Wednesday, September 25th, 2019
Sadly, no stunning sunrise awaited us in the morning like the last time we slept on top of Bromley Mountain. But there was only a short walk to get to the parking lot where we could hitch into Manchester Center.
A guy who worked for Bromley Resort picked us up. He used to work in advertising in New York City, and realized that wasn’t the lifestyle he wanted. So he worked random jobs here and there throughout New England before he found himself in Vermont. He had the same demeanor as most of the people I spoke to that lived here. Laid back, happy and content with the slower speed of country living.
He dropped us off at McDonald’s, which we’ve been missing A LOT lately. Don’t get me wrong. I love that there are few corporate business throughout most of the small towns of Vermont. I also don’t ever touch McDonald’s food in my usual everyday life, however, when I’m hiking, it’s what I crave! That and orange soda.
We ate breakfast, charged up and warned the McDonald’s manager that we were about to order 40-60 McDoubles to go as soon as their lunch menu was available. We met a couple Appalachian Trail hikers there. I was surprised by how behind schedule people were to make it to Katahdin. I mean, the saying goes “last one to Katahdin wins,” but it would suck having the additional long walk out of Baxter State Park to get to a road that someone might be driving along to get into town. That and the inevitable snow that they would soon face.
Anywho, we grabbed a few extra things at the grocery store down the street, then danced our way out of town. A young girl named Sita appreciated our dance moves, so she decided to drive us back. She was the second Dead Head we hitched with and seemed to know a good bit about them, but punk rock, not so much.
“Yeah, I’ve been listening to a lot of punk rock lately.”
“Awesome! What have you been listening to?”
“I dunno, stuff like Nirvana and Green Day.”
We just left that one alone. She was young.
When we got back on trail, we were bumping along the mellow terrain. It was getting easier and easier. We ran into a few day hikers and section hikers along the way.
We took a break once we got to Prospect Rock for a late lunch, then we’d catch more scenery as we passed Stratton Pond.
Before beginning our climb up Stratton Mountain, we passed two young people doing trail maintenance. Given the smile on the one guy’s face, and the look of absolute misery and irritation on the girl’s, I take it one was doing it as a volunteer and the other for court-ordered community service. We took a water break at the stream before climbing, and the climb wasn’t bad at all!
When we got to the top, we checked out Stratton Mountain Fire Tower. It was starting to get late. We took one too many breaks today and went into town, which killed even more time. But we were determined to make it to Story Spring Shelter.
The sun went down, and we used our natural night vision until our headlamps were required to prevent busted faces and broken necks. When we got there, a father-daughter duo was there, tenting nearby the shelter. Fortunately they were still awake, so we could say hi and not disturb anyone as they slept. They were doing a section hike, and the father told us how his boss had retired from his job to hike the Appalachian Trail, and that it was life changing for him. We told him that the rumors are all true. Hiking the entire AT will turn your life upside down, for the better in my opinion. We shared some stories, explained how we got our packs so small (which they were fascinated by), and encouraged him to give an AT thru hike a shot. He won’t regret it if he does. Not many people do.
24.0 miles (38.6 km)