Thu Oct 8th, 2020, 1010-1730
Bennington / Rt 9 to Pete’s Spring, MA
3950 gain, 3950 loss
Today we finish the LT, but with less than 15 miles to go, there’s no rush. We’ll hike to the top of Mt Greylock the following day, so we plan to camp overnight just past the VT/MA border.
A big breakfast is the order of the morning, provided by a lovely local diner. My hiker hunger has started to hit, so I put down 3 eggs, toast, bacon and slices of tomato with ease. The diner is packed with linesmen, getting ready for a big day of work restoring and inspecting all the power lines. I ponder how inconsequential electricity is to me when I’m on trail but how essential it is to our society. I was sure happy to have it in the hotel last night. It’s turned really cold. A strong wind blows and the high is only supposed to reach the mid to upper 40s.
We get a light resupply at the Dollar General, then head back to the hotel, posing with some local oddities along the way. Rich meets us to drive us up to the trailhead. We thank him, say goodbye, and we’re back to grunting up a steep hill as we depart the gap. After about 2 miles, we come to the top of Harmon Hill. My last name shares a close resemblance, so I’ve been a bit intrigued by this landmark. Compared to the many other points along the way, it’s a somewhat commonplace location. I can’t find any mention of why it’s named such or its significance. Like so many place names along the AT and other long trails, the details are lost to history.
Because of the name and also the date, I reflect on my dad’s departure from this earth just 3 months prior. I’ve sought his memory and presence on all the mountaintops I’ve visited this year, but somehow the feelings are strong today. As the wind blows through the trees, it reveals musical tones, whispers, prayers, knowledge. It impresses on me a feeling that everything’s going to be ok. A sense of peace I haven’t felt in a long time washes over me. If only I could grab onto this 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 continue down the trail. My footsteps feel lighter and I can focus on the joy of finishing. I take note of lots of little details, like recent damage from the storm, the changing substrate, the path forward. My Dove chocolate wrapper states : 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 come to the MA/VT border and the official end/beginning of the Long Trail. We take our finisher pictures and I scribe 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 camp near a tiny spring. While collecting water, my foot slips, taking a dunking that nearly involves my whole self. I didn’t have any major mishaps on this trail, so this minor event just reminds me of how lucky I’ve been. We settle into our quilts for the coldest night yet. I’m actually happy for the conditions…it should make for a nice slumber.