Day 101: Story Spring to Spruce Peak

Trip Start Mar 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Vermont
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Different kind of day today, but lots of the exciting trail happenings you've come to love and expect. Here we go!

Woke up in the middle of the night to a pretty intense thunderstorm (but I was not in a tent har har har) the lightning and thunder was then joined by rain. Lots of rain, to the point that it was misting in the shelter.  This made it rough waking up in the morning, puddles of water everywhere and what was a muddy trail has now disintegrated into a sloppy pigpen. From the time I hit the trail (late...about 8:30) I knew it was going to be a long sloppy day. Dodging the mud and standing water becomes a real challenge, in addition to trying not to slide off rocks. At one point, an hour in, while approaching a bridge over a river there is a huge puddle with just a branch to balance across. Well I clipped a little twig on the branch and one foot ended up in the puddle. Well it was more like a lake since I went in halfway to my knee. The wet feeling in my shoe and sock was just miserable. Of course a few hours later my other foot felt the same, but not cool!

The big climb of the day is up Stratton Mtn, about 1700 ft. The climb turned out to be easy enough, and when I reached the top (still in the blowing cloud) there are some caretakers that stay in a little hut. They tell me that they have a sick hiker inside. I stick my head in and it's Bonny Boy! He thinks he has Lymes disease, feeling weak, fever, dizzy, etc so the caretakers are trying to arrange to get him into a clinic in town. I help as much as I can, offer to carry gear down for him, but they actually end up doing more for me! Jean makes me a cheese sandwich and hot tea. The whole thing does cost me about 2 hours, but we hikers have to look out for each other.

Hugh and Jean the caretakers are really nice people and they have lots of things to say about the area. Hugh has been a caretaker or fire lookout for about 40 yrs! Especially interesting are his encounters with big cats and moose in the area! He also tells me about
Glastenbury Mtn which I had crossed yesterday (with the great firetower view) apparently it is like the North's Bermuda triangle! In the 50s and 60s around 15 people went missing up there and they only found one persons body. The Native Americans used to call it "the place where the earth opens up". There are some apparent burial mounds on the slope too. Some people have reported coming across huge crevasses off trail where you can fall in through moss up to your neck. (maybe how those people disappeared?)  Crazy stuff! Kinda glad I didn't know about it until after (nothing was in the book) and there was an eerie aura about that mtn.

Stratton Mtn is higher and windy-er and colder. But also historically very important for the trail. This was the mtn where the idea of the Long Trail was conceived. amazingly in 1921 while on the Long Trail, Benton MacKaye thought of making a ridgeline trail over the entire Appalachian Range!  The mountain then is ground zero for both trails, which makes it a sort of pilgrimage!

The firetower climb is really gnarly in the high wind, the howling gusts making the structure sway and groan. I gripped the railing tightly!! The view was impeded by all the clouds but watching them woosh by below the tower was enough reward.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Lots of muddy flooded trail. At the end of the day there is one incredible viewpoint though.  In fact I almost skipped it, but so glad I didn't. Probably top 5 on the trail! View down to Manchester Center (next town) is stunning especially
as the sunlight is filtering beautifully behind some clouds. Moments like these make the exertion all worthwhile!

I'm also going to use the full definition of 24 hrs to describe my "day" today. I'm going to wake up and finish it before I started hiking yesterday. That'll be a 21 miler and thus will complete a "man week." This is where you hike 7 days in a row each 20 or more miles. Mine will be a total of about 155 miles. A pretty impressive feat for me. Not that being a MAN (hoo ah) is all that important. But little fun challenges are neat along the way, and the silly title makes it even better.

Tomorrow is down into town (Manchester Center, VT) so I'll have a nice day to relax and live it up. Rumor has it there's even a Ben and Jerrys shop!!!!

Ok hope everyone is well, hopefully you'll get a chance to catch up on all my happenings (and feel free to comment too) when I get these posted.
Sleep well!
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Rob, So glad you are back after a week of not hearing what was going on in your world. Interesting story about Glastenburg. (All the stories from the caretaker sounded interesting!) That is one story I'd want to hear after I crossed the area; otherwise, I'd be so paranoid looking over my shoulder I'd fall in a crevass for sure! Firetowers--Grandpa Connor loved them! That's where he took us kids for entertainment. Ask your dad sometime. Take care.

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