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words and photos by John Strenio
So I thru hiked the LT this summer with my sister and mom trading off along with me. You’re supposed to keep a journal when you do it to send into the Green Mountain Club, the people that maintain it. Thought maybe someone would find it interesting considering it passes through/by like 15 ski resorts in VT. Kinda long but regardless here it is…
HavenÃ¢ÂÂt started my journal until today, our third day. Started strong from Williamstown and powered up to the southern terminus. After seth warner, we learned that 6 miles is a long distance and were stoked to finish the afternoon at congdon. With the intense pace we originally set we pushed for Melville and finished the climb to it at dark. Day 2 we made it to goddard by early afternoon feeling strong but after skipping kidgore felt killed by story spring. We werenÃ¢ÂÂt done however, we pushed for wardsboro road and again made it by dark. 2 long days done. The AT guys made me realize I could lighten my load and showed me some good and interesting foods I can eat. We got to the road where we met our mom to resupply us and we ended up spending the night at a camp ground with her and her friend Jon, which was a good idea because of today. After a late start today we found that we would not have made it to the Ã¢ÂÂbigelowÃ¢ÂÂ shelter as it does not exist anymore. My 1987 edition of the guide book clearly had been outdated which made sense because all of our distances seemed off. We would have died trying to make it up Stratton after a 20 mile day. We powered up it and realized that it was no hill. The nice caretaker told us we should probably get a new book. We also slowed our pace as our plan was made when we had no idea what Ã¢ÂÂhiking milesÃ¢ÂÂ were compared to Ã¢ÂÂregular milesÃ¢ÂÂ. WeÃ¢ÂÂre spending the night at spruce peak which is super nice and hiking to route 11/30 tomorrow morning early where IÃ¢ÂÂm going to get hopefully a new guide book from mom and construct a new game plan. Theresa, who has been super tough and enduring ankle pain since the start of day two is going to try to rest it for a few days while mom fills in. Our moto has been Ã¢ÂÂpositive and flexibleÃ¢ÂÂ.
Day 4 started good. After a long night of heavy rain in the amazing spruce peak lodge, Theresa and I headed down to the road where we met mom and Jon. They fed us which was awesome and then Theresa packed up her pack for mom, gave me a high five, and headed out with Jon to rest her ankle for a few days. With our new guide book mom and I did work summiting bromley then styles back to back. After peru we headed down into the valley and took a long hike up to baker peak which was very pretty despite the small climb. We continued rolling through the woods until we finally got to big branch. So pretty! It was packed though so we toughed it out a few more miles past lula tye shelter to lost pond which was a big surprise even though we knew it was coming. The caretaker was very nice and itÃ¢ÂÂs been a mellow evening so far. Over 22 miles today. Going to governor clement camp tomorrow!
We made it to cooper lodge on killington! Today started really poorly with my blisters getting uncontrollably gnarly. We woke up at 6 and were hiking by 7. The mosquitoesÃÂ sucked last night and I sweated my ass off, also had some crazy dreams because of the constant wake ups. Got to clarendon shelter by 3 and my feet were throbbing. Blisters the size of quarters and one that wrapped around my toe a few mmÃ¢ÂÂs off the skin. We re-mole skinned, I doubled up on socks and took some advil. Mom kept up all day with a slower but strong pace. Got some soda and decided to push it past governor clement, which creeped me out, all the way for killy. Hiked like 13 hours today and 23.5 miles. Hope these blisters keep feeling alright or go away. Meeting up with Theresa and Jon tomorrow to re-up on food. I think IÃ¢ÂÂll sleep well tonight because were high up on a mountain which means less bugs and less sweat but you never know! O and mom started getting blisters but pushed through because, like Theresa, sheÃ¢ÂÂs tough.
Today went by quick and was pretty uneventful. Came down from cooper taking our time, pretty cool alpine area. Filled our water and waited for Theresa and Jon. They came early because weÃ¢ÂÂve been killing it on time but we still had to wait a little while. Theresa subbed back in and was feeling good and we resupplied heavy with all the foods the AT guys have been recommending which is awesome. Sucks to be weighed down though. Mom and Jon hiked with us up to the road just before rolston rest which looked sick. Passed some more LT thru hikers which I forgot to mention we broke off from the AT which was pretty exciting! Powered at 5pm from there to david logan which is pretty nice and we met a few cool guys. It was a long 8 miles especially starting at 5pm and I got kinda grumpy (because of the weight I think and the lack of water because for the first time, I ran completely out of water which IÃ¢ÂÂve been tryingto always have an emergency Liter but hiking with mom we never needed to refill because she doesnÃ¢ÂÂt drink as much water! Full day tomorrow and middlebury! Chittenden reservoir was pretty but no epic vistas, o well and Lincoln gap the next day, NORTHERN VT! YES!
Today started good, had an early start and mellow morning. Hit Brandon gap and sent it up Horrid which was intense. We got some great ridge walking in which was super fun though I didnÃ¢ÂÂt resupply us with water so we were dying the whole time. Got down to sucker brook which took a while then the rain started. My boots are soaked, it was light at first then picked up. We kept strong over wentworth then came down middlebury ski bowl really wet. We got to the bottom, ate some food then started ripping for boyce which was our goal for the day (putting us at 20.2 miles). The start out of the gap was real steep and it didnÃ¢ÂÂt get much easier. We passed burnt hill without realizing itÃ¢ÂÂs the half way marker! On day 7! Finally made it to boyce where buddy kind was staying who we had been seeing in the register and after many reassurances by Theresa that she was feeling good, we pushed for an extra 2 miles to skyline lodge. ItÃ¢ÂÂs nice here and ThereÃ¢ÂÂs a cool pond but itÃ¢ÂÂs pouring and everything is soaked. Gah!
Woke up this morning and everything was still wetÃ¢ÂÂ¦ including my boots, my socks and literally all my clothes. Theresa was nice enough to let me borrow her short shorts last night which I had to give back this morning. It was still misting a little but it didnÃ¢ÂÂt matter we were drenched. We hiked to Emily procotor, miserable to cooly glenÃ¢ÂÂ¦ and were just as miserable all the way to the road, 12.7 miles later where we met mom for her B-day. We went into Bristol where we got pizza and dried our clothes/boots at a Laundromat. We took our time but after eating drying, and resupplying we told Theresa and jon weÃ¢ÂÂd see them in smuggÃ¢ÂÂs notch in 3 days and ripped the 2 miles up to battle lodge getting here 8:30ish, itÃ¢ÂÂs packed but weÃ¢ÂÂll be out early. I NEED the weather to be good.
Today started pretty good, got an early start and got to walk along Lincoln which was cool to see the tops of all the ski lifts. MomÃ¢ÂÂs backpack was giving her a little bit of trouble because itÃ¢ÂÂs so old but we managed to fix it. We got an early start but also a slow one. ItÃ¢ÂÂs so muddy and puddly up there that it takes forever to get around everything.. After finishing Lincoln we stopped in the parking lot momentarily where Juice boxÃ¢ÂÂs parents were waiting with a food drop for him. We headed back into the woods and after a few hours and passing a few groups of hikers, made it to cowleÃ¢ÂÂs cove. Met Cambridge, he was a cool guy, then after refueling we pushed for Mont Clair Glen lodge though we were sure it would rain all over us. It was slow moving again because of the difficult terrain and we were tired (my knees were sore from all the downhill) and we ended up hiking into the night for about 45 minutes before we got to the lodge. The cloudy weather made it seem darker then it was. Mom was real tired but we made it and ate lots and are ready for the hump tomorrow.
Day 10! Woke up at mont clair which was a super nice place to stay and found that the other people there were 2 girls thru hiking north as well, the first all girl team we had met. We filled our water and headed to camelÃ¢ÂÂs hump which was only 2 miles to the summit. What they say about the south side is true. ItÃ¢ÂÂs tough. We moved really slow and once we got to the summit it was socked in with clouds but it was still cool to be up there. The hike down also was slow and LONG and it killed my knees with the extra weight of my bag and the constant pounding. We got to the road which I was looking forward to and I enjoyed walking along the Winooski river since I live near itÃ¢ÂÂs outlet into the lake. We crossed it at the Jonesville bridge which is super fun to jump off though I didnÃ¢ÂÂt even though I stink because I donÃ¢ÂÂt have a change of clothes. But they did put up a new rope swing there which is sweet! The hike up to Buchanan shelter was actually less enjoyable and difficult then I expected but we talked to pass the time and for the first night inÃÂ a while we got into camp and had time to chill. MomÃ¢ÂÂs tired but tough and weÃ¢ÂÂre waking up early tomorrow so we can make it to smuggÃ¢ÂÂs notch, Home Turf! O and it didnÃ¢ÂÂt rain!! The weather was nice althoughÃÂ I heard it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt in Burlington. Hope itÃ¢ÂÂs nice tomorrow! Got a solid day of hiking.
A lot has happened since I last wrote. IÃ¢ÂÂm already north of Johnson and the Lamoille river. Yesterday sucked, me and mom were going real slow and the day started out real wet. I didnÃ¢ÂÂt make it to sterling pond and I kinda freaked out on her when she asked if I was feeling alright. IÃ¢ÂÂm just getting tired and was frustrated that she had held me back but it actually worked out for the best and we both kinda felt bad. She knew she was slowing me down and with the wet boots I was wearing It was a bad combo. Regardless, Mansfield was sick. I figured since IÃ¢ÂÂve seen it before it wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt excite me but it was awesome! And one of the caretakers on top was a girl I went to highschool with. WeÃ¢ÂÂve gotten some good photos this trip. When we get to the notch Jon and Theresa met us and resupplied us and since it was so late I agreed to spend the night at an inn which was pretty crazy. TheresaÃ¢ÂÂ track coach is dying and heÃ¢ÂÂs my ageÃ¢ÂÂ¦ so since she has to go to some thing on Monday (tomorrow, day 13) I decided to go this section alone. Caught a ride early this morning by a guy named Matt who was a big meatheads films fan and brought me to the base of the notch where he worked at the stowe lodge. After an akward morning hike alone in the clouds and fog I was at the sterling warming hut and it was still only 8:30 am. It was super nice and there was even a couch suspended from the rafters hanging. Ate a big breakfast then reluctantly headed back out into the wet and cold. Made it up Madonna and over to whiteface in no time and on the way down the backside it finally let loose and poured. Though by the time I made it to bear hollow it was super sunny out! Out of boredom I actually played the whole fast and the Furious 3 tokyo drift movie in my head which was actually pretty entertaining and when I got to bear hollow I met a team of two Sobo girls and a dad perhaps? They were ambitious and psyched. DidnÃ¢ÂÂt think IÃ¢ÂÂd see anyone today but IÃ¢ÂÂve been seeing lots of people. From there it was a super easy hike to the Lamoille and the new bridge so no road walking! Just some rail trail, a field and a graveyard. Made such good time I sat out on Prospect rock for a while and let my socks and boots dry then made the last little push for round top shelter. ItÃ¢ÂÂs been SO buggy and IÃ¢ÂÂm pumped Theresa gave me her bug bivy. Camping food for 1 is also awesome and easy to carry. Ate lots of pasta and IÃ¢ÂÂm a little nervous for tomorrow. 23 miles to tillotson. IÃ¢ÂÂve done it before but IÃ¢ÂÂm still real nervous to do it alone. After that a mellow day to Jay camp where I meet Theresa and then just 11.5 to the END!
It was a good day today! Made it to Tillotson, 23.1! actually wasnÃ¢ÂÂt too bad, fairly dry and I saw way more people then I expected, I passed 8 nobo thru hikers! Many of which are staying here tonight and itÃ¢ÂÂs a little crowdedÃ¢ÂÂ¦ psyched to meet Theresa tomorrow. Supposed to be nice I guess so IÃ¢ÂÂm gunna see if Theresa wants to send it over Jay for a nice view and an even easier last day. Just enjoying the view now.
Had a good mellow day today. Forgot to pack enough oatmeal so I just ate leftover granola and crushed up butterfinger and was hungry but after a long mid morning breakfast break and a talk with another Nobo, I headed off to finish another light day. Passed an old naked hiker guy and had a laugh about it with a couple who was nobo as well. Tons of thru hikers up here! Sat in the 242 crossing parking lot for 4 hours with the horse flies, waiting for Mom, Jon, and Theresa but it was worth it for the food and I got to meet a cool old guy from tenesse who was sobo named Hopeful. We all did Jay together and it was pretty mellow. Made it to camp okay too, nice little shelter. Had a nice sunset from atop Jay and psyched to be 8.7 from the border!
So IÃ¢ÂÂm done now, in the car driving back to Burlington, it was an easy day just from Laura Woodward, not much to say, it was tough but not too bad. Thankful for all the help and support I got. Looking back I feel like itÃ¢ÂÂs something I couldnÃ¢ÂÂt have accomplished but I did. Back to reality, for now! Thanks for the trail.
-Brother John (trail name)
See LJ in ski, jump, and jib in Meathead Films “Wild Stallions” this Fall