Stealthing on Killington [mile 1514.0; SOBO 495.6]
Getting ready for a cold night! It was going down to 34 tonight in Rutland; up here, I’m guessing a few degrees colder, with a light wind. Brrrrr.
But not as cold as last night. Last night it went down to 31 in Rutland and there was extensive frost. I got up shivering, got packed up, had breakfast, and hit the spur trail at about 8:30. I think I was on the actual AT at about 9:00.
It was definitely cold today: gloves, sleeves, windshirt, blaze orange hat. When I started up Killington my breath was puffing out like white steam.
The day, overall, was kind of meh. I don’t know whether it was the cold, the long climb, the rocks, the mud—but I wasn’t really grooving. The trail was pretty ugly, too; my first taste of unpretty in what’s been my favorite state so far. Just deadfall and old leaves, tired rubble, stones…. I think maybe the freeze last night stole the life out of some of forest, leaving the undergrowth bruised and flat and tired.
There was plenty of mud today. They call this state ‘Vermud’ for a reason! But it was just soft dirty stuff, not the impressively deep bogs of Maine or even New Hampshire. Just tedious mud. There were also plenty of rocks: not interesting technical scrambles, but smaller sharp boulders and softball-sized bits of annoyance that were hard on the feet. Felt a little like home, in spots.
I met some interesting people! Four or five hikers, all northbound section hikers.One of them, Boulder, thrued in 2006 and told me I’ve now passed the last of the NOBO thrus. That doesn’t rule out meeting the occasional flipflopper or somebody finishing up some bit they skipped.
Boulder also warned me that there’s a strange guy hanging around the next shelter: a homeless type guy in jeans. People do come out and live on the trail sometimes—and I don’t mean the hikers. You might remember Duffel Bag Man from just before Damascus. Anyway, Boulder’s news made me wary and I decided to avoid the shelter, which up until a couple of years ago had a terrible reputation anyway. I’m cozy where I am, though (if not warm enough yet! But I’m heating up).
Oh! Killington! I have to say… not my favorite mountain. I wanted to like it more. But it’s not really a hiker’s mountain. This feels like a place for partiers and ATVers and skiers. At the top, the ski gondolas are just mechanical distractions. There were some pretty views, particularly the colors—rust and turquose and pine—but just pretty, nothing more.
I bet if you dressed this mountain in white, though, he’d be telling an entirely different story.
Tomorrow: I have no idea. I didn’t even make a full day before my itinerary’s completelynout the window—which makes twice in 24 hours!