Stratton Mountain, AT Origins

August 3 2015

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Hiking history- Wikipedia

“Stratton Mountain claims a unique role in hiking trail history. In 1909,James P. Taylor (1872–1949) was on the mountain when he conceived the idea of a trail from Massachusetts to Canada, which became Vermont’s Long Trail.[2] While on the summit of Stratton during the construction of the Long Trail, Benton MacKaye (1879–1975) considered that it would be a good idea to have a trail spanning the entire Appalachian Range. The result was the Appalachian Trail, a 2,170-mile (3,490 km) National Scenic Trail from Georgia to Maine.[3] In southern Vermont, the two trails are contiguous, crossing the summit of Stratton from south to north. A short (.75-mile), relatively flat side trail leads from the summit to the Stratton Mountain Resort.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratton_Mountain_(Vermont)

 

I crossed Stratton today. It was an amazing feeling to look out over the view that inspired the creation of the Appalachian Trail. I met a few Long Trail hikers today. I remember specifically meeting an enthusiastic hiker at Stratton Pond.

I was enjoying the silence and solitude of the lake when I heard singing behind me. I was debating a swim in the lake when this smiley girl came frolicking out of the woods. Normally I would enjoy a person enjoying a hike, but she came up and the first words out of her mouth were “I did blah blah blah miles today, and I am feeling great!” She continued tooting her horn for awhile, completely shattering the peace of the place. Then she stripped down to her underwear and proclaimed loudly “I haven’t had a shower in a couple of days!”

I thought to myself “A long trail hiker. Oh god.”

I quickly packed up my stuff and left. No swim in the lake today. I hobbled as quickly as I could away from her. I was determined not to break camp with her for as long as possible. I met my shelter goal and found that it was a mile off-trail. The next shelter north was only three miles. It made more sense to continue onward, but swirling black clouds kept casting a shadow over my hike. It seemed like rain.

All things considered, I walked onward as quickly as my hobble could take me. I hit a dirt road and wandered down to an overlook. As I approached the overlook I could see the storm fully. It was going to rain. It was going to rain really hard. A figure appeared on the road just down from me and passed just as it started sprinkling. It was a young south-bounder with bright eyes. We said hi and he commented on the rain, then we quickly went in opposite directions. I warned him that the next shelter was off-trail, but he seemed convinced it was the place to go in this storm.

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I got to the overlook in time to see a beautiful view of the valley. A thick, black cloud was rumbling over the ridge. I could see the grey wall of rain approaching. I thought I could set up my tent and scramble inside before the rain hit so I grabbed the tent roll and flung it out on the ground. The rumbling got nearer. I got the tent mostly set up when the end of the rear pole completely broke off. This piece fit the pole into the tent ring. Without it the tent was absolutely useless. I searched the area and tried to pull the rubber rope back through the poles, but poles went flying everywhere and my tent flopped over sideways.

I sat on my knees as the rain started picking up and looked into the drops. I started laughing in frustration and said loudly “This is my life right now.”

I packed up my trashed tent and marched onward in three inches of water. Lightning was popping close enough to make me run along the trail. It kept ascending this ridge, so I was getting worried, when a couple moving southbound came by.

“Lovely day, eh?”

“Yeah, this is fantastic!”

They informed me that the trail was dropping into the valley from here.

We were all drenched. Rain gear doesn’t do a thing in downpours. My gear was soaked and we were all feeling pretty cold. They gave me more good news: the shelter was only a mile and a half away.

So I picked up my pace and squished towards my shelter for the night. I caught the blue blaze to the shelter and walked off into the forest. I had no clue how far it was off trail because I didn’t want to get my map wet. I just wanted there to be room. I crossed a nice water source and then I saw it. A perfect, rustic cabin nestled in the bright green forest. It was a completely walled cabin with a covered porch, table, loft and a wood stove.

When I arrived, there were only three hikers and a family of over-nighters at the cabin. I changed immediately and started ringing out my clothing. My backpack was dripping water so I strung a line off the end of the porch and hung out my wet gear. I set up my bed in the loft in hopes that it would dry out a little before dark.

The family was inconsiderate and took up the entire inside area, so I happily ate my dinner on the porch with the other hikers. I wasn’t planning on going to Manchester Center, but one of the other hikers talked me into going for a hot breakfast in the morning. We made a plan to hitch into town together, and I wanted to trash my tent poles.

I am glad my tent broke that day because the night was violent. The storm let up in the evening, but later in the night it screamed through the trees and brought down a lot of limbs. Trees were down across the trail in the morning and the entire town of Manchester Center lost power.

Trail Log:

Rainstorm

No meds. today and the leg feels better. I am still in pain, and I am still worried about my health. I can’t help but be down when everyone just walked on…when everyone keeps on going and I have to stop. Every day I see new people pass by. Some days I briefly see old trail friends. I am getting used to giving up on keeping up. I am more than solo now, and I sure could use a friend.  I am always stopping short and feeling very lonely. It’s hard not to take it personal, even though I know it isn’t anyone’s fault. The only reason I can forgive Flask is because of all those times I “hiked my own hike” away from people I really liked.

 

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