Thursday October 1, 17.5mi/28.2km

Hazens Notch Shelter (253.6/2064ft) to Journeys End Cabin (270.6/1683ft) (VT) + 0.5mi Journeys End Trail

We got up at 6:15, and were walking down the trail at 7am.

It was a dry, crisp morning, and after an hour we reached the summit of Buchanan Mt. Unsurprisingly, it was again viewless.

However, a few minutes later we came to Chet’s Lookout, a ladder up to a boulder for a view.

We hiked on, and the next little summit was one of my favorite mountain names, Domeys Dome.

The ridgewalk ended on a shorter bump, Gilpin South Peak.

The descent to Jay Pass was steep, and I (and my knees) was relieved to be at the road.

The climb up to Jay Peak was long, but not steep, and generally a nice trail.

This was a very persistent tree, growing against gravity, ha!

We emerged at the Jay Peak treeline, and crossed a ski trail.

Another 10 minutes of rocky uphill, and we were on the summit.

The summit benchmark.

Looking south:

More views:

Group summit photo!

The view from the top of the ski gondola:

We ate lunch on top of the summit, in a spot sheltered from the wind under some krummholz trees. It was cold, so we ate quickly, and descended down the mountain. The views were pretty good.

We hiked over Doll Peak, a short 3300ft summit on the ridgeline. The trail was very moist and green.

The trail can’t seem to avoid unnecessary bumps on the ridgeline, so we climbed Burnt Mountain too.

We crossed our last road, and the sun came out more strongly.

Only an hour to the Canadian Border and the finish!

The trail was very nice and smooth for the last bit.

We climbed out last summit, Carleton Mountain. The lookout side-trail wasn’t worth it.

We passed a fun sign that I didn’t expect, the 45 degrees North Latitude sign.

A few minutes later, we made it to the finish!

We walked the few steps to the border clearing, where the forest is “shaved” off at the international border. The thin line is visible in the left side of the photo.

Mark contemplating the universe.

We ducked back into the woods, and hiked the half mile to the final shelter.

Journeys End Camp was a nice 8-person cabin, we arrived at 5:30pm. Long day!

We met the cabin’s other two occupants, a duo of SOBO girls from Vermont, just starting their journey. After a filling dinner, I fell asleep easily in my cozy quilt.

Wednesday September 30, 13.6mi/21.9km

Spruce Ledge Camp (240.0/1516ft) to Hazens Notch Shelter (253.6/2064ft) (VT)

We left the shelter a little later, to wait out the rain. By the time we left at 7:45am, it had slowed to a sprinkle.

10 minutes later, we came to Devils Gulch, a boulder-strewn crevice at the bottom of the mountain.

One of the rocks created a little tunnel, it reminded me of Mahoosuc Notch on the AT.

We walked all morning in the wet flooded trail. Mark is showing off his clothing system for wet days.

The fall colors were really on display today.

Some places the trail was a little overgrown.

We skipped the short side trail to the firetower on Belvidere Mountain, as it was still lightly raining and foggy. We hiked down to Lockwood Pond, a beaver creation.

We are lunch at Tillotson Shelter, as it was still a little wet outside. We met two SOBOs who were just leaving, getting a very late start to the day.

After lunch, the rain had stopped completely, though the trail was extremely wet.

We hiked up to the top of Haystack Mountain, and by now the clouds had started to clear out.

This is my summit face.

The view to the south was pretty good too.

We hiked down very steeply to Hazens Notch, and I took a short break at the road.

We hiked the final 1.5mi uphill to the shelter, and found it empty.

An hour later, a woman from Alaska showed up, she was very friendly, and interesting to talk with. We had another fun social evening, and went to bed at 8pm.

Tuesday September 29, 17.0mi/27.4km

Prospect Rock (223.0/1020ft) to Spruce Ledge Camp (240.0/1516ft) (VT)

We packed up camp early, aiming to make it to a shelter before the forecasted rain started at 4pm this afternoon.

It was a nice morning for walking, and in an hour we reached the viewless summit of Roundtop.

A mile later, we took a break for 2nd breakfast at Roundtop Shelter. We met the caretaker, Howard, who was an older gentleman with a very interesting and varied life.

After 30 minutes of food and caffeine, it was time to move on. The next stretch of trail was riddler with maple syrup lines, which was fascinating to me.

We hiked up to Laraway Mountain, a long sustained climb, though not steep. Near the top was a neat cliff formation that we followed under for awhile.

Laraway Mt had a viewpoint that looked to the south.

And looking east:

The actual summit was viewless, but I took a photo anyway, ha!

We descended the 2.5 miles from the summit to Corliss shelter very quickly on a nice smooth trail. It was 12:20, a perfect time to stop for lunch.

The next climb was up Butternut Mountain, a short steep half mile climb. Another viewless summit!

At least the trail coming down the mountain was nice.

We stopped to fill our water bottles a few miles before our intended camp, being unsure if that source was dry.

I’m not sure why I took this photo, but I like the colors.

We climbed up to another ridge, and the forecasted storm was starting to move in, as the cloud ceiling dropped.

It was a foggy descent to Spruce Ledge Camp, and we made it to the shelter just after 4pm. It had a nice view spot with a bench!

We met the 5 other people we would be sharing the shelter with, and had a fun social evening at dinner. I went to bed at 8pm, in a nice dry shelter.

Monday September 28, 18.4mi/29.6km

Taft Lodge (204.6/3609ft) to Prospect Rock (223.0/1020ft) (VT)

We departed the lodge just before 7am and hiked down the 2000ft to the road and Smuggler’s Notch. The bottom of the valley was in full color, and the low clouds obscured the ridgetops.

The trail re-climbed the other side, sometimes steeply. These stairs were a fun shape to behold.

It was a wet morning, with intermittent rainfall alternating with blowing mist.

The puncheon boardwalks were a nice break from the usual rocks and roots.

The trail joined a ski trail near Sterling Pond, this verbose sign was kind of hilarious.

We stopped in Sterling Shelter for an early lunch break, and to get out of the rain. Rachel, another NOBO, was there too. We ate while watching the heaviest of the rain fall down. After lunch we climbed Madonna Peak. No views up there!

The descent if the peak was easy at first, then it became very slippery on wet slab rocks. Yuck. The intermittent views were non-existent.

We descended down a little more to Whiteface shelter, and had another good break. More NOBO hikers were there, and a friendly SOBO guy too. The rain was lighter now, and we left the shelter without using rain gear (aka my umbrella). The climb up Whiteface Mountain was steeeep.

Of course there was only a view of the inside of the clouds on top.

The descent was slippery and slabby rocks again, along with mud.

We descended steeply for an hour, and then less steeply on a nice trail, to the next shelter. By now the rain had stopped completely, and the sun was making efforts to appear. We stopped in for only a few minutes, trying to get to a hiker/camping store before they closed at 6pm. The rest of the way to the road was nice smooth trail, following an old logging road.

This stream crossing looked cool.

We shopped at the town Hardware store for a while, and I bought a new pack raincover (I had forgotten mine in the car), and a map and fuel canister. Sweet. Mark and I hiked on, along a nice trail with some caves.

And then we crossed the Lamiolle River.

We had a final climb up to Prospect Rock, where we setup camp. It was a perfect end to the day, watching the sunset while eating dinner.

Sunday September 27, 16.4mi/26.4km

Stimson Ridge (188.2/1896ft) to Taft Lodge (204.6/3609ft) (VT)

We had a leisurely morning in camp and enjoyed breakfast overlooking the valley below.

We continued hiking on the nice new trail, it was so smooth.

After an hour we hit a spot called Harrington’s View. It was actually pretty nice.

I was surprised to see a newt still wandering around on the trail, it’s getting pretty late in the season for them.

The foliage was really getting into peak condition as well.

The trail followed the ridge all morning, and there was moose poop in a few spots. Unfortunately, no moose to be seen.

The summit of Bolton Mountain prompted a few Michael Bolton jokes and Office Space quotes.

We descended the mountain and the ridge, and traversed some nice beaver pond areas.

We began the long climb up Mt Mansfield, with its many facial features.

As we got higher, the trail got very rocky.

And the views were more plentiful, too. View to the south:

View to the north, our objective:

The summit ridge was crowded, there was a parking lot nearby. We kept moving, outpacing most everyone.

Mark standing on the lips of Mt Mansfield.

The view down into Stowe valley.

The summit of Mt Mansfield was crowded too.

We took some quick summit photos, it was very windy up there.

The view looking north was intimidating, it was a steep descent.

And it was indeed steep.

Just before we arrived at the lodge, I saw this funny sign.

We got to the lodge at 5pm, and setup our stuff on a couple of the bunks. Four more people arrived in the next hour, and we had fun getting to know them. A group of four girls arrived just before dark and they squeezed onto a top loft. It was a long tiring day, so I was passed out by 9pm.

Saturday September 26, 19.2mi/30.9km

Cowles Cove Shelter (169.0/2516ft) to Stimson Ridge (188.2/1896ft) (VT)

I was awake at 5:40am, and hiking at 6am, it was still dark when I left the shelter.

I hiked by headlamp for 30 minutes, then as I climbed up out of the trees it got lighter.

By the time I reached the summit of Burnt Rock mountain, it was sunrise.

It was a slippery rocky trail, but I descended with caution back down into the trees. Someone had left a 100 marker, presumably I am 100 miles from Canada.

The trail in the trees was nice, and very piney smelling.

All of a sudden, I came to a deep ravine. The only way to climb in/out was by ladder, hence the name “ladder ravine”.

I hiked on up the hill and a mile later I was on the summit of Mt Ethan Allen.

There was a small iron rod on the actual summit.

And a nice view to give reason to stop and take a snack break.

I quickly descended the peak, arriving at the bottom at a shelter. It was even a 4-sided shelter!

I refilled my water at the nearby creek and hiked on, trying to make good time. Only 1.7mi to the summit of Camel’s Hump!

The climb up “the hump” was steep at times, I used hands and feet.

I could see why it’s called Camel’s Hump.

The last part was so steep, the trail switchbacked around the cliff.

The summit was quite crowded, and I only lingered a minute.

The requisite summit selfie.

The view to the north was quite colorful.

I descended the summit and got to the trail junction, where the mountain plaque is located.

The descent off Camel’s Hump was steep and slabby.

Near the bottom, I got a nice view of the neighboring ridge.

There was even a bench at the lookout over the Winooski River!

I arrived to the trailhead at 12:10pm, and turned onto a road.

It was a nice walk along the Winooski River for an hour, and almost no car traffic on the road.

I crossed the swingbridge, and met my friend Mark, who was waiting for me with refreshing beverages. He will be hiking with me for the last section of the Long Trail to Canada. We spent the next 6 hours shuttling cars to the necessary trailheads, and got back to hiking at 7pm. It was just after sunset.

We crossed under the interstate in a nice well-lit tunnel, which appeared to be made just for the Long trail.

We hiked 4 miles up the hill, to a nice camp spot on a ridge, with views down to the Bolton valley. A long day!

Friday September 25, 27.1mi/43.6km

Emily Proctor Shelter (141.9/3445ft) to Cowles Cove Shelter (169.0/2516ft) (VT)

I was awake at 6am and hiking at 6:30. A mile later, I got to watch the sun rise.

Most of the morning was up on a ridge with short stunted trees.

An hour later I found a viewpoint, I could see down into the fog covered valley below.

I stopped for 2nd breakfast at a shelter, and refilled my water, it’s surprisingly dry out here.

Next up was Mt Grant, a 3600ft mountain that is on Vermont’s Presidential traverse, and a mossy summit as well.

I came to Sunset Ledge, and saw heaps of dayhikers.

A quick mile later, and I was at the highway at Lincoln Gap.

On the climb out of the gap/pass, I saw a few very random things. The Gandalf rocks (“you shall not pass”):

And a presumably misplaced bouquet of flowers.

I stopped for lunch at the Battell shelter, it even had a picnic table. I’m a sucker for a nice table!

I hiked on another mile, and summited Mt Abraham. It’s one of Vermonts 4000-footers, and it was steep.

The requisite benchmark photo.

The next summit on the ridge was “little Abe”, ha!

The view from nearby Lincoln peak was much better.
Looking south:

Looking north:

The Sugarbush ski resort is below the ridge on this part of the trail.

The summit of another 4000 footer, Mt Ellen, was unremarkable.

I followed a ski trail for a little while, it was nice.

And then I exited the Green Mountain NF, and entered Mad River Glen ski resort.

The view from the top of the single chair lift was nice.

There was a nice building at the top, “Starks nest”. Hikers are allowed to sleep here, but I think it’s primary purpose is for skiiers.

A mile later, I passed by a random gnome.

The descent of the ridge was steep. So many ladder rungs!

At one point there was a fork, a choice to make. Standard route, or cave route?

No thanks, too tight for me.

I arrived at the next road, Appalachian Gap just before 5pm. It was full of people.

It was funny to see this sign, only 109mi to Canada.

The trail climbed insanely steeply for a half mile, gaining 500ft.

I had a view a mile later, looking north to camel’s hump.

I hiked on, I came to a junction at 7pm. 2.9mi to go!

I arrived at the Cowles Cove Shelter at 8pm, and very tired. The shelter was empty, so I setup camp in there to save time in the morning. Hopefully there’s not too many mice…

Thursday September 24, 16.6mi/26.7km

Brandon Gap/Hwy 17 (125.3/2175ft) to Emily Proctor Shelter (141.9/3445ft) (VT)

I drove the final 2 hours, crossing into Vermont after an hour.

I did some quick food shopping, and arrived at the trailhead at 10am. I was already packed, so off I went!

I immediately entered the Battell wilderness. I love getting photos of these signs, and it shows that the congress occasionally does the right thing. 🙂

After a mile, I had climbed 500 feet, and was on top of the cliffs on Mt Horrid. It was a splendid view.

The trail weaved around ridgetops all afternoon, and it was a nice mossy & bouldery forest.

There was a random trail sign, not at a Junction. Onward to Middlebury gap!

The descent towards the Gap was gentle, but also a massive rock slab.

I passed by Middlebury college’s Snow Bowl, and I checked out the ski infrastructure.

There were some expansive views from the ski trail cuts, and it looked like a storm cloud was moving in.

Yup, definitely moving in.

I descended to Middlebury Gap, and re-entered the woods after crossing the deserted road.

I immediately entered a new wilderness! Mmmm… breadloaf.

I climbed up out of the Gap/Pass, and I was getting hungry so I stopped for a snack at an empty shelter.

I ate a ton of goldfish, gummy bears, and animal crackers. It was an accidental theme! I moved on, hiking to the next shelter to get water. Most water sources have dried up in this parched September. I talked to some ladies at the shelter, filled up with beaver water from the pond, and hiked on into the setting sun.

I arrived at the next shelter only 45 minutes later, and I found a spot to camp nearby. The group of 4 guys already in the shelter were strange. They saw me coming, turned off their headlamps, and pretended they were sleeping. I wasn’t going to ask to join them in the shelter anyway, but it seemed rude. Oh well, I had a nice dinner of bacon mac and cheese and went to bed early.

Tuesday September 8, 0.9mi/1.4km

Sunrise Shelter (124.4/2546ft) to Brandon Gap/Hwy 17 (125.3/2175ft) (VT)

Jeff and I were awake at 7am, and we were packed up and walking at 7:45.

It was only a mile from the shelter to the road, so it didn’t take long.

We got to the road shortly after 8am, and walked to the trailhead parking lot to hitch a ride.

We got a ride after only 30 minutes of trying, not bad for 2 males, and in a pandemic year. We got back to Jeff’s car, and spent the rest of the day doing fun Vermont Touristy things – Ben and Jerry’s, Smugglers Distillery, Cabot Cheese, and driving thru the mountains. I’ll be back to Vermont to finish the last 145 miles of trail, hopefully soon!