Last month, a group of five friends, all from Essex High School in Vermont, decided to take a hike on the Long Trail, with the intention of this being their practice hike before they start on their End-to-End journey next summer. Three of the group members had section hiked the trail before and two of the members received their Wilderness First Aid certificates at the Green Mountain Club. Their parents were not without hesitation, but these young women felt comfortable with their skills and planning to complete Division 11 of the Long Trail. Below are some questions I asked them about their trip.
How did planning work for your group?
Planning looked a lot like a pizza girls night, sitting on the kitchen floor around the Long Trail Guide, End to Ender’s Guide, and Long Trail Map discussing what we wanted to do. We knew we wanted to go NOBO (NorthBound), and we had seen some of the southern parts of the trail, so we wanted to explore the northern section a little bit. We used Google Docs to have our charts and packing lists in one place. We knew we wanted to shelter hop, so that helped us divide up our daily mileage. We were able to plan our hike in about 2 hours.
How was your hike overall? What was it like out there?
We did Division 11 of the trail. The hardest mountain for us mentally was Laraway, but we really liked the giant rock you follow all the way up the trail. We thought Belvidere would be more challenging for us than it was, and we were excited about the fire tower at the top. We stopped at shelters along the way and they were really nice, and the water sources were great to have. We got to meet some great people. The coolest person we met was an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker who came back to finish the Long Trail in the same year he finished the Appalachian Trail. He told us fun stories one night at dinner and we were amazed at the mileage he covered in one day. Because it was our last night on the trail, we gave him all of our extra food, which he really appreciated. We were also amazed by the surrounding environment – we saw trees growing on rocks!
Now that your trip is over, what stays with you?
I think about getting to the top of each mountain and about how amazing I felt up there. I don’t think about the hard parts, just the good parts. When I look back, I’m amazed at how much time we spent talking and working together and we were never sick of each other. Our goal is to hike the whole Long Trail next summer before we all go our separate ways for college. We can’t think of a better way to commemorate graduation and our friendships!
I spoke with the mother of one of the young women and she said she was really worried about the girls, but that when she hiked up to meet them one day, she saw how well prepared they were and how they truly worked as a cohesive team. She also noticed changes in her daughter, who had become more confident and independent.
A big congratulations to these five young women who hiked a section of the Long Trail together; we can’t wait to hear about their End-to-End hike next summer.
(We love hearing stories about experiences on the Long Trail. If you have one you want to share, you can submit it here!)