Monday, September 23rd, 2019
It was time to make out escape from Rutland, FINALLY! We walked to the main road and caught a hitch back to the trail with a triple crowner, and recent Great Divide hiker named Grimm. We picked his brain a bit about the Continental Divide Trail, which Frisbee and I have hopes of completing during the summer of 2020. He was reassuring. Grimm had hiked a lot of trails, but like so many other high-mileage hikers, the slight mention of the Florida Trail was met with disdain. The Florida Trail gets a bad rap. I admit, it’s not for everyone, but Middle Brother, Frisbee, and I can vouch that it’s undervalued. We told him he should not believe the hype, and suggested he give it a go.
Zero days hurt. When we got back on the trail, I was feeling sick to my stomach. That Maté tea is like crack! No wonder most of the members of the Yellow Deli look so dazed. They’re incredibly sleep deprived. Not only was I feeling ill, my calves were on fire. We had been on steep, uneven terrain the entire hike, and suddenly we’re mostly hiking groomed trails with moderate climbs and descents. I needed to condition all those muscles I haven’t been using, and give the ones I have been using a break!
We all met up at Minerva Hinchey Shelter to get water. Then we dispersed. I took my time as the guys went ahead of me. After cruising a bit, I was getting hungry and hadn’t caught up with the guys yet, so I took a lunch break in an empty parking lot. I’d see them shortly after when I started the climb alongside Bully Brook. They were snacking next the the rapids, so I joined them.
As we continued climbing, I heard Frisbee chatting with two hikers ahead of me. Once I caught up, I realized it was Cookie Monster and Private Benjamin, two awesome hiker chicks we met when we were doing a section hike through Pennsylvania. It was a strange coincidence, but was also pretty cool to run back into them a year later. They’ve been working a section at a time every fall to complete the Appalachian Trail. Come to think of it, we’ve run back into a lot of familiar faces on just about every hike this year.
The three of us took a break at White Rocks Junction and fooled with the rock gardens as we passed through them. Then we stopped in our tracks when we saw the colorful trees surrounding Little Rock Pond. We crossed bog bridges and walked along a stream as it began to drizzle on our heads.
When I reached Forest Road 10, I recalled meeting Chris and his little schnauzer Rosey there two years ago when we passed through on the Appalachian Trail coming from the south. He had some of the most epic trail magic I’ve ever had, and we still stay in touch to this day. Miss you guys!
I was having random cramps in my gut. Maybe all of the junk food was catching up with me. I moved slowly towards Big Branch Shelter to catch up with the others. We had hit out 200th mile on the Long Trail, and were nearing the finish line! We met a few ladies there from Maine. One of them was planning on hiking the entire Long Trail northbound, and the other two were there to send her off. One of her supporters wore make up and wasn’t too into the great outdoors. The girl hiking the Long Trail had the challenge of getting her pack down to a reasonable weight, which by the looks of it, could have used additional improvement. Booze was one of her friend’s cut backs during the shake down, and listening to her complain about not being allowed to lug out alcohol had us laughing.
“I thought it would be nice to end of the day with a box of wine, but NOOOOOOO! Wouldn’t that have be nice? Don’t you wish I had brought that with me now? Instead I’m stuck here with sore feet and no wine.”
The six of us settled in shortly after inhaling some food, and slept well as heavy rain beat on the roof throughout the night.
16.2 miles (26.1 km)