Days 156 + 157
Day 156: Mile 1600.2 | Seth Warner Shelter
We got up as late as we possibly could before the 10am checkout. I got up at 8am and went downstairs to get breakfast. They didn't have much in the way of 'free' even though they told us breakfast was included. There were supposed to be all you can eat muffins and coffee. Neither were provided. I complained to the person attending the dining room cash register. She said she would look into it. Breakfast wasn't supposed to end until 11am, at 8am I should be able to get some food.
I ordered a $7 eggs, potatoes, fruit, and toast breakfast anyway and hoped she'd come through on the muffin front at least for Miles' sake. He wouldn't bother spending money on a warm breakfast. He came downstairs just as the coffee was finishing and the waitress told us she would bring out a few english muffins for us. We picked at the breakfast I had ordered and I gave my blueberries to Miles. Eventually she did bring us some english muffins and even some orange marmalade.
We ate and watched out the window as the wind whipped over the summit. The skies started clearing while we sat there. We went back upstairs just before ten to get our packs out of the bunk room. They let us stay and drink another cup of coffee. I went outside and held my tent in the wind as the sun came out. It dried quickly, thankfully, and Miles did the same. My one disappointment with the bunk room was that, even though we got a dry night, my tent was still soaked and unusable for the next night. So I really go the best of both worlds this day.
We went up the monument and saw the sights from the top before we headed down off of the mountain. We lost and gained some elevation on the way north and the crossed through the town of North Adams, MA. The sun really came out in the afternoon and the humidity that the rain storm had brought made the day very sticky. It was okay in the shade of the woods but once we got the road walk in North Adams I was dying. The tar beat the heat back on us and I could feel the sun burn forming on my face.
A nice lady was out front of her house gardening as we walked by. I said hello politely and she offered us some water or lemonade. We politely declined but she was very sweet. Massachusetts was, by far, the most welcoming state. We kept walking and later talked to some construction workers. We crossed a bridge and passed a hose someone left in their backyard for hikers to fill their water bottles with. We eventually got back into the woods at the foot of a 1600 foot climb.
The heat had already exhausted us and Miles was still tired from the two nights of having company in his tent. We stopped by a stream and took a break. We both agreed we would get to the Vermont border (only a few miles ahead!!) and then we were allowed to make ourselves dinner. It would be like a reward, we told ourselves. Even though it was late in the afternoon, we put some energy powder into our water and drank it all quickly to fuel us up the climb. I ate a full 4oz bag of gummy bears and we began our ascent.
Sweat immediately starting running down my face and irritating my eyes. The humidity made the sweating so much worse. The first part of the climb turned out to be relatively easy. Eventually there were some rocky bits but nothing too crazy. Every corner we turned I excitedly looked for the Vermont Long Trail sign, indicating the state border. Eventually we came to it and by the time I got there I was absolutely famished!
We took photos and didn't even try to hide our exhaustion. I sat and ate a LaraBar at the sign, I couldn't wait any longer. After a few minutes break we kept walking, in search of the next water source so that we could make dinner. Vermont has a reputation for being the muddiest state. Every state has a reputation really: New Hampshire has the formidable Whites, Virginia is 'flat', Vermont is muddy, Pennsylvania is rocky, New Jersey has bad water sources, you get the idea. Well the rumors about Vermont were the truest of all. As soon as we crossed the border the trail was almost entirely made of mud.
At first I tried to rock hop to keep my feet dry but it was impossible. With the past few days of rain there was no escaping the mud. I sloshed and let my shoes get dirty. They were already wet, what's the worst that could happen? We made it to a wide, clear stream and stopped there for dinner. The evening light streamed through the leaves as the clouds started to roll in again.
After we ate and gathered water we packed up and walked to camp just a couple miles further. Miles had almost no energy. I easily sped ahead of him and told him I would meet him at mile 1600, right before camp. I was tired, too, but Miles was absolutely dead. I hadn't ever seen him hike this slow or talk this little. I found mile 1600 at a wide logging road, full of puddles, and sat waiting for him. The puddles reflected the green leaves on the trees and the canopy shone back at me. I sat silently waiting, thinking about anything and everything that popped into my head. I couldn't believe we were finally in Vermont.
At one point in NC, someone who's trail name is Vermont told me that once he made it to Vermont he would know for sure that he could finish the trail. As if Vermont was the milestone, the indicator that he could and would finish his thru-hike. I felt accomplished. Tired. But accomplished. I was optimistic and I started to get this feeling that I was ready for life now. That I could handle whatever would be thrown at me when I got home.
Miles caught up to me after about 20 minutes. We had made it to mile 1600 but my phone was dead so I couldn't take a picture. He sleepily put his hands in the air and limply cheered. I patted his back and urged him on. Just 0.2 miles to the shelter. When we got to the shelter the tent sites were mostly taken. I saw Hooch there and he told me there were a few sites on the blue blaze to the water source, but that they were closer to the shelter and a girl's group is camping up there. From past experience, I knew the girls would be noisy but I didn't want to go any further.
I found a couple of sites that didn't look too flood worthy and set up my tent. Miles quickly followed and set his up as well. He immediately went to sleep. I stayed awake reading and listened as the rain storm rolled in.
Day 157: Mile 1600.2 | " "
I slept in late and then I went to wake Miles up. He didn't want to get up. He was exhausted and didn't feel well. We laid in his tent for a while just chatting and ate breakfast after a while. Around 10am it started sprinkling and I rushed to take my tent down so that it wouldn't get wet. I still, naively, thought we might leave camp that day.
When it was clear to me that Miles wanted to take a tent zero but didn't want to say anything I got right down to business. I told him I didn't have enough food to take a zero but if he had any extra he could share then we could both stay. If not he could catch me the next day. He offered to share some canned oysters and ramen with me. It wasn't my ideal dinner but I could tell Miles didn't have the energy to get very far today. I agreed and we hung out in Miles' tent while the rain poured down. The empty tent site next to ours flooded.
Miles slept for a long time and I read while he did. In the evening I got up and set my tent back up. Miles volunteered to get us some water. I made dinner in my own tent and ate by myself. Miles slept some more and I, after a while, did too.