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Glastenbury Wilderness

  • Start: Congdon Shelter
  • End: stealth site just south of Goddard Shelter
  • Approx miles: 12

In the middle of the night, I’m roused by someone with a headlamp coming and going from the shelter while getting their stuff set up in the bunk above mine. This is a little disconcerting; I can’t see who it is between their light and the rain. I figure it’s a late arrival whose been night hiking after a long day, but in the morning it turns out it was only Particle. Unfortunately the seam on her tent burst in the night. She tried to just tough it out because she didn’t want to bother us, but she was just getting drenched and had to come in. Jessica also ran into trouble—her dog tore holes in her inflatable sleeping pad and her puffy. What a night of misfortune!

Take a hike! These were hanging out in the shelter.

Particle and I decide to hike together again for a bit, setting out kind of late—about an hour after Parfait. A fog sets in quickly. Appropriately mysterious, as we’re going to cross through the Bennington Triangle today, an area with a bit of an eerie reputation due to the mysterious disappearances that have happened there. We stop at Harmon Hill and chat with a couple of friendly older fellows who are hiking SOBO on the AT1. I accidentally set my pack down on a wasp nest and get stung while frantically running away from the swarm that emerges. Thankfully, this is the most serious injury I would sustain on the hike.

The mysterious fog.
Garter snake alongside the trail. My first wildlife sighting!

After a steep descent down to VT Route 9, we catch up with Jessica, who’s decided to get off trail. She offers to give Particle her tent, since she won’t be needing it and Particle needs a new one. Big of her, and a great example of the kind and generous mindset I’d see from thru-hikers throughout the trip. The focus is less on “Will I get this back?” and more on “How can I help everyone finish their hike successfully?”

I set off alone on the climb up out of the hollow. It’s a steep and difficult climb. The trail ascends 600 feet in about half a mile! Many of the road crossings on the LT are like this—a quick, steep descent into a gap, cross the road, then an equally quick ascent back up. I usually found these challenging, in many cases more so than the major mountain peaks.

Eventually I arrive at Melville Nauheim Shelter. I stop here for lunch, during which Particle and Parfait catch up up. We’re joined shortly by Enigma, who’s vibe and appearance live up to his trail name. Skinny fellow with a long beard, glasses, ultralight gear, and a quiet manner. He started the day at Seth Warner Shelter, so he’s already covered over 10 miles before lunch! He’s a super fast, dedicated thru-hiker. I would later learn from his logbook entries that he’s hiked over 10,000 miles since 2015, including all three triple-crown trails2.

Zero and Particle consider the trail ahead.

At this point I face a dilemma. Parfait decides to take a short day and stay the night here, while Particle is pushing on to Goddard Shelter, which almost 10 more miles ahead. I’m not sure I have another 14 mile day in me, but I also don’t feel like stopping after only five miles. The trail ahead runs along a ridge through the Glasternbury Wilderness with no good water source, so I feel like if I press on, I have to make it to the shelter. In the end, I decide to go for it, although I suspect two 14 mile days in a row might be too much.

I set out alone while everyone else is still eating. Enigma passes me quickly. After that it’s just me for the rest of the day, and the hike along the ridge is pleasant enough.

Bogboards along the ridge.
The view from one of the lookouts.

There are a few lookout points along the way, and I stop at all of them for progressively longer breaks. By the time I get to the last one, I’m very tired. I’ve been conserving my water in case I don’t make it to the shelter and have to dry camp along the ridge, so I’m pretty dehydrated too. The shelter is halfway up Glasternbury Mountain, and my feet feel so heavy. My steps are getting shorter and shorter, and every half mile feels like a bigger challenge. I decide it’s too much to get to the shelter. I don’t want to push myself and end my hike with an injury I could have avoided, so I stop at a stealth site3 right off the trail and set up camp, using my tent for the first time.

I’m a little worried about dry camping, but I notice that the map indicates the head of a brook just behind my campsite. Previous hikers’ notes on FarOut say they couldn’t find any water here even after wandering around for a long time, but it’s been a very wet summer, and it just rained recently. I start to wonder if the stream might be flowing more than usual. I head down into the woods and sure enough—pools of water! It’s a bit mucky and tannic4, but totally serviceable. I’m pretty pleased with myself for thinking of this instead of just turning off my brain and assuming there’d be no water because FarOut said so.

Particle passes by an hour or so later and stops to chat before heading on up the mountain to Goddard. I’m impressed with her stamina. Oh, to be young again! I make dinner in the gathering dark and settle into my tent. With Particle on her way, I’m completely alone for miles around. It makes me feel a bit anxious, and I worry about what I would do if a bear showed up. It’s funny how there’s always something to be nervous about—water, bears. And then so often it turns out fine, as with the water. Gotta relax and let myself enjoy it more. It’s so silent here where I’m camped. I can really feel the wild around me. This is what you come out here for—the risk of bears, but also, the silence. I feel like I’ve really begun now. I’m getting tired and sore, and I’m really out in the wilderness. Feels good. Hopefully my fortitude is up to what lies ahead. In theory it’s a relatively easy day tomorrow, and then—on to Stratton, the first real mountain challenge of the trip.

  1. The southern 105 miles of the LT is shared with the AT, and I encountered quite a few AT SOBOs in this section. They typically start in June or July and hike through the fall. ↩︎

  2. This refers to the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail, which are collectively referred to as the “triple crown of long distance hiking”. Completing all three trails is a major accomplishment for hikers. ↩︎

  3. “Stealth site” just means somewhere to set up you’re tent that’s not officially marked or sanctioned. ↩︎

  4. A lot of the water in the southern part is fairly tannic, meaning it’s kind of brownish and has a funny sharp acidic taste. This is caused by chemicals called tannins that are present in most plant matter and leech into the water from decaying leaves and bark. It’s not bad for you as far as I know, and I even kind of enjoyed the bite it gave the water sometimes. I think it was Parfait who explained all this to me. ↩︎