VERMONT, THE VERMONSTER, PART II

Greenwall Shelter, VT to Velvet Rocks, NH
Miles 1,665-1,750

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So there I was, hanging like a koala bear, upside down on a log, with a death grip, above the torrent of a creek. Right, I think, as this is exactly the way I want my morning to unfold. Just seconds earlier, Legend had walked across the log as if it was a easiest thing in the world. He even turned back and smiled. And yet despite my better judgment, and despite the fact that I’m afraid of heights, and despite that I’ve never been good at walking across logs and I’m much better at butt-scooting across logs, I decided to charge across anyway.

I made it only a few feet before I froze, the cold, frigid water passing fast beneath. I started to wobble, then shake, and we all know what would happen next. It happened quick, as if I was a natural at dismounting wobbly log crossings. Almost as if I was about to jump onto the back of a horse, my legs parted and dropped down onto the log. Thank goodness I’m not a man I’d later think, and I grabbed the log with my hands, trekking poles still miraculously clutched in my right hand. Gravity then led me down yonder, right around the merry go round. Now I was hanging upside down above the creek, like a koala bear. I panicked at first, unsure of the next step. Legend had jumped into the water, now standing just above me, reaching his arm toward me and after instinctively accepting it, I was hanging beneath the log, now with three appendages, and ultimately there was only one thing to do.

Now, I’ve always been good at Yoga. It’s come in handy many times while hiking, including crossing this creek. So, I embraced my inner yogi, and lowered my left leg steadily into the water as if in “dancer pose,” except for instead of being in a 90-degree heated room, and gently bending backward, I was performing “dancer” upside down, while holding onto a log, and above a cold, frigid creek.

I got lucky. It all worked out, despite my feet being wet, and now crusting over with ice. I offered to buy Legend a beer at the next town. Oh Vermont… the Vermonster… what else would you chuck at me…

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I failed to mention that a couple days before, prior to the whole getting sick ordeal, I took many a tumble in the ol’ Ver-mud. One slide looked like I was Michael Jackson, one of those uncomfortable looking splits. Yes, it is uncomfortable, especially down a steep trail of mud. The second tumble was moments later, when I slid so far down the mud, that I tumbled right off the trail and kept rolling. I grabbed a small rock and held on, laughing afterward.

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Ah Vermont… besides tumbles, sickness and navigating creeks, Vermont leads hikers through thick forest that can be quite beautiful at times, and at other times you yearn for a view. Especially if there’s good weather. Like the day up the long ascent to Killington Peak. The Appalachian Trail takes hikers right beneath the summit, and I craved a view, so much I headed up the very icy, and very steep quarter mile side trail. It was a beautiful view, but it was very cold, and it made me remember that I’m not a peak bagger. Personally, I like the occassional summit here and there, but I prefer ridgelines and open country more than forest and perpetual ups and downs.

After Killington, and after a long day, I was grateful that a friend of a friend bought me a room in Killington. After the last number days being cold wet and long it was nice to just relax on a bed and to warm my body in a hot shower. Thank you Deb for helping me get out of the cold, and thank you Legend for running, literally, to the store minutes before it closed.

I was pretty proud of myself to realize that I wouldn’t make it to town before the store close, and that Legend on the other hand would. I called him to phone in a beer and food order as there is no better way, in my opinion, to enjoy a night inside a heated room with a heated shower that to have a fine beverage and a good meal.

The next day Legend got ahead of me a good solid 10 miles. It was an easy enough day, but I was tired and got right to bed it was a warm night and the rain pattern against the roof was very soothing. Amazingly I slept straight till 7 a.m. one of the best night to sleep on the trail . The next day the trail continued to rise and fall and soon enough, the Vermonster was history.

4 thoughts on “VERMONT, THE VERMONSTER, PART II

  1. You just continue to amaze me, post after post. Your ability to handle the elements of the weather more than anything! Every story you write just leaves me wanting to go for a thru hike too. The section hikes are great, but there is something really special about going from Springer to Katahdin. Right now, I live just 45 min. from Springer and every time I stand under the arch, I think about what it must feel like to step off and go for the gold! So glad you are letting me share this hike with you. Can’t wait to follow you every step this year. You truly deserve the trail name of Speed Stick as your pace is unbelievable. What a special part of your life this journey is going to be! Keep up the good hiking ethic and know that you are never alone on that trail. I am sure I am not the only one hiking with you in spirit! –

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