Summary: Over 3/4 done! Random campsite: 1634.6 Prospect Rock: 1645.9 Total miles: 11.3 We wanted to maximize our time in town despite the 16.1 miles we had to go so we were hiking by 6. When we woke up we needed headlamps to get bagels sorted and pull down the bear bags. Stratton went by quickly and the view from the fire tower at the top with the soft morning light was magic. It almost made us enjoy getting up so early.
We pushed on a few more miles to Stratton Pond Shelter and stopped to make coffee and book a room for the evening. We decided to stay at Sutton Place due to its proximity to town. Getting through was difficult since the service was shoddy, but we eventually got a room sorted. Getting water at the shelter was also a hassle since a section hiker told us water was at the pond, but there was some miscommunication about where the pond was. Turns out it was a bit down the AT/LT, but Tyler heard her say the side trail which he ran down for a half mile and found nothing. We got coffee and water sorted eventually, despite losing precious town time. It was now ten and we had only gone about seven miles.
The mud in the sections after the shelter was intense. We were all slipping and sliding all over the place. Mud was either soaking or caking our shoes at all times and the trail was a complete mess. Duckfart started rating slips based on an arbitrary scoring system that was probably just based on the amount of amusement he got from the falls. Duckfart himself, Emily proclaimed, was a graceful mud puddle leaper, until he landed directly in the middle of a deep puddle and he knew he was jinxed. A sobo coming through told us that she understood the Vermud comments now, but we would be out of the mud soon and not to worry. We didn't have any such good news for her. We made it to Prospect Rock and ran into Turtle and Willy there, caught up with them a bit, then walked the two miles to the road. We tried standing and hitching for a while to no avail. We walked about another mile before Emily finally got someone's attention and we got a ride the remaining mile from Jim. He seemed to know most everyone in town. He pointed out the sights and spots to eat and even gave us his number if we needed a ride back to the trail the next day. We got off at Sutton House and met Frank Sutton, a kind older man who was very friendly but also hands off, which we like. He gave us the tour, brought up sheets for us to lay out stuff out on, and then simply left us alone. Before bathing (again, bathing lost priority to food a thousand miles ago), we headed out to Cilantros Mexican food. It was not very spicy, but we'll seasoned, delicious, and definitely a local staple. It was popping. Afterwards, we headed back, cleaned up, and then on to resupply as Emily got comfy and ready to work.
Duckfart volunteered to do laundry, and Tyler and Patch went next door to Mrs. Murphy's Donuts. They had nine donuts left, so they cleaned them out, munched, and managed to save two for Emily.
After errands, we relaxed with beers for a bit on the porch. We ate pizza and pasta at Christo's for dinner. The cute town, which had seemed so busy a couple of hours before was now nearly completely quiet. All of the shops had closed at five or six, most of the restaurants closed at eight or nine, and all the cars had vanished. It seemed odd. After dinner, Tyler, Patch, and Duckfart drank beers and chatted about trail musings and learning as Emily worked and napped in the room above. We heard that Dean had made it all the way to the road safely and was staying at the Econolodge a couple miles away with our friend Ducky. We figured we would see them again soon and hoped they were enjoying the town as much as we were.