Day 22: (July 7) Middlebury Gap

Privy at Sucker Brook Shelter

Privy at Sucker Brook Shelter

This morning, the youth group was up early, but was relatively quite. They certainly did not follow the leave no trace principles. They dropped wrappers on the ground, washed dishes near the water source, and left the seat up on the privy to attract varmint and flies.

We have about six miles to walk to get to RT 125 at Middlebury Gap, starting with a 1000 vertical climb. Why is it always up first thing in the morning?

We have thirty shelters to visit before reaching Canada. At my slow rate, it will take another 25 to 30 days, not counting zero days. We do not have time to finish hiking the LT before a writers convention that we have planned to attend in early August. We will need to decide whether to cancel attending the conference or stop the hike early. After last night’s late hike, poor rest, and sore feet, the latter is appealing.

There is no spring in my step today. I sound like Darth Vadar and each step is plodded like Godzilla’s. Since I usually start off before Dennis (he catches up quickly), I climbed Worth Mountain for about 45 minutes before I stopped to catch my breath, cool down, and wait for Dennis. Worth Mountain really was not worth all the effort. There was no reward—no glorious view, in fact, no views at all. In more than three weeks, the Green Mountains’ canopy and the socked-in peaks have provided only two glimpses of the range’s majesty.

Once again, the profile map leads us to believe the climb is easier than it really is. And the contour map is hard to follow since we never really know where we are.

Dennis and I discuss stopping. Dennis thinks we should stop, he is afraid that I might end up hurting myself in the next half of the Long Trail, which is much more steep and difficult. I don’t want to give in. I know that I can finish the LT as long as I go at my turtle pace. So what if it takes time—what’s the rush anyway? We opt to take a few day off in Middlebury, and then decide.

The last forecast was sunny for the foreseeable future. Vermonters must be short-sighted. Within twenty-four hours of that prediction it started to pour. Drenched, we stopped at a shed near the ski slope chair lift to change into dry clothes, don rain gear, and try to call Doug McKain. As usual, there was no phone service.  When we left the shed, we started climbing again. Dennis commented that it did not make sense to be going down a ski slope and having to climb.

Middlebury Inn, one of America's Historic Hotels

Middlebury Inn, one of America’s Historic Hotels

We did not know at the time that the road at Middlebury Gap was less than half a mile away, Within minutes of arriving at the trailhead, a woman stopped to give us a ride into Middlebury, about thirteen miles east. She mentioned several lodgings, but we decided to stay at the centrally located Middlebury Inn, one of America’s Historic Hotels. She also said how lucky we were to get there today because the roads would be closed for maintenance for the next several days and it would have been impossible to hitch a ride.

After a nice hot shower, we went to Two Brother’s Tavern for a local brew and hamburger. The atmosphere in the restaurant was welcoming and the servers very attentive. The food was plentiful and we left stuffed and ready for a nap.

When I checked my emails, I found out that my book Hadrian’s Wall Path: Walking into History was a finalist in the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA) presidents awards in the Adult Nonfiction category. The winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner at the FAPA conference in early August.

With this news, we made our decision. After 132 miles on the Long Trail, we were stopping. Dennis may return to complete the hike after the convention, if things work out.

Middlebury, VT

Middlebury, VT

We contacted Doug and arranged for him to shuttle us on Thursday from Middlebury to North Troy, where we have the van. We will visit our daughter and her family until Monday, and then head home.

I’m disappointed for not completing the 272-mile wilderness trail. I’m proud for having hiked half, even if it is the easier portion. The record breaking rain, the unseasonable cold, and the difficult terrain challenged my physical limitations. Without Dennis’ assistance, I most likely would have dropped out sooner. This was my first—and last—wilderness hike.

In planning future adventures, I will take temperature into account. I can no longer deal with the cold. Perhaps hiking in sunny Italy will be more to my liking.

About The Author

Jane V. Blanchard

I am an award-winning author of the "Woman On Her Way" book series, writing about my travel adventures. For more information on the books, please visit I started the "Woman On Her Way" travel blog in 2013 to share my experiences as I explored 13 countries with my husband, traveling by ship, foot, bike, bus, train, and plane. Dennis and I continue to make memories and hope you will enjoy following along.

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