Yesterday we set out to hike from David Logan Shelter to Sucker Brook Shelter. It was a beautiful day. We slack packed 12 miles the day before from the Inn at the Long Trail and spent a second night at the Inn. They serve a very scrumptious and filling breakfast that I highly recommend stopping for breakfast!
Because we had slack packed the day before, we had to hike in to the David Logan shelter via the New Boston Trail. Because of this, I had forgotten that this would add an additional 1.2 miles of uphill hiking to the days already planned 11.9 miles. Yikes! We also were putting on our full packs for the first time in 5 days and they were fully loaded for four days out. We were feeling mighty heavy!
We huffed and panted the 1.2 miles up the side trail to reach the Long Trail. At this point I decided to lose some poundage and emptied a liter of water from each of our water bladders. I also insisted that we each eat a protein bar. Eating a bar gave us the mentality that we felt a bit lighter. But as we stood reading the mileage of 6.3 miles to Sunrise shelter, we both knew we had a HARD hike ahead of us. After the 6.3 miles we would hike another 5 miles, which included a steady STEEP climb up Mt Horrid. The time was 9:30 am.
This section of the trail really gives hikers a sense of the ruggedness that the LT has to offer. It’s a gentle version of constant ups and downs and walking on narrow trail edges. All this launched my left knee in to a painful soreness that began to intensify. Carl began complaining of aching feet. We cheered each other onward. We still had many miles to go before we could sleep!
Our mission today was to steadily hike and catch up with my friend Susan (Cat Bird), a solo LT hiker who had planned to hike with us for today and tomorow. She had hiked in and stayed at the David Logan Shelter the night before and left us a note stating she started hiking 45 minute before us. We hoped to meet up at Sunrise Shelter for lunch.
After about two and a half hours a SOBO (south bound) hiker passed and said he had seen Cat Bird while he stopped for lunch at Bloodroot Gap. He also thought the shelter was about an hour away. This all sounded promising. We would soon get to the Shelter, catchup with Cat Bird and rest our feet.
As we hiked on, our aches intensified. It was about 12 pm. Carl began to worry about being able to hike the steep one mile up Mt Horrid. I was concerned as well. This was becoming a long day. We had hiked 12 plus miles each of the past two days, and I think it was beginning to take a toll on our feet, legs, and definitely my left knee.
Carl asked if there was any way we could take a day or two off? He said it was the first time since we started hiking the Long Trail that he had lost the energy to keep his legs moving. I thought for a second and realized I was having the same problem. We were going to cross Rt 73, Brandon Gap, after hiking 8.4 miles. Then we would have to hike another 5 miles to reach our evening destination at Sucker Brook Shelter. This was too much to ask of our legs today. It was now 12:30.
I turned on my cell phone. No service. I said to Carl, we will call Gema (my mom) who lives in Brandon and have her pick us up at Brandon Gap. This put a sparkle in Carl’s eyes! We hiked on waiting to see if we could get any cell service to call her.
We finally made it to Bloodroot Gap. The half way point to Sunrise Shelter. This is a partially open area where the trail crosses a snowmobile trail. I was getting a cell signal! My mom picked up in 4 rings and was VERY excited to hear from us. She had a 3 pm appointment but would be able to pick us up around 4:15 at the Gap parking area. We were mighty happy! My mom has a swimming pool and that was just the therapy we needed for our aching legs and feet.
Now we needed to finish our mission to catch up with Cat Bird to let her know we would not continue on with her to Sucker Brook shelter tonight.
We hiked another 2 hours and finally reached Sunrise shelter at 2:30 pm. Cat Bird was there. She took a look at us and said you two don’t look so good. We confirmed that we were not having a the best of hiking days and had made arrangements to be picked up in .9 miles at Brandon Gap. She said she would continue on without us and wished us a fun evening with my mom and she quickly headed off.
Now that we finally made it to the shelter, we were starved! With only .9 miles and 2 hours until our ride would arrive, we decided to cook a hefty lunch. Yum! We ate pretzels as we happily cooked Romen noodles with dehydrated veggies. We ate it all! Plus a Three Musketeers Bar.
With our bellies full, we happily bounced down the trail to meet my mom. We paused at a lookout towards Mt Horrid. Carl’s eye were huge as he looked at the high rocks and then breathed a HUGE sigh of relief knowing we would hike to the cliffs another day.
As we left the wooded trail and stepped foot on to the pavement, a white car glowed as it crested the high point in the road of Brandon Gap. It was the gallant arrival of the “Trail Fairy” who during my 1997 LT thru hike followed me via side roads for the entire length of Vermont to bring me supplies and to take care of me. It was my mom with a huge sparkling smile and warm hug as she came to save us from our trail pains. It was comforting to have the Trail Fairy back on the trail with me again.
We swam in the cool pool, filled our bellies with fresh produce from mom’s garden and after she drove us to meet Jonathan in Bristol, she spoiled us with ice cream. We could never be happier! Mom, you are the best!
It is now time for Carl and I to take a few zero days to let our legs (especially my left knee) rest. We plan to get back on the trail Thursday (8/15/13) and hike from Brandon Gap to Lincoln Gap by Saturday evening (8/17/13).