Day 15 - Long Trail

This morning started out on a bad note, being that I discovered I didn't have any other socks.  Somehow I left my two clean pair back at the motel in Waitsfield a few days back.  NoKey gave me his clean pair and off we went. First though, we had to climb up and out of the Buchanan shelter the 0.3 we climbed down last night.  Our first climb on the trail for the day was up Bolton Mountain and it was tough and muddy.  We had about 4 miles to the Puffer shelter and we made it in about 3 hours.  The climb down the notch into Puffer was the hardest part with many of the rocks being wet and mossy.  The Puffer shelter is perched on the side of a cliff face and must have a stunning view of the valley, but we were mostly in the clouds.  

 Oh, this is Vermont? 

Oh, this is Vermont? 

 

From here we did some more climbing  down before we had to begin going back up and over Mt. Mayo and Mt. Clark, passing a pond and climbing down a ladder before stopping at Taylor Lodge for lunch.  We also met a couple here we stayed with last night and had been trying to catch because we found one of their shirts laying in the mud up on Bolton.  

 

 The weather is starting to clear! 

The weather is starting to clear! 

 

After lunch the trail turned surprisingly nice and easily walkable for a while, about 1.5 miles, until we reached the Twin Brooks campsite.  It was a short 1.3 miles to Butler Lodge from here, but it became much steeper and wet again as we got a little closer.  We finally reached the trail junction and sat down for a long and needed break.  We also met the new caretaker for the lodge who was pretty excited to be there.

 

Now is when the fun starts- going up and over Mt. Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont.  We were already tired, but we were determined to have a good view so we went up!  The first 0.9 miles were extremely tough.  We climbed through the Needle Eye and then began climbing up The Forehead.  We first climbed down ladder, then began bouldering up before crossing a plank across a ravine.  Then, four more ladders and some more bouldering.  There were blueberries growing all along the trail for snacking along the way.  We finally reached the summit of The Forehead and had awesome views of the Nose and The Chin! 

 

 This is how climbing the forehead looked for 0.8 miles

This is how climbing the forehead looked for 0.8 miles

 

We passed the visitor's center near The Nose summit and the caretakers gave us some peppermint patties!  They told us the climb isn't too bad and we headed up the 1.7 miles to the view top at The Chin.  It was a lot like being up on Katahdin above tree line, so the climb wasn't as strenuous.  We reached the top and took off our socks and shoes to dry on the warm rocks in the sun.  We sat up there for nearly 2 hours taking photos and talking to people.  A nice woman even gave us some delicious raw milk cheese to snack on!  After drying out and deciding we were hungry, we climbed down the half mile to the Taft Lodge.

This shelter is legit!  It's entirely indoors with windows.  We are staying with Slowpoke and Redwood, an older man, and a young couple, all of us LT thru hikers.  The caretaker also handed out cheese crackers with dinner.  It's been an amazing night and we are exhausted.  It was the longest 14.4 mile day I've ever hiked!

 The Nose of Mansfield

The Nose of Mansfield

 Climbing down actually means CLIMBING! 

Climbing down actually means CLIMBING! 

 The stunning view from The Chin, the highest peak in Vermont

The stunning view from The Chin, the highest peak in Vermont