Brian's Hike on the Appalachian Trail (16)
February 20, 2000 until ????

brianshike16 : June 16 to June 30

Brian's Journal

June 17, 2000 11.5 miles today to the 'O So Ghetto Avaton Motel and 304.4 to NH/Maine line

After a morning of hot, muddy walking, and a mid-day thunderstorm, I decided to head into town for a much-needed afternoon/evening of rest. I'm staying in the shadiest motel I've ever seen. I know I've probably said that countless times before, but this is THE SHADIEST!! It's not really a motel. The owner hated the motel industry, so he turned all but one of the rooms into cheap apartments, and left the one room open for hikers only. So for $35 of tax-free cash, I got a room with a broken shower, no toilet paper, no soap, and wonderful wife beating neighbors. It does have cable, and for my purposes, that's all I really need.

I got here shortly before 2, then got a ride into Bennington from the owner (after standing in the shower and using my Nalgome bottles to pour water from the sink over my smelly self). Nice guy. White Velcro-sneakers and all. I did my laundry, wandered around town, then started the process of getting a ride back up here. First I tried asking the pizza place if they could deliver me, with my pizza, back home. "NO" was all I got. So I hit the road with my good ol' thumb, and finally got a good ride with a young family out on vacation from Boston. Other than that, I've been enjoying my climate controlled, bug-free habitat and entertainment center for all they're worth. It finally cooled down tonight, and the forecast looks good for tomorrow. Good to hear. OK. Must-watch-more-TV!!

No worries. Billy Goat
green forest
Many shades of green!

June 18, 2000 19.0 miles today to Story Spring Shelter with 273.9 until the NH/Maine line

green tree trunks
Green tree trunk
It's a strange feeling to walk where you've already walked before. You remember spots, but not the more monotonous sections of trail that link the spots. So miles tend to crawl by, and you are constantly thinking about a spot you're headed to, not fully enjoying the spot you are at. I wonder if that last sentence will make any sense when I read this 5 years from now. Anyway, today was a nice, cool drizzly day, good for walking. I dragged myself away from MTV's Road Ruks Marathon at 9 and got a ride to the trail from my sketchy motel buddy. I like this part of Vermont very much. I got back into alpine pine forest while climbing up Glastonbury Mt. The forest lived up to their Green Mountains name today. It's amazing how many shades of the same color there are. And everything is so dense. There is green clovers growing out of green moss on top of the green lichen on a dread tree, all under the green fingers of green ferns. I guess green is the word of the day. I took a long lunch break at Goddard Shelter, actually getting a nice view of Greylock before being choked off by fog. It was good to just sit there alone for a couple hours just listening to the sounds of the forest and rain on a tin roof. I got here early, and ate some fine Mac+Cheese with Kimber and Cesar; and Swamee just showed up. Time to go. No worries. BG

June 19, 2000 18.4 miles today to the Spruce Peak Shelter with 255.5 miles until the NH/Maine line


Although the view from Stratton was nice, I think the highlight of my day was sitting out in the sun on Prospect Rock killing bugs for an hour. I did my best not to deliver a death-blow, opting instead for a fatal wound blow, so those little bastards would have a moment to realize their short, obnoxious life was about to end. As I did this, I would yell out phrases like, "What's up NOW Bitch!" or, "See you in Hell!" or, "Hasta La Vista, Baby!"
rest stop
rest stop

At first I thought I was victorious; little did I know that they were just re-grouping to come back at me with a full assault. I eventually gave up, but vowed I would return. I'm realizing now that bugs are king in Vermont.

From the shelter this morning I ran all day, since anytime you stopped moving you got mugged. My only relief was on the top of the Stratton fire tower, and now in this awesome, fully enclosed shelter. So the day wasn't so great, although the sun did come out, and give some awesome lighting for all the ferns and mosses on Stratton. Oh well. I'm here with Swamee and Kimber and Cesar again. Nice company in a nice shelter. Guess that's about all there is to say. Bugs Suck.

No worries. BG

June 20, 2000 17.0 miles today to the Lost Pond Shelter with 238.5 miles until the NH/Maine line

What a day. Woke up to beautiful weather for the first time in a long while. A sort of odd section hiker was also at the shelter last night, and he offered to drive Swamee and me into Manchester Center. So we woke up, ate breakfast #1, then ran down the 2.5 miles to route 11. Out first stop was a "The Best Dinner," which lived up to it's name. I had the best omelet (Vermont Cheddar and ham), hash browns, sausage, toast, and coffee I've ever put in my mouth. Absolutely savory!! Worth a long car ride from Jersey sometime.

Anyway, from there we piled back into the guys Toyota mini-mini van, and headed into town for some outlet shopping. Manchester blew me away. Even though I stayed over last year, it is just a complete shock to go from walking in National Wilderness areas to walking streets lined with Versace, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Orvis, and every other tacky, "chic" clothing maker's outlet stores. People seriously take family vacations up here just to go shopping. It's mind boggling. It's also shocking to see so many attractive, sweet smelling people so close to the trail, after being accustomed to the rednecks and NARDS (north Atlantic rural dwellers) that inhabit most trail towns. So a good part of the day was spent girl watching, which was more than a bit odd since our Toyota good-buddy was 47 with 2 kids and a wife, and was making pretty graphic comments about all these girls younger than me.
Lost Pond
Lost Pond

Oh yeah. I had one of those monumental "firsts" today. A girl came up to me and asked if I'd buy some beer for her. I laughed. Anyway, after 1400 calories at Ben and Jerry's from factory-reject ice-cream, and a grocery re-supply, I got on the trail at 2, walked 15 miles in 5 hours, and am here now at 8:30 with another hour of light. WOW. Swamee just showed up, having left his sunglasses by a spring, walked a mile, and realized he left his glasses, walked back a mile, then re-walked the first mile again and got here. Anyway, all is well, and I'll see Jaimie in 2 days. Not too bad. No Worries. BG

June 21, 2000 17.4 miles today to the Pine Tree Lodge Motor Court with 221.1 miles until the NH/Maine line

What a day. Swamee and I walked 1/2 mile down to the Whistel Stop Restaurant for dinner, and when I called Jaimie to set up a place to meet tomorrow, I found out that Omi passed away yesterday. I've been so stressed trying to figure out how to get home that it hasn't really hit me yet. I figured it made more sense to get a bus home than to have Jaimie drive 16 hours to come and get me, so I headed to Rutland. I got a hitch by a nice girl who offered to let me stay at her apartment, but she had to run it by her roommates first. So she dropped me off at an ultra-chic coffeehouse, gave me her number, and told me to call her in an hour. While at the coffee shop, I meet two Long Trail hikers who offered to let me stay in a motel with them. I called Hannah; her roommates didn't like her idea, so I took the hikers up on their offer. They gave me the key to their room since they were going out to a bar. I ended up getting lost out of my mind, in the pouring rain, before I finally got here.

This whole time I couldn't reach Mom and Dad. I finally talked to them around 10, and they told me that Omi sort of slipped into a comma on Monday, then died Tuesday afternoon. It's good to hear that she died peacefully, but I feel like a fool for not calling home from Manchester yesterday. Even though I knew that Omi would probably die during my trip, it's still a shock to hear that she has. It just reminds you how fragile life is.

So instead of heading to a super happy concert, I'm heading home for the Memorial Service on Sunday, and to be with the family. I guess that's all there is to say. A little bit of worries, Billy Goat

(A one week break during which Brian went back to N.J. for Omi's Memorial Service)

Memorial Service

June 28, 2000 1.2 miles today to the Claredon Shelter with 214.9 miles until the NH/Maine line

Today ended up being one of those disaster days where you can only step back, realize that shit happens, and move on. After a late night of packing, I woke from my 2 hours of sleep at 4:30 AM and headed to the Ridgewood bus stop five minutes too late with Mom. I managed to forget my poles at home, realizing it 5 minutes down the road which wasted another 10 minutes. Unfortunately I needed those minutes. We got to the bus station at 6:25 or a 6:30 AM bus. Then I had the luck to meet the slowest ticketer in the world. I finally got my ticket at 6:29, just time enough to frantically realize I was on the wrong side of the divided highway, looked over to where I should have been, and saw my empty, express Greyhound bus go tearing away in a cloud of dust and exhaust. Fuck. That says it all.

I said good-bye to Mom, got my PBJ, then mopped my way to the bench. This isn't a bus station, just a park and ride with those little bench shelters, so I had to use all of my capability to maintain my sanity. The next bus to Rutland didn't leave until 11:30, but one for Albany with a connection to Rutland was supposed to leave at 9:30. I spent the rush hour hours watching hundreds and hundreds of commuters waiting for the NYC shuttle. Sort of amusing; good people to people watch, though. They all thinned out by 8, so I had an hour and a half to kill. It ended up killing me, so when the bus finally showed up 45 minutes late, completely full, I was excited for the change. I got to sit next to a huge, 250, 6'6" ogre of a man, but I was tired enough to sleep soundly in my 1/4 of a seat for all 3 hours to Albany. There I had 2.5 hours to kill, but at least I had a seedy terminal to hand around in. Nothing like a bus terminal to make you feel lonely. No one acknowledges each other; they just sit in the rows of benches, staring ahead of the head in front of them. At 2:30 PM I got the local Vermont bus to Rutland, stopping at all the towns on Route 7 in the process. It was sort of neat to bus through Bennington, Manchester, and the area I've been hiking over.

Anyway, I finally got dumped out at Rutland at 5:30, way too late or the 13 miles I had wanted to do, and after wasting time looking for a ride, it was 6:30, way too late for the 7 miles I had hoped to do. So here I am, alone with a camp of 11-14 year old boys, feeling lonely. At least Vermont appears to have dried up, and (knock on wood) the boys seem MUCH more tolerable.

It's hard to take a week off. I'm glad I went home, and really glad I got to go to Omi's service. It is weird not knowing where all my hiker buddies are though. I was going to try to catch Swamee, Shakedonn and Shamar, and Roy, but I think I'm changing my motto to "take it easy." I only have 400 something miles of the most beautiful trail left. I think it would be foolish to do anything else. No worries. BG.

June 29, 2000 18.5 miles today to The Inn at the Long Trail with 201.41 miles until the NH/Maine line

Going with my new "take it easy" approach, I'm writing from a queen size bed at the Long Trail Inn, after an awesome dinner, good beer, and an evening of television watching.
Views from Killington
Anyway, today was awesome. Perfect weather, nice views, lunch at Killington's summit restaurant, nice trails, and now, a nice place to lay my head. I spent most of the day walking up in alpine forests on Killington-Pico ridge. Really, really nice. It amazes me how green it is up there. It seems like moss and clovers start growing on fallen trees before the ground stops shaking. Just like a huge, soft, green carpet. The new Pico relocation was real pretty. They just raked away some green to make the patch, but the trail is so new it feels like you are walking on a huge sponge or one of those Moon-machines.

So far my new boots are feeling good. I passed (the new) Maine junction this afternoon, this time busting to the right instead of heading up to Canada. The new trail meets up the old Long Trail about a mile and a half north of the old Maine junction, then follows it back to Sherburne Pass. I originally passed by the side trail to the Inn, but 2 miles later with thunder and rain and 5 more miles to the next shelter, (allegedly full by a southbound day-hiker), I jumped off the trail and got a ride back here. As I lie in bed, listening to the rain outside, I'm glad I did. All is well. No worries. BG

June 30, 2000 14.6 miles today to Winturn Shelter with 186.8 miles until the NH/Maine line

Long Trail
A Long Trail Section
Nice day today. Woke up on a soft bed, ate an incredible breakfast at the Inn (included in my stay). Then hitched back to where I jumped off and started hiking. The first couple of miles was one of the most beautiful stretches I've seen yet. Incredibly lush, it looked like the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, only miniature without the monstrous redwoods. It only lasted a mile or two, then I was into a pretty hilly section of fairly non-descript hiking. Odd weather today. Classic Lomey Tunes rain cloud followed me for half an hour, even though all the surrounding skies were clear and blue. Kept me cool though.

I considered a 28-mile day for about 8 seconds, but opted to take a long lunch hour nap at Lookout Cabin instead. Awesome place. It's a privately owned cabin, but the owners let hikers stay there as long as they keep it clean. It is immaculate, fully enclosed, nice fireplace, high ceiling, with a loft. Plus an observation deck up on the roof with good views to Killington-Pico, as well as glimpses out to the Whites. I'm here tonight with 2 older good old boys and a northbound section hiker named Arnold. Ladykeeper and Sea Otter are about 1.2 day ahead. OK. Tomorrow either 26 or 20 miles long either way. No Worries. BG

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