Vermont, Vermud, Vermoose

First and foremost, a quick update: Willett has lucked into a few weeks of vacation with my brother David in Providence. He will be rejoining us in Maine and, in the interim, can be found enjoying the creature comforts of domestic dog life. We will be entering the White Mountains in a week and anticipate significant crowds and the most challenging terrain of the entire trip. The thought of Willett inadvertently binding my legs with his leash as we both tumble down the back side of Mt. Moosilauke was a bit worrisome. Our interests aside, the poor guy just seemed a bit tuckered out. I’m sure, however, that he has fully rebounded and is already running laps around David’s apartment…

So, back to the trail. As the miles of Massachusetts drew to a close, many fellow hikers expressed a profound desire to reach the promised land of Vermont–a land where the hillsides are verdant, the streams abundant, and Ben & Jerrys grows on trees. Upon reaching Vermont, the AT coincides with the Long Trail–a footpath from the Massachusetts border to Canada–for just over 100 miles. Hikers are asked to avoid the Long Trail in early spring as the abundant snowmelt makes for muddy trail and muddy trail is often widened by dainty hikers stepping off to the side to keep their socks dry.

Four and a half days of rain was enough to produce a quantity of mud the likes of which we had never seen before. Each step required evaluation: tip toe to the next protruding root/rock/stick or brave the thick brush adjacent to the trail. Once, tragically, we chose the latter option only to be thwarted by a patch of nettles.

Vermont has not yet proved the utopia other hikers had anticipated but our visit with David earlier in the week has left us in excellent spirits. We took care of an immense list of errands, ate rice pudding by the jar-full, and received a slew of delightful culinary curiosities. Lately we have been enjoying our nightly couscous ration with berbere, an Ethiopian spice blend, and a handful of crispy dried okra.

Our next stop is Hanover, NH where we will enjoy a full day off the trail–coincidentally July 4, so it seems appropriate. From there, into the White Mountains and onwards to Maine.

Pretty little fungus. I see candied kumquats.

A very large hoof print in the very muddy trail…

Belonging to this very gangly moose! Apparently she resides on this section of trail and many other hikers reported being delayed (and amazed) as she slowly ambled along the trail in front of them.

Willett contemplating beavers.

We spend a good bit of our time these days teetering along boardwalks that skirt marshy ponds like thus one.

It has rained enough that many of these boardwalks go under water once stepped on.

Willett doing everything in his power to stay out of the mud. He’s oddly fastidious when it comes to such things.


A misty day on Stratton Mountain.

Apparently the sun does shine on the AT in Vermont–and how lovely the world is when it does.

The view from Baker Peak.

We came across an area of forest with an elaborate array of cairns.

We especially liked this one.

508 miles to Katahdin!


After five months of Snickers Bars and couscous, eating all the meat and vegetables I can get my hands on...
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9 Responses to Vermont, Vermud, Vermoose

  1. Siddharth says:

    Is it bad luck to ask questions about what happens when you finish the hike?

    • We figured 2,200 miles of walking would give us ample opportunity to plan the future but somehow our aspirations still change every day… We do hope to make this northward pilgrimage permanent at some point, though returning to Arlington in the interim and awaiting the right opportunities up here often wins in the “safe and smart” category.

  2. Kassi says:

    Is the White Witch in the White Mountains?! She’s pretty evil.

  3. Battleax says:

    Think of it, July 4th, celebrating freedom. You are free to walk from Ga. to Me. What a country. Keep you feet moving north.
    Semper Fi

  4. Christopher Edwards says:

    About 3-4 weeks ago, I dropped my son off at the trail head in Maine. He is thru hiking to Georgia. We drove up from North Carolina together and I loved every minute of the one-on-one time with him. When you get to Maine, there is a little diner in town that let’s thru hikers sign ceiling tiles. Be sure to stop in and put your John Hancock on a tile.

    And by-the-way, if you bump into “Shirtless” on the trail, tell him we are all thinking of him and his dad (Chris) says hello.

    • We never pass up a good diner recommendation!

      We’re glad to hear you’re following the blog–it will be interesting to see how your son’s southbound journey differs from ours. We haven’t met him yet (to our knowledge) but we’ll be sure to pass your message along if we do!

  5. Beth says:

    I’ve really enjoyed reading about your journey, I’m quite jealous! I have a question for the both of you, how did you prepare yourselves, physically, for your hike? Did you start out on short hikes, and built up endurance over several weeks before setting out? Good luck on your Vermont/Maine portion!

    • We both had fairly hectic schedules in the months (and days!) before the hike so we had to train as efficiently as possible. Granted, our daily lives were fairly active to begin with as we both biked to work and made an effort to keep the dog well exercised. We figured our best bet was to focus on strength–particularly hips, core, etc.–and hope the endurance would come as we began hiking. We ended up settling on Crossfit, a high intensity workout emphasizing functional strength, three times per week. That seemed to do the trick!

  6. Aimee N says:

    Been checking out your hike- looks spectacular! (Found it from Mike Ryan’s piece for CNN: I’ve hiked all of northern New Hampshire’s AT- while brutal terrain, there’s definitely breathtaking views and majestic sights! Crossing my fingers that you have dry passage through the Presidential Range and Mahoosuc Notch! Have fun!

    -Aimee from Tampa, FL

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