As I scanned my thru-hiking bucket list, I had a few factors to consider before committing to my summer adventure. Appalachian Trail Days and my best friend’s wedding mid-June were the bookends to my timeline. That left me approximately one month including travel to get a hike under my hip-belt. Challenge: Accepted.
I set my sights on Vermont's 275-mile Long Trail. Sure, I’d be covered in bug bites and have a slight hiker hobble down the aisle, but I’d get to spend several weeks in the gorgeous Green Mountain State, and that was an adventure worth pursuing.
My pup was in tow for my summer shenanigans, so I made sure my head was in the right space to bring her along. Her physical health and overall enjoyment of the experience were my top priority. Thankfully, we’d been hiking our heads off while staying at Woods Hole Hostel leading up to my first ever Trail Days — so we were accustomed to the PUDS we’d face on the Long Trail. Even so, I was planning on boarding her for the northern section of the trail, just before Ladder Ravine, where the technical difficulty of the trail increases significantly.
“It’s like the AT through The Whites the second the Long Trail splits off”, said one local hiker. It may have been an exaggeration, but there were certainly sections I scrambled, booty-scootched, and counted 3 points of contact, as I moved at the speed of a determined turtle and reminisced about southern Maine.
On the miles that overlapped with the AT, I constantly found myself experiencing deja vu from my 2019 thru-hike. From the town where my tramily member got a tattoo to the stacked cairns in the rock gardens, there was nostalgia and reflections on how far I’d come around every corner.
After about 100 miles and a limp that my pup may or may not have faked to get me to carry her backpack for her, I dropped Thru off early at boarding, skipped ahead to Appalachian Gap to keep with my timeline, and continued the journey north from there, ready to embrace the solitude.
Enjoy these photos of my stinky Siberian Husky, the enchanting wildlife, and the green, green mountains of Vermont’s Long Trail.
— Katie “Oats” Houston and Thru the Siberian Husky