The trail started off pretty smooth and level and after acouple miles began to climb. It started getting pretty roller coastery and rooty, a bit harder than the past few days. We stopped for our lunch of eggs and fruit at the shelter and were joined by Double D. I had thought he and his buddies were a day or two ahead of us! We had some fast, flat terrain after lunch and made good time to the fire tower for some views. We talked a bit to Maverick, a south bounder who was staying at the cabin near the shelter. He gave us some good info that the next shelter had a bad water source and lots of mosquitoes. That settled our day long question of whether we should stop for the night at this shelter. We were going to press on!
We had 7.5 miles to the next road crossing that deteriorated from the fast terrain we had been enjoying to slow, rocky, roller coastery, root strewn stuff. It took a lot out of me. I was quite tired at the road, but determined to push out another 2 miles so we could stealth camp near a water source.
The trail actually went down the road for 1/4 mile. We passed a white house, and I was thinking "Man, I wish the people in that house let hikers camp in thier yard. That would make this day so much better." And just then, a pickup truck came driving down the road, beeping at us. Dan, the home owner, had seen us walking on the road and invited us to camp in his yard! How lucky is that?
Dan calls his house "the secret hostel". It is not listed in the guidebooks, but he has a big yard for tenting and a big barn he lets people sleep in. There were about 12 hikers there that night with me and SUbaru.
Trail magic abounds when you need it most!
August 7: We were awake at 6am, with the sun. Everything was dewy and wet from the grass. Have to carry a wet tent today. We left Dan's by 7 and started the day with a long, slow climb. So glad we did not have to do this last night! There was a nice meadow at the top where we had a break and got some sun. Then the trail got steeper and more jagged. At around 5 miles, we stopped for a fiver (5 minute rest) and decided that we would hit the Cloudland Market at the next road crossing. We took in the views of Stratton Mountain and Killington from the peak (always nice to look back at what you have already climbed and be impressed with yourself!) and started down.
After the descent, we passed a crew of workers mowing the long grass on the hill by the road. Made the walking much easier, but the trail harder to see. At the road crossing, we came across some excelent trail magic! Water, PB&J sammies, brownies, cookies, chips, and s'mores fixings. SUbaru ran to the market and grabbed some sodas while I pulled out our set tents to dry in the sun. And we had a feast by the roadside! It was great.
We packed up after the feast and decided to stop in another 5 miles. But the milage in the guidebooks must have been off, because we never found the gravel road at 5 miles. Instead, we came up on the paved road at 6.5. We grabbed some water and granola bars and were passed by Steady who told us that there was another store in 0.3 miles down the road. So down the road we went (the trail joined the road in town) and got some ice cream. We ate it while watching some SOBOS jump off the bridge into the river. Some jumped, some never got the courage up. It was like a soap opera!
After the ice cream was gone, we had one more 4 mile stretch to a shelter. We followed the road for a while, then a gradual climb with smoother terrain. At the shelter, we set up our tents and talked to some southbounders, sharing information with what we both had ahead. Nice to get that info beforehand!