Gorham

Gorham
Day 136 and 137 (8/24/19 and 8/25/19)
Miles – 4.1
Total miles – 1853.1

8/24/19
It was a cold night, but we were warm inside our tents. A few clouds hung in the sky but nothing to worry about. We set out for the visitor center four miles away. A couple of hours later we walked into Pinkham Notch. Now we needed a ride to Gorham, but we had no cell service. As we were trying to figure out what to do, the rest of the hikers we have been around come in. Friends of Letters brought food up for everyone and we were invited to share in the trail magic. There was homeade banana bread, OJ, fruit salad, watermelon, hard boiled eggs, ham. It was a true treat! Papa Raven tried to set up his cell phone to make a WiFi call, but it did not work. Letters informed him about a hiker room under the visitor center that had a pay phone. It has been a long time since we used one. The problem was not having any money. All cash we had was used at the huts to purchase baked goods. All we had left over was fifty cents. The phone needed $1.00. Slerner gave us a dollar. Everyone else hiked out while The Ravens sat down stairs trying to make a call. We never got to thank Letter’s friends for the trail magic. Nevertheless, we tried and tried the pay phone but it did not connect to anywhere. Finally we talked to the people in the visitor center and they tell us that we can use their phone. One quick call and we had a ride to town. Three more calls and we had a room. These small towns are popular tourists attractions, especially the areas around the White Mountains. Hotel rooms fill up quickly. School up here does not start till after labor day, so summer vacation is still going on. In California, schools start early August, which we have never liked. Best time of the year for us to be with our kids has been taken away. Just another reason why we homeschool! Now we just have to wait 1.5 hours for our ride. It arrived exactly on time. The shuttle stopped by the hostel where our boxes were. This was a wise thing we did instead of the post office. It is Saturday after closing hours. One box was missing. Next he dropped us off at Burger King for lunch. After eating we walked to our hotel. After looking in the boxes, we discovered that we are missing our dinners and a few other items. Mama Raven noticed that there is a transit bus that runs to Walmart. We catched it and in one hour purchased everything we needed for the next section. We are set for our zero tomorrow.

8/25/19

We did a lot of nothing. We just did the few things to get ready for our section to Andover. Both Whisper and Mama Ravens shorts needed to be sewn up. Gear and clothes needed to be cleaned. Blogs were written, photographs worked on. It is a typical town day for the Ravens. The only way to really get a day off is to take two days off, which we won’t day this close to the end of the trip. Since we get into Andover on Friday of Labor Day weekend, we called and reserved a room five days away.

Mountain of clouds

Madison Gulf Trail
Day 135 (8/23/19)
Miles – 10.9
Total miles – 1849.0

It was not a bad night’s sleep on the floor of the hut. There were about 30 hikers all over the dinning room floor. Most of the hikers were NoBo like us, but also there were SoBos along with a few section hikers. All night long we could hear the wind blowing hard outside. We were very thankful we did not have to spend the night out in it. Everyone was up and moving at 6:00. The paid guests were coming in at seven for breakfast. Some hikers decided to get the miserable job over with of climbing up to Mt Washington early on. That was us and a small group of other hikers that were bundled up in every article of clothing possible. Those that did not have gloves used socks on their hands. Other hikers waited around to see if the weather would clear up before heading out. We were packed and ready to go by seven. Outside, it was a thick fog bank and the wind was really blowing. It was down right freezing! We finally had an opportunity to wear all those winter clothes we have been carrying all this time: hats, gloves, buffs, long johns, down jacket and rain jacket. Up until now they have only been used as pillow material for our heads at night. Finally they were going to be put to use. Even though it was only a mile and a half to the top of My. Washington, it was going to be a slow, hard hike. Visibility was only 25′, but we could see from carn to carn. We headed up the mountain. The wind was so strong that we were getting pushed around. Fog would fly by us in streamers. It was bitter cold! As we got higher, dew started to collect and frost formed on our gloves and hats. Nearing the top, radio towers loomed up out of the fog. Eight hikers hid from the wind on the lea side of a building. Then someone found that a building was open and we all quickly entered into the Mt Washington visitor center. Instantly we were hit with a blast of comforting warmth. Mt Washington has some of the worst weather in the world. It holds the record for the strongest wind gust at 231 mph. The weather observatory is manned year around. Here are the stats when we walked in:

Temperature – 40°
Wind speed – 47 mph
Highest wind gust in the last 10 minutes – 64 mph
Wind chill factor – 28°

This explains why it was so cold, because it was! We stayed there for two hours waiting for any improvement in the weather. The snack bar opened at nine and we all ordered hot chocolate to dethaw ourselves. A few more hikers entered the visitor center who were more wet than we were when we completed the hike. They said it is now raining and beginning to freeze on the rocks as they climbed up. At some point, it was supposed to get clearer, but when? When we started to feel that we needed to get going, the only improvement was the sun popped out of the fog several times only to go back into hiding. We walked outside and were instantly blasted around by the wind. Finally we headed down. Luckily, as we dropped in elevation, so did the wind. We crossed the cog railroad that goes to the top and our timing was perfect that we got to see an engine and car go by. Over the next four hours, we past several high peaks. Thankfully we did not have to climb to the top of any in the cold weather. As we moved away for Mt Washington, we left it’s influence on the weather and more sun came out. In the early afternoon, we came to Madison Hut, a warm place to take a break. We did not stay long because we needed to get down off the mountain. Upon leaving the hut, we climbed Madison Peak, which was a rock scramble but not too difficult. Now the down on the other side was a different issue. First there was a mile or so of rocky scree to get down and then miles of a steep narrow path that went straight down the trees on the side of Mt.Madison. We stopped early for the night. Our legs were exhausted. It has been a very hard day, in many different ways. The White Mountains have lived up to their reputation of being tough to hike!

Papa Raven, Shortcake, and Spreadsheet

Shortcake

Broadway and Slerner

Letters

Hut to hut

Lake of the Clouds Hut
Day 134 (8/22/19) R
Miles – 11.0
Total miles – 1838.1

It rained all night. Well not all night, but most of it. Since we had very wet tents, it took us longer to pack up because we had to partially dry the tents. The sky was partly cloudy with more blue. Today’s trail is the beginning of our climb up Mt Washington. The location with the most extreme weather in all the United States. Overall it’s 5,000′ over twelve miles. We did half of that climb right off the bat, 2,500′ in three miles up Webster Peak. This took awhile. As we neered that top, we stopped at a large rock outcropping to dry out. The sun was shining with good wind. Out came all our wet gear. Drying out always turns into a long break. It was important to do it now because the clouds were building up and soon we would not have any sunshine. On the way up, we met Box and Hy-Gina, who is also from San Diego. The final push up to Webster Peak was grueling requiring crawling up vertical rock slabs. Once to the top, the remainder of the elevation gain to Mt. Washington would be easier. Over the next hours we hiked a ridge to Mizpah Spring Hut. We stopped for lunch and got more coffee cake and a piece of chocolate raspberry cake. As we were sitting there, one of the employees who worked in the kitchen asked if we wanted some broken pieces of chocolate cake. Of course we said yes. As we headed off towards the next hut, the clouds dropped and we started to hike in fog. A cold wind blew the fog across our path and visability dropped. We parted from the kids after several minutes and never saw them again until the final hut of the day. Finally we turned into the wind. After several minutes, the hut grew out of the fog. It was quite cold with a very strong wind blowing. Infact it was near freezing temperatures. We walked into Lake of the Clouds Hut. It was packed with paid guests and thru hikers who were trying to get out of the cold. We asked at the front desk about a place to stay. There is no camping allowed so close to the summit of My Washington. They provide six bunks in their basement for hikers, called The Dungeon. Tonight there were roughly thirty hikers seeking refuge. Since there is no camping outside, for ten dollars a person, we could sleep on the floor of the dinning halls. The rest of the evening past slowly as we waited for the paid guests to finish their dinner and evening of game playing in the dinning hall. Lights go out, 9:30 so all the hikers waiting around the edges of the hall had to be patient. When the lights dimmed, paid guests returned to their bunk rooms and the tired hikers found their spot on the dinning room hall. Bling and Whisper are the only ones who slept on top of the tables. It was a thru-hiker slumber party. Tomorrow we climb to the top of Mt Washington, just 1.5 miles from here.

Box and Hy-Gina

Broadway, Shortcake, Slerner, and Jeopardy

From sun to rain

Crawford Notch, Hwy 302
Day 133 (8/21/19) R
Miles – 15.5
Total miles – 1827.1It was not a bad camp as we thought last night with everyone sleeping well. However we did wake to overcast sky’s once again. Our perfectly sunny day yesterday was just a teaser. We left camp and hiked to Galehead Hut and got water. Throughout the White Mountains they do not have shelters but instead have beautiful huts that guests pay to stay. We are not sure how much it costs but we have heard it is around eighty dollars a night per person. This includes breakfast and dinner. Thru-hikers are allowed to come in and sit in the dinning halls. They also will provide water for the hikers. During the day they sale baked goods and bowls of soup to anyone who wants any. If you need to wait out bad weather, games and books are available. The huts are a real treat. After obtaining water, we started our only big climb of the day, a 1,000′ to the top of South Twin Peak. A cold wind blew when we got up there so we dawned coats and kept hiking. Soon the trail crossed the ridge, the wind let up, and the sun even poked out to lift our spirits. We spent the rest of the morning hiking toward Zealand Falls Hut. We reached it a little after lunch and we took a place inside, at one of their tables. They had Coffee Cake for sale so we bought four. More hikers we knew kept coming in. As we sat and ate, it started to rain. All the hikers stayed for a long time waiting for the rain to let up. Finally, during a light sprinkle, we set out. Over the next few hours it continued to rain. When we reached the turn off to the next shelter, pools were forming in and around the trail. It was getting very wet. We wanted to find a place to camp to get out of the rain, however if we camped now, we would be setting up in the rain which is unpleasant. Therefore we decided to push on to the highway and call for a ride to the nearest town. It was around 6:00 when we reached the highway and found that we had no cell service. The one good thing is that the rain has stopped on our way down. We tried to hitch with no success. Then we found a good place to camp, but we still wanted to get to town so we tried to hitch until 7:20. Still nothing, so we pitched camp. Around 8:00 it started raining again, but we were warm and dry in our tents. Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be better. But going up Mt Washington in bad weather is not a good idea. We will see how tomorrow looks.

Broadway

The first of the Presidents

On a ridge before Galehead Hut (1777.3)
Day 132 (8/20/19)
Miles – 12.2
Total miles – 1811.6

It was a sunny day we woke up to. This has not happened in a long time. This alone gave us much enthusiasm to get hiking. We got a ride back to the trail around 8:00. Our day started with a 2,800′ up to a ridge that leads to a range of mountains known as the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. Each of its peaks is named after a President. It was steep in a few sections but we made good time. Once on the ridge, we continued to climb but more slowly due to the rock scrambling that was required. Our efforts were rewarded grandly with incredible views all around. We finally took our first break on Mt. Lincoln. The day was clear, warm and absolutely beautiful! Our first fully sunny day in weeks. Tomorrow it is suppose to rain again, but that is tomorrow. Today, we were in high spirits with a perfect sunny day. All the other hikers we encountered along the way also were feeling good! On Mt Lincoln, we relaxed in the sun and did not want to move. We had tremendous views in all directions to admire. Finally we pushed on to the days high point, Mt Lafayette at 5,236′. We have not been that high in a long time. We still had a long ridge walk off Lafayette and then over Mt Garfield. By this time, the day was getting late so we started looking for a place to camp. So was everyone else. On the ridge there was very little land that was not covered in tight groves of trees. The ones that could possibly work were already occupied by other hikers. Finally Whisper found a place where we could fit. It was not the best but we needed something for the night.
A note on the Whites: these are considered the hardest hiking on the AT. We are planning just twelve miles a day in this section. The capstone on the Whites is Mt Washington, at over 6,000′. That will be coming up in just a few days.

Hermione

Nero in Lincoln

Lincoln
Day 131 (8/19/19)
Miles – 2.6
Total miles – 1799.4

We had a visitor during the night- a bear. At first we did not know what our visitor was. Something woke Mama Raven. She noticed that the tent was moving a bit. She said it felt like something tugging the end of our shelter. She popped her head out but did not see anything. Assuming it was nothing more than wind, she went back to sleep. Then it happened again. She woke Papa Raven, who thought something was funny about the movement since there was no wind blowing the trees up above us. With his head lamp on, he poked his head out to look about. A few feet from the end of the tent was a bear. As Papa Raven stood up, he yelled at the bear, which backed up, but not far. Papa Raven looked for something to throw however all he found was one rock and some logs. He threw the rock and the bear went up a tree. Mama and Papa Raven kept yelling, which woke Whisper up. Bling was sound asleep until Whisper shook him awake. When the bear was back on the ground again, Papa Raven threw a two feet long log which made the bear flee. For the next half hour all four of us walked up and down the trail looking for rocks to pile up to throw when the bear returned. There were not many, but we found enough to hurl at the bear. Afterwards, we headed back to bed. It was 3:30. Mama Raven discovered that the bear had torn a large hole in the side of our tent. She was not going back to sleep so she stayed up, repairing the tent with dental floss and a sewing needle. To our surprise, the bear never returned. Our past experience with bears, they always return back to the crime scene! Thankfully, this bear did not!
When morning came, we walked the short distance to the highway. We ran into The Lady Who Waits slack packing SoBo. We have not seen her since Erwin, Tennessee. She has flip flopped up to Maine and is now hiking southward. It was good to see her again. She is someone we have always enjoyed talking to. After catching up with her about how we are each doing, we said our good byes and headed to the Flume Visitor Center. From there we got a ride to the town. The rest of our day was taken up doing boxes, food, showers, laundry, and so on. A normal town day.

Hard day

Cascade Brook (1764.7)
Day 130 (8/18/19)
Miles – 14.2
Total miles – 1796.8

It did not rain over night, although the trees dropped water on us all night. The fog had made everything wet. We have not woken to sunshine in quite sometime now. Hopefully a sunny day is not a thing of the past and one morning we will wake up to a bright blue sky. We had two good size ups today. The first started soon after we left camp. People have been saying that hiking in the Whites is hard. So far that has proven to be a true statement. The trails literally go straight up and down for a couple of thousands of feet in elevation. They require scrambling up and down rocks that are terribly slippery from all the rain and fog we have had. We cannot image how treacherous it would be if it froze. Anyways our first climb was to the top of Mt Wolf. Of course, as with most mountains on this trail, the views were… non-existent. Knowing another big up awaits us, we wasted no time to head down. After several more hours we started our second and harder climb. This one had a lot more rocks to climb over, which really slowed us down. Our efforts of the day were rewarded with a beautiful view at the top. We took a long break at some rock slabs just before the summit of South Kinsman. We had great views in all directions except north, the direction we were headed. If we had continued on to the top of Kinsman, we would have been in trees and no view. Whisper and Bling were hoping to hike to the Hwy and to reach Lincoln this evening. On a normal trail, we could have made it. Although on this one, the downs are as slow as the ups, having to get down steep rocky paths without falling. Where there are no rocks, there is mud. Our legs are covered in the material. After several hours, we realized we would not make it down at a reasonable hour so we started looking for a place to camp. Light was long gone. All of us had headlamps on and we could not find anything suitable to pitch our tents, so down we continued. Even with headlamps on, we could not make out solid ground from sloshy mud. We were a mess! Finally, around 9:00, we found a place that would work. We are settled in for the night. Early tomorrow morning, we will be in Lincoln.

Trenches in the dark

Road at the bottom of Moosilauke
Day 129
Miles – 16.6
Total miles – 1782.6

The text for this day was lost somehow but here is a very brief description of today’s hiking:For weeks now we have been hearing about the up and down of Mt. Moosilauke. Today was finally the day we get to experience the 3,500′ climb first hand. It simply went straight up a four mile rock shoot. The down was even steeper over rock slabs that parralled a water fall. This meant a slippery and scary rock scramble down. It was a very difficult. it took hours to get up and over Moosilauke. There was barely any daylight left when we reached the bottom. We had to camp fast because a thunderstorm was coming. It hit just after dinner. Our camp flooded. Bling and Papa Raven had to get out of the tents and dig trenches around the tents to get the water to drain away from us.

The hiking is getting hard

Ore Hill Campsite
Day 128 (8/16/19) R
Miles – 16.6
Total miles – 1766.0

Around 2:00 in the morning, a large thunderstorm rolled over us. We first heard thunder way up the valley, far away from us. Rather quickly, it was no longer in the far off distance but directly overhead with bright flashes of lightening. The sky rumbled. Then the rain poured down. All Ravens were wide awake for the evening atmospheric light show. Inside our tents and sleeping bags, we were warm and cozy. The storm gradually passed by. In the morning, we started hiking a half hour later than normal. Our first job was to climb to the top of Smarts Mountain. We reached the fire lookout a little after 10:00. Deciding to stop for a snack, we climbed to the top of the tower. Luckily the small room at the top was fully unclosed so it keep the cold wind out. The sky all around was covered in clouds, some dark and threatening. Soon we were back on the trail heading down to the base of Mt. Cube. On the way down, it rained for a bit. Before starting the climb up Mt. Cube we stopped for water at a bridge over a river. As Papa Raven was coming up from the stream, he slipped on a wet rock and dunked one foot. He also had a horrible pain in his left calf. The muscles tightenef up and he could barely walk. we think he pulled or tweeked a muscle. The climb up Mt. Cube was very slow and painful for him. At the top he rubbed and rubbed his leg trying to loosen it up. He did better on the down but he still lagged far behind everyone. Since he was tired and moving slowly we decided to stop early the only problem was a campsite. There was none. We ended hiking to the top of the mountain and camped where a shelter once was. It now is just a bunch of campsites. Despite Papa Raven’s pulled muscle, they hiking is starting to get harder. The ups and downs are definitely getting steeper and bigger.

In to the Whites

Lyme-Dorchester Rd
Day 127 (8/15/19)
Miles – 19.1
Total miles – 1749.4

To get back to the trail, we had to catch a bus back to Hannover. It came once an hour. Waking at 6:30, we frantically got ready. We had 40 minutes to catch the 7:10am bus. Trying to get the kids to move quickly, just was not happening. As we ate breakfast, it became obvious that we would have to wait for the 8:10 bus. Parent Ravens had to adjust their attitude that it was critical to catch the first bus. The second bus was good enough. No stress this way as we stopped rushing about. We had no problem catching our bus and in no time we were dropped off in Hannover at 8:35. The AT follows a road through the campus of Dartmouth until it reaches a forest. Then we walk up into the mountains. Most of the hiking was rolling up ridges and down the other side, but we had two good climbs. Nothing like what we will be seeing later this section and in the next section. The first 1,100′ was not difficult and we quickly crested Moose Mountain. Later in the afternoon we did the second 1,000′ climb. After completing our last up of the day, we hiked another three miles and stopped for the night at the base of Smarts mountain, a 2 100′ climb we will do first thing in the morning. We will be well rested for our morning task. Today’s weather report said that it would be mostly sunny with a 60% chance of rain tonight. Then 20% chance of rain tomorrow. We are hoping for only a light rain overnight, if any!

Hanover

Hanover
Day 125 and 126 (8/13/19 R and 8/14/19)
Miles – 5.9
Total miles – 1730.3

8/13/19
It rained lightly a few times during the night, then, just before we started to pack, it rained for about an hour. Avoiding getting wet, we stayed dry and warm in the tents. While in the tents we packed as much as we could then waited. Around 7:30 it let up and we got out of the tents. Luckily for us the rain completely stopped. It was not a long walk to town and we made it in good time. As we headed into Hanover we crossed into New Hampshire. Only two more states to go. We walked into downtown Hanover around 10:00. We picked up our boxes and then went for an early lunch at Ray’s Bakery. Hanover is the home of Dartmouth College. Many families were in town dropping off their new college students. After lunch, we caught a free bus to West Lebanon and got a room. Hanover is a very high end town with expensive prices. Most hikers go to Lebanon where things are more affordable. Tomorrow we will be taking a zero to rest up before heading into the Whites Mountains.

8/14/19

We did a lot of nothing. For 4 hours Mama Raven and I took several buses over to Panera, Walmart, and EMS. The rest of the day was just resting.

Happy birthday Mama Raven

Near Happy Hill Shelter
Day 124 (8/12/19)
Miles – 20.9
Total miles – 1724.4

Last night was warmer then the last few nights. It felt a little more like summer. We needed to get close to town so tomorrow would be shorter day since it is suppose to rain. It is supposed to come in around 3:00 in the morning. Of course, we hope it holds off but we are not holding our breath. Several times today their was a food store near the trail. However, each one we came near to was closed on Mondays and Tuesday. Today is Monday so no treats for Mama Raven’s birthday. Despite all our disappointments for a store, we knew there was one more on route in the town of Hartford. Surely a store in town would have more business hours than a random farm house. Today and yesterday we have been seeing small hoses tied to trees and leading down the mountain. Today we found out that they are used to collect Maple sap. In the later afternoon we came to the very small town of West Hartford. As we crossed the bridge, a women named Linda called us over for cold drinks and donuts at her house. We each had donuts and soft drinks before continuing on. We did not want to eat too much because there was a store down the road with icecream. When we got there, we found that the store was closed and moved to another location. Out of luck again, although we had received some trail magic, and that is always appreciated! We were not thinking, we should have filled water bottles in West Hartford at Linda’s house. Instead we had to stop at the next stream and take the time to filter. We hiked until just before dark and camped on a hill above the shelter. After dinner Papa Raven fixed a dehydrated Cream brulee for Mama Raven’s birthday. It was not bad but not great. We sang Happy birthday, and then went to bed. Mama Raven said it was a great day with no rain in sight. It was another exhausting roller coaster day of many ups and downs. They are not large ups. Most varied from two hundred to six hundred feet in elevation. When you do this all day long, the elevation gains and decreases add up to a hard day. This will only get worse the closer we near the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It is expected that a person’s daily mileage is cut in half. Tomorrow morning we will be in Hanover where we will be taking a zero.

Its cold, is fall coming?

Woods road
Day 123 (8/11/19)
Miles – 19.0
Total miles – 1703.0

Our hotel did not provid breakfast until seven thirty, thus we completely packed up and made a run to the store for a few last minute items before our morning meal. The temperature outside was 46° when we went outside. It seems as soon as we entered into Vermont, summer disappeared. Local residence tell us August is cooler than July and the day time temperatures we are experiencing are normal. However the night time temperatures are cooler than normal. At seven thirty we had breakfast and were hiking by 8:30. The AT left town going by Kent Lake and Thunder Falls. The falls was a cascading water that must be something to see during the spring melt. We had one good size climb that took over an hour to complete. The rest of the day was filled with small ups and downs. There were so many of these they prevented us from moving quickly.. Nonetheless, we did our best. By the end of the day, we were exhausted. As the day went on, we bumped into many hikers, some we have not seen in a month or more. It seems like a mass exodus of hikers left town today. Back on Hwy 4, Whisper saw a moose crossing sign. As we hiked today, we saw moose droppings numerous times although no moose sightings. Hopefully at some point, we will get lucky enough to see one. At one point of today’s hiking we encountered a twenty-four foot ladder over a steep outcropping of rocks. Today has been cold and cloudy. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer and then rain returns on Tuesday, and then again on Friday. Welcome to summer in New England! Late in the day, we stopped by a shelter called The Lookout, which was filled to capacity with hikers spending the night.. It is a completely enclosed cabin with a high peeked roof, which had a platform on top of it. It is accessed by climbing up a ladder on the outside. We enjoyed the views from the platform but our day of hiking was not over with even though it was getting late. We came down and hiked three more miles.

Letters

Killington

Killington
Day 122 (8/10/19) R
Miles – 10.8
Total miles – 1684.5

It rained during the night. Oh the joy of packing wet tents on a cold morning! Wearing thermal long johns and coats, we exited the tents to find ourselves surrounded in fog. We had gotten up early so we would have a better chance of making it to the post office, ten miles away before it closed at twelve noon. Through the morning, we hiked as fast as we could. The wet conditions made footing difficult causing slipping on the wet rocks and tree roots. Mud splattered our legs. We took a short break when we reached our first crossing of Hwy 4. Only 4.1 miles to go. As we made the short climb away from the highway, we got a few light sprinkles. We were looking for a blue blaze (alternate trail) that would bring us directly to the post office. As we hiked, the light rain grew heavier. Quickly, we put on our pack covers and got out the umbrellas. Minutes later the rain pored down. All this made our morning hike slower when we needed to make good time. The heavy rain did not last too long and we soon came to the cut off. The fastest Ravens, Bling and Papa Raven went ahead. With only 10 minutes before the PO closed, Papa Raven reached Hwy 4. He looked about but he did not know which direction to go. He was uncertain as to our location on our map since it did not show the cut off trail. He turned on the GPS on his phone, picked a direction, and started walking. Finally the GPS found him, showing that we did not come out where we should have. We had a good .5 miles to reach the PO. Realizing he was not going to make it on time, he decided to call the post office. They agreed to keep a scanner on and, if he could get there in the next half hour, they would give him our re-supply box. Perfect situation for us and quickly on to the post office Papa Raven went. The remainder of the Ravens arrived shortly later. At 12:15, he walked out of the PO with our box. With that hurdle completed, we walked next door, to the store, for deli sandwiches and drinks. The stress of the morning hike made us extra hungry! Next we crossed the street to the Greenbrier Inn and our hotel room. The nearest laundry was 1.5 miles away. The Inns owner drove Papa Raven over and picked him up when the laundry was done drying. Up above the laundry was a sports bar that sold six BBQ chicken wings for fifty cents. As Papa Raven waited for the laundry, he sat and watched track and field as he drank a beer and ate chicken wings. We really appreciated the owner taking the time away from his busy day to help us! We have learned Killington, Vermont is a huge ski any louge community. The runs down Killington Mountain are intense. They even have one ski run that is five miles long. This coming ski season they will be hosting womens world cup ski racing.

We see a porcupine

Near Little Killington Mt. (1651.2)
Day 121 (8/9/19)
Miles – 20.1
Total miles – 1673.7

We were happy to wake and find that it had not rained during the night. As stated before, it is never fun to take down soaking wet tents. It was cold when we got out of the tents. We have not been cold since North Carolina. For early August, the temperatures seem cool ever since we arrived to Vermont. A local resident out day hiking said this is normal temperatures up here. Our worries of heat and humidity are a thing of the past. Now it is a race to Maine before the first snow falls. Today’s hiking had two big ups. We started the day with the first. This being the smaller of the two and being fresh in the morning, we easily made up the thousand foot climb. Most of this mountain was covered in pine and fir trees. It is nice to be hiking in those trees again. It is more of what we are use to out west. After going down Bear Mountain, we started a series of rolling hills and valleys. At one point, we had to climb straight up a rocky gully. The White Mountains of New Hampshire and Southern Maine are suppose to have many ups like this that cover several thousand feet elevations increases and decreases. This is not far away from us. At dinner time we reached the five hundred marker for those heading NOBO. It is hard to believe that we have so few miles left. Yes only five hundred miles left but some of the hardest hiking we have ever done lays ahead. Nonetheless, after dinner we had our second big up of the day: the top of Killington Mountian. We had thousands of feet to climb in four miles. The sun was very low and getting blocked by gloomy grey clouds. A bitter cold wind came up as a plump porcupine crossed the trail and climbed a tree in front of us. It was getting dark and a few sprinkles fell when we found a flat location large enough for two tents. Despite falling short from making it to the top, we stopped for the night. We are tired. We are cold. We are getting rained on. Our goal is less than a mile a way, so we are calling it a day!. Tomorrow we will be heading into Killington.

More thunderstorms

A lonely ridge (1631.8)
Day 120 (8/8/19) R
Miles – 18.6
Total miles – 1653.6

It was really nice staying in the ski patrol hut. Despite the lousy weather outside, inside we were comfortable. Bitter cold wind blew hard and we could hardly hear it inside the warm building. The rain came down all night and we were dry. A wise decision to hike the extra distance to the hut last night. As it became light in the morning it was still raining so we did not hurry to pack up. The rain eventually let up around eight o’clock. By this time, we were eager to get hiking. When we left, the mountain top was still shrouded in fog as we crossed the summit and headed down the other side. Over the next two hours, the clouds threatened but did not rain. By mid morning the sun started to break through. Today’s trail climbed to the top of several mountains and followed river valleys. At one point we would have sworn that we were in the Sierra’s with pine needles covering the ground and exposed tree roots with a wide river flowing down amongst granite boulders. In the later afternoon, the weather took a turn for the worst. The clouds thickened and we started to hear rumbles in the not too far distance. Shortly, we came to a parking lot with a pit toilet. We put our pack covers and rain skirts on and took out the umbrellas and started up the trail. We had not gone more than a couple of minutes and the rain started. It was hard rain too. We stopped and decided to head back to the pit toilet. It was big enough for all of us to get into it. We propped the door open and we watched the rain. For quite a time, it poured. Slowly the storm passed over us and finally the rain let up. Shouldering our packs, we hiked out. Unfortunately, it started to rain again, but not as hard. By the time we reached Little Rock Pond, the sky was clear. Uncertain of what the weather was going to do, we quickly got water and fixed dinner. The whole time, Whisper kept an eye on a cloud the kept growing from the south. She was fearing more rain was on the way. With such a late start this morning, we needed to get a couple more miles in so we ate in a hurry and headed up. With very little light left and an hour hour of hiking, Bling found a flat place to camp. As of right now it has not rained again and we hope it will not! Tomorrow is supposed to be a better day weather wise. We are surprised how cold it is. It is the first time in a while that we have gone to bed with down coats on. We are unfamiliar with Vermont’s climate. Is it normally cold like this, or is it extra cold right now?

Slerner and Shortcake

Bromley Mountian ski warming hut
Day 119 (8/7/19) R
Miles – 20.7
Total miles – 1635.0

It sprinkled a few times during the night but it was dry when we woke in the morning. Being so close to a stream caused condensation on both tents. As we peeked our heads out of the tent, the sky was dismally dark with heavy grey clouds. Thus we packed quickly and started hiking. When weather comes in, there are numerous official weather reports that vary from one another. Often times they conflict each other. Today’s weather reports was all over the pace: The rain will start first thing in the morning and last all day. Rain starts around noon. Rain to begin early evening. There is a 50% chance of rain, or 80% chance. We should get only scattered thundershowers or constant rain. These are possibilities we heard for today. What actually happened was one big thunderstorm came over us around 3:30 and lasted for about 30 minutes. It rained very hard during that time. But the sun came out afterwards. Overnight we are suppose to get more rain. Lightening and thunder are to the west and north. Towards the end of the day, we climbed Bromley Mountain when we heard someone behind call out Papa Raven. Looking back, there was Slerner, Shortcake, and two other hiking up behind us. We had not seen Slerner and Shortcake since Bunea Vista back in Virginia. They have been 1-4 days in front of us for weeks and assumed we would not see them again. When we walked into Vermont we saw their name in a registery and the date put them four days ahead of us. By the next shelter, they were only one day ahead. Come to find out they had taken three days off in New Hampshire. It was great to see them again! We talked with them for a bit at the Bromley Shelter. Finally, with the weather looking bad and the shelter’s surrounding campsites full, we headed to the top of the mountain. The ski hut, at the top of the mountain, is a fully enclosed, insulated, building with many windows. It is quite warm with no wind. It will be a good place to sleep, especially if it rains tonight. Polar bear is the only other hiker to spend the night in the hut with us.

Slerner and Shortcake

Polar Bear

Just another day

Deerfield Brook (1593.1)
Day 118 (8/6/19) R
Miles – 17.8
Total miles – 1614.3

Camping so close to water we had a little condensation. This was the first time in quite awhile. However it was not enough to worry about. Our big objective of the day was water. The next shelter had a spring and it was 6.6 miles away. We decided to push all the way there in one go. Not long after leaving, Whisper and Papa Raven emptied their water bottles. The walking was not difficult until the very end. As we approached the shelter, we saw one dry spring and became concerned that our intended water source would also be dry. Luckily, our fears were proven wrong. Bling and Whisper arriving first to the spring, were just finishing filling their bottles when Mama and Papa Raven arrived. The spring did not have a high flow, but it was clear and cold, just the way a spring should be. We needed a break, but instead of eating here we hiked a short distance to the top of Glastenbury Mountain where there was a lookout tower and hopefully less flies. For the past few hours, big, ugly flies have been swarming. Other hikers we have past have been bothered with them also. Taking our snack with us, we climbed to the top of the tower. We were rewarded with spectacular views in all directions and no flies! The rest of the day was easy hiking with a few little ups here and there. It was quite uneventful. In the late afternoon clouds started to come in and we got a few light sprinkles. Papa Raven did have a connection and checked the weather. Only a 30% chance of rain today, although tomorrow is the problem, 80% chance. It looks like we will get wet. Some SoBo’s told us that there is no camping north of Deerfield Brook, so we stopped early. We could have done a few more miles but chose instead to stay put for an early ending to our day.

Into Vermont

Hell Hollow Brook
Day 117 (8/5/19)
Miles – 20.0
Total miles – 1596.5

Not wanting to stay another day, we were up by 6:00, ate breakfa, closed our packs, and loaded into Carolyn’s van. We were at the trail and hiking by 7:30. We have really enjoyed our time at Clover Hills Farm. It is a wonderful place run by wonderful people. It would have been so easy to stay another day. Today’s trail started by hiking up a valley next to a small stream. It was not long before we left the stream and hiked a ridge. All at once we were at the Vermont/Massachusetts boarder. Another state down, three to go. Vermont is known for its mud. The guide book even says to avoid hiking in Vermont in the spring so you do not destroy the trail trying to hike through the liquidified dirt. What surprised us was how much mud we ran into. Just hiking the other side of the valley was mud free, but today we had to walk carefully to avoid becoming a mud ball. As we were hiking near Congdon Shelter, we saw a prescribed burn. Smoke was rising up though the trees. Cutting over to take a look, we saw flames burning in clumps on the ground. We could hear Forest Service workers talking towards bigger areas that were burning. Hiking through the afternoon, the day stayed cool. Perfect hiking weather. We were running low on water when we came to Hell Hollow Brook and decided to stop for the night. The water was a bit yellow, but that is ok. We still made dinner with it.

A Day of Surprises

Williamstown
Day 115 (8/3/19) R
Miles – 5.4
Total miles – 1576.5

Mama Raven woke first to the sound of thunder off in the distance. Suddenly the wind began to blow the tree limbs up above. Instantly she woke everyone else up. Rain was on its way. As fast as possible, we packed up the gear. We did not want to deal with wet gear. Papa and Mama Raven got their tent down and away just before the rain began to come down. Bling and Whisper still had to pack the tent but they moved quickly, so it did not get too wet. Watching the rain come down while we were under the umbrellas, we ate breakfast. Afterwards, we headed down the trail. It was a short six miles to Williamstown. Half way there, the rain stopped. Three more miles we were down. A women passing by in her car told us she would give us a ride after she ran two other hikers into town. We said yes. Meanwhile, Papa Raven tried to get a room. Being a college town, Williamstown was having a Shakespeare festival and a few other events this weekend so finding a room was difficult. Every place listed in the guide book, had no vacancies. Upon Whisper’s suggestion, we Goggled hotels for the town to see if there were any other places to stay that our guide did not list. There were a few more, the first one we tried was full. The second said it had a room left so we took it. Our ride dropped us off at the post office. At the post office, Carolyn from the hotel would pick us up when we were ready. First things first, we went down to the farmers market for food! We all got home baked goodies and fruit popsicles. Next we went back to the post office for our boxes. Then are hotel ride came and picked us up. However, what Papa Raven did not tell us we were not at a hotel but at a beautiful horse ranch called Cloverhill Farm. It was situated in the foothills up above the valley of Williamstown. It was absolutely beautiful! Whisper could not be more excited. There were dogs, cats, goats, chickens, ducks, and lots of horses!

Williamstown Post Office