Twig Adventures

LT Day 15: Stormy Bennington

Wed Oct 7th, 2020, 0605-1430
Black Brook to Rt 9 / Bennington VT, SOBO LT mile 256.4
21.5 miles, then about 3 miles walking around town
4500 gain,  5400 loss

Our barred owl sounds as our alarm clock at 5 am. It’s 2 single hoots are the very loud and forceful kind. I know many of their varied calls but they seem to have different dialects around the country. About a week ago, I heard a really weird bird noise that finished with a few familiar notes of a barred owl. I’d bet many of the crazy noises that hikers report are attributable to these owls.
We have some big miles to make into town before it starts to rain. A front is coming in. The day starts off beautiful. The sun is out early…a rare occurrence, and a crisp wind blows. The trail is really boggy for about a mile, with many mud pits. These are mostly covered by leaves, which either serve to stabilize the mud or hide deep pits that will eat your shoes. It’s hard to tell which so I rock and root hop to avoid them.
The trail climbs to a ridge, where it stays for most of the day. Here it’s intermittently rocky and rooty, hard on the feet and hard to keep any sort of rhythm. One part involves a sidle along a mountain side, which seems to do tight s-cures around every tree. Step over the tree roots, take about 3 crooked steps downwards (the trail is not banked or formed in any way), 3 more crooked steps up to the next tree, repeat for a mile. I think I have whiplash after this.
Where I felt like I was flying the day before, today I’m just barely hanging on. My pace is definitely slower based on times and mileage…just when I thought I had this trail figured out. Relief comes in the form of a fire tower atop Glastenbury Mountain. We meet 3 southbound ladies there. It’s great to see them out here. I see so fewer women than men on the AT than on other long trails, it seems.
I’ve only made about 14 miles by noon and can see the dark clouds gathering. The rain starts just before 1 pm, as predicted. It’s pretty light at first, then becomes heavy. If only I’d hiked faster or started even earlier, I could have avoided this. But really, there was no avoiding it. Besides, we’re heading for town where we won’t have to deal with the rain the rest of the day. It’s not even so bad that I have to put on rain clothes. I just pop my umbrella and keep walking.
We reach the road, where we’re lucky to have a ride waiting.  Stellar has contacted a former coworker,  who agrees to pick us up. Rich delivers us straight to our hotel in Bennington. What a nice guy! Thanks Rich!
We clean up then go on the hunt for food. As soon as we step out the door, I notice some very dark clouds and hear thunder. I remark that its about to get ugly and boy does it. We only have a few blocks to walk into town but don’t make it before all hell brakes loose. The wind swirls from all directions, leaves fly, rain pelts, and bright flashes of lightening are everywhere. We’re suddenly in a mini hurricane. We seek shelter under a gas station awning, watching the chaos. Up the street where we walked just seconds before, several trees and giant branches come down. The power to half the town goes out. All we can think is thank goodness we’re not out on the trail.
We find the brewery with power still intact and are shortly drinking beer and consuming tons of hot food. The return walk allows us to survey all the damage from the storm. 60 mph winds were registered and the power is out all around New England…but thankfully not at our hotel. I promptly get into bed and stay there the rest of the evening, snug in the warm covers, watching mindless tv.

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