Twig Adventures

LT Day 16: Harmon Hill & the LT Finish

Thu Oct 8th, 2020, 1010-1730
Bennington / Rt 9 to Pete’s Spring, MA
16.7 miles, 3950 gain,  3950 loss

It was time to finish the LT, but with less than 15 miles to go, there was no rush. We planned to hike to the top of Mt Greylock the following day, so we’d camp overnight just past the VT/MA border.

A big breakfast was the order of the morning, provided by a lovely local diner. My hiker hunger had started to hit, so I put down 3 eggs, toast, bacon and slices of tomato with ease.  The diner was packed with linesmen, getting ready for a big day restoring and inspecting all the power lines. I pondered how inconsequential electricity was to me on trail but how essential it was to our society. I was sure happy to have it in the hotel overnight. It had turned really cold. A strong wind blew and the high was only supposed to reach the mid to upper 40s.

We got a light resupply at the Dollar General, then headed back to the hotel, posing with some local oddities along the way. Rich met us again to drive us to the trailhead. We thanked him profusely and were back to grunting up a steep hill as we departed the gap. After about 2 miles, we came to the top of Harmon Hill, which shared a close resemblance with my last name. Compared to the many other points along the way, it was a somewhat commonplace location. I couldn’t find any mention of why it’s named such or the significance. Like so many place names along the AT and other long trails, the details were somewhat lost to history.

Because of the name and also the date, I reflected on the death of my father just 3 months prior. I’d sought his memory and presence on all the mountaintops I’d visited this year, but the feelings were very strong this day. As the wind blew through the trees, it revealed musical tones, whispers, prayers, and knowledge. It impressed on me a feeling that everything was going to be ok. A sense of peace I hadn’t felt in a long time washed over me. If only I could grab onto such a feeling and never let it go.

A view down to Bennington from Harmon Hill.

Having taken some time to breathe, reflect, and be present, I continued down the trail. My footsteps felt lighter and I could focus on the joy of finishing the trail. I took note of lots of little details, like recent damage from the storm, the changing substrate, and the path forward. My Dove chocolate wrapper stated : After every storm, there’s a rainbow, no matter how long it takes to show up.

Hanging on…time to pick up the pace!

Just follow the rainbow…

The path will guide you…
The trail provides.

At last, we came to the MA/VT border and the official end/beginning of the Long Trail. We took our finisher pictures and I entered my thoughts in the logbook: It went by too fast but seems like such a long time ago that we stood at the Canadian border. In just 2 weeks, the world has changed with the seasons, the march of life and time and feet. In the leaves on the ground, the evidence of endings. In the trees, a promise of a new year. Let us leave the heartaches of 2020 behind for new and prosperous beginnings.

This trail contained a lot of symbolism and meaning for me. It provided a beautiful space to grieve, to heal, and to grow. My deepest thanks to the Green Mountain Club for their efforts in providing a century of inspiration. The Long Trail is an original, true and through.

Trail endings are always bittersweet, so we wisely allowed ourselves another day to process and reflect while enjoying MORE TRAIL! Hello Massachusetts.

For our last night on trail, we camped near a tiny spring. While collecting water, my foot slipped, taking a dunking that nearly involved my whole self. I didn’t have any major mishaps on this trail, so this minor event reminded me how lucky I’d been. We settled into our quilts for the coldest night yet. I was actually happy for the conditions…it would make for a nice slumber.

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