Fri Sept 25th, 2020, 0600-1630
Spruce Ledge Camp to Waterman Brook, SOBO LT mile 54.7
7200 gain, 6500 loss
I sleep perfectly throughout the night, despite some nearby anonymous snoring (ear plugs work great!). My shirt and skirt are still wet in the morning…recall my pond excursion the afternoon before. I hung them to dry overnight but nothing dries at night on the east coast. I hate putting on wet clothes to start the day but at least it’s not cold.
I wake feeling pretty great, like Tony the Tiger grrrrreat! Perhaps I’m back in my hiker groove. I hit the trail very early, having to use my headlamp for the first 15 minutes because it’s still so dark. I feel very productive already. Despite an in-your-face steep climb to start, followed by a few more, the miles in-between are quite gentle. I’ve read a blog saying as much, so I know to expect an easier day, ending with a nice country/forest road walk. Knowing all this boosts my spirits. I’m flying along, making it to the Corliss shelter, 6.7 miles in, by 0830 am. It’s a really nice shelter, with a loft and 4 sides in a beautiful notch. A chipmunk sweeps up inside after the overnight occupants have left. I catch him at his morning routine, whereby he sheepishly scampers out the open door.
My timing makes me think I might be able to make 10 miles by 10 am…my rock-steady goal for fast hiking. It took me until 2 pm to make 10 miles the day before but today is a new day. I take off up another climb, feeling charged.
Laraway mountain comes and goes (including a nice overlook to the south) and so does 10 am. And the winning number is…almost 11 miles hiked! At this pace, I’ll have done more miles by noon than I did all day yesterday. I descend to a valley where the trail rambles gently over some hills, through a few meadows, across roads and past a very nice shelter with skylights.
The view south, with Whiteface Mountain, Madonna Peak and Mt Mansfield lining up from left to right. We’ll make it all the way across these valleys to camp just at the base of Whiteface for the night. How’s that for progress! Roundtop Shelter. Based on the previous day’s mileage, we thought we might end up here for the night…but it’s too early to even stop for lunch!
I finally take my lunch break at a stream, 16.5 miles into the day. I’m so relieved to get all the miles in early, I can take it easy the rest of the day. We come down into a big gap, with a nice overlook above the Lamoille River and valley. We cross the river on a pedestrian suspension bridge and continue for a mile through fields and along a cruisey bike path…all such a joy to walk!
We turn onto a country road where there’s a small farm stand offering fresh and pickled veggies. The sign says “pay what you think it’s worth.” I put a $5 spot in the can and snag a small jar of dill pickles…they’re so good I eat them all, leaving the jar to be re-used. I also grab some cherry tomatoes to add to my couscous dinner. I wish there were more of these self-service healthy-food stands in other places I’ve thru-hiked! I haven’t really enjoyed such a find since New Zealand. Way to step it up Vermont!
What a picturesque day and perfect rhythm. We walk casually along the forest road in the dappled sunshine. Stellar stops at a waterhole to rinse off, while I continue to Bear Hollow Shelter, our “best case” destination for the day. It’s only 3 pm and I’ve done 22 miles. We decide we have a few more miles in us, making it to a creek on the slope of Whiteface mountain. We save the mountain climb for the next day, finding some passable tent sites in the wash near the creek. A waterfall tumbles nearby and I relish the white-noise it’ll bring overnight. Not every night need be next to a shelter, especially when the weather is so nice and I have a great tent. The perfect ending to this great day is my dinner with the fresh cherry tomatoes: to die for.