My night in the “no vacancy” Stratton Pond Shelter wasn’t too bad. If there was any snoring, the sound was overwhelmed by the crackling sound of 16 people randomly changing positions on inflatable air mattresses. Everyone went to sleep early and everyone woke up early to pack quietly and resume their hike. Even if my overnight stay at the shelter had been a negative experience, the negativity would have quickly been erased by the beautiful morning hike around Stratton Pond.
Once leaving the shoreline of Stratton Pond, the trail enters the Lyle Brook Wilderness where I followed a flat, though sometimes muddy and rocky, trail down to the Winhall River. The sky was blue, but the temperature and humidity were already ramping up, making for a very uncomfortable day. The A.T. exits the Lyle Brook Wilderness after about four miles and starts following a smooth dirt road for a while. It felt good to get away from the rocks and pick up my pace a little.
Just before the trail leaves the dirt road and heads back into the forest, there is a side trail to a viewpoint at Prospect Rock. A mother and daughter out for a day hike were already occupying the lookout so I found a place in the nearby shade to cool off and eat some lunch. After the day hikers vacated the rock, I moved to enjoy the view of Manchester Center, VT. That was my destination for the day so I soon continued on my way towards the air-conditioned comfort of a hotel room.
After hiking through some pretty forest for about two hours, I arrived at VT 11 & 30 where I walked over to the trailhead parking lot. Sensing that it might be easier to get a ride the six miles to Manchester Center if I hid as much of my mud covered clothing as possible, I switched out of my gaiters and mud-covered shoes to socks and camp shoes and headed back to the highway to try to find someone to give me a lift to town.
On the way to town, my trail angel asked me what my town plans were and I told her that I was trying to get to Mountain Goat Outfitter to pick up a resupply package that had been mailed there. She kindly said that she knew the exact store and that she would drop me off in the parking lot. Manchester Center is a small, high-end tourist town that caters to the winter skiing crowd. It was anchored by Eastern Mount Sports before the store closed, so we talked a lot about what the effect of the closing had on the locals.
I felt bad about not buying something from Mountain Goat while retrieving my package, but there just wasn’t anything that I needed from that store. What I did need, however, was to buy provisions for the night, before calling the local hotels for a shuttle. As chance would have it, on the ride to the center of town we had passed a store with a marquee proudly advertising a deli and beer. With my backpack on and a 12-pound box in my arms, I walked in that direction with a convenience store pit stop to take on a quart of Gatorade.
With provisions in hand, I found some shade in the parking lot trees and called the Econo Lodge that had been recommended to me by Scar. The lady who answered the phone told me that she would be happy to pick me up for $10 and, in the heat, it sounded like a bargain to me. It turned out that she picked me up in a “Bimmer” so the $10 shuttle was more luxurious than most. Soon I was in the shower while the AC unit worked hard to bring the room temperature to near Arctic levels.
The remainder of my day was spent spreading my gear around the room to dry and processing the food from my resupply box. The hotel lady told me that she would not be able to return me to the trail until 9:00 am, so I will have a little time to pack in the morning. It also rained hard this evening which helped give some relief to the temperature and humidity levels. After eating all my deli food, I was still hungry so I ordered a delivery pizza. I believe this will tide me over until breakfast.
Date: July 17, 2017
Starting Location: Stratton Pond Shelter
Ending Location: VT 11 & 30, Manchester Center, VT
AT Miles Today: 10.7
AT Miles To Date: 1,650.7