Summary: Into Vermont, across 1600, and less than 600 miles left
Wilbur clearing shelter: 1589.2
Melville Nauheim Shelter: 1612.2
Total miles: 23
We were hiking by 8, which we figured would be enough time to get some big miles. We didn't quite factor in how long we would stay at the grocery store for a little mid hike resupply. After a few miles, we hiked 0.6 miles to the Stop and Shop in North Adams. We have been carrying a lot less food lately and resupplying more often, which has been a bit slower, but much more comfortable on our backs. We ate muffins, pastries, fruits, and plentiful juices under the grocery store awning like true hiker trash, and repacked our food. We didn't make it back to the trail until 11, so we would once again be trying to go 20 miles at 11. It looked like late camp again.
Emily was feeling a little nauseous all morning which meant we had to take more breaks than normal so she could wait for the waves to pass. But, yeah, she still said she could make 20 more miles, and would that day. Dean was in full media zone mode and hiked off from the group early in the day. At the beginning of the day, we thought we might be able to make 26 miles, but with our grocery stop, it was looking unlikely.
Our day was not made faster by our frequent stops to celebrate achievements and milestones. They are definitely important breaks. We passed into Vermont seven miles into the day, and passed 1600 miles ten miles into the day!
We tried to time water breaks with water sources but we're having some trouble finding water that didn't look funky. It smelled fine, and tasted fine, but even after filtering, the water was a pretty cloudy brown which was psychologically troubling. At the shelter stop before our final push, we did find a beautiful clear stream and dumped all of our cloudy water to make room for the new clear water. All of our Sawyer filters seemed to get slower and slower as the day went on, so they will all need a good backflushing soon.
When we were on our last four miles it was getting dark and Tyler offered to run ahead to pump water and do some camp setup. Down the rocky, steep hill that lead to the road into Bennington, Tyler met Joy who was worried sick about her husband, Bee Man. By her description we had run into him moving pretty slow about three miles back. But now it was approaching sunset. He had no filter and no flashlight and was slackpacking. He told Joy to meet him at the bottom of the hill at 5 anf it was now 7. Tyler was afraid he would have to run back up the horrible slope to bring him supplies, but luckily she finally got a hold of him via cell phone and he said he was fine and would make it down to her no problem. Emily, Duckfart, and Patch also ran into Joy when they arrived twenty minutes later. She was still worried but Tyler had calmed her down.
The uphill out of the Bennington road was steep and dreadful, but short. Dean, who was already at the shelter, had gotten water for the crew, which was good since when Tyler tried to contribute he popped our last Sawyer bag (serviceable but annoying). Emily, Duckfart, and Patch arrived about thirty minutes later, and we all sat at the picnic table near the shelter and chatted among ourselves and with the section hikers.
Jamie and Kim, the section hikers, were celebrating a post wedding (Kim had just gotten married) one-on-one bachelorette party. They've done some sweet outdoors stuff between the two of them including NOLLS. Kim hiked the John Muir Trail two years ago. Jamie also told us about her new startup venture in Pittsfield, MA where she takes local kids teaches them about small farming. They get paid, learn a ton, and have fun. This was the first year and the project is called Roots Rising (Facebook Roots Rising)
We finally headed to bed, far too late for how many tough miles we did and how early we planned to get up to get close to Manchester Center tomorrow. To make up our miles to shoot for ten into town, we would have to hike 28 miles, ending the day over Stratton Mountain. Here goes something...
It should be noted that James Taylor (not that one) conceived the Long Trail in 1909. The trail was completed in 1930 and is the origin of all the long distance hiking trails in the US. The Long Trail served as the inspiration for Benton Mackaye to create the AT.