Twig Adventures

AT Day 31: Vermud

Tuesday August 24th, 2021, 0815-1815
Prospect Rock Trail to Glastenbury Mountain, SOBO AT mm 568.8
21.7 miles
5230 gain, 2700 loss

I went to bed way too late and then woke up at 4 am, not able to get back to sleep. It was so quiet in the room, with only 2 others. What a waste of a great bed. I was anxious to get back to the trail I guess…not that it missed me. I ate a pretty huge breakfast of cereal, 3 eggs, an English muffin, blueberries, a banana, and what was left of my ice cream. How’s that for a spread? The hostel provides all these items for guests to pretty much eat whenever they please. It’s such an awesome place. Before I left, I bought 2 patches…one says ‘Hiker Trash-National Trail Addict’ and the other ‘I survived Vermud LT/AT.’

Vermud is the name given to this state after experiencing the most southern part of the trail. It’s really boggy in the upcoming stretch, which was greatly amplified today after all the rain. That is putting it modestly. The trail was an absolute mud pit for miles and miles, which I did not enjoy in the least.

I had decided to start the day with a bit of blue-blazing, which is the term given to hiking alternate trails. I noticed a side trail sprouting from town and though it would be fun to walk something different. It also shaved off about 3.3 miles of the official trail, had I picked it up where it crosses the highway. Again, since I already walked this stretch less than a year ago, I feel at liberty to take some deviations. Duffy dropped me off at the trailhead, which was really just a turn around. The road continued for several miles, which is what I walked. He had warned me that it was a steep uphill and may be washed out in places but it was very easy…the best walking all day.

Once I got back to the singletrack of the trail, I was most grateful for my blue-blazing. The trail was just an aweful experience the rest of the day. It was so saturated from all the rain that even dry parts were streaming. The mud pits were shin deep and there was no avoiding them. Recall my beautiful clean and dry shoes…they didn’t even last a few minutes.

Worse yet, the going was so slow. I remember flying through this stretch last year but today it took me twice as long. Slipping, sliding, slopping, sludging, slogging…there are a lot of s words to describe the experience. Or for those that have had the pleasure to walk through Big Cypress on the Florida trail, it was a lot like that, only with hills.

The useless bits of boardwalk were the worst. Wet and muddy, they are slicker than ice. I would prefer to walk in the mud rather than on top the boards because there’s just too much potential for injury. I almost went down again, saving myself at the last second but nearly doing a split in the process. My butt still hurt from the first fall and this made my gluts feel like they were on fire again. My feet also ached… they’re twice as heavy when wet and all that is amplified by taking 50,000 steps a day. Imagine the extra strain on the feet and legs from the weight and the force of the sucking mud. I almost lost my shoes multiple times. Just not a good experience in any regard, no matter how positive one tries to be. The trail literally sucked.

I took a break at Stratton pond, noting another blue-blaze option. I could walk out to the access trailhead, take a dirt road half a mile and meet up with the AT a whopping 9 miles down the official trail. My route was only 4 miles. It cut out Stratton mountain and the nice fire tower up top but as it was still a bit cloudy and hazy, I doubted the views would be very good. I had such fond memories of the views from last year, I decided to just stick with those.

A nice view from Prospect Rock. Manchester Center is somewhere in the valley below the clouds.

It was so nice and quiet on my route. I saw one trail runner and a car…the lady stopped to ask me for directions to the mountain trailhead. I claimed to be a lost hiker and I kind of was. The short road walk was amazing, so dry and easy. I hated to get back on the AT. But at least I’d saved myself 5 miles of suffering in the mud. It was a huge win for the day.

I labored back up to a ridgeline and took a lunch break at Story Spring shelter. It had a beautiful cold and clear spring, which I used to soak my feet…not that they needed more wet but the mental relief of washing off all the mud was needed. Another hiker arrived just as I did, Siesta. She was going northbound on the Long Trail and not having a good time of it for her first few days. I felt so bad for her because I knew how nice and fun the trail could be…in the right season. She had really gotten a bad start, what with all the rain, storms, and mud. To make matters worse, she told me that she was carrying food for the whole length of trail, 17 days! Also, her filter was barely dribbling water. I’ve had the same problem trying to reuse filters from other thru-hikes. So I offered to filter water for her lunch. Poor lady, I hope she doesn’t give up. I might be inclined to if I thought the Long Trail was mud for the whole length.

I made it another 10 miles to get to the top of Glastenbury mtn for camp. On the way up, water was pouring down the trail for over half a mile. A makeshift stream. At least collecting water for the night was easy and I got to rinse off some of the mud. I thought it would be fun to camp near the fire tower but so did everyone else. There were about 3 tents already pitched but I found a nice spot further back in the woods. Many more showed up and one couple opted to sleep in the tower. It made it a little awkward to go up there the next morning for the sunrise but hey, part of the deal I guess. Everything was quiet by hiker midnight.

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