Day mileage: 13
AT total mileage: 1,701.2
Time: 3.5 hours
I woke up at the exact same time as Santa and Legs, each of us exiting our gondolas and dragging our sleeping bags to the deck of the gondola lift. The time was 04:30 AM, and in 45 minutes we would watch the sun crest the horizon, 180 degrees from where we watched it disappear the night before. In the time between sunrise and our moving out to the deck we would watch the clouds dance across the sky as the sun began coloring them with deep reds and orange hues. Nodding on and off as time passed, we watched the sun appear over the distant mountain ridges, and then each fell back asleep. The wind was blowing fiercely, but we each hunkered down in our sleeping bags and drifted off for a few more hours of shut eye. It wouldn't be until after 7 that Rocket would wake us, a reminder that there were miles to be hiked.
Packing up lethargically, we eventually began the trek down from the summit of Killington. The cold wind continued, but a t-shirt and shorts were all that were necessary as the physical demands of descending the rocky and steep trail we'd come up the day before kept us plenty warm. After countless careful steps and lots of precise placement with trekking poles, we made it down to the lodge where we had almost stayed the night before. Two other thru-hikers had tented nearby, but nobody actually occupied the stone shelter. Passing by it we continued down the mountain, losing some 2,500' in elevation over the next 7 miles. We stopped briefly on the way down at a shelter for a small snack, then trudged on to the bottom of the mountain. The plan for the day was to hike into Killingon, VT for a resupply, as well as to grab my new camera and Legs' food box from the post office. We would also stop by a state park shower house where hot water was available to the tune of 50 cents for 5 minutes. Unfortunately (a rather silly business move, I'd think) there was no change machine, so we were limited to the small amount of change any of us carried. I'd by lying if I said that 5 minutes time was enough to wash and rinse a hiker's body of dirt, grime, and general grossness. Despite that, the challenge to become at least partially clean lay in front of us, so we used the 5 minutes time to the fullest and did what we needed to do. Donning our town clothes (I wear my Superman shirt, the girls have dresses, Dorothy- a guy- in bright pink shorts and Hawaiian shirt, and Santa his rain gear) we hiked another mile downhill to the crossing in the trail that would take us 0.4 miles to Base Camp Outfitters. A hiker friendly store that caters to outdoor activities of all kinds in the Killington area, I had my camera mailed here to pick up. Rocket exchanged some lifetime-warranty socks, and we plugged in our array of electronics to charge on the porch. Jim, a friend of my folks and close friend of Diane and Mike, owners of the outfitters, had been kind enough to leave me a 6-pack of local beers and some Gatorade in the store fridge, which was exceptionally nice for a hot summer afternoon. Introducing myself to Diane and Mike, we made ourselves at home on the business' front porch. Diane offered to drive us to the two some-odd miles to the laundromat/pub, aptly called the Scrub-a-Dub Pub, to do laundry and get lunch. Putting in our load, which we've taken to washing as a whole, we went upstairs and ordered an array of cheeseburgers. Pricing reflected that of a northern ski town, but were fair in relation to the amount of food provided. I had a few beers, and after our laundry was done, we began the few miles of road-walk back to the outfitter. The time was already 1800hrs, having flown by as we took care of little town tasks, and we were debating the planned 7 mile hike out of town to the next shelter.
The problem with our wonderful plan was that it was late enough into the day that hiking said distance may have been unreasonable. The first mile or two out of town was comprised of a 1,300' climb, and nobody had been to the small gas station/deli/market to pick up food for a resupply. It was about this time that Finn, a recurring character in the past few weeks who has been absent from the storyline due to hiking with another group, had met up with a lady-friend and called to offer us a ride to Wal-Mart to get our food. Due to the prices likely being significantly cheaper and the variety of food much larger, we agreed to have him pick us up and take us. Unfortunately, while extremely helpful, this added nearly an hour to our day and caused us to return to Base Camp (literally) around 2030hrs. Packing up our newly purchased food and storing fully charged electronics, we hiked in the dark down to the edge of Kent Pond. Tucked back on the trail a few hundred yards was an opening large enough for us to fit a few sleeping bags, and we all decided to cowboy camp on the edge of the lake. We hung out for a few more hours listening to music and telling stories, eventually drifting off to our beds around midnight.
Tomorrow we'll hike on, though the heat is forecasted to be 91 degrees without factoring humidity. Miserable hiking weather if you ask me. We'll get as far as we get, likely with an afternoon break of a few hours, and continue on tomorrow. It's hard to believe July 1st is here. Come Thursday I'll be 3 months in from Springer Mountain, just shy of 1,800 miles further north on the trail.
Onwards & upwards, per usual.