We crossed into Vermont early this morning, after this we will have only 2 more states to go.
Judging from the first day, the forest is beautiful but the trail is tough. We are walking on The Long Trail, the AT splits off after about 160 km but the Long Trail continues up north into Canada. The trail is following the Green Mountains and we are back to those times where you either go UP or you go DOWN. Seems as if no part of the trail is flat.
On top of the climbs and descends, the trail is muddy. Very muddy. The AT map and guide book instructs hikers to not try to avoid the mud and damage vegetation, but to walk THROUGH the mud. The person who wrote that probably walked with leather boots and has no idea what a mess it causes walking through mud with trail runners!
Today we had a target we couldn’t miss. Iceman and Barb set up a trail magic station at 27km from where we camped last night. We calculated that we should arrive by 5pm but was pushing as hard as we could to arrive earlier. We ended up coming to the road crossing at 4pm.
But – no Iceman and Barb…. And ZERO cell reception. We were worried. There is no way that they would have stood us up unless something serious has happened. Our cell reception has been close to non-existent all day; if something went wrong and they were on their way to support their other adopted hiker and they tried to call or message us we wouldn’t have picked up the call/message.
As we were wondering what to do a van with “AT Hiker Supporter” signage arrived. Long story short: Rob, a shuttle driver cum hostel owner cum trail angel came to pick up hikers he is slack packing, and while waiting for the hikers to arrive he opened his doors for hikers to get some trail magic. For once we couldn’t care about trail magic, we needed to get to a phone. We said to Rob (who lives in the general area of the cookie lady in other words 2 days walking from where we are now) that we want to go to Bennington (closest town to the trail from here) so we could get signal and phone our friends. He said hop in I will drop you off in town.
He has pulled out the seats and put a couch in and there were 6 hikers (including us) in the van. We would be dropped off in town and the rest would go home with him.
Driving along the hikers were chatting and introducing ourselves to each other, Spier (a SOBO hiker) hearing we are South Africans said “oh you are the guys the trail magic tent has been set up for”. I almost jumped into his lap. Whaaaat?
The AT crosses the road, then crosses a bridge over a stream 30m from the road. Iceman and Barb set up ghe gazebo at the bridge but we went off the trail into the parking area as that is where we thought we would meet them. We were really stupid to not have a proper look at the cars, then we would have recognised their car. But here we were, well on our way to Bennington.
And this is where wonderful trail magic comes into the story. I said to Rob we have heard our friends are back there at the bridge, what would be the easiest way to get back to the trail head. I was expecting him to tell me there are taxis, or that Uber operates in the area, or to give me the name of a local shuttle driver. But the next moment he turned into a side parking area, made a u-turn and took us right back to where he picked us up. These trail angels are unbelievable. They always do three times more than you can hope for.
Back at the trail head we found the gazebo 50m from where we stood panicking in the parking lot 30 mins ago. A happy reunion with the Martins, and we spent an hour or so chatting (and eating 😀). They then packed up to start their drive southwards, we walked across the bridge and are camping on the other side of the river.
This is a busy road….. Sleeping “in the woods” tonight will be a bit different to the norm!