Blue Eyes, a pretty section hiking physics teacher from Minnesota, told me last night at the Green Mountain House that I needed to hike happy. She suggested I take more time to essentially “stop and smell the roses.” Or according to AT lingo, sit and enjoy the view whenever one occurs. Banzai doesn’t like to do “extra credit.” Blue Eyes thinks we always should. Today I tried to remember what my new friend said. I hiked happy, or at least I tried to. My newfound positive attitude carried me through a moderately challenging 17.8 mile day.
After a quick stop for breakfast, Jeff shuttled Banzai, Pilgrim, and me back to the trailhead off VT 11 at 7:00. One of two major highlights of the day occurred during the first three miles. The trail travels up a ski slope on Bromley Mountain, with supposedly a view of five states from the tower at the top. The morning was reasonably clear; however, I wasn’t sure which distant mountains were in which states. Remembering what Blue Eyes had advised me, I did take some time to actually “play around” on top. I walked out on the gondola platform for some pics and spent some time talking with Jamie and Marcia, section hikers from Tennessee. Banzai eventually informed me that it was time to continue the hike.
A little over two miles later we reached Mad Tom Notch. No one seemed to know who Mad Tom was, so I decided I would equate him to Pilgrim in song. The tune is to “Big John.”
He stood 5 foot 10, weighed 135;
Had to change his plan, just to stay alive, Mad Tom
Came from California across the great divide
To hike the AT before he died, Mad Tom. Mad Tom, Mad Tom, Old Mad Tom. Pilgrim seemed to be a good sport about my unpoetic drivel. It sometimes amazes me to think of the depths to which we have sunk to find ways to entertain ourselves on a hot, humid, sweaty nine hour day of hiking. Mad Tom?
The next view of the day at Styles Peak required a climb of about five feet. It took me approximately 20 seconds. When I tried to persuade my buddies to join me on the outcrop, both opted to remain on their perches below. I fear that Pilgrim may be adopting the “no extra credit” philosophy as well. As for me, I was hiking happy, and getting some nice pictures to share with friends. While the morning passed into afternoon I continued to embrace the “hike happy” theory. It reminded me somewhat of “serenity now.” I hope the final results are more positive.
A final spectacular section of trail greeted us at Baker Peak. Although the elevation was lower, the gorgeously clear views were the best since Race Mountain in Connecticut, at least according to this happy hiker. Northbound thru hiker Spoon had been hiking with or around us all day. On the slanted jagged rocks of Baker Peak I followed him and Banzai to the top. Pilgrim followed. Again I took my time to just enjoy and appreciate. With the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the not too distant future, I was actually glad to have a mildly technical section for practice. Exhilaration describes the fifteen minute ascent well. I was grateful it wasn’t raining. That would have definitely been a dangerous climb in wet conditions.
During the final five miles of the day, the trail passed three shelters, two of which were directly on the AT. We took a short break at Lost Pond Shelter. At Big Branch Shelter I remembered the night Alton, Ponder, and I stayed there on a section hike. The gushing stream in front of the shelter made for some good sleeping. I had wanted to continue hiking happy by taking off my shoes for a soak; however, since we only had a mile to the road and a ride, I kept going. Sorry, Blue Eyes.
When Pilgrim and I reached Danby-Landgrove Rd., Banzai was already at the SUV talking with Jeff. We had picked up some soft drink trail magic just prior to the road, so once again, I enjoyed an ice cold Mountain Dew on the trip back to Manchester Center and the Green Mountain House hostel. On the way Jeff stopped for us to pick up some groceries. I purchased the ingredients for spaghetti and cooked up a pot for the group. We invited southbounder Rooster to join us. After supper I just relaxed, anticipating another “hike happy” day tomorrow as I work my way through Vermont on the Appalachian Trail.