Day 3 – Wednesday 7/13/2022
Peru Peak Shelter (64.5) to US-4 (104.5)
40.0 miles / 8,155 ft gain / 8,878 ft loss
Elapsed: 14 hrs 51 min
This day was tougher than expected. I felt pretty sleepy in the morning, even after taking some caffeinated Spring Energy gels and a caffeine pill. I was just tired from the previous two days. Thankfully, the trail was very chill for the first part of the day. I got a very pretty twilight view from the ledges of Baker Peak, then the trail meandered through a camping area in the Big Branch Wilderness, which has an amazing “highway” of bog boards. I remembered being ecstatic about those bog boards when I hiked the AT. My feet hurt horribly then, and it was such a relief not to have to worry about stubbing my already-torn-up toes on rocks and roots, or plunging my feet into the mud; plus the wooden planks have a little bit of give and bounce to them. I can’t think of enough great things to say about bog boards. Bog boards!
Despite feeling tired, I just cruised and took care of business for the first part of the day. I was excited to see the “Katahdin 500 miles” sign just after crossing Upper Cold River Road. I remember seeing that sign when hiking the AT and signing the register next to it with the message, “I can’t believe I made it this far!” Very good vibes at this sign. Next came the section that just pummeled me: Killington! I loved Killington my first time passing through it, and I loved it this time too. It is magical up there. But, it would be by far the longest sustained climb of the hike so far, from Clarendon Gorge at 860′ to where the trail skirts near the summit at 3,900′. Yowza.
The climb was a total haul and I felt dog-tired by the time I reached Cooper Lodge situated right near Killington Peak. It would be no easy trip down either, with 6.3 miles and 2,000′ of elevation loss to my destination at US-4. This was one of those moments where I had to remind myself, “You like it here, you enjoy this!” I admired the lush forest, the bright green moss, and took in yummy fresh earthy smells. Before my hike someone commented, “All that oxygen in the trees, that must be so good for you!” I supposed they were right.
Along the descent my feet started to hurt, again I think I was just really feeling the last couple days of hiking. I was ready to rest. I was happy to emerge at US-4 with plenty of time to spare before the pub closed. I walked across the street, touched the AT/LT sign to mark where I was leaving the trail, and sent a little message with my tracker that I was stopping. From there, I turned right and walked 0.8 miles up the road to Inn at Long Trail, the promised land of hot food, running water, and soft pillows.
I checked in, collected my hiker box that I’d dropped off a couple weeks prior (originally intended for my second southbound FKT attempt), and not wanting to get the bed dirty with my hiker stink, collapsed on the floor with a happy sigh of relief. Wanting to be efficient with my time, I called down to the pub to order some food ahead of time: the BBQ pulled pork sandwich I’d been dreaming about, a side of coleslaw, and a big caesar salad. While they prepared my food, I took a shower and scrubbed the crusty layers of dirt off of my skin the best I could. My feet were in great condition so far, and the only sore spots I had were my shoulders and collarbone from the straps of my pack. Pretty good!
I went downstairs to collect my food and brought it back to my room to eat in bed with my legs propped up on some pillows. I basically moaned in ecstasy as I ate every last bite of that delicious meal. Inn at Long Trail and McGrath’s Irish Pub… you are the real MVP.
My original plan had been to wake up super early, like 2am, knowing the next planned stretch of the 40 miles to Cooley Glen Shelter would be challenging, and if I have to hike in the dark I prefer it to be in the morning opposed to at night. The Long Trail would soon separate from the AT and go into some more rugged/peaky wilderness areas. But gosh, it was so nice sleeping in a real bed and I wanted to take advantage of getting some good rest after the challenging climb and descent from Killington. So I set my alarm a little later, 3am, just to get a tad more sleep.
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more daily recaps of the rest of my Long Trail journey right here on Mercury on the Run.
To celebrate completing my thru-hike and Long Trail Day coming up on September 10th, I’d like to give back to this trail I love so much by fundraising $2,720 for Green Mountain Club, the maintainers of the Long Trail – that’s $10 for every mile of the trail! With your support I have so far fundraised $818- that’s like starting from the southern terminus (mile 0) and getting all the way past White Rocks (mile 78.5) and VT Route 140 (mile 80.5)! Can you donate to support me in my goal? Let’s get to Canada together. :)
I’m also working on a special Long Trail-themed project for new and continuing Buy Me a Coffee monthly members. I’m so thankful for your support and love getting to share my journey with this little community. Support me as a monthly member and not only will you get two beautiful Mercury on the Run stickers and a handwritten thanks from me, you’ll receive a one-of-a-kind memento from my time here in VT.
Another great way to support is by sharing this with someone that might enjoy it too, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to my weekly newsletter. ‘Til next time! ~Mercury