Day 2, august 27th
Start: cowboy camp at mile 466
End: Pico Shelter, mile 492
Miles hiked: 26
Skudz and I are up and out early, climbing the steep trail. The Appalachian trail is not graded for horses like the pacific crest trail is. It is for human traffic only (and dogs). As such, the trail can go up at a very steep grade, with huge steps up onto rocks and roots. Add to this that the trail was constructed before sustainable trail building was known, and the grades out here are something you never see on the pct. No switchbacks, and tons of rocks and roots jutting out of the trail. It makes for much, much slower miles. I could go up nearly any slope on the pct at 3 miles an hour. Here, even the flat areas, or downhills, I struggle to ever hit that speed. There’s just too much on the ground. It’s not the cruiser trail that it’s younger sister to the west is.
It’s another beautiful day, and hiking with Skudz is great. She updates me on all of our mutual friends back home. She tells me about my buddies Brandon and Dan, and I suddenly get really home sick. I miss those guys a lot, I miss climbing the high peaks in Colorado. I miss the exposure, and the adrenaline. I tell Skudz that next summer, when I hike the cdt, I want to skip the parts I’ve already done (all that couples up with the Colorado trail, and the western collegiate loop) and have those guys pick me up and go climbing for a week. Knock out some rad mountains that I want to get. That would be perfect.
The forest here is so green, so alive. My feet feel better than yesterday, which gives me hope that they won’t be as bad as they were on the pct. Just need to flatten out again after a week off the trail.
Skudz and I get to lookout mountain and take the side trail to a wonderful little hut/hiker cabin. It’s extremely nice, with a viewing deck in the top of the roof. We climb up, and are greeted with 360 degree views of the green mountains. Everywhere we look is forest with occasional rolling farm land. We get on the chimney and strike a few poses, despite it being risky and probably very unwise. Anything for a good picture though, right?
The rest of the day is filled with rolling hills that feel much steeper and harder than they should be, until we reach Sherwood pass, and the inn at the long trail. There’s a little Irish pub here that I remember from when I hiked through four years ago. I remember being so happy to get a warm meal and a beer. I was tired from lugging around a 40 pound pack and wearing huge boots. I was a straight up Sheryl, no doubt. And although I was constantly exhausted, I thoroughly enjoyed myself on that hike, an end to end of the long trail.
Skudz and I each get a huge meal and a bomber of Switchback. It’s the local beer I remember so well from my past trip. Everyone I hiked with asked “have you tried switchback yet? It’s the best Vermont brew!” And it is. It used to come only in kegs, however, in the past four years they started selling it in bombers as well. It tastes so good! We sign the register and head on and up killington peak after our meal.
As we climb the steep slope, the clouds begin to build, and soon enough it starts raining on us. I quickly repack my bag to keep everything dry while Skudz waits for me. Not 50
Yards from where I put on the pack is Pico shelter! A rescue from the storm! We run inside and have the place to ourselves.
“A cabin in the woods for when it rains,” I say to Skudz “can’t beat that!”
It’s truly amazing, the AT has all of these shelters along the way, maybe every 3-8 miles. They provide amazing shelter from rains. On the PCT, I would have been bummed, knowing I would be sleeping on wet ground, and setting up while my gear gets wet. That puts a lot of mental fatigue on you. Here, on the at, you just slip into a magical cabin and all of your worries about the storm disappear. Sheriff woody would be the happiest man alive right now, I think. I’m so excited to be here. Be dry. Be warm. The AT is where it’s at!
I do some blogging, we share more stories, and we talk well past dark. There’s so much to catch up on with each others lives after just four months. It’s good to be back with an old friend.