Normally I'd already be on the trail at this time of day, but today I'm back home in Winooski taking a little break. Saturday was a real killer of a day. I covered close to 17 miles in what seemed like the hottest day so far. The last seven or so miles involved going up the south slope of Killington Peak, the first 4000+ foot mountain I've hit (so far). To make matters worse, it started to pour around the time I got to the steepest section. I continued slowly up the mountain, knowing that I would not reach Cooper Lodge (just below the summit) until after dark, but I was looking forward to dry accommodations. This was to be the first night I would not stay in my tent, but no such luck. When I arrived, the lodge was basically full. I probably could have squirmed my way in and made some people move over (several people were taking up space for two) but I decided not to be disruptive. There were empty tent platforms above the lodge and I visited with a couple of other hikers who were hanging out after the rain had subsided. I set up my tent, made some quick dinner and went straight to bed.
Sunday morning was cool and foggy. I went right up to the summit to see if I could catch the sunrise, but the cloud cover was too thick. Then it started to rain again. I went back to wait it out in my tent but it never really let up. Gradually the other hikers departed, leaving the lodge mostly vacant, so I started dragging my stuff inside to better facilitate loading my backpack. Nothing was going to dry out in this weather, so I just started packing my wet stuff the way it was.
By about 9:30 AM I was back under way. I hiked a little over 6 miles, during which it rained very hard off and on. Despite having a pack cover and rain gear, I still got pretty soaked. Stuff in the bottom of my pack got wet too, including my sleeping bag (on the next leg I'll be sure to bring a couple of extra trash bags to line my pack). Somewhere along the way down I passed the 100 mile mark of my journey on the Long Trail.
Liz picked me up when I reached Route 4 in Mendon. Our plan was to spend the night just up the road at the Inn at the Long Trail, but I was really dragging, totally soaked, and feeling like I needed a day off. And my greatest concern was my feet. What had been manageable blisters on my heels had now become soggy, gaping wounds. It was time to take some time to let my feet recover.
Liz and I went to the Inn at the Long Trail for some food and a couple of Guinness beers anyway. We even helped to shuttle Craig, Gina, and their dog Max up to the Inn. I had encountered this hiking trio from Los Angeles a couple of times on the trail. They are hiking the Long Trail northbound too. The pub at the Inn is definitely a cool place, though it was pretty quiet. We got home by 6:00 PM. Liz helped me wash all my clothes and hang everything else out to dry.
Now I'll watch the weather (and my feet) to decide when to return to the trail. Watch for updates and maybe even a few photos, which I'll try to insert into back-dated postings, so remember to scroll down. Thanks to everyone for posting comments, words of encouragement, and other useful advise.