We got up at 6:15 after a chilly night of sleeping in our rain gear. We heard rain for a few minutes, but thankfully it didn't stick around. We planned on a short 13.8 mile day just in case it turned out to be as tough as yesterday. We began by climbing up Mt. Grant and doing some short ups and downs to the Sunset Ledge. The trail was very wet, muddy, and overgrown this morning with lots of slick rocks. We were walking in fog up to the ledge and got a small view down toward South Lincoln before heading down to Lincoln Gap.
At the gap we began climbing our first official 4000-foot peak - Mt. Abraham. There were quite a few day hikers heading up to the peak and the first 1.7 miles of the hike went quickly. We reached the Battell shelter and then things changed. We had crazy slick rock slabs for 0.9 miles all the way to the top. We were climbing in the fog and the cold breeze before finally reaching the alpine summit. It was too chilly to stay for long, so we climbed back down into the trees before having lunch.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the clouds, climbing and descending Lincoln Peak, Nancy Hanks Peak, Cutts Peak, and Mt. Ellen all in the fog and all crossing ski slopes without any blazes in sight. When we finally made our way toward Orvis Overlook we had our first view of the day toward Lake Champlain. We then began climbing up General Stark Mountain and were treated to beautiful views of the Whites and Camel's Hump from the top at Stark's Nest, an indoor shelter on the LT that is a ski warming hut during the winters at Mad River Glen.
It was only 2:30 when we got here and we only had 3.4 miles down to the road... No problem, right?! We could get to the post office before 5 pm and pick up our box! Once again, the Long Trail had other plans for us! After descending steeply down a ski slope and some rock stairs, we ran into a kink... Metal rungs in the side of the rock. This Moosilauke-like hiking continued, wooden ladders and metal rungs kept appearing before we finally hit the Theron Dean shelter. We thought from here it would be a bit easier to get down to the gap, but we were wrong again! More steep rocks and metal rungs kept showing up, alternating with mud and swamps. We kept seeing the road and hearing the traffic only to turn away from it! Eventually we even began walking uphill! At 4:25 we hit the gap and were horrified to find there was no place to hitch a ride in the direction we were trying to go.
We did, however, get some amazing trail magic here... Rich, the hiker we met from Wisconsin the day we left Inn at Long Trail, had just made it back to his car at the gap and graciously offered us a ride into town. We picked up our box at the post office with 20 minutes to spare! We did some grocery shopping and got some super glue for NoKey's shoes before getting a shuttle to the Hyde Away Inn. We had huge dinners and took showers while getting our laundry done! Tomorrow we also get a free breakfast and a ride back to the trail! Camel's Hump and a 16-mile day await us... With a full resupply and a 9 am start that won't be easy.