The Inn at the Long Trail was so comfortable that I almost wanted to take a zero, but the temperature had cooled off overnight so it was time to move on. After packing, I went downstairs to see what the free breakfast was all about and was pleasantly surprised when I was presented with an omelet, home fries, sausage, toast, fruit cup, and coffee. Another unique feature of the Inn is that it is built around a large rock embedded in the side of the mountain. Part of this rock is visible inside McGrath’s Irish Pub, but the main display is in the dining room.
It was almost a two-mile walk from the Inn at the Long Trail back to the trailhead, but it was all downhill and the time went quickly by. Shortly after beginning the climb from US 4, I arrived at Maine Junction where the Long Trail separates from the A.T. and continues due north to Canada, while the A.T. continues east to New Hampshire. Because the Long Trail is also marked with white blazes, I know at least two thru-hikers (I won’t mention names here) that missed this junction and continued hiking along the Long Trail for several miles. After several hundred miles of being trained to follow the white blazes, this would be an easy mistake to make if you were watching your feet instead of the signage. Less than a mile past the Main Junction, the trail intersects the northern terminus of the Sherburne Pass Trail (old AT) where it is just a 0.5-mile hike back to the Inn at the Long Trail.
It might be my imagination, but I had the feeling that the A.T. got immediately better after separating from the Long Trail. Smooth trail replaced the mud as I hiked through the pretty little Gifford Woods State Park. After exiting Gifford Woods, the trail follows the shoreline of the beautiful Kent Pond until it arrives at Thundering Falls, the highest waterfall on the A.T. in Vermont. After visiting the waterfall, I hiked across the Ottaquechee River on a 900-foot long boardwalk. The boardwalk, built in 2005 and rebuilt in 2011 after hurricane Irene, is the only handicap accessible section of the A.T. in Vermont. I noted wryly that there wasn’t an ADA compliant privy in sight.
After crossing the boardwalk, I started the steep 1,000-foot hike to the top of Quimby Mountain. Once over the summit, there is a gravel road where I stopped for lunch. While I’m sitting there eating, O2 suddenly appears and says howdy! I hadn’t seen O2 for weeks and it was great to see him again. I inquired about BR and was told that his knee pain turned out to be from Lyme Disease, so he had returned home for a few weeks of recovery. O2 felt very confident that BR would return to the trail, but was unsure whether or not he would flip-flop to Katahdin and continue SOBO.
O2 and I took off and hiked together for the rest of the afternoon. When we arrived at the Stony Brook Shelter, it was too early to stop so we decided to continue further down the trail. At one point, the trail went over a rock that was too big to be safely climbed, so the trail maintenance folks installed an extension ladder to provide a little assistance. Thank you! We soon realized that we wouldn’t make it to the next shelter before dark and, when we came upon a nice stream with a couple of flat places nearby that would work for our tents, we decided to call it a day. It was nice to reunite with O2 and fun to have someone to hike with and talk to for a while.
Date: July 21, 2017
Starting Location: US 4, Rutland, VT
Ending Location: Stealth Camp, Mile 1715.7
AT Miles Today: 14.9
AT Miles To Date: 1,715.7