Thursday, July 28, 2016 7:12 pm
Location: VT 11-VT 30 / Manchester Center / Red Sled Motel (1650.7 miles)

As predicted, our tents were quite wet in the morning. Mine had collected so much condensation inside that it was dripping off the rainfly into my tent, getting the tent floor and my sleeping bag wet.

I was able to mostly dry out the inside of my tent with a towel, and shook some of the water off the ground tarp and rainfly, but they were still wet; we kind of just jammed them into the trunk, not really expecting they'd dry (though they'd definitely get warm, so what little was exposed would dry off a little).

Rainbow and I got started with our hike around 7:15, heading north to the trailhead near the town of Manchester Center. Our hike began by going up Stratton Mountain, the highest mountain in southern Vermont, with a 1700 foot climb over four miles. At the top was a fire tower, and a dedication plaque.

Stratton Mountain Fire Tower
Stratton Mountain Fire Tower

In 1909, atop Stratton Mountain, James Taylor conceived of the idea for a "Long Trail", extending from Massachusetts to Canada, was born. In 1921, after construction of the LT had begun, Benton MacKaye expanded the concept to link all the scenic ridges of the Appalachian range: the Appalachian Trail. Were it not for the vision of these two men, I would not be here now, 1646 miles from where I started 130 days ago, 11 states away, at Amicalola Falls in Georgia.

View from Stratton Mountain Fire Tower
View from Stratton Mountain Fire Tower

After checking out the view at the top of the tower, we continued on another three miles to the Stratton Pond shelter for a break. It was a pretty large shelter, with several bunks and a loft area. We wouldn't be staying here, but it would have been a nice shelter to end the day at.

Stratton Pond
Stratton Pond

After the shelter, the trail followed Stratton Pond briefly (it was very scenic), before reentering the woods. A short while later, I reached another milestone: 1641.8 miles: three quarters of the way from Springer to Katahdin. It won't be long now before I'm in Maine; the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Hundred Mile Wilderness the final major obstacles on the way to Katahdin.

After a short detour at the pond due to flooding, the trail became extremely easy, and we had a nice hike to the scenic view at Prospect Rock, where we took our second break and enjoyed a nice breeze. While there, Rainbow made reservations for us at the Red Sled Motel in Manchester Center.

View of Manchester Center
View of Manchester CenterView from Prospect Rock

Two miles after Prospect Rock, we stopped at the Spruce Peak Shelter. This shelter was somewhat large, and uniquely so far, has a wood stove and a sliding door. (The wood stove comes with instructions to use small amounts of wood, as it heats up the shelter very well, and it is easy to accidentally make the shelter too hot.)

Continuing on from there, Rainbow and I finished the nearly three miles to the VT 11/VT 30 trailhead, though we both felt the last few miles were sluggish and dragging. (I think it's because we followed up a 22.6 mile day with a 17.5 mile day, both of which are still long and strenuous, even with slackpacking.)

We got to the trailhead around 4, and headed to the post office so Rainbow could get his AT passport stamped. On the way to the hotel from there, we picked up a hiker and gave him a lift to the food store.

When we were driving back to Vermont from Connecticut, Rainbow invented the "Slackpack Guarantee", an undefined fictional warranty that we decided REI did not offer. (This arose from my having replaced two items with REI's one year free replacement warranty.) I decided that this would make for the perfect name for our slackpacking group. Having no other ideas, everyone else agreed.

We checked into the hotel, and then Rainbow left to pick up Papa Monkey while I got a shower. The hotel, which was really rather more expensive than we would have preferred, was also not very clean. At this point, though, getting a new hotel room (or a new hotel) would have been hugely inconvenient, so we put up with it.

I got a shower, and then organized my food bags, condensing my resupply from the other day into a much smaller space than it was previously taking up in the trunk of the car.

We had dinner at Christos, an Italian restaurant in Manchester Center. The food was excellent.