Day 116 – Sunday, July 3: Stealth Camp to Stealth Camp (City Stream), 17.6 miles, 1,610.6 total AT miles.

I woke at 6:30 to the sound of people hiking and jogging near me. I immediately started packing up. While I did, I heard a voice from outside my tent tell me that I was camping in a no-camping zone. What the heck? I looked up and saw it wasn’t a park ranger like I thought, but a nosy guy walking his dog. I told him I made camp in the dark – plus, that it soon wouldn’t matter, that I was actively packing up. He walked away and Greyhound and I immediately broke camp.

But we didn’t leave. There wasn’t a sign that said I couldn’t make breakfast. Plus, the Vermont border lay only four miles ahead – I wanted to enjoy my entry into the final three states. I made scrambled eggs with peppers and onions and we ate them with tortillas. Very filling.

As we readied ourselves to leave, we noticed we were kind of close to a few homes. We made a hasty exit.

(Fun Fact – We did come across a sign that said “No Camping”. It was about 100 yards north of us.)

We briefly followed an ancient stream before beginning our ascent into the mountains of Vermont. The climbing was a little challenging. I felt like I was back in Georgia – after ascending Greylock yesterday, the mountains have returned.

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At 11:00am, we crossed into Vermont and were greeted with introduction to the Vermont Long Trail. It runs concurrent with the AT for many miles before heading north to Canada where the AT splits east towards New Hampshire.

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We met a pair of hikers – a father and son. He hiked his son in from the trailhead to the Vermont state line to begin his post-high school trek of the Vermont Long Trail just as his father had done for him. It was quite touching.

Having taken our state-line photos, we hiked north. The trail was rocky and beginning to get difficult. I was still wearing my old Merrell trail runners (the ones I had shipped to me a few hundred miles ago). They were looking pretty bad – I just couldn’t gain traction anymore on rocky ascents. I was due for new shoes soon.

We climbed quickly and efficiently, stopping at a pond for a quick snack at 4:00pm – we had only covered 12 miles on the day. I felt bad, but sucked it up and pressed on. We crossed another ferny break in the woods before finally descending towards VT 9 – spilling out onto the trailhead at 6:30. That descent was no joke!

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We wanted to catch a hitch into Bennington, VT to buy frozen sausages for the 4th of July – we figured what better way to celebrate the 4th than with a “freshly”-prepared, All-American meal. Sausages. Unfortunately, the trailhead wasn’t cooperating. We miraculously caught a hitch at 6:30 from an elderly couple heading towards town. The gentleman hiked the AT in the late 80’s and early 90’s – after his retirement. The elderly thru-hiker and his wife were the sweetest couple. We walked into the Wal-Mart at 7:00pm, starting to get concerned about making it back to the trailhead before dark.

Greyhound found marshmallows, I bought sausage and a Wal-Mart boy’s swim suit to replace my worn-out Wal-Mart boy’s gym shorts. We quickly exited and tried our best to get a hitch – no dice. I had spotty cell service and kept trying to call the town taxi for a lift. After one failed connection, we finally got confirmation he’d pick us up. We definitely weren’t getting back to the trail before dark.

As we were waiting, a visibly-intoxicated woman kept trying to give us a ride. It was getting dark when our taxi (thankfully) arrived. The taxi dropped us off at the trailhead – we immediately entered the park and found a tent site next to the river. We cooked quick dinners, and enjoyed a few stove-toasted marshmallows before turning in for the night.

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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