Goddard Shelter to Congdon Shelter
October 19, 2007
LT Miles – 14.4
Total LT Miles – 262.4
Extra Miles – 0.3
Early morning on Glastenbury is foggy and silent, eliminating the opportunity for a second view from the fire tower.
I fill water from the high spring and go south.
I follow a ridge along several misty viewpoints in the wilderness.
Hell Hollow Brook contributes to the watershed of Bennington, home of some 10,000 people and fourth-largest city in Vermont.
I exit the south end of the wilderness and cross a broad swath of power lines.
It’s an eerie, overcast, breezy day.
Here I stop and sit at the picnic table for a long lunch break, contemplating tonight’s destination. I’m unsure whether to stop ahead at Congdon Shelter or push on for Seth Warner Shelter. I’m feeling a little fatigued and have a knot in my stomach, so we’ll see.
The register here is dominated by talk of rodent activity – mice, chipmunks, and even maybe a resident possum or rat. A chipmunk appears and begins to circle my position like a shark, drawing in closer and closer.
It’s bold enough to snack on crumbs that mistakenly fall only a few inches from my feet.
I descend to Route 9, the road that leads into Bennington. On the way down I meet an older couple out for a day hike. The man inquires about my trip.
“How far ya comin’ from?”
“I’m doing The Long Trail.”
“Way to go,” he says, and shakes a clenched fist in triumph.
William D. Macarthur Memorial Bridge over City Stream.
Here I cross Route 9, which leads into Bennington.
Old Bennington is one of the earliest settlements in Vermont. In the summer of 1777 a British regiment set out to conquer the town, but they were foiled by an ambush which included some good ol’ “Green Mountain Boys” for a rare colonial victory.
The south side of Route 9 surprises me with a steep climb up a series of rock steps, reminiscent of the rugged northern stretches of the LT.
I reach the summit of Harmon Hill, topped with a blanket of open ferns.
Everything dances in the swirling wind.
Bennington can be seen to the west.
I descend from Harmon Hill to Congdon Shelter, and weigh the option of whether to press onward or not. In 2001 I took a “zero day” here, spending two consecutive nights in this shelter. I remember it as a rather dark, gloomy place.
I choose to stay. The sky turns grey, the wind picks up, and a heavy rain begins almost immediately after the decision is made. Despite the fact that I don’t feel well – with a lessened appetite – I still proceed to cook and eat all my remaining dinners.
I read the reflective entries of the southbounders whose notes I’ve been following since Canada as they prepare to finish the trail. For me it’s been a simple reaffirmation of who I am and what I love to do – revisiting the free life I lived for seven months on the AT, and for five months on a bicycle. The time away from the norms of modern society, immersion in the natural world, consistent physical exertion, fresh air, clear water, solitary independence, and simple, happy days without material desire beget a less definable experience.
This is my final night on The Long Trail.