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Bolton Mountain

  • Start: Buchanan Lodge
  • End: Butler Lodge
  • Approx Miles: 10.5

We get up early and open the door to the shelter (it’s fully enclosed with a latching door, unlike most). Ella runs out and starts sniffing around by the fire pit, and then suddenly jumps three feet in the air and gives a loud yelp! She’s been startled by a hiker cowboy camping out there, who promptly wakes up and starts cursing at her. This is hilarious and awkward in equal measure.

Some time later, the hiker gets up and chats with us for a bit after we apologize about Ella. He’s a SOBO, apparently he got in late last night and tried to get into the shelter, but we’d latched the door and didn’t near him knocking so he just slept outside! He’s remarkably friendly given all the inconvenience we’ve caused him.

Anyway today’s hiking starts off with an annoyingly difficult climb up Bolton. Lots of ups and downs.

Bolton Mountain, like many of the shorter peaks in the north half of the trail, has a tree-covered, viewless summit.

We stop for lunch on a random sunny rock in the middle of the trail, then take a long break at Puffer Shelter. Yesterday Ryan told me to push for Puffer if I could, and I see why. The sunrise from here would be amazing.

Puffer Shelter
The view

We keep on hiking through a beautiful day.

Fall colors starting to get going.

Eventually we arrive at Taylor Lodge, right next to Lake Mansfield. The water source is 0.2 miles from the shelter, which I’m at first annoyed by1. However, the walk there passes through an incredibly beautiful area called Nebraska Notch. It’s a steep, narrow gully with little trickling waterfalls, rock cliffs towering above us, trees with their leaves just starting to change color. There’s a few ducks swimming in the bog at the bottom. This is probably the most beautiful natural area of the whole trip to me; it strikes me even more than the epic peaks with their views. Somehow it just feels so serene. Pictures don’t do it justice. Mooch and I stand at the bottom for a while, whooping into the valley walls to hear our voices echo.

The trail to the water source continues on to Lake Mansfield, which is also very pretty. Would make a great day hike.

Nebraska Notch
The water source here is a piped spring, like many in this section of the trail.
The gang preparing to roll out from Taylor Lodge.

As we’re about to leave, Hang Ten arrives! He’s been texting with Stiltz and knew we were here. Apparently he went home after we split up at Rutland, almost immediately got fired from his job, and decided to just get back on trail and finish it with us. You love to see it.

Just after Taylor Lodge, there’s a blue-blazed trail that leads through a difficult but fun and interesting rock scramble through Clara Bow Cave. Most LT hikers take it, and we did the same. Totally worth the extra effort, it was really cool!

It was always an interesting challenge getting Ella up and down ladders.

The rest of the hike today is a brutally steep climb up to Butler Lodge. I’m totally cooked by the end, falling way behind everyone else. The lodge itself is spectacular though, with an incredible sunset view.

Butler Lodge

We’re far enough north now that some of the trail signage is bilingual in French and English, to help out Québecois visitors. A reminder of how close we are to the trail’s end at the Canadian border. Stiltz remarks that we’ve just crossed the 200-mile mark.

It’s funny how the group dynamic changes with the addition of Hang Ten. The age gap between him/Mooch and me/Stiltz definitely shows more. The two of them exacerbate each other’s “annoying little brother” energy as Stiltz put it 😆.

I’ve been coordinating with my friend Rachel and her partner Joe, who are meeting up with me on Friday. I’ll have to slow down a bit to meet them, and I’m actually kind of excited to fall behind everyone else. It’s been nice having companions, but it feels right to finish the trip like it started—solo.

Anyway tomorrow, the traverse across Mansfield! The highest point in Vermont and the climax of the trail. Excited to be with the gang for that.

Me, Stiltz, and hang Ten. Photo credit: Mooch

  1. Most shelters have a water source right nearby. ↩︎