Monday, September 5, 2016

Hiking: Updates from Storm's Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike (8/11/16 thru 8/16/16) | Vermont

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Storm (Moe) is now making his way north through Vermont on the Appalachian Trail. He's over 1,650 miles into his Appalachian Trail thru-hike. He started hiking the Appalachian Trail on April 6, 2016 at Springer Mountain in Georgia and is now into his fifth month of his thru hike. Here's a look back at his last several days of hiking in his own words.

(previous journal)

August 11, 2016 - Finally Met Miss Janet
I set my alarm for 7 as a just in case. I was worried I would sleep in really late. I snoozed a bit more and finally got up and packed it all up. I had scattered my whole pack all over that motel room. I checked out and returned the key and started walking into town. I stopped at Starbucks to get an iced coffee as it will most likely be my last until Hanover, New Hampshire. I sat outside drinking my iced coffee when Dragon Head texted me. He had gotten on trail around 8am and was on top of Bromley Mt. He said he wasn't sure of his end point but said he would go around 15. I told him I'd catch up. I finished my coffee and started walking down Main Street headed toward the trail. The trail is 5.4 miles from town and I hoped I would get picked up and not have to walk all 5.4 miles. I stuck my thumb out and proceeded to walk. I know some hikers just stand still with their thumb out or holding a sign but I feel if you show your willing to walk it people seem to stop quicker. Sure enough I only walked maybe 5 minutes and I guy in a truck pulled over and brought me to the trailhead parking lot. We didn't get to talk to much as a work phone call came in but I was most grateful for the ride as it was super hot out. I grabbed my pack and thanked the man and started towards the trail.

I see out of the corner of my eye a van with AT symbols on it and I was like it can't be. Miss Janet!!! I had walked 1650 miles missing her by minutes or seeing her van drive by but there she was. Hunny do you want a soda she said. Yes please! I hugged her and proceeded to tell her how I had wanted to meet her but kept missing her. She was taking a lazy day but had been following the bubble north and was in Massachusetts the few days before. She is trying to catch up to people to give back some of their warm weather gear that she had been holding for them. Miss Janet was always ahead of me as the bubble was always ahead of me well at this point I have caught up to the bubble or the backside of it. Miss Janet is such a wonderful person and does so much for the hikers. She asked me "do you have everything that you need". I thanked her again and pushed off.

The day started off with the climb up Bromley Mt which was 3 miles from the parking lot. The trail and grades were not too steep and in no time I had reached the ski slope and began the climb up from there. The trail followed the ski slope for .30 miles before reaching the summit. Wow what a view with the bluebird skies. It was hazy but you could still see far. I descended Bromley Mt down to Mad Tom notch and then started climbing up styles peak. The climbing on this was much steeper and the trail went through really thick spruce forrest. There was a small view at the top and then I descended down to a small notch before climbing up again up Peru Peak. This peak had a wooded summit so no view to be had. I climbed down stopping at Peru Peak Shelter and eagle was there having lunch. I asked him if he had seen Dragon Head and he said he had and that he left at around 1:30 from the shelter. Eagle said that DH was shooting for Little Rock Pond shelter. That would be a 20 mile day but dragon head got an early start more so than me. I didn't think I'd make it but decided to keep chugging on.

I continued on climbing next up Bakers Peak. The climb was easy except for the last .10 miles where it was open ledge scrambles on an incline. There was a bad weather bypass so I always know they will be a tricky climb when there is a bypass. There was a blowdown across the trail and it was to high to step over and it was almost too low to go under. Needless to say I had kneel in the mud to duck under the tree with my pack on. I should have taken it off as it would have been easier but it looked at first it would be easy to duck under. No such luck. I stopped at lost pond shelter to wash my hands as they were covered in mud. It was only 1.7 to big branch shelter so I decided to push on. I thought Dragon Head might be at the shelter as the one eagle said he was going to was a fee shelter.

On the descent down from lost pond shelter the trail followed the big branch creek. The trail crossed the creek on a footbridge and I could see a fantastic campsite and swimming hole right next to it with no one at it. That's gonna be home. DH I'll catch up tomorrow. I'm sure he caught up to Lt. Dan and they hiked together. That's what's nice about the trail, it's nice to hike with others and your trail family but sometimes due to circumstances you part ways or can't catch up and it's ok. You will see one another again. I walked over the footbridge and took a side trail to an awesome campsite. I quickly set up my tent and laundry line and stripped down to just my shorts and went in the cold cold creek.

Boy did it feel good and there was a pool in the creek that was over waist deep. I was able to submerge myself and clean up the mud on my legs. I started a fire and made dinner. I climbed into my tent around 7:30 to write some trail journals. Tomorrow hopefully the rain holds off. It's supposed to be a rough wet weekend.

August 12, 2016 - The Whistle Stop
Woke up at 6am to the sound of Big Branch Creek. I slept like a rock last night and felt really good. I got up and packed up and packed up my tent. I made breakfast and got on trail at about 7.


The first half of the day was a gradual climb. I passed big branch shelter and went to little rock pond shelter and stopped for a snack. The view from the lake was really fantastic. After little rock pond shelter there was a climb up to white rock cliffs. The trail then descended down to Vermont 140. From route 140 the trail ascended up Bear Mt which was a tough climb. The humidity at this point had gotten so high that it made it very slow going. I was drenched and completely wet. I had to walk a few steps and then stop and rest. I finally made it to the top of Bear Mt completely drenched. I drank a lot of water and then began the descent. It was steep and super slippery as all the rocks were sweating from the humidity. I reached Vermont 103 and headed west to Q's Whistle stop to have lunch. They served breakfast all day and I ordered everything. I finished it off with maple soft serve which was delicious.

I checked the weather and the dew point was 74 and the temp was 85. It was hot as I was walking back on the road as the sun came out and was blazing. Once back to the trail I had a rock scramble climb up to a view point. Again it was super slow going and I finally made it up Beacon Hill. I was completely drenched yet again and almost couldn't drink enough water. There was a slight descent and then I began the climb up Killington. The plan was to stop at Governor Clement Shelter and continue the climb northward tomorrow. The climb up Killington was a gradual ascent and not too steep. Thank god as the humidity was getting even worse.

About two miles from the Shelter I passed a sign that said 500 miles left to Katahdin. I cannot believe that is all that is left. Wow! I arrived at the shelter and Hazel, Dragon Head and Lt. Dan were all there. I got the last spot in the shelter and set up before anyone else grabbed it. I walked down to the creek to filter water and to jump in. There was a deep pool which I jumped into and my heart nearly stopped the water was so cold. I ate a cold dinner and chatted with everyone to catch up on their hikes. The rain has held off so far. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

August 13, 2016 - Holy Thunderstorm
Woke up at around 5:45am and no rain. Boy did we luck out yesterday with the rain. It was north, south and east of us but luckily we were fine. The rest of the shelter got up at around 6 so I did as well. I made coffee and ate breakfast. I packed up and hoped the rain would hold off. I had no cell reception so I couldn't check the radar. I got on trail about 7 and was the third to last to leave. Only Dragon Head and Lt Dan were the only 2 left at the shelter when I left.

The climb up Kilington from the south was steady but not steep. It was a very nice grade. Only near the top did it become somewhat steep and that was mostly step ups among the roots. We climbed up into the clouds and it was foggy and misty. Lt Dan and Dragon head caught up to me and we hiked together stopping at Cooper Lodge Shelter for a rest and a snack. After we began the 6 mile climb down Kilington to US route 4. The descent down was a good grade with the only steep part at the beginning. When we were 2 miles from the road the heavens opened up and it poured. We got soaked and all gathered by the road.

Dragon head needed to go into Rutland for a package and Lt Dan and I said we would go to. Hazel did not need to go into town and was going to head to the state park to see about getting a lean to for us. In the state park you can rent lean-to's, cabins or tent sites. She told us she would text us when she got to the state park. I sat to empty my boots as the rain had stopped and the regional bus pulled over to see if we needed a ride. Lt Dan, DH and I piled on the bus and had to head north as the guy was at beginning of his route. The driver had the AC on high and we were freezing as we were soaked.

After an hour bus drive we got dropped off at the bus depot in Rutland. Dragon head had to pick up his package at The yellow deli so we headed there to do laundry and shower. Lt Dan headed in a different direction and was in search of food. We showered put our laundry in and had Chinese for lunch. The dryer took awhile and we waited around for our clothes to dry.

Hazel texted that the lean-to's were sold out but there was one cabin left for 50 and dragon head and I both said yes let's do it. We finally had dry clothes and got dressed and headed back to the bus station. We found out that the last bus left at 5:15. We headed to route 4 to hitch and a very nice lady picked us up within 5 minutes. We got back to the trailhead and headed into the woods. We only had 3.2 miles to the cabin in the state park. After 1 mile in we had a torrential thunderstorm with two lightning strikes really close. Dragon head and I were pretty scared and really tried to boogie to the cabin. The storm passed and we breathed a sigh of relief.

We made it to the cabin and Hazel said you survived the storm. We were able to take another shower and get into dry clothes. We settled down and found out we could order pizza so we did just that. 2 large pizzas were on the way. Thunderstorms rumbled through all night but we were warm and dry and very content.

August 14, 2016 - The Day of Ups and Downs
Woke up at 2am to one hell of a thunderstorm. It poured and lightning and thunder. It made me glad to be in the cabin safe and dry. I fell back asleep and woke up around 7:30 to Hazel being up as well as Dragon Head. No one was in any particular rush to get going and we technically had the cabin until 11. Dragon head and I finished the pizza for breakfast and we slowly packed up.

Around 9:30 he headed out as he needed to go to the outfitter to get new insoles for his feet. Hazel and I headed out short thereafter. The cabin was so nice we didn't want to leave. We had about two miles of flat climbs and then began the climb up Mt Quimby. In the first mile we stopped at Thundering Falls which is the highest waterfall on the AT in Vermont. It was really pretty and was flowing well with all the water from last nights storms.

We passed the guy heading southbound who is going for the supported record of the AT. He is running literally. I can't remember his name at this very moment but DH was the one who looked it up.

We climbed and I was struggling. This humidity is just kicking my butt big time. The ups are just killer on me and I go super slow. I can't wait for this humidity to break. We descended down Quimby just slightly to views of Pico ski area. Then another up. Jeff texted me that he is mom and brother were going to drive up and meet us at one of the road crossings. We picked stony brook road and I hoped we could slack pack a bit.

We began the last climb unnamed and then descended down to stony brook shelter where we rested and ate. We then pushed on to stony brook and waited for Jeff. They showed about 15 minutes later and had chips and mt. dew and sandwiches. We ate and threw our packs in the back and began our packless trek. We did almost 4 miles in one hour and met Jeff at the next road crossing. We snacked some more and said our goodbyes.

We had 2.8 miles to the cabin where we were planning on staying. The cabin is a private building but the owners allow hikers to stay at it. The climb up was steep and slow going. Hazel and I took our time and made it to the cabin about 7. Dragon head was already there and we set up and made dinner. The cabin has a ladder and a view platform on top of the building giving fantastic panoramic views. Very pretty. We set in for the night at around 8:30.

August 15, 2016 - The Block of Cheese
Woke up this morning at 5:30 to a wonderful sunrise at the cabin. This place was so neat. It is privately owned but the owners allow thru hikers to come and stay in the cabin as long as it's treated with respect. It has a main room with a fireplace and a loft above. There is a ladder which goes to the top of the roof where there is a platform with a bench with 360 views. Simply breathtaking. I hope future hikers take care of this so the land owner continues to allow use.

I packed up after having my coffee and breakfast and got on trail at around 6:30. Dragon head and I passed Hazel on our way out as she tented instead of sleeping with the masses in the cabin. We hiked 3 miles to Wintturi shelter where we got water and had more food. The terrain today looked tough but at the end we were getting picked up by Andy who's the husband of a friend I went to college with Chris Files. I went to school in northeastern Vermont, Lyndon State College. It was a great school and I made lots of friends there many I still talk to today.

Once we all left the shelter we headed another 3.7 miles to Vermont 12 where there is a place called on the edge farm. There was talk of fresh made pies and we were in. We walked the .20 to the store and bought all kinds of stuff. Hazel and Dragon head bought a whole pie which they proceeded to eat half each. I got an apple turnover and some drinks. Everything tastes fantastic.

We continued on and the big ups and downs began. We had 14 ups and 14 downs which just take their toll on you. On up number 5 there was a view which we stopped at to take in and to eat snacks. We continued on up and down reaching cloud land road where there was a cooler with trail magic and water jugs. The cooler had homemade baked goods in it. I had rice crispy treats which had fruity pebbles mixed in with it. Yummy!!

We continued on with more ups and downs. I was growing weaker by the minute. I remembered I had a block of Cabot cheese which I bought at the bakery. While waiting for Hazel to catch up I ate the whole block of cheese. Oh boy hopefully that doesn't come back to haunt me later.

We finally descended down to Quechee road and then to Vermont 14 where we met Andy. He took us back to the house where we met up with Chris. We were able to do our laundry, shower and had the most wonderful meal of coleslaw, corn on the cob and BBQ chicken all locally grown. It was fantastic. It was such a great night talking and catching up and letting Andy and Chris ask us stories of the trail.

August 16, 2016 - Into New Hampshire
We woke up at Chris Files house at around 6am. Had some bagels and cream cheese and coffee. I slept so well last night. Chris drove us back to the trailhead and was so nice to go by the Dunkin Donuts so I could get and iced coffee.

We got back to the trailhead at around 7:30 and began the trek on. Today will be the most road walks of the whole trip this far. We came down a road yesterday and got picked up after we crossed a bridge. This morning we continued on the main road for .50 miles and then went right for .50 miles. We crossed under interstate 89 and then the trail went back into the woods.

We had two climbs today. The first was up on the road walks to Podunk Road, then the second was up Happy Hill. The climbs were gradual and nothing too steep. The day was cloudy with a bit of mist. We only had 10 miles to go today before we got to Hannover and then we were calling it a day.

Hazel's husband was driving from New Brunswick to come see her. They haven't seen each other since April and she was very excited to see him. We stopped at the side trail to Happy Hill Shelter and had a snack and then began the descent. We were dropped out of the woods onto Elm Street in Norwich VT. We had a 1.0 mile road walk and passed many homes.

One house had trail magic out front of the house with watermelon, banana bread, rolls. It was so nice and the person who lived there had converted boots into two planters. It was pretty cool. We continued on elm street and then joined Main Street and had a 1.4 mile road walk.

We crossed the bridge over the Connecticut River and crossed into New Hampshire. Hurray, Hurray!! We arrived into Hannover on Main Street and walked past shops, restaurants and a Starbucks. The post office was next store and both Dragon Head and I had packages. My friend Chrissy from Connecticut sent me a bunch of goodies. I ran next store and got and iced macchiato. The store was packed and there was a big line. I got stares and sneers but I had a big smile on my face. Sorry people that I'm ripe and fresh off the trail but you don't I understand the desire for iced coffee.

When I came back outside Hazel's husband had arrived and they were hugging. It was so sweet as I fully understand that feeling. We made a quick plan to meet at 9am at Starbucks tomorrow to begin our slack packing. Dragon head and I did some errands like eating, library etc. We met up with Ninja who had made a reservation with one of the trail Angels in Hannover to stay with them. The trail angel Greg could fit 3 people per night and Ninja had set it all up. We got picked up at 4 in town and were brought to his house. The rest of the night we relaxed and I did my dishes and ate. It was a nice relaxing night.

(next journal)

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Storm is posting regular updates from the AT on his Trail Journal

You can also follow him on his Facebook Page, Moe Hikes the Appalachian Trail

Storm is also working to raise money for charity as he hikes the Appalachian Trail. He currently has a GoFundMe campaign that is supporting the work of the Catskill Center to protect and preserve the Catskills and the Catskill Park, where Storm lives, enjoys the outdoors and volunteers!

Read all of Storm's posts on Adventures in the Outdoors.


For more information about the Appalachian Trail

You can visit the National Park Service's Appalachian Trail Park Page, which features a link to the AT brochure and map.  Guides and maps are produced and sold for the AT as it passes through each State between Georgia and Maine.  There are several books including the Thru-Hike Planner, the AT Guidebook, the AT Thru Hiker Companion and the Data Book to name just a few that can help hikers who are planning on hiking the entire AT or sections of it. We also maintain a section for Appalachian Trail Guides, Maps and Books at on Adventures in the Outdoors Online Shop.


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