Started at camp spot just past Little Rock Pond Shelter – 1667.1
Finished at Governor Clement Shelter – mile 1686.4
19.3 miles covered.
Total days hiked 90
18.73 Av miles / days
Today was tough.
To start things off I had a narrow escape from a run in with the call of nature. When I wake I have to deflate my sleeping pad and roll it up and stuff anything I want to keep dry into stuff sacks. This is all done in the safety of my tent before applying bug spray and getting dressed. This generally involves a lot of kneeling and crouching in a sitting position. I then got the call and had to dash out of my tent in the nick of time. Note to self: I think the Rice side and chicken meal I cooked last night could have fed at least 2 people.
After that little drama I sat by the lake and ate my breakfast taking in the scenery and watching dragon flies chasing each other across the lake.
Straight from the start I was climbing. The first peak that I climbed was covered in Christmas trees of all sizes and the ground was a carpet of needles. It smelt great and I enjoyed being surrounded with the festive looking trees.
At a blue blaze trail to White Rocks cliff view point there were loads of stone Jenga style stone statues that people had made. They were everywhere and it felt a little like Stonehenge. I added a pine cone to a stack and took some pics. I have noticed a lot of these stacks of rocks along the trail and have treated them like a game of Jenga where I try and add a stone to the collection.
I then got frustrated with modern technology. I found that I had 9cents worth of credit on my phone. I had topped it up with 20 bucks the other day and have a deal where 5 bucks a month allows me to call landlines back home for up to 250 minutes. The 20 bucks was just intended to allow me to make calls over here. I tried to call the AT&T customer services and nearly smashed my phone up as there are so many options and all I wanted to do was I speak to somebody.
My Halifax clarity card had been frozen the other day as Halifax took it upon themselves to deem a purchase I made in a gas station as potentially fraudulent. I had told them I was going to the states and can’t understand why they took this action. Anyway I got the block lifted and maybe that stopped my AT&T direct debit going through.
It’s this kind of bullshit that I certainly haven’t missed!
In the end I topped up with 10 bucks which lasted all of 5 minutes whilst calling home and left it at that. I don’t need the stress of sorting out things like this at the moment. I have mountains climb.
From then onward in was up and down all day. Even the small elevation gains in the book were gruelling. I was in desperate need of some trail magic. I got my hopes up when I saw a sign saying trail magic half way through this afternoon. There was a sack tied to an object beside a stream and it said soda. I lifted the sack from the stream only to find that the only thing in it was a large rock. Gutted. There was one bit of candy left though in a jar close by, so not all was lost.
The hardest climb was from the VT103 (main road) which went straight up and was more of a rock scramble. Again the elevation heartbeat profile looked easy. But it sure wasn’t.
The humidity today was meant to be about 90% which I think could have accounted for my difficulties. In some places I had to hike through long overgrown vegetation and the trail between this tangled mess was like an oven.
I decided that it was necessary to pull in for a break at Clarendon Shelter. When I got arrived there was this really odd middle aged dude in the shelter. He had been sleeping and on my arrival he asked if there was anyone else planning on coming this way. I said that there were some people behind me as a safety precaution.
He was walking around the shelter with his fat pop belly hanging out and everything about him was weird. He started heating up some food and then put some washing up liquid in it by mistake. WHAT!
He said that he had hiked the 1 mile hike from the road and had been at the shelter for the last 7 days. Other hikers had been giving him food or something.
I was polite but tried to distance myself from this dude. All I wanted to do was to close my eyes for 30 minutes, but he kept speaking to me. After I had eaten a packet of Skittles I was out of there.
I had found that by swishing each mouthful of Skittles down with some water gives the effect of adding flavour to the water. It’s almost like… You guessed it. Soda. Obviously just without the carbonation.
I passed another hiker heading south to the shelter and warned him that there was some odd dude taking residence. He told me that there was another strange guy further along the trail who looked like he was living in the woods. After 3 miles I hiked past this guy. He had the strangest expression on his face and fitted the description. I didn’t stick around.
Later I hiked past a group of guys who were part of a trail crew. They were all staying in the woods in a large camp and were working on a section of trail. Sorting out drainage and making sure the trail was worthy. I must admit the trail looked like more of a building site in this stretch.
Then I came up against a diversion where a bridge was being repaired. Initially I ignored the warning as I wanted to stay in the trail. It was late and I figured any workmen would have finished for the day. I then found that the white blazes had been painted over. So in the end I turned round and followed the diversion. It was a good opportunity to use my pacing beads. Before coming out here I worked out that on flat ground for me exactly 90 paces is 0.1 mile. The diversion said ‘follow this road for 0.2 miles and then to turn right and follow that road for 0.5′ etc etc. By using my beads I was able to record each set of 90 paces and hence judge whether I was on the right track. It did vary a bit maybe because the roads were slightly uphill or maybe because the distances on the diversion notice were inaccurate. But it was close enough and is a good form of micro navigation. I would never consider using this technique for general hiking as it would drive you mad, but on short stretches like this it’s a good tool.
I arrived at Governor Clement Shelter at about 19:30. I found that an old guy called Trip I had met at Waynesboro PA was there. I asked him whether he was sending food care packages ahead and got some good advice. I have been looking through my AT guide and hatching a plan tonight. There is a Walmart in Rutland where I am heading tomorrow and it would be a good chance to sort this out then. Everything is in multipacks in Walmart and it’s cheap + I have to go to the post office to send some stuff back to England. 2 birds, 1 stone.
I quickly set my tent up away from the shelter. I found a nice sheltered spot down by the river. There’s meant to be thunder storms from 01:00 tonight so hopefully the tree cover will help keep the rain off.
As I write this my bug mesh is being attacked by moths from all angles, attracted by the light of my head torch. I can count about eight of them all fluttering about above my head and one is as big as the palm of my hand. All this activity has also attracted the attention of Mr toad who’s waiting for an opportunity to feast. He’s currently sitting in the vestibule of my tent. I have found that by taking off my head torch and putting it close to where he is sat the moths congregate here. I have watched him snap up at least 2 moths so far.