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[at-l] Solophile Journal Entries [Aug17-26]

Here are the latest journal entries from Solophile.  This
gets me caught up with all of the journal entries I have.
Later this week, look for some more pictures to be posted
to the site!

8/17	Day 160		14.3 mi to Kid Gore
Shelter		1599.5 cum

It poured last night.  FireBall, Micah, and I slept in the back of my
pickup truck at the trail head parking lot on VT9.  It must have been 11
or so at night by the time we got there after our drive from Fenway Park.
 It was a fun game, but I about fell over when I saw that beer was $3.75
for a little cup!

The morning arrived all too quickly and we awoke to ominous dark gray
clouds.  We decided to enjoy a nice breakfast in Bennington, VT before I
would hit the trail.  We picked the Blue Benn Diner, a 1940's style diner
with a wonderfully varied breakfast menu.  It was one of the best
breakfasts I've had on the trail.

By 10:30 I decided I'd delayed as long as possible.  It's getting harder
and harder to put myself back on the trail, but I'm still doing it.  The
thought of possibly having to hike in a downpour didn't help much, but I
finally hit the trail and began the stone stair ascent up out of the VT9

Amazingly enough, the rains held off all day and the cloud cover really
helped to keep the temps much cooler than the forecasted 85-90 degrees. 
No views to speak of due to the weather, but it was worth not melting out

I climbed the fire tower on top of Glastenbury Mountain.  I'm not a big
fan of heights and I knew there wouldn't be any view, but I wanted to
climb it anyway.  There's a sign at the bottom warning that no more than
4 should be on the tower at any time--not your sturdiest of fire towers. 
At the top I gripped the railing and could feel the platform swaying as
the winds pulled at me.  The view was of swirling mists and fog broken
only by the ghostly forms of the spruce trees below poking up through the
clouds.  It was a wonderful feeling to be up there alone, as if I were
the only soul in the world.

I'm at the Kid Gore Shelter and I'm actually staying in the shelter,
which hasn't happened in months.  There just really aren't any decent
tenting spots in the area.  I'm here with HatTrick, Dingle, Raintree,
Sourwood, Brooster, and Cape Town Jenny.  All are northbound thru-hikers.
 Cape Town Jenny is from South Africa and is going to have to leave the
trail for a day or two in Killington, VT to try and get an extension on
her visa.  I hope she's successful.  Some of the other foreign
thru-hikers have not been so lucky.

8/18	Day 161		16.9 mi to Winhall
River		1616.4 cum

After the rain showers late last night, a cold front moved in.  I awoke
in the early morning hours chilled and cramped.  Readjusting my sleeping
bag and pulling the hood around me did the trick though.

The morning started as a cloudy one but a north wind soon cleared the
skies and if felt like a cool, crisp autumn day.  The trail was gorgeous
and I couldn't wait to get to the top of Stratton Mountain to enjoy the
view.  At the top of Stratton, which is 3936 feet, there is a fire tower
that give full views of the surrounding countryside.  I was lucky enough
to hit it when the caretaker was up on the tower.  He pointed out
mountain peak over 120 miles distant!  I was able to see Mounts Greylock
and Glastenbury, where I'd just come from, and, even more exciting, I
could see where I'd be traveling to over the next few weeks:  Bromley Ski
Area, Killington, Moosilaukee, and even as far away as Mount Washington! 
It was an incredibly clear day and the view from Stratton recharged me.

I decided to go a little further than the Stratton Pond shelters. 
Stratton Pond is a picturesque New England lake surrounded by trees. 
Micah and I basked in the sun on some rocks along its shore, but I didn't
want to camp at the most heavily used site along the AT in Vermont, nor
did I want to pay $5 for the honor of pitching my tent.  I ate an early
dinner along the shore and rested my feet a while.  We then moved on
another couple of miles until we crossed the Winhall River and entered
the Lye Brook Wilderness, where you can pitch a tent for free :-)

8/19	Day 162		13.8 mi to USFS 21/Mad Tom
Notch	1630.2 cum

Another beautiful day with a few more clouds than yesterday.  The views
from Prospect Rock overlooking Manchester Center below and west to Mount
Equinox were spectacular from this lookout point.

I had no problem hitching a ride into town and decided to stay at the
hostel at the Zion Episcopal Church.  The church hall was to be filled
with a weekly bridge club gathering until 11 pm, so all the hikers
decided to tent out back.

FireBall showed up later in the afternoon.  We enjoyed walking the
streets of this little town, which seemed to have an endless number of
outlet stores.  We hit a deli for a late lunch, then Ben and Jerry's, a
bookstore, and some other interesting little shops.  I purchased
_The_Education_of_Little_Tree_ by Forest Carter.  It was a book Aquaholic
had recommended to me a while back.  At the P.O., I had letters waiting
for me from Andy, Grandma, and Spriss.

There are a good number of hikers here tonight:  Brooster, Cape Town
Jenny, Dingle, HatTrick, Sourwood, Raintree, Easy Rider, Baby Steps, and
Artesian Fish.  Today is Artesian Fish's birthday.  I picked him up some
Sourpatch Kid candies in town and I think Easy was taking him to a nearby
saloon to celebrate.

8/20	Day 163		5.0 mi to Griffith Pond
Campsite	1635.2 cum

The day started off pretty good.  Nobody seemed to be in all that big a
rush to get out of town this morning.  I did a little cleaning in the
hostel, made a post of coffee for everybody, and then FireBall and I
packed up all our stuff and headed off for breakfast at the Quality
Restaurant, which was supposed to have been a favorite hangout for artist
Norman Rockwell.  We were soon joined by Dingle and HatTrick and enjoyed
a leisurely breakfast.  The food was good, but I miss the big portion
sizes of the South.

We all had to run some errands around town and then we all piled into the
truck to head back to the trail.  We dropped Dingle and HatTrick off
where they had left the trail and then it took another half hour to get
to my starting point. 

It was already after 12 by this point and I was in a little bit of a rush
to hit the trail.  Here's where I made my big, fat, stupid mistake--I
decided to switch back to boots.  I had gotten my boots resoled since
switching to sneakers and I noticed that they felt a little different. 
Ding! Ding! Ding! --  I should have listened to those little warning
bells.  But oh no, these were my trusted, beloved, well broken in boots. 
I just had to get used to the feel of them again.   Ding! Ding! Ding!  As
I waved goodbye to FireBall and headed up the trail, I had this
tremendous urge to run down the road after him and get my sneakers back. 
 Ding! Ding! Ding!  I should have listened to my urges and all those
little alarm bells.

Here I sit, a piddling 5 miles up the trail.  My boots are sitting in a
corner of the tent looking awful smug and evil.  My poor feet are propped
on a pile of clothes throbbing and whimpering and looking all together
beaten and pitiful.  I have blisters on the fronts and tops of most of my
toes and the bones in my feet feel like they've been crushed together in
a vice-grip of a handshake.

I'm not a happy camper right now.  I'm going to have to get off the trail
as soon as possible and change my footwear.  I'm going back to sneakers!!

The radio is predicting rain, high winds, and unseasonably cold weather
to move in tonight.  Anywhere from 1-2" of rain throughout the day
tomorrow-- great!

8/21	Day 164		0 miles