Emily Proctor Shelter - Lincoln Gap (9.7 Miles)
It's another late start from Emily Proctor. As soon as i woke up i could feel the tension in the air. It seemed like everyone was a bit stressed about the weather ahead and the long day planned for tomorrow (16 miles). While i go about my morning ritual no one offers to pump anyone else's water. I'm just watching to see how this will unfold because I've pumped the water for everyone, every day up to this point. Loni pumps her own water and splits. Leah is rushing trying to get her pack together so we can catch up. I tell her to relax and we'll catch her on our own time.
Before long we're off down the trail. or in this case, UP the trail. From Emily Proctor you start a long climb up to the top of Wilson Mtn. Warmed up in the middle of the day, it probably wouldn't have seemed so bad. But first thing, with cold legs and a sore back, it was a big of a wake up call. I put some distance between myself and Leah figuring that the three of us would all meet back up at a vista that was a few miles into the hike. I caught up to Loni and just that vista. Looking back at Killington it was pretty neat to see how far we had come in a few days. Especially cause we didn't see half of it in the rain and fog. Leah caught up about 5 min later and looks distressed. "I've already taken 8 painkillers."
We tie up here knee and move on at a crawl of 1 mile per hour. A yelp every now and again from Leah depending on how she stepped was all that was said in the next couple of miles. We grumbled at the soupy muddy trail. Soon we all spot Moose tracks in the mud. And they are surprisingly fresh. I ponder if Rocket saw him as he zipped up the trail earlier or if we were actually closer then we thought.
(Moose tracks in the mud)
While snapping the above photo another NOBO screamed passed us. He said we must have been at Emily Proctor last night because our tracks were pretty fresh. Then he noticed the moose track and said, "hmm, those too actually." I told him to scare him off the trail for us and before the next turn he was well out of sight. A mile or two later a couple sectioning south updated us on the trail ahead. "It's not any better up there is it? Nope, Dang it, well i won't lie to you and tell you the trail gets any better behind me either." The climb up Cleveland is brutal, but nothing compared to how quickly it descended. There wasn't even a nice vista to enjoy at the top. One minute we were climbing, next we were descending. Another disappointment of the peaks in this southern section, the lack of vistas. A few quick steep switchbacks later we were eating lunch at Cooley Glenn. The decision had been made. We would leave the trail at Lincoln Gap. So i decided it was time to gorge and ate my biggest lunch of the week consisting of tuna, a cliff bar, AND beef jerky. It was quite a treat sitting there in the sun.
(The Gals at Cooley Glenn Shelter)After convincing Leah to NOT take more pain killers it was a .8 mile climb to the top of Grant Mtn. The last significant climb of the day. I'm in good spirits, full of food mid-day for the first time all week. I blast ahead knowing the end is near. I no time we're on the rock outcrops of the summit of Grant mountain. Although, if you didn't know you that these were at the top, you'd keep hiking and start to descend like i started to. Leah tried called a few people in hopes to bail us out. No luck. I'm torn. I feel bad that her knee is hurting as much as it is, but when i suggested we call people last night when cell service was actually good i was scoffed at. And now, cell service is spotty at best and no one is answering and part of me is like, good, see, told you so. We drop down from Grant into a couple of neat groves. You can tell there are old pastures or orchards as the trees were widely spread and ferns were three feet high. We'd pause from time to time to snack on trail mix and point out a neat tree. Before too long were were climbing up the last small climb to Sunset Ledges. A viewpoint that opened up vastly to the west and where we hoped we'd be able to get a hold of our taxi out of the woods.
(Snack at the Sunset Ledges)
No answer, then no service, then full service, then no service. It was frustrating at best. I looked to my old buddy Ramon up in VT. Thinking he might be able to come down and help us off the trail. Having lived only 3 miles from where our destination was originally going to be and he was semi familiar with the area. That and he had some LT experience when several years before he roomed with a LT Thru hiker and did a little Trail Angel-ing at the time. After leaving him a voice mail we plunged into Lincoln Gap. I knew we'd have to walk one way or another out of the gap to get service. I looked at the map and made the call. To Lincoln we go, turn your phones on and we'll hope for the best. It was 3.4 miles to Lincoln. Down a long gravel and pavement road.
(Death March down Lincoln Gap Road)
Thank goodness a mile down the road we hit a Verizon pocket and got service for five feet. Ramon was an hour away and heading to pick us up. Hot dog. Things were looking up, even though Leah's gate had gone from a painful full stride to a short limp with a lot of tears. An hour and 3 miles later we were just outside of Lincoln and Ramon drove up in his rescue vehicle. Good thing too, as there wasn't a THING in Lincoln aside from the post office. It would have been a long walk to the next town hitching.
Quote of the day:
"Don't take this the wrong way, but you guys fucking stink"
Much Like the 2010 Section hike on the LT the last day post-trail wasn't without incident.
After Ramon dropped us back off at my truck and gave us virtual hugs (we stunk too bad to hug us directly). We headed south. The pace of people was unbelievable. Even in podunk Vermont the pace was out of this world. After almost getting into two accidents for doing nothing but driving the speed limit in a lane that i had every legal right to be in we got off the highway. Berlin had a restaurant, i recalled it from my years at VTC and i was right. Within 5 minutes we were at an Applebees for some real non-dehydrated food for the first time in 4 days. Now sure, Applebee's isn't AMAZING, but after eating space food that you needed to add boiling water in for 4 nights straight it was bliss. After we had dominated the appetizer combo and put a dent in each of our entree's we were Killington bound to pick up Loni's car.
The Girls tried to nap while I tried to stay awake crusing down I-89. I was zoning out behind a truck and trailer when...BAM!! A piece of cord wood kicked up from the trailer's tire and smashed into my windshield. I thought for sure it was going to shatter and we were going to get into an accident. It was very much like a youtube video from earlier this year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjV2m70hA4o). Thankfully somehow my windshield didn't bust, but my chest certainly felt like it did. That a wake up call you can't get from any Dunkin Donuts. The wood hit it just right and bounced off, if you can call it that, although i did get a nice dent and scratch on my hood. By 2am and without incident we finally pulled into the driveway. It was nice to be home. Overall it was a rough stretch of trail this year. So bad that I wonder what will happen in the future. I know i'll thru-hike again, but boy, this week left a terribly bad taste in my mouth.