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  • Start: Middlebury Gap
  • End: Skylight Lodge
  • Approx Miles: 5.1

Waking up today in my big soft bed I’m greeted with perfect hiking weather. Clear, crisp, sunny, in the 50s. I’ve been debating whether to press on today or stay one more night at Tom’s. I was already leaning towards moving on, but the weather seals the deal. The rest of the week looks cloudy and rainy, so I don’t want to pass up a beautiful day of hiking like this.

After a lazy morning, Tom drives me into town to resupply at the Hannaford while he runs an errand. They have the good ramen1!! We stop at the charming Ripton General Store on the way home2. My pack feels so heavy after going from no food to a full five days worth again. Ah! That reminds me of another thought I had about hiking—there’s a valuable lesson it teaches about planning for the worst. Everything you bring or do to prepare against some fear while backpacking has a cost—in weight, or time. You can be prepared for every scenario, but doing so will in itself bog you down due to everything you have to carry. And that creates danger on it’s own! (by sapping your energy and making you more likely to fall or get injured). I think there’s a lesson here about life too. The weight is metaphorical, but it works much the same. As a chronic worrier and overplanner, I hope can carry that with me after the hike, although I know that’s easier said than done.

Back at Tom’s I borrow his scissors and sewing supplies to shorten some of the too-long straps on my pack, which I’ve wanted to do since starting out. We eat a delicious lunch of dumpling soup and Ben & Jerry’s. It’s nice to just sit on the porch and eat ice cream in the sun. I haven’t had ice cream since I started the trail…so good 😋.

My visit comes to an end in the early afternoon, when Tom drives me back to the trailhead, pointing out Bread Loaf Mountain and other features of the wilderness I’m about to trek through as we drive past them.

Out front of Tom's place, just before departing.

Overall it’s been great to visit with Tom, but as I’ve often experienced while off-trail, it also felt like sort of an intrusion of the “real world” into the pristine state of mind I’m able to get into after hiking for a few days. I’m happy and satiated, but also ready to be moving on, as I head north into the Breadloaf Wilderness. Prime moose habitat I’m told.

Heading north from VT-125

I climb the steep slope up and hike along a flat ridge for a while, keeping an eye out for moose! No great thoughts about life today, just appreciating how amazing it is to be out here on such a perfect day. Slowly sinking back into the hiker state of mind.

I head in a quick five miles to reach Skylight Lodge. I’ve been told amazing things about this shelter and it does not disappoint. It’s a beautiful enclosed log cabin with windows and a porch that looks out on a little alpine pond. Facing east for the sunrise views in the morning.

The view from the porch

It’s a party here! Stiltz and Mooch are present; we’re all happy to be reunited. There’s also a fast NOBO named Joe, who’s a programmer and originally from Australia, Isabelle and Addie, two SOBOS who just graduated from college in North Carolina3, and John the retired K-6 principal we met at Sucker Brook Shelter. I learn that he did the AT in ‘88 and had the trail name “Megapod” due to his big feet.

It was great to hang out with everyone, rib each other, and make dinner. Great vibes. A serious looking hiker with a beard showed up late in the evening to see the pond before moving on. Apparently Isabelle and Addie saw a moose on their first day out! I really want to see a moose!!

Looking forward to the sunrise tomorrow morning and hiking with the gang again.

  1. I ate a lot of packaged ramen noodles for dinner on this hike, and it comes at all sorts of price points and qualities. The stuff I bought with me at the beginning was very good, but the options at some of the rural Vermot grocery stores were pretty slim. Whenever I was able to get decent quality ramen, that was a cause for celebration. ↩︎

  2. I would later learn that Stiltz and Mooch also stopped here. We both remembered seeing “Karen’s cookies”, which were for sale on the counter with a handmade sign. Presumably made locally by Karen herself! I didn’t get any sadly. ↩︎

  3. So many North Carolinia people!! ↩︎