home email
Prev Tuesday, September 26 Next

Waterbury, Ben & Jerry's

  • Start: US Route 2
  • End: Buchanan Lodge
  • Approx Miles: 6.4

Today Stiltz and I wake up and say goodbye to Rebecca, who’s catching a shuttle back to where her car’s parked and heading home.

We get a hitch back down to Waterbury from a dude with huge stoner vibes. We barely have time to stick out our thumbs before three people pull over to offer us a ride. And all of them seem to know each other. Vermont…

We quickly hit the grocery store to resupply. While Stiltz shops I sit outside and watch Ella, who whines the entire time. Real separation anxiety with that one. I do my shopping, being sure to buy nutritious energy bars rather than just Pop Tarts for breakfast this time. Stiltz quickly heads back to the trailhead but I stick around in town for a bit, got a couple more things to take care of.

First stop is the post office, where I pick up a care package from my friends. It’s full of supplies I requested, high-quality ramen, cookies, and notes with encouraging messages and drawings. Love them.

I have a crazing for pizza so I stop by the local pizza joint and got a couple slices for lunch and then head to Ben and Jerry’s HQ, which is just outside of Waterbury. Ben & Jerry’s is my favorite widely-available ice cream and a part of my childhood1, I couldn’t not.

Fantastic corporate hellscape experience with a delicious ice cream sundae2. They have a “flavor graveyard” or discontinued flavors and even a little pasture with three cows, like the graphic on the pints. What a trip.

Leaving the euphoric land of ice cream, I start trying to get a hitch back down Route 2 to the trailhead. After about 10 minutes of walking down the side of the road with my thumb out, a darkly-colored sedan pulls over. I run up to the window, prepared to give my usual spiel about how I’m a thru-hiker trying to get back to the trail, but before I can even start, the driver turns around and gives me a big grin. “What’s up dude?!” He’s wearning sunglasses and a button-front dress shirt so I barely recognize him, but it’s none other than Ryan, who gave me my trail name way back on the approach to Killington!

I forgot he lives right around here. He finished his hike on Friday after three consecutive 20-mile days, and is back at work today but already missing hiking. “Dude if I didn’t have another meeting in an hour I’d just hike up Bolton with you.” he says. So funny to run into each other again by such coincidence. We have a great time laughing and catching up about our hikes before he drops me off. What a guy.

After a short but steep roadwalk, I find where the trail re-enters the woods.

"LT North"

And just like that, it’s quiet, and I’m back in hiker mode. It feels so sudden.

A sign welcomes me to Mt. Mansfield State Forest, reminding me of the trail’s biggest challenge ahead. I hike six-ish miles this afternoon to Buchanan Lodge, halfway up Mt. Bolton. 2000 feet of elevation gain but all pretty easy, clear, graded trails so it’s not too bad. The forest is very deciduous, reminds me of the southern part of the trail.

Buchanan Lodge

Arriving at the shelter, who should I find sitting on the porch but… Stiltz and Mooch! We have the place to ourselves and it’s fun to hang out and goof around. Hang Ten, a buddy of theirs who they hiked with in the southern section, and who I met briefly at the Inn at the Long Trail, is planning to meet up with us tomorrow before Mt. Mansfield and hike with us ’til then end.

I will admit I’m feeling a little tired of hiking together. Not because of Stiltz and Mooch—they’re great companions. I’m just missing the solitude I had in the earlier parts of the hike. In all things balance, I suppose. I’ll try to find a way to hike by myself more in the coming days. I really enjoyed it today.

  1. I prefer ice cream to be about 50% candy, 50% ice cream, which Ben & Jerry’s gets right on the money. And I spent a lot of time in New England growing up, so it’s nostalgic for sure. ↩︎

  2. Although I did wait about 30 min in line for it! ↩︎