We’re currently at Mountain Meadows, mostly a ski lodge with a hiker rate for hikers in the summer-time because the trail runs within 200ft of their establishment. Dirt Stew used to stay here all the time with his family on vacation, and he says it hasn’t changed much.
Since we entered VT, we’ve gotten rained on quite a bit, which we are happy about given the drought we went through before, but Vermont is quite a muddy state to walk through, and we’ve wound up looking like we’ve rolled around in it like happy pigs, without trying. For the first part of Vermont, the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail of Vermont run as the same trail, and we were happy to see fresh blood: Long Trail thru-hikers. The Long Trail is the oldest long distance trail in the US, and runs 272 miles through VT.
While we were amongst the Long Trail hikers, we met someone who gave us a tip on a “secret shelter”, which someone had built on their private property. He showed us on the map where to find it, and we decided we had to check it out. Two days later, we still had heard nothing from anyone else, nor read anything about this “secret shelter”, but decided to head to it nonetheless. We found the gravel road on which it was off of, and the cairn marking where the trail leads up to the shelter- and there it was, completely empty and very clean, walls on three sides like all the other shelters, with two ginger ales perched nicely on one side of it. We were nervous that someone else may show up (we usually don’t stay in shelters, we pitch our tent so as not to be woken up by snorers, late comers and early risers). We decided if there was one time we could be sure nobody would show up, it would be today. So we put up our tent inside the shelter to protect from bugs, and lit a few candles, which were left in the shelter. It was quite a romantic little set-up. We dug through our food bags and found that all we had were candy bars. We sighed, and went to bed hungry.
The Secret Shelter
That night it poured, and we were so happy to be in a shelter since our tent was dry for the first time in days (makes a huge difference in weight among other things). We woke up early the next morning to climb Killington Mountain and descend onto the road that leads to Rutland. We were absolutely famished having not really had dinner the night before, and felt like we could barely make it up and over the mountain. We fantasized about the food we would eat in town, and made it to the road. We hitched a ride to the Inn at the Long Trail, which is a quaint place with a Irish pub, game room and lounge on the first floor and bedrooms on the second. We checked in and felt we had to take a shower before entering the pub area (we were covered in mud). We took speed showers and raced downstairs. Dirt Stew ate a Sheppard’s pie, and I had a burger, which I devoured in about three bites. We ordered some appetizers, and Dirt Stew had a Guinness , which they had on tap, and I tried the famous Long Trail Ale, which was pretty good.
Later we decided that that meal had been expensive enough, and we had to go out in search of a cheaper all-you-can-eat. We found a Chinese buffet in Rutland, which turned out to be a let-down after our wonderful lunch.
The next day we had planned on doing some miles, and stopping at the Mountain Meadows to pick up some packages, have lunch, and move on. When we got here we joked around about how lazy and fun it would be to stay here- they have row boats, a hot tub, a movie room, and even a computer for hikers to use. The more we looked around, the more tempted we became, and by the last bite of our excellent lunch, we had given in to temptation. We had a lovely day, rowed out to an island on the lake, watched several movies, jumped in and out of an all too hot whirlpool (106 degrees!). We had a lovely dinner, and now we’re gearing up for breakfast. We feel so good now, having eaten so many “real” meals. Today we really will put some miles in…
In three days we leave VT and enter into NH, where the really hard mountains start. We’re a little nervous, but excited too. The trail here just diverged from the Long Trail (about a mile or two before Mountain Meadows), and now we’re taking a right turn into NH.
We’re really having a good time now- the heat has died down, the bugs we mostly left behind in MA, and the mountains are exciting and challenging. Every morning we look for moose (we’ve only seen the one, but heard another in the thick of the forest beyond view). Only draw-back here in muddy VT is that the slugs seem to descend upon everything in the night- so any gear left out of the tent is covered in a slimy goo, and several slugs- Dirt Stew was unhappy to find three in his shoe the other day. Our tent has probably suffered the most, but slug-slime doesn’t seem to really harm it- it just doesn’t do much for the appearance….
Breakfast is about to be served, so time to wrap things up. One more thought– if you have any questions for us, we’d love to take them… We may take a while to respond, but we’ll make an effort to include the good ones in the next email!
Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!
Dormouse and Dirt Stew