Sun Oct 4th, 2020, 0850-1630
RT 4 / Inn at Long Trail to Clarendon Shelter, SOBO LT mile 182.8
3450 gain, 4350 loss
I’m super excited to wake up for breakfast in the morning. It’s a real breakfast…an omelet with potatoes, toast, juice and coffee. The hall is filled with LT and AT hikers. There are at least 10 of us, including Doug and Steve, the son and father duo we met a few days ago. Their mom/wife picked them up from Middlebury gap during the rain so they could stay at the Inn. Incidentally, the Inn’s 2 dinning rooms incorporate large rocks in situ, which is pretty cool to see how the rooms were built around them.
We linger for a bit, talking with the other hikers. Then it’s time to hit the trail again, for which I’m very eager. The cool and crisp weather is perfect for hiking. Many day and weekend hikers agree. We take the blue trail from the Inn to meet up with the official AT/LT 2.6 miles in. The spur trail snakes past some ski runs and a side trail to Pico peak. We skip it since we plan to take the side trail to the top of Killington Peak. It’s the last peak over 4,000 feet that we’ll climb.
It’s a steep side trail to the peak, so I stash my pack behind a tree. I bring my wallet because I’ve heard there’s a snack bar at the gondola lodge. Naturally, there’s a ski area here, which is why it’s not surprising to find heaps of people on the summit. Views are great. The White mountains sit off to the NE and Camel’s Hump and Mansfield to the north. They look so far away yet it was less than a week ago that we were hiking over them.
I follow a line of people heading back from the summit to the gondola and lodge. Even though I have tons of food from my recent resupply, I decide to supplement my lunch with a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream sandwich and Vermont beef stick. There are no prices listed and the total for these 2 little items comes to over $9! You pay a hefty price for the luxury of stuff hauled to the top! I should have just returned the items but I go ahead with the purchase for the novelty. Even if I were starving, this wouldn’t be a place I’d ever resupply.
Shortly I’ve had enough of the crowds and want to get back to the serenity of the trail. I even have to wait in a line to use some stairs returning to the peak. I get impatient, scrambling up the boulders to the side instead. Walking free and solo for so many miles has made me into a wild thing that can’t be bothered to stand in Disneyland lines.
Neut’s best Phoon on top Killington Peak…he’s a natural!
This guy’s the Master.
Back on the AT/LT, it’s remarkably quiet. I only pass a handful of backpackers and day hikers the rest of the day. The trail descends to below 2000′, meandering along streams and valleys, past farms and dirt roads. The forests are beautiful and peaceful, the leaves on fire under the fall sun. It’s a wonderful and easy walking day. I’d heard that much of the shared 100 miles are way easier than the northern LT miles. So far this is incredibly true.
We stop for lunch at an old stone shelter, nestled in a clearing and shrouded by leaves. It’s breathtakingly picturesque. Governor Clement Shelter is the name. We make it to another shelter in a clearing for the evening. This one comes with its own “Firewood” trail angel. That’s of course his name. He’s a local that drives up on his side-by-side nearly every night to deliver firewood, that he cuts himself, to the shelter. He seems to love hanging out with the hikers by the campfire and why not? It’s a lovely pastime.
A fire’s already going when I get there in the afternoon. Neo, a late northbound AT hiker, has been hanging out most of the day. He’s from Ocala, FL. Later the Miami boys that we met a few days ago show, so we a have a FL delegation party. Who would’ve guessed?
It’s another great day ending with a great campfire. This thru-hike’s been a good one for just hanging out, as it should be with just a few hundred miles to hike. We now have less than 100 miles to go.