We woke up pretty early… but we sat in our sleeping bags, not wanting to brave the cold.  We were especially dreading putting on the wet clothes, socks and shoes.  We knew that we were not going to be able to sit there all day though, so we finally got up and going.  We packed everything up but our clothes bags, wanting to stay warm and dry as long as possible.  We made hot chocolate and ate some bars for breakfast.  The time came for us to change into our wet clothes.  It was wild to watch the moisture blow around.  We were in a cloud… if it had been clear, it would have been the most beautiful of views that we had woken to yet, but nope… we were in a ping-pong ball.  

We mustered the courage to dawn our wet apparel, and as we did… the sun rewarded our bravery by shining its warm rays on us. 

We were so glad to be warmed by the sun… and before we left the shelter entirely, we were able to see a bit of the view.

We had a destination in mind, but decided to take it checkpoint by checkpoint.  Our first stop was Kid Gore shelter, where we ate lunch while being eaten by black flies… a new challenge to our journey.  If you have never experienced black flies… think of a really large fruit fly that bites.  They draw blood… seriously!  And it seems as though they waited until May 31st to hatch.  

We talked at length about the horrible existence a black fly has.  They live for only 24 hours, and are hated for their entire existence.  Quite sad really. 

The view from Kid Gore shelter was beautiful, and because it was clear, we were able to actually enjoy it for a bit.

Anyway, after we ate, we decided that we would hike on to the next shelter, which would have put us at 8.9 miles of hiking.  Now the weather itself wasnt too bad throughout the day, but the trail is so wet.  There are vast stretches of nothing but deep black mud to trudge through.  With or without waterproof shoes… there is no escaping wet feet.  Our new shoes look more like shoes that have been on our feet for months.  

We made it to Story Spring Shelter.  Though we had more in our tanks, we thought about just settling in, but the black flies and lack of sufficient tent sites drove us onward.  Additionally, more rain was on its way.  Who wants to sit in a stuffy tent while it pours rain?  Not us, so we decided to hike on.  We did make the choice however to take the Blue Blaze trail up to the Stratton Pond Shelter, which is meant to be a bad weather alternate route.  We are glad we made that choice, because when we arrived at the shelter we learned that several of the hikers had been caught in a hail storm.  We’ve been there, done that, and really have no desire to revisit that one again.  

The Stratton Pond Shelter was nice, able to sleep about 18 people.  We ran into TurtleTracks, and Chinook again, as well as a couple of gals that we had been with at the shelter the first night back to the trail.  Not all of the hikers here are AT hikers.  The Long Trail in Vermont and the AT share some miles, before it splits north.  

We were able to make dinner and hang the bear bags before the sun set.  

Again, it was not a great day.  Morale was slowly but definitively on a downward slope.  There were things that were good about the day, but not one of us was prepared to just stomp through the mud for hours and hours on end.  

Here is to hoping that the entire Vermont trail doesnt look like what is above, but if it does… trekking on.

Happy Trails ~ The Thru Crew

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