Called "Vermont's footpath in the wilderness" and "the oldest long distance hiking trail in America", the Long Trail can really be considered the mother of US long distance trails although at a measly 270 miles it pales in comparison to the more famous Appalachian Trail's 2,160+. It runs north-south border to border from Massachusetts to Canada. My first experience with the Long Trail occurred during my millenium AT thruhike. The LT and AT share the first 100 miles of trail through Vermont until Maine Junction where the AT turns east to New Hampshire and Maine and the LT holds it's course north to Canada. Thus I have already hiked over a third of the trail, but this time around I am restarting at the Massachussetts border. I want to do the whole trail as one complete "go".
Varied, thick forests are one aspect of the trail but it is also surprisingly rugged. Astoundingly rugged in truth. Though only 5 mountains surpass 4,000 ft (1,300 m) of altitude there are another 30 above 3,000 feet and more lower than that. The result is a staggering total of almost 67,500 vertical feet (20,579 meters) to ascend over the length of the trail - well over twice the height of Mt. Everst above sea level. Thruhiker's Guide to America claims,
Mile for mile, Vermont's Long Trail is the most rugged long-distance trail in the United States. This brutal trek will reduce even the hardiest hikers into sniveling wimps. Aspirin will help with the aches and pains, and may reduce the swelling enough that your boots can once again accomodate your turgid feet.I didn't sell my sister on this trail with that quote. She now tells me that she is picking the next hike.
I've heard the LT described as two different trails. The first is the "southern" or south of Rutland/US 4/Killington section where the trail coincides with the AT and is well travelled, lower, and more gentle although it can be a bit too wet as well. The northern section is much more like New Hampshire and Maine with few switchbacks and steep, rocky climbs to some of the summits. In fact some parts of the trail "cliff out" and end at a ladder that must be ascended or descended just like a European via ferrata. What I've learned is that water availability can be a problem too. It is hard to contain my excitement.
I hop on Greyhound at 22:00 on the 27th of September and arrive the next afternoon and hike into the mountains to the beginning of the trail. My first full day of hiking will be the 29th. I am expecting to do the first 102 miles in a week. Indeed I have to average 15 miles per day since I am meeting Karen, Adventure Chick at The Inn on the Long Trail on the 6th of October where I am already planning on Guiness Stew and more. She is joining me for the next 104 miles to Mt. Mansfield. It will be her third backpacking trip ever and by far her longest in both distance and days. She is excited but also anxious after having read some trail journals describing the bugs, rain, steep trails, rock climbs, ladder climbs, and wild nature of that section.
This trip is similar to another of my walks in another way. Just like after thruhiking the John Muir Trail I have no plan on how I will return. Using my philosophy of "Everything always works out on the Trail" I suppose I'd have to do at least some walking and some hitchhiking just to get to a place where I would have other transport options. Maybe I'll just hitchhike all the way back.
With no further ado here is my journal starting with my departure from Ohio. I don't have plans to mail it home to a transcriber as I hike so it won't be updated until I return sometime in the end of October.
It will be interesting to compare our two different journals side by side after we are done.