Here are some photos from my hike on the Long Trail, as well as answers to frequently asked questions:
Q: What is the Long Trail?
A: A 273-mile foot path through the wilderness of Vermont. It runs from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border. It is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States. It is maintained by the Green Mountain Club.
Q: Did you do the whole thing?!
A: Yes. It’s not a huge deal, lots of people do it every year. But it’s also a little bit badass.
Q: How long did it take you?
A: 27 days. This included some really short days and a three-day detour to Maine. There were days when we just wanted to put in big miles, and there were days when we were more concerned with working on our tans and taking in the views.
Q: Were you by yourself?
A: No. I started with my friend Blake from Vermont and my friend Tom from high school and his buddy Alan. We all split up and came back together at various points. We met several other people on the trail who we hiked with for various stretches. My friends Brittany and Emily joined us for three-day sections. Ultimately we all hiked the whole trail in a bubble of 12 or so people, a rotating cast of characters from all over the country and different walks of life. I came away with some new friends and some deeper relationships with old friends. The people we met were my favorite part of my hike.
Q: What did you eat?
A: Food. I shipped resupply boxes to post offices in towns near the trail. I spaced the resupply boxes out so I was carrying about 4 to 6 days worth of food at a time.
Q: Where did you stay?
A: In shelters. There are shelters that the Green Mountain Club has built and maintained over the years and there’s spaced pretty conveniently along the trail, never more than 8 miles apart. We were able to stay in one every night and only carried an emergency shelter that turned out to be dead weight.
Q: Was it hard?
A: Yes. My feet were fine. My knees hurt like hell. We had a five day stretch of rain and cold temperatures and I was miserable. I fell six times climbing up Camel’s Hump because I wasn’t getting enough calories or salt or something and I hurt myself pretty badly. It was mentally challenging at times. A lot of times it felt like elective torture more than it felt like fun or vacation. It was like boot camp or something.
Q: But you had fun, right?
A: Totally. The highlight was when a friend of mine surprised me, Blake, and Brittany with dinner on top of Burnt Rock Mountain at sunset. He carried up soup and bread and cheeses and made stir-fry and it was a really beautiful night. Another highlight was staying at the top of Mad River Glen. Blake and Brittany and I were able to watch the sunset and the moonrise and could see both Lake Champlain to the west and the valley to the east. It was amazing.”Fun” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. It was more often meditative, interesting, educational, and reflective. Every epic view from mountain top or fire tower, every pristine river and pond, every stretch of trail underneath a canopy of changing leaves made me so thankful to be alive and able to hike the trail.
Q: Would you do it again?
A: Maybe. I feel intimately connected to Vermont now, and I have a deep love for the Green Mountains. But If I find myself with another free month I think I’d rather do a new hike. I want to hike the Muir Trail in Yosemite or do the Oregon stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail.