Adieu Vert Mont

I recently finished Vermont and was blessed with beautiful weather the entire time I was in the state. The infamous mud wasn’t that bad and I managed to make my way without sinking into anything above my ankles. Vermont originally was ‘Vert Mont’ which means ‘Green Mountain’ in French. The trail in Vermont runs along the beautiful Green Mountains and for 90-some miles coincides with the Long Trail. The Long Trail was the original long-distance footpath in the U.S and runs almost 300 miles from MA/VT border north to Canada. Near Killington, the AT splits to head east into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. So while in Vermont I’ve been ‘multi-tasking’ trails.

In Vermont I met up with several hikers I had not seen since Virginia. One was ‘Smiley’ a residential building contractor from Colorado Springs. We entered New Hampshire together via the town of Hanover, home of Dartmouth College. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect – the town was having a street festival complete with live music! Beautiful campus and town; a wonderful introduction to New Hampshire.

Speaking of which, New Hampshire has the best state motto. “Live Free or Die!” Sometimes they take this to the extreme. For example, they are the only state where you aren’t required by law to wear a seatbelt in a car. You’re ‘free’ not to wear the seatbelt, but you’re going to ‘die’ if you get into a wreck. Brilliant.

So with only two states left, many people are asking if I’m beginning to see the “light at the end of the tunnel?” The answer is “no, not at all.” While the book says I have only 372.7 miles left, I know it is by far the hardest section of the Appalachian Trail. The White Mountains are known for their difficulty. Just yesterday I met two summer crew members who work at the tourist huts (more on this next entry) in the Whites. We were on top of Kinsman mountain and I told them I was heading to their hut for lunch and asked them how the trail conditions were descending from the summit. They laughed and said they never take the AT down because it is too steep and slippery, they instead take a slightly longer but more gradual trail back. Ahh yes, the AT usually never fails to find the most difficult way up and down mountains.

Much to my displeasure it was incredibly steep and slippery. I never fell but definitely slipped several times. Falling while hiking may not sound too scary but trust me, it is. When you fall on the trail it isn’t in one spot. You typically then have to slide 10-15 feet down the rockface from which you slipped. Or, you have multiple sharp rocks and roots that will break your fall. With a big pack on your back, manuevering these sections is even more difficult. A fellow northbounder this year made it 1800 miles – so close to the end – then slipped and broke two ribs. Not sure if he can finish the trail this year. I’ve heard of many northbounders in previous years who made it all the way to New Hampshire and quit out of sheer frustration with the trail difficulty.

After only two days in the Whites, I see why it gets such a reputation. My mileage slowed down to only 9 miles yesterday. In Vertmont I was clocking 20+ mile days, no problem. Steep, slippery, and boulder-laden trails in New Hampshire contribute to the slower miles. Definitely not a walk here…it’s a strenuous hike and boulder scramble!

However, the above-treeline scenery supposedly more than makes up for the trail conditions. With great challenge comes great reward right? I have yet to experience this. Both summits I’ve reached we’re cloudy, windy, and cold! When I reached the top of Moosilauke I couldn’t see 20 feet and had to put all my clothes on – it must have been near freezing with the wind chill. I’m hoping for better on future summits and will give a full report when I finish the Whites. Onward to Maine!

All pictures below are from Vermont.

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13 Responses to Adieu Vert Mont

  1. Anne says:

    Haha, I hiked up Mt. Moosilauke a few summers ago and it was exactly the same on the top- cold and you couldn’t see anything! There were these enormous rabbits though- not sure if you encountered any.

    Sorry we didn’t get a chance to hike with you when we were in NH- enjoy the Granite State!

  2. Mom says:

    Pictures are beautiful! Glad you caught up with some other hikers. Stay safe – I know you can finish!!

  3. tim smith says:

    HIKE PRESTON, HIKE!

  4. Paul Seales says:

    Keep it up Preston!! You are so close. I’m really enjoying the stories!

  5. Jeff & Lois says:

    Hey Preston,
    You will make it now!! We’re cheering for you. Love the pictures! Your book will be a best-seller!!

  6. Sarah Thomson says:

    Yay Preston! Good luck with the final leg of your journey. My brother started the beginning of the Trail today, in Georgia. Your stories are such a joy to read.

  7. Nancy says:

    Hey Preston! How come all the hikers have beards? I have thoroughly enjoyed your journey. Keep up the great work and messages. Hope you had fun at the wedding.

  8. Maria Barrientos says:

    Preston. Hang in there!! We’re all rooting for you and wish we could have been with you through some of your journey. Can’t wait to hear all the stories when you’re done. maria.

  9. Rita Jordan says:

    I just have to say u are my new hero! I wished I could have done what you have:]

  10. Ashley Merrbaugh says:

    PRESTON ROCKS!!

  11. Dad says:

    Preston,

    I’m studying the Maps for our trip up to Maine…and looking for a good deal on a magnum of champagne-for the final finish on the “Tour de Preston”. Yes..I will have a couple of good cigars ready too!

    See you for the final push to the top! (if not before)

    Dad

  12. Lynne Gronning says:

    I think you are crazy, but a nice kind of crazy.
    Pretty good writing, however.

  13. Parker says:

    Preston – Thanks to your good storytelling, I can experience the trail from the comfort of my own home. Thanks for saving me 6 months and lots of blisters! Keep going brother! — Parker

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