Today, was about an 18 mile hike to get near Bennington, Vermont. That’s right, Vermont. Due to normal trail conditions, this State is known as Vermud on the AT. I have no idea what is in store for me, but I never do and I embrace the uncertainty and diversity. It was 80 degrees first thing this morning and on the way to triple digits again.
In addition to starting a new State, I crossed 1600 miles before lunch.
The first half of the day was climbing to the top of a mountain. There was a good stretch that was literally straight up climbing. I was so sweat soaked from head to toe. It has been a while since I had to breath so hard. It was challenging and exciting at the same time. Other thru hikers were handling the conditions just as I was. We would take a few breaks together and look after each other and make sure everyone was ok and enjoy some human contact. I have been seeing a small number of the same thru hikers for the last few weeks. On the trail, this is called your tramily or trail family. These are the people you see, you laugh with, talk with, cheer up or be cheered up by and if something bad happens, these are the people who one will save or be saved by.
I got to the top and took a break to catch my breath and hydrate. At the same time I was thinking how much I am going to miss spending the 4th of July with my girlfriend, cooking food and watching fireworks from my balcony. I was also thinking about my other family members and relatives and what they have going on.
Passed by some very scenic bever ponds today. Got water from one of them, it was full of leeches.
Somewhere along the line, which I do not recall, I got a good gash on my left lower leg. Must have got caught on a rock. I must have been focusing on priorities like footing to even notice. I cleaned it up, put antibiotic on it, some gauze and tape. It will be fine.
Then at the end of the day, had to go down the mountain. It was a series of steep descents virtually on a cliff face. It ranks as one of the toughest, steepest and dangerous descents on the AT yet. Met a local who said he has taken people to the hospital with major facial damage, compound fractures of the arm and so on. I was glad it was not raining on the descent. Pictures cannot do justice to some of the terrain.
Today was the first day of biting flies. Several got me. Also, the gnats are getting bad and it really is not fun when they fly into your eyes on purpose, when you are trying to be careful with footing.
I am still having a blast and the time of my life. I am a different person now because of this experience. I will discuss more on this later.