Total Miles: 120.9
Surprise! Apparently the temptation of dragging oneself through mud and over rocks for a few days was too hard to resist for at least one person. Well, now you’ll know the face of the person who was just crazy enough to come and join us for the next 60 miles of that kind of fun: our friend Jesse Surprise. Add on the not insignificant detail that this is also his first big backpacking trip, and how can you not love this guy?
We’d met up with Jesse the evening before, settling in to dinner and drinks steps from the intimate stage of the Inn’s pub where a duo plucked away at Irish music. Rising this morning, we sipped coffee and waited for the Inn’s restaurant to open for breakfast. An hour later, we had stepped off the blacktop of the parking lot and back onto our home of dirt and stone.
Only a mile into the day, we had reached a wide clearing in the trees where several paths converged. Known as “Maine Junction”, this little intersection in the woods marks a parting of the ways. Despite existing in unison the last 104 miles, it’s here that the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail finally go their separate ways: the Appalachian Trail turning east to New Hampshire and Maine; the Long Trail continuing north to Canada.
Here the main herd heads one way, while we head another. The path less traveled. No sooner did we set off, we crossed paths with three hikers heading southbound who would ultimately be the only other people we would see all day.
With only a pocket view of Chittenden Reservoir far below to speak of, the day was less about highlights than it was about getting up close with the leafy forests that the trail traversed. Leaves fluttered in a merciful breeze, making this sound that mimicked raindrops falling on the canopy, so much so that it was difficult to tell the difference.
A brief thundershower blew through in the mid-afternoon, which did little to sap the humidity from the air. We pitched a tarp over the trail to ride it out, and before long the thunder had rolled past as had the rain. Not enough to puddle on the trail, but it had the effect of making every piece of the forest floor look as though it had been sprayed by a sprinkler.
A handful of miles later, we’d found our home for the night at a narrow saddle where the trail is intersected by a broader snowmobile trail that made it perfect for tenting. The mists had drifted past in a soft breeze that we wished would quicken to take the bugs with it. Best of all, Jesse had taken the entire day in stride and had aced the longest dayhike of his life, with flying colors at that.