Mr. Mike back on the A/T
After being off the trail for three years due to COVID and left and right knee replacement surgery I was able to get back on the trail September 20. This time I had a partner, Jack Boers, for which I was very grateful! We started where I left off in Killington, Vermont. I missed one mile from Gifford Woods State Park to the approach trail that we hiked from the Inn at the Long Trail where we had stayed the night before.
Jack and I had anticipated hiking for about 10-12 days, depending on the difficulty of the trail and weather conditions. We hoped to reach Dalton, Massachusetts, approximately 120 miles. We ended up hiking just over 52 miles reaching Mt. Bromley ski resort. We had four days of beautiful weather – sunshine and temperatures in the upper sixties and low seventies during the day and low fifties at night and upper forties in the upper elevations. The trail was extremely muddy. Hikers were calling it the Vermont mud trail! We usually had two to three uphill climbs each day with some difficult descents due to the rocks, tree roots, and mud which made it very slippery. Jack and I both had our share of stubbed toes (I have two black and blue toe nails) and some falls. Jack decided his trail name would be “Prickly Bush” since he lost his footing on some loose rock and fell off the trail into some prickly bushes cutting his arms and the top of his head and losing his glasses. Fortunately he found them! If not for our trekking poles we would have taken many more falls.
My knees did fantastic. I had no pain either climbing or making descents. If only I could improve my cardio! I can tell that I’m in my sixties and had to take more rest breaks. Sleeping in a tent with an air mattress and sleeping bag is not the same as when I was younger. It was light just before 7am and it was dark by 7pm. So we would spend almost 12 hours in our tents each night – made for lots of rest time, which was needed for the next day.
We ended our hike on the fifth day at the top of Mt. Bromley due to a storm that passed through in the night. Jack and I were able to stay in the ski patrol hut at the top of the mountain which is left open for hikers to use during the summer and fall hiking seasons. It was fully enclosed hut and a great place to stay in and to spread out since Jack and I were the only ones there that night. It rained through the night with up to 2 inches of rain coming down making the trail even worse and frankly very unsafe to hike on. That morning three guys from New Jersey who were section hiking, had started hiking that morning, and had stopped at the shelter to eat and rest. They were soaked through and through and covered in mud from the knees on down. They looked horrible and said it was not fun or enjoyable. So… Jack and I decided we would quit and hike another day for our own health and safety! So we hiked down the Bromley ski trails and were picked up by a trail angel, “Flipakey”, and given a ride back to our vehicle at the Inn where we stayed.
It was a good hike. Not as long as I would have liked, but Jack and I are both healthy and safe except for a few cuts and bruises, and hoping for the opportunity to hike another day the “Lord Willing”!