Nov 1, 2007

Long Trail Trip Report - Day 1 - Oct 27

Well.. the journey has started. My quest to finish the entire Long Trail in Vermont, stretching from the Massachusetts border to Canada, began this past weekend as we hiked in from MA.

Friday Morning

Steve and I were dropped off in Williamstown, MA for the start of the trip. There's no direct road to the southern terminus of the Long Trail, it starts in the middle of the woods. Thus, we had to hike in to the beginning, a 3.6 mile trip over the Pine Cobble trail. The guide promised views of Mt Greylock in MA, and an up and down walk. The cobble was there as promised (lots of rocks) but we didn't see many pines at all. Friday was a beautiful day and we had a really nice hike. The pack didn't feel that uncomfortable, and I got into a nice steady pace pretty much right away. I experienced a little leg burn on the first uphill, but that was it, and I felt great for the rest of the walk.

There were a couple spots where you could see out, and the scenery was very nice as we progressed uphill. There were a couple folks, dayhikers, out for a walk on a beautiful fall afternoon, and I was a bit surprised since I figured most would have packed it in this late in the season.

We soon joined up with the Appalachian Trail which ultimately runs along with the Long Trail for over 90 miles before splitting off and heading to NH and ME. The next landmark was the Vermont border, 3.6 miles from the start of our day. There’s a signin log there, and we took a short break for lunch/snack at about 3 pm. It was starting to cool off a bit, so I added a long sleeve shirt on top of my t-shirt and we headed back out North, excited about the start of the trail.

It’s fairly rugged country, there’s not a lot of civilization that you can see or hear, although you are probably not that far from roads and houses at this point. It’s a pretty peaceful feeling walking through the woods and I really enjoyed just looking around and noticing the trees and little brooks. I’ve always loved playing in the woods since I was a little kid, and really felt relaxed all afternoon. Steve and I chatted here and there, but most of the time was spent lost in thought and focused on picking my footsteps and breathing. I could really get into a zone, even on the uphills where I would shorten my steps but try to keep them regular and even. It’s interesting to me how the overlap of my training has come into even this activity. I could modulate my breathing and stay in an aerobic zone by keeping my cadence steady and smooth with shorter steps to counter the steepness of the trail. I could almost predict my heart rate the whole time even though I didn’t have my monitor with me.

We had planned to stay at the Seth Warner shelter Friday evening, and arrived there shortly after 5 pm. Anticipating that we would be the only inhabitants, (there was a note in the log saying no hikers had been seen for 48 hours by the last one through) we spread out our stuff and started to make dinner. After a somewhat filling Chicken Alfredo in a bag, we cleaned up and headed down to the nearby stream to get water. My uncle has a water filter which we used to purify the water and fill a few containers, a pretty cool toy.

On the way back to the shelter we met another hiker who was planning to stay at the shelter with us as well. This was my first experience with “Trail Names”. Apparently it’s a tradition that allows you to be anonymous on the trail and use something interesting as a name. My uncle goes by “Great White”, something I didn’t know of before, and we ended up with Pale Rider and Bigfoot in the shelter with us that night. It was an interesting evening, both of those guys were veterans of the AT and the LT, and had a lot of insight on backpacking. It started to rain shortly lightly as I was climbing into my sleeping bag, but otherwise a very enjoyable day to start.

A great start to the adventure...


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