During the course of this AT hike, my general attitude has fluctuated almost as much as the elevations on the trail. I’ve hiked with enthusiasm and excitement at times. At others I’ve walked with sadness or melancholia. Occasionally I’ve hiked with anger and despair. Yesterday I hiked happy. Today I simply walked with indifference. What little variety the trail offered seemed of little interest on another very hot, humid, uncomfortable day. The weather and bugs make it impossible to truly enjoy the sites along the way. As I write this in the early evening, the temperature outside is still 91. I thought Vermont was supposed to be cool.
There were a few highlights on a tiring 14.8 mile day. Early in the hike we passed another beautiful lake in a picturesque setting. Once again I thought of Don as I gazed into the calm, soothing water. I even took a pic and sent it to Brent in a text. He commented that the fish would certainly be biting. A canoe next to the pond indicated that someone surely had been paddling around. It possibly belonged to the caretaker of the nearby shelter. Spoon, who had stayed at the shelter last night, told me the caretaker hadn’t been in the area the previous evening.
Most noteworthy among today’s highlights were two areas that consisted of some rock artwork. Numerous rock structures of various shapes and sizes have been erected adjacent to the trail. Spoon commented that he wondered if some art students had been assigned the task of constructing the sculptures. I imagine that hikers have been contributing to the gallery, so I took a little time to create my own tiny masterpiece. Spoon was so captivated by the artifices in the middle of the forest that he shot some video. Banzai, Pilgrim, and I also lingered in the area for quite some time, honestly fascinated with all the varying creations.
Eventually we hiked on to VT 140 where we took a lunch break. Spoon joined our band for the meal. I walked down to a stream near the road to wash my face and hands. The cool water felt refreshing on the blistering day. I was always grateful for the occasional breeze that temporarily supplanted the heat. Unfortunately, the wind was often short-lived. Still I appreciated the brief respites. I always offer up a prayer of thanksgiving when they occur.
After lunch we were faced with a 1100 foot climb up and over Bear Mountain. This is the third Bear Mountain we have encountered. New York and Connecticut each have one as well. Were it not for the heat, this climb would have proven rather insignificant. With the heat it was tough. I stopped often to drink and at one point almost was walking in place. When we crested the mountain and started down the other side, we took one final brief break at the Minerva Hinchley Shelter. While there Banzai noticed a posted message on the wall offering rides to hikers needing to go into Rutland. I put the number in my phone before we resumed the hike.
The final highlight of the day occurred on a rock outcrop with a view of the Rutland Airport. From there I called the ride number. Tom said he would meet us at the road in half an hour. On the descent over soft, minced pine straw, with an occasional slick rock blended in, Pilgrim fell twice. There’s always a potential fall around every corner on the AT. After we crossed Clarendon Gorge over a suspension bridge, we easily made our way to the parking lot. Tom arrived a couple of minutes later.
We drove into Rutland, got two rooms, cleaned up, and went out for a good meal. Tomorrow our plans take a new turn as we will have a full time support person for a few days. Banzai’s brother drove up from Virginia today to lend a hand. With a car at our disposal we will have more options for better planning where to end each day. Cooler weather is also in the forecast, so with better hiking conditions, light packs, a car for shuttling, and a team, all looks positive for further advancement up the Appalachian Trail.