Today was looking to be an improvement on all fronts. Though some very low clouds were rolling through in the early morning, it was a little bit less humid than it had been earlier in the week. And my ankle, having overnight to rest, was feeling much better, though still not fully recovered. I left Goddard Shelter around 7 am, a reasonably early start to what would hopefully be a not terribly difficult day of mostly gentle downhill.
From the shelter, the trail completed its climb of Glastonbury Mountain, passing by the fire tower perched there. Because the clouds were so low, though, there was not likely to be any view from the tower, so I skipped climbing to the lookout. Then, the trail continued on down the mountain, with a few more bumps than I remembered from the elevation profile.
After two days of mostly overcast weather, the sun finally came out, around 7:45 am, which helped dry the ground, and the humidity gradually decreased throughout the day.
Although my foot was feeling better, it was still slower going than I'd have preferred, as I wanted to avoid putting too much weight or force on it and cause it to roll again. I'd have loved to have used the ankle brace I bought in Hot Springs last year, but it seems that, somehow, it did not find its way into my pack. I'll have to buy another when I reach Manchester Center, hopefully on Thursday.
With the improvement to my ankle, though, I did manage to make it the 4.1 miles to the Kid Gore Shelter shortly after 9. The view from the shelter provided the first good overlook since Monday, a view of several mountains in the distance, and a small part of the Somerset Reservoir. And with the sun shining and the humidity low, it was actually possible to dry my socks and clothes out a bit!
Supe (who I had met at the Seth Warner Shelter on Day 1, and who had tented at Goddard yesterday), and Neal and Pax soon arrived, and we all took in the view, dried clothes, and had something to eat.
I pushed onward, my ankle gradually improving and my pace gradually increasing. Were it not for the mud, rocks, and roots, I probably would have been back up to something resembling my usual speed. The trail dipped, then climbed back up above Kid Gore's elevation, as if it were on the near side of a bowl, before beginning a berry gradual decent to another, shallower, bowl that held the Story Spring Shelter.
Near the shelter, the trail passed by a beaver dam, with lilies nearly in bloom.
At the shelter, I again had a snack while letting my shirt and socks dry out, and soon, Supe, Neal and Pax, and Gas (who also stayed at Goddard last night) arrived. We discussed plans, and it turns out that several of us will be staying at the Green Mountain House hostel later in the week. Neal, planning to get there on Friday, set up camp in the shelter.
From Story Spring, it's about 21 miles to VT 11/30, which goes into Manchester Center. One of my original plans called for me to stay at Story Spring, and then go to Stratton Pond Shelter the next day, roughly half the distance to the road. And given my ankle, it would have been sensible to revert back to this plan and take an extra day to get into Manchester Center. But, I opted to follow my current plan and push on to the campsite at Stratton-Arlington Road.
After climbing out of Story Spring's bowl, the trail was mostly a gentle downhill, with a slight uphill as it reached Stratton-Arlington Road, a gravel access road, and the trailhead there. I got there around 3 pm, plenty of time to relax and not have to rush to get chores done before dark. (I was also hoping that I'd pass a southbounder who could tell me of a campsite further ahead, so as to reduce how far I have to hike tomorrow, but alas, my memory was correct that there weren't any before the next shelter.)
Waiting at the trailhead leading to Stratton Mountain was a foam cooler with "Say No To Fracking" and "Trail Magic" written on it. And, as luck would have it, inside were three still-cold beers! I took one (a Sam Adams Porch Rocker), and headed up to the campsite just past the road and set up camp. Shortly after, Supe arrived, and we each drank a beer, before getting on with camp chores and dinner.
Tomorrow brings a steep climb up Stratton Mountain, cradle of the Long and Appalachian Trails, and hopefully a great view from its lookout tower, if it's not too cloudy. Then a steeper climb down, followed by a long, if relatively flat, day to VT 11/30.