Massachusetts border to Connecticut River

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The journal of Andy Linger ... thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 1997

Back to August 11

August 12—Seth Warner Shelter (Day 122 ~ milepoint 1573.7)
The breakfast that was served this morning was wonderful. There was french toast, sausage, and oatmeal (yeah, most hikers became sick of oatmeal months ago, but there was real butter available to add to it this time). After stuffing myself to the point of explosion again, I headed to the lobby to write postcards and catch up on my journals. A couple hours later, I finished up some chores by cleaning the bathrooms and sweeping up a little. I found it difficult to leave a place that was weatherproof, had running water, and didn't get in the 40's at night, so I stayed until noon. I went up to the summit under the bright sun and 70 degree temps to see views into New York, Vermont, and even New Hampshire (according to the croo). I eventually found the will to leave and found myself back on the trail a little before noon. A few hours later I found myself out of Massachusetts and in Vermont. For several days, the AT follows the Long Trail which runs the length of the state. I've been pretty amazed at how the states are zipping by so quickly now. Eleven down, three to go. I reached the shelter a little after five, and spent the night with two hikers out for the week, and Andy, a Long Trail Thru-hiker. Tonight, the three are tenting, and my plan is to spend the night on the picnic table watching the meteor shower.—Andy

August 13—Congdon Shelter (Day 123 ~ milepoint 1580.9)
The Perseids Meteor Shower last night made the night on the picnic table well worth it. I only saw about a dozen meteors travel across the sky before the clouds rolled in, but several of them had brilliant white streaks trailing behind them that lit up the sky. It started to drizzle when the clouds came in, so I threw my stuff in the shelter. The day was cloudy and cool with highs in the 60's. It was probably the first day since southern Virginia I didn't sweat. Andy (the LT Thru-hiker) and I showed up at the shelter around noon, minutes before the rain started. The hour long break turned into a two hour break, then a five hour break. Andy finally found the will to leave, but I had a maildrop waiting with some important stuff. Guess I gotta stay until tomorrow. The rain was steady all day, except for a brief 30 minutes dry period. There was an occasional crack of thunder now and then, with brief downpours. Around 1 pm, the six of us were all asleep taking a nap (my first nap on the trail!) waiting for the rain to let up. Since it never did, five of us spent the night in the shelter, including two overnighters along with Sedona and Trail Bum.—Andy

August 14—Story Spring Shelter (Day 124 ~ milepoint 1604.2)
The weather started to clear as I headed my way into Bennington. I hitched into town and picked up my maildrop. On my way out, I stopped by a convenience store and slammed down a half gallon of ice cream for an instant food buzz. When I arrived at Goddard Shelter after the steady 2,300 foot climb, I was rewarded with an amazing view back toward Mt. Greylock from the porch of the shelter. I stayed for the next hour, talking to some section hikers enjoying the weather and views. I was tempted to stay the night but I knew I would freeze up there at 3,540 feet with my flimsy summerweight fleece bag. I continued another quarter mile to Glasenbury Mountain and climbed the fire tower on the summit. The views on the summit were absolutely spectacular. I stood up there for almost a half hour taking in the views. To the east I could see Mt. Snow, to the north Bromley Mountain. I haven't seen a view like this since the Smokies. As the wind blew, and my appetite grew, I climbed back down and headed on. I stopped at Caughnawaga Shelter and cooked dinner. It was the perfect night for a night hike with a clear moonlight sky, and as the days grow colder and the terrain more challenging, I won't have many chances left. The skies started to grow black, and I turned my flashlight on and hit the trail. The night didn't start with much exciting, just an overlook with city lights twinkling on the horizon and a sky fat with stars. Then the excitement started. Out in the middle of who knows where, my flashlight started to fade, and fade quickly. An hour later, the flashlight failed to give off enough light to see the ground. I turned off the light to give the batteries a few minutes to recuperate. I tried to use the moon to navigate, but the tree cover made this almost impossible. I ended up using my hiking sticks as feelers to find a place in front of me to put my foot. Every now and then I would turn the flashlight back on to get another 30 seconds or so of light until it died
again. With this method I was able to look for white blazes on the tree trunks so I didn't end up in Ohio. This worked well - I was now moving steady at a 1/10 per mile hour not even knowing if I was still on the trail or not. At this point I should reach Maine by the year 2010. Fortunately, something miraculous happened. An hour or two later, I spotted a rectangular shaped object, and as I got closer, I could see it was the shelter! I ended by search for a place. It was another cold night. One of the hikers reported a temperature of 47 degrees at 6 a.m. In a couple of days, I should have my 20 degree bag waiting for me at the post office.—Andy

August 15—Spruce Peak Shelter (Day 125 ~ milepoint 1622.1)
Later that morning I reached the summit of Stratton Mountain. The views from the top were obstructed by haze, but I could still see many of the peaks I saw from Mt. Glastenbury. Wigly showed up when I was talking to the caretakers, and the two of us decided to hike across the ridge to the Stratton Ski Mtn. gondola. We arrived at the bottom and headed to a convenience store for some Ben & Jerry's ice cream (this is their home state). During the back up the lift, we appreciated how effortless the 1,700 foot "climb" back up the mountain was (I think all climbs over 1,500 feet should have a chairlift on the AT!). Also during today's hike I passed the 75% mark on the trail. No signs mark the spot. It's a point on the trail I'm proud to have reached. The skies started to darken this afternoon, with some drizzle here and there. Around 6 pm I made it to Spruce Peak Shelter. The shelter was an enclosed cabin with a sliding wooden door and even a wood stove. It also had a porch which was full of several hikers. That night the rains started and the winds howeled. We smiled knowing we would remain dry. The eight of us had some liquid refreshments that evening, courtesy of Wigly who unbarred the cache he stashed with the other two Vermonsters a coupld days earlier.—Andy

August 16—Zion Episcopal Hostel; Manchester Center, VT (Day 126 ~ milepoint 1624.8)
I didn't get going until 9 a.m. this morning (actually, no one did). The rain was on and off early, then the skies started to clear. The air was very humid this morning as Matt and I headed up the trail. We reached the highway heading into town and met Safari in the parking lot. She was helecoptered off the trail in New York after falling off some rock on the AT and breaking several bones in her face. After several surgeries, she's feeling great and shuttling hikers from the trail into town. We swung by the post office to pick up our maildrops and mail off summer stuff. I kissed my fleece sleeping bag goodbye along with my 19 pound pack as I picked up my 20 degree bag I'll need as the weather cools and the trail climbs in elevation over the next month. We arrived at the hostel that morning to greet several hikers who were just leaving. I headed over to the discount sock store (this tourist town is infested with factory outlet stores) and picked up a pair of socks to replace my wool ones with blown out heels. On my way back, I stopped at the grocery and grabbed myself two giant pizzas and a bag of mixed veggies to throw on top. That afternoon the skies darkened again and wrung out the oppressive humidity to give us some thunderstorms again (locals say it's rained more in the last four days than in all of July and August!). By then, there were five of us watching SPEED on the tv and vcr provided by the church. The tv flickered several times during the storm (the power flickered and the vcr turned off during the bus jumping scene - we were very upset about that!) but only lasted a couple of hours. As I started to finish the second pizza piled an inch deep with veggies, my stomach started to make some funky noises (maybe it's from seeing my first action movie on the trail - I hope so!) I'm hoping I don't explode tonight. By the time we all went to sleep it was midnight.—Andy

August 17—Lost Pond Shelter (Day 127 ~ milepoint 1639.3)
The day was full of angry clouds that looked like they could unleash their fury at any moment. Actually, I was glad; it was an excuse to sleep a little later this morning. Around 8 a.m., Charlie, a strong supporter of the hostel, came by to offer a ride back to the trail in an hour. We threw our stuff together, ate some breakfast, and hoped the black skies wouldn't dump on us as we hit the trail. Charlie came in and chatted with us a little and then we took off. Matt and I started down the trail, but Tom wasn't eager to hike in the on and off thunderstorms that were expected today. He rode back into town. I arrived at the ski patrol hut on the summit of Bromley Mountain to find Matt mowing on some lunch in the comfort of the hut. Approaching the summit, fog rolled in and out, sometimes making it difficult to see the trail right under you. The wind was pretty strong, but it felt great after the long climb to the top. We stayed in the hut for a little, watching low lying clouds sweep across the bottom of the valley. The heavy rains never hit, and the clouds made for a great day of hiking. The mix of sun and rain and 90 degree temps never did come. There were a coupld of overlooks today, with Baker Peak considered one of the best views in the state. I could see Bromley shrouded in clouds, and to the northeast, I could see probably into New Hampshire. I reached the shelter to find one other person here who is out for the week.—Andy

August 18—Minerva Hinchey Shelter (Day 128 ~ milepoint 1653.9)
The weather was superb today. Temperatures were in the low 70's, and there was a nice breeze to keep me cool during some of the climbs. I ran into Spam and Brendle (hikers from Connecticut who are out for several days) at Little Rock Pond. The views of the surrounding terrain was amazing (it's nice to see mountains again after six hundred miles of nothing but views of ridgelines and farmland). Four of us spent the night at the shelter including a southbound LT hiker.—Andy

August 19—Cooper Lodge (Day 129 ~ milepoint 1668.3)
I pulled out of the shelter at 7:30 under clear skies and very cool temps. My first adventure of the day was crossing Clarendon Gorge. The wooden boards on the suspension bridge creaked and groaned as I crossed them, and the bridge swung from side to side. I knew I had nothing to worry about, but all I could think of is falling through and plunging into the gorge below. I enjoyed it so much, I went halfway across again. Early this afternoon, I arrived at Cooper Lodge (no, it's just a shelter with two sets of bunks and the frames of what used to be windows). I set my stuff on the top of one of the bunds and headed a quarter mile straight up to Killington Peak. At 4,235 feet, it's one of Vermont's highest peaks. From the top, I could see New York, Canada, and giant Mt. Washington, NH to the northeast. I ran into Matt who was heading into town that night, and we took some pictures and enjoyed the views. I headed down to the ski area summit lodge and met some mountain bikers who freaked out when I told them I hiked to the top. Their faces turned white when I told them I hiked from Georgia. After taking in the sights, I climbed back down to the shelter. Forrest Fire showed up that evening along with two LT thru-hikers who tented out. The whole western sky lit up with a purple hue. The night is going to be chilly, but fortunately I have my 20 degree bag.—Andy

August 20—Stony Brook Shelter (Day 130 ~ milepoint 1681.8)
Yep, it was cold last night, and there was a nice breeze blowing through the window frames. Getting up was the toughest part. I threw my stuff together and headed out. I passed Maine Junction today, which is the point where the AT leaves the Long Trail and heads toward Katahdin. I arrived at the shelter to find a group of ten thru-hikers known as the Swiss Family spending the night. We were all able to squeeze into the shelter to stay out of the rain that we all knew would hit us that night.—Andy

August 21—The AT House (Day 131 ~ milepoint 1694.9)
Today wasn't the best of days. The rains started at 3 a.m., and continued steady all night. Nobody was anxious to get up, so we all hung around until 9 a.m. Everyone eventually made it out, with no end in sight for the rain. I started to become a little worried as the trail went over several summits. The winds were blowing hard, and the treetops were keeled over at 45 degree angles. My umbrello-matic was wildly turning inside out and spinning like a pinwheel. Everyone thought I was crazy for not wearing a shirt, but the only one I have is cotton, with all my cold weather gear at the post office in Hanover. Except for the summits, I felt fine. We've all been spoiled with the lack of rains during the day (haven't worn my gaiters since New Jersey), so I can't complain. I finally arrived at the road crossing and headed over to Dan's hostel. The four story barn had the top floor cleaned up for sleeping, with plenty of room for the fourteen of us. To pay off our stay (Dan restores churches and steeples), we all pitched in and moved piles of old moulding (from the Church of the President's in Washington D.C.) up a floor. That evening Dan invited us into his home to watch a movie (Cool Hand Luke) and mow down some popcorn. It was a great evening to spend inside hearing the heavy rains pound on the side of the house. Afterwords, we all headed back across the road to the barn and called it a night.—Andy

August 22—Under the White River Bridge (Day 132 ~ milepoint 1707.7)
After catching up on journals and seeing everyone else leave, I finally made it out of the place by 11 a.m. The weather looked threatening, with the forecast calling for afternoon storms. After the first few miles, the skies started to clear, making the views atop the treeless hills better than expected. The day was constant up and downs, with several views of the surrounding farmlands and mountains. The afternoon brought more threats of rain. I reached Thistle Hill Shelter to the sound of thunder and dark skies behind me. I sat there for a few minutes trying to figure out what to do. If I stayed, I would need to get up at 4 a.m. so I would arrived at the post office in Hanover, NH before they closed at noon. If I continued, I would either need to do 25 miles (and get in town well after dark), or find a place to crash in West Hartford, VT (and probably get rained on during the latter part of the hike). I pushed on so I didn't have to wait until Monday to get my maildrop. The thunder continued but moved parallel to me. I arrived in West Hartford and looked for a place to stay. I ended up under the bridge. Three local kids came down during the evening to go tubing on the small section of rapids that flowed underneath. They said they come here often after football practice. They offered me a tube, but I reluctantly said no because it was getting chilly and I'd probably never dry off with the thunderstorms we could hear getting closer.—Andy

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Georgia-North Carolina | North Carolina-Tennessee | Southwest Virginia | Central Virginia | N. Virginia-W. Va.-Maryland
Pennsylvania | New Jersey-New York | Connecticut-Massachusetts | Vermont | New Hampshire | Maine | After the Hike

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