Day 116: Manchester Center, VT to Big Branch Shelter

July 8, 2013

Today’s mileage: 16.5
Total mileage: 1664.3

You know how I always say how difficult it is to leave a warm, comfortable bed in town before heading back to the trail? Well, Green Mountain House Hostel wins the Most Comfortable Bed Award on the AT. I need to find out their mattress and pillow brands.

We were back on the trail by 8:00 and began the ascent up to Bromley Mountain. The last half-mile up to the summit was on a ski trail. It was really cool to hike up a ski trail rather than ski down the slope like we usually do in the winter. A new experience for us. As we reached the top, a chill surrounded us as we found ourselves in the clouds, the chairlift not too far from where we stood. We talked to Camel at the summit before moving on. We met Lucky Strike today, a thru-hiker from New Zealand. We also met a Long Trail hiker from Israel at the hostel last night. One of the great things about the AT is that not only do you meet people from all over the United States, but also from all over the world. Speaking of which, we want to give a shout-out to YOLO, from Germany, who we hiked with in Virginia. We hope you had a good time in Miami, YOLO and are back home safely!

After taking a break at Mad Tom Notch, it began to rain just as the forecast predicted. When the forecast says 30% chance of rain, we take it to mean 100% chance of rain because it always rains these days. We took refuge at Peru Peak Shelter along with several other hikers. As we ate our lunch, the rain subsided and the sun came out. Can you believe it?! We enjoyed a little guitar strumming by Sigal, the LT hiker from Israel, who carries a small backpacking guitar. Miles sang a few songs and we had a full out jam session going for a little while. Elvis and Johnny Cash were the top choices of the afternoon.

There were several boardwalks today over muddy and wet areas. The wood was so slick that we almost fell multiple times. Sometimes, I’d rather just trek through the mud and water than risk my life walking on slick boards. We’ve become mud-hiking masters after a few days in Vermont and I don’t even think twice as I rock hop through the deep mud pits and tiptoe around their edges. I did have one fall that could have been bad. The trail gods spared me however, and my hard fall on a slippery rock had no consequences.

At the top of Baker Peak, we had some visibility as we looked out at the massive mountains before us. We were in the clouds, but they were also below us. What a feeling it is to watch the clouds roll through below you. It’s one of my favorite moments of hiking.

We are tenting in front of the shelter tonight where Z-Man, Knight Rider, and two LT hikers are set-up. Big Branch River is right in front of the shelter, so we enjoyed getting into camp around 4:30 and washing our legs and soaking our feet in the cool, rushing water. The sun was shining as I dried out my legs by the water’s edge. Everything felt perfect at that moment.

We were in the tent by 7:00 tonight and looking forward to hitting the hay early tonight. The sky is still relatively clear now, but I can only hope that storms don’t roll through later. But, they probably will.

Whoa. I forgot to mention a MAJOR milestone that we achieved yesterday. As of yesterday morning, we have completed 75% of the Appalachian Trail! Now we just have to hike through the toughest 25% of the entire trail and we’ll be done. We saved the best (and the most difficult) for last.

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2 thoughts on “Day 116: Manchester Center, VT to Big Branch Shelter

  1. Mom says:

    Congrats on a new milestone, wow 75 percent complete!!!! I forwarded Heather’s package to Hanover with no problem. Xoxo

  2. Julie says:

    75%….. Wow! That is awesome! I am looking forward to the day (very soon!) you tell us you are on top of Katahdin.

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