July 30th 2018
Glastenbury mountain – Lye Brook Wilderness (mile 1646)
24 miles
Total miles: 1667.6


We set alarms for 5:10am and climbed up the tower to see the sunrise. It was chilly but so worth it. It was beautiful and we had a laugh up there. It is such a wonderful time of the morning. We went back onto our tents at 5:45am and I tried to go back to sleep. I couldn’t so I ended up watching the first episode of the new series of Orange is the new Black. I hadn’t expected to be able to watch it and downloaded it on the off chance I may get time. 

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A couple of hikers come by at about 6:30am. They can obviously see our tents and the fact that no one is up yet but they sit on the fire tower and shout their conversation. They were so loud. An unusual choice of place and time to have a very loud conversation I thought. 

We were planning to get up early and get going but as had become pretty normal now we didn’t end up leaving until 7:30am. Everyone was waiting for everyone else to be the first to start packing up. I left with Peaches and Shred and Jukebox caught up quickly. Shred had brought a little speaker which he attached to the outside of his pack and we had a Disney morning where we listened and sang along to Disney tunes. It was great. I have found my people. People who love Disney songs. 

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‘Bear proof’

We got to the first shelter about 4 miles into the day and stopped for a little snack break. I moved on with Shred and Jukebox and we resumed the Disney train. Peaches and Professor hiked fast to catch up and jump on board the train. And we had more singalong fun. When the Disney ended we moved on to the new album from Florence and the Machine, which sounds remarkably like all her other music. We spent a lot of the morning trying to avoid the mud and hopping and jumping from rock to root to squashy bit of mud, shred managed to take a tumble and ended up in the dirt. It is an exhausting task trying to avoid the mud and when we reached the second shelter we stopped for lunch. Professor wasn’t ready for lunch so he carried on.

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There were a bunch of people there. 4 other thru hikers, a couple of whom we have been crossing paths with a lot and a guy who we tried to persuade to go up the fire tower last night but he didn’t want to. Turns out he wasn’t feeling too good with suspected food poisoning. I really didn’t have much of a lunch selection and I managed to bum a tortilla and some jam off Shred to go with my peanut butter. It actually made a nice change from all the food I have been eating. 

We all moved on individually. The mud continued in patches but luckily it was mostly downhill for a few miles to the road. I decided to get my puffy and my hat sent back to me. I could probably get away without them, but as we get further north and we start to get to higher elevations again (the trail hasn’t gone about 2000ft for hundreds of miles) I think it will get colder in the evenings. I could just get in my tent earlier or wrap my sleeping bag around me, but I like my puffy and in these temperatures it would be nice to have it for the evenings. I sent it back because it was so hot and humid the though of even touching it brought me out in an uncomfortable sweat. So I arranged that while I had service. 

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I knew that everyone was ahead of me except Shred and I kept expecting him to catch up with me but by the time I reached the road I still hadn’t seen him. There were so many cars in the little parking area and there was some kind of event happening, it looked like some kind of running race. I though it might be trail magic but quickly realised it wasn’t. But then there was trail magic. A lady, separate from the running group asked if I was a thru-hiker. I recognised her from being at the trail magic yesterday. She was Snake Charmer aka Tater Tot’s mom. She had been on a 3 day hike and thought the trail magic yesterday was awesome so is out here doing some of her own. 

She had Gatorade and snacks and she said I was the first hiker, so everyone else mush have gone through before she arrived. We found out that the other group of people were there supporting a woman who is attempting to run the Long Trail (the Long Trail and the AT are the same thing for about 100 miles and the Long Trail continues through Vermont up to the Canadian border) in the fastest known time. She arrived while I was there and she got a wet towel thrown over her and a variety of snacks offered to her while a camera was shoved in her face. She didn’t look overly happy, but nor would I if I had to run on this trail, but presumably she is doing it by choice.

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I stayed a while and asked a couple of people if they had seen Shred but no one had so eventually I moved on. I had gone a tiny distance up the trail and I hear Shred call out to me. He just walked past the trail magic! He said he didn’t realise it was a separate part of the running thing. So I was the only one who got a treat today! 

This was the beginning of the uphill climb to Stratton Mountain. I wasn’t really looking forward to it unsurprisingly! The trail goes up to just below 4000ft which is the highest it’s been for a while. I managed to keep up with Shred for a bit but lost him when it started to get steep, I caught him again while he was stopped to chat with some day hikers, we saw so many day hikers on this section up from the car park to the top of the mountain, and I managed to keep behind him for the rest of the climb. With the exception of a couple of steep bits the climb was actually quite gentle. We were getting near the top and tired of going uphill and we saw some day hikers who we asked how far the top was. They said half a mile but we were cursing them because it felt a lot longer, really they were probably spot on. Earlier in the day I had found a hat on the trail and I recognised it as belonging to Jukebox so I attached it to my pack and carried it until we caught up with her. I could hear her voice at the top so I stopped just before and put the hat on and walked up normally. 

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I chatted to her and asked her questions so she would look at me. Shred was staring at her and laughing and she wanted to know what was going on. She still hadn’t realised I was wearing her hat. After a few minutes she recognised that ‘I had the same hat as her’ and then it all clicked into place. She hadn’t even realised she had lost it. It was all pretty funny. 

I went up the fire tower and got a look at the nice view. You could see layers of mountains for miles. Then it was just a small matter of an 8 mile downhill to do to get to camp. It was 4pm already so I was hoping to be there by 7:30pm

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It started off nice and not too muddy. I passed professor as he was taking a break and eating some ramen, collected some nice clear cold water from a spring and made my way back into the mud. It wasn’t too bad but just came in patches. 

I’ve really noticed a change in the forest and I took some time to look around. The plants have changed. There are firs and beech and a plant with really big leaves. We spent so much time just looking a meter or two ahead of us, planning in nanoseconds where our next footstep is going to be, that we sometimes forget to stop and look around. I was really relaxed this afternoon, I was in the same position I was in yesterday morning, I had peaches and Jukebox in front of me and Shred and Professor behind me but this time I didn’t feel like I was in a race. I just felt like I was hiking along. And it goes to show that most of this is all in the mind. 

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I leaped around on the trail, grateful for the boards placed over the mud and trying to avoid the rest of the mud. My shoes had got wet during the day but they were drying out a bit and I wanted them to stay that way. 

With just two miles to go I was really starting to feel tired. I was ready to be done for the day. Yesterday we had worked out that we would have to average 17.5 miles a day to finish at the end of August. It’s definitely doable but it’s also a bit worrying thinking about what’s coming up and the big climbs through the Whites, when a 24 mile day today feels like a big task. But we are banking miles by doing days bigger than 17.5 so we have some leeway. Plus I have those few extra days in September to play with if it comes to it. 

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We come to the last water source before camp. We are planning to camp just beyond the junction to the shelter. The shelter is half a mile off trail which no one is keen to walk so we heard there is a little stealth site just north of the bridge. A bridge would suggest a water source but we didn’t have any up to date information about the water there so carried water for a mile and a half. 

I left the stream with Jukebox who said she was hiking slowly. I tried to keep up with her but she was just getting faster and faster. I thought it was probably because I was behind her and because of my short stride it sounded like I was going faster than I was, when in reality I was having to practically run to keep up with her. The faster I ran the quicker she got. In the end I asked her why she was going so fast and she said it was because I was behind her going so fast. After explaining that I was only going fast to try and keep up with her she slowed down and we had a nice relaxed hike into the campsite. It was a bit tucked off the trail and it was good that Professor had already got there and we could hear him chatting to someone otherwise it would have been difficult to find. 

The stream was flowing so we didn’t need to carry water but it wasn’t too much of a hardship. I probably won’t drink much of the water I carried because it’s got that yellow tinge to it. It tastes fine but the fact it’s yellow is pretty off putting! Jukebox went to the stream to wash herself and when we were moaning about the state of our feet and the mud on our legs she said we could just go and clean up at the stream. We all agreed it was too far away. But you can hear it. Yeah but you can’t see it though, that means it’s too far away. 

It’s just us and a sobo Long Trail hiker camping tonight. He joins in with our family dinner we eat around the unlit fire ring. I ate my remaining tuna packets. I don’t think I’ll be getting tuna again. But what will I get?! I’m left with very little food which is ok because it’s only 6 miles to get to town tomorrow. We have seen a lot of Long Trail hikers today and passed lots of sobo AT hikers. This is the sobo bubble I think. We saw quite a few yesterday too. 

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I’m in bed by 8:20pm and I’ve finished this by 9:30pm which is one of the earliest nights I’ve had for a long time. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 83

 

 


 

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