Long Trail Mileage: 24.4
Time: 8.3 hours
Day / Night Temp: 28 / 12 F (plus consistent 10-15 mph winds)
I woke up at 0300 last night and wrote yesterday's blog; I forgot how time consuming it can be to do on an iPhone screen with one thumb typing away as my phone is 8" in front of my face in an attempt to stay warm in my bag. The night passed quickly, and the darkness overhead eventually lost it's stars as dawn lit up the sky. My alarm went off at 0600 and was ignored for approximate three snooze cycles before Santa and I finally started moving around. Our 7 o'clock start time was delayed about 45 minutes, but got us on the trail a full hour earlier than the day before so I have no complaints.
From the river and roadside where we camped we crossed a long steel bridge, narrow enough to ensure only hikers could pass over, and began a steep 1,300' climb to an unnamed peak, simultaneously crossing into the southern edge of the Green Mountain National Forest's Glastenbury Wilderness. The Microspikes we had worn for the first three miles were traded for snowshoes after crossing a wide and partially frozen Hell Hollow Brook, the need for greater traction being caused by the work trail becoming untouched on the opposite side of the water. We continued to climb another few hundred feet then descend again, dancing with elevation throughout the day in a typical-of-the-Appalachian Trail-manner. As we continued on the snowpack got deeper and more icy, with the wind beginning to blow at consistent speeds with gusts into around fifteen miles per hour. It wasn't too cold, still mid 20s, but required re-layering to match the environment. One beautiful indication of the cold and wind was a section of trees where the leaves had literally frozen sideways, all facing east as the wind blew harsh from the west.
Stopping six miles into the day at the Little Pond Lookout, we hid below the small cliff itself in order to block ourselves from the wind as we at lunch. Santa cooked a ready-made container of pasta and I attempted a sandwich of frozen Colby-Jack cheese with frozen mango chipotle tuna on an almost but not frozen tortilla shell. Mine was immensely disappointing, and I packed up to move on as quickly as humanly possible. The trail moved upwards over the next mile to just shy of 3,300' before slowly dropping again. At some point I hit a wall and lost all energy, likely a result of the lack of food and water so far in the day. Santa took point in breaking the trail for us, and we slowly moved forwards, at times pausing as we struggled to find the trail in the nondescript forest it wound its way through.
After a steep 700' elevation gain we pulled into the Goddard shelter towards the top of Glastenbury mountain shortly before 1600hrs. Residing at over 3,550' the shelter is open to the wind, but Santa suggested we stop for the night and I quickly agreed. We ate heartily, drank 1-1.5 liters each, and were ready for bed in less than two hours. Inconsistent cell service allowed for texts and phone calls, which was nice after a frustrating and tiring day. The wind maintained until 2230hrs, and as I write this it is very still outside with temps in the low teens. There's solid cloud cover, likely due to us being up on the mountain, and we're expecting snow tomorrow. We didn't make it too far today, barely over 10 miles, and will aim to squeeze in a little more tomorrow.
For those that have written in and commented- thank you! I don't have enough service to reply yet but will when I can. As a reminder there's a full gear list under the Long Trail tab at the top of the page.
Warmest regards on the shortest day of the year...