The AT section of the Long Trail was like a weeklong nostalgia walk. At every corner I would see something that would trigger some memory. That stream? Peregrine fished there. That shelter? Pitbull recognized me by my half-gallon challenge experience there. That road crossing? Got a hitch in less than a minute. That hostel? Inasias took full advantage of the kitchen. Reliving that experience was amazing.
The descent into Clarendon Gorge was treacherous because of rain, yet I found myself appreciating the difference in weather. When I went through that section in ’17 on the AT, it was sunny and beautiful. Now I get to see it in a completely different light. I can understand why people do long trails more than once.
The Power of Space Shorts
At Stratton Pond I met two AT SOBOs who were hilarious. Their names were Wren and Gray, a husband and wife hiking together. Wren, Slips, the caretaker, and I laughed together until hiker midnight. I distinctly remember Wren telling us a story of how she learned to pee standing up, without taking her pack or shorts off, no P Style required. If there were any hiking skill I needed to know, it was that one. However, with my current clothing situation it just wasn’t possible.
Before I left for the LT, I bought myself a new pair of shorts that I picked up in Manchester, after I met Wren. With these new shorts, Wren’s technique seemed like it would actually work. So I got up the courage and put it to the test. Let me tell you, I have never felt more like a thru-hiker after mastering this skill. It came in handy pretty quickly. The next day it poured, and there’s nothing worse than having to take your pack off and squat in the rain.
Fun fact: if you stay at any of the few sites in the Green Mountains, the caretaker will give you a receipt that gets you a free stay at all of the other fee sites!
As with starting anything physically intensive, there is going to be some soreness. The spots I experienced difficulty were both knees and my right hip. On trail, I stretch every morning and night to get some relief and help my muscles adjust to hiking all day, every day. Thankfully, my hip and right knee resolved themselves within a couple of days and I could hike mostly pain free.
My left knee, however, stayed in consistent pain until the descent of Killington. At which point in time it decided to get much worse. Every step was a struggle. The impact of going downhill was like a jackhammer to the side of my joint. By the time I got to Route 4, I was limping.
I didn’t plan on taking a zero at the Inn at Long Trail, but my knee plus how awesome this place is convinced me. The rest combined with lots of stretching, biofreeze, and good ole Vitamin I helped to calm down the pain I was feeling. By the time I got back on trail to hit Maine Junction and leave the AT, it felt totally fine.
Going left at Maine junction was… odd. I’m now in completely new territory. I’ve been told how rugged the terrain in the northern section of the Long Trail is and I have just one thing to say;
Bring. It. On.
If you’d like to learn Wren’s secret peeing technique, you can follow me on IG at the.spitfire or send me an email at [email protected]!