles to Hanover, then sat back holding a steaming plate of Spice’s Pad Thai. Then my second plate, but not a third. Before I knew it, hiker midnight had come and gone. I climbed into bed, feeling the fire of two spicy meals burning in my belly. If the coming heat wave didn’t melt the snow, then my farts would.