Twice a year in the spring and fall, we process End to Ender certification applications from folks who have hiked every mile of the Long Trail. With the next deadline coming up on October 1st, we want to remind everyone to submit their applications, but also want to share some statistics on the 238 hikers who have submitted applications so far:
- 55 people were sections hikers and 183 were thru hikers
- 87 people identified as female, 144 as male, and 2 as non-binary.
- 32 was the average age of hikers, with 80 being the oldest and 7 being the youngest.
- 72 applicants were from Vermont
- 26 states were represented
- 55 were GMC members, and 183 were not members
In 2019, we removed the journal requirement from our End to End application, because journals aren’t common practice anymore and we felt it was a barrier for some hikers. Although we still accept journals and use them as a resource, we now just require hikers to answer three questions which we hope spark memories we can share to inspire other hikers. Below is a sample of the responses from this year:
What was your most memorable experience while hiking the Long Trail?
“To me, meeting other thru hikers and trail angels was the best part of being on the trail. Sometimes the views were unimpressive or hidden in clouds, it rained, it was cold, my feet hurt…but then you’d run into someone you knew, or huddle with a new friend in a shelter, or share a meal with the trail family, and it could turn into the best day ever! One of my favourite memories was catching up to One-Take and Tarzan on the Chin and getting to hike the face of Mount Mansfield with friends, then having Snooze (who I thought was a day ahead at this point) show up on the summit too. What I had expected to be a windy, cloudy, solo experience on Mansfield turned into great company for a couple hours while enjoying 360 views from the highest peak in Vermont.” – Miyoko “Princess” Fulleringer, age 29
“No one moment, there were a lot of wonderful small moments: campsites by the river, sunrise at Puffer, skinny dipping, meeting unique individuals, just enjoying each day as it came.” – Elizabeth “Blaze” Evans, age 57
“My most memorable experience was becoming great friends with a pair of older women hikers. Together, despite the age gap, we became very close and hiked for 16 days together. We climbed the forehead of Mt. Mansfield together in a slippery, sideways rainy, foggy, scary, storm, and we have vowed to stay in touch and meet up again one day to toast the death-defying occasion. The most memorable experience was the many experiences with other women! We saw more women than men and were inspired every day by all of them.” – Beatrix “Sprout” Berry, age 23
“The most memorable experiences on the Long Trail occurred every night at shelters. After a full day solo hike you would reach a shelter each night. Shelters almost always have other hikers. The new friendships formed at these locations really culminate the experience of the hiking lifestyle and appreciation for the outdoors.” – Landon “Coach” Nelson, age 34
“Figuring out which leaves were the best toilet paper, then getting ecstatic when there were hobblebushes growing by the privy!” – Katharine “Huevo” Ruegger, age 22
What was your favorite stretch of trail?
“My favorite stretch was the from Bennington to Maine Junction– not only did we meet a lot of AT hikers passing though, but also many trail angels! Having never been a part of the thru-hiking community the general kindness of strangers made this whole stretch incredible, and meeting hikers (especially at Stratton Pond Shelter) definitely inspired me to try longer hikes in the future.” – Allegra Stewart, age 20
“Gosh, there are so many! Loved the ladders at Needle’s Eye, the steep steps up from Route 9, the tranquility of the northernmost section and generally the terrain variations. Also loved the gentle 20 mile stretch between Brandon Gap and Rt 4 because it felt unique to us as compared with other sections. While it offered no distant views and noteworthy summits, the trail delighted with beautiful moss and ferns. You have to love a day when the newts outnumber the people on the trail. I enjoyed the rocks, ladders and rope in the section after Camel’s Hump (hiked it in both directions the same summer and stayed each time at Montclair Glenn)” – Geoffrey Ransom, age 59
“The (northbound) section after the Maine Junction felt to me like I was taking the training wheels off of this hike. After peeling away from the crowd of AT thru-hikers, I think I went three or four days without seeing anyone at all at a campsite and encountering only very few other hikers on the trail during the day. The views came more often than in the southern section, and I was starting to really get my daily rhythm figured out…” – Merrill “Startle Chicken” Gutowski, age 28
“I loved the Little Rock Pond stretch of the trail between USFS 10 and VT 140. We hiked that on 6/9/20, a cool calm day. I wish we hadn’t done it as a day hike. It was a beautiful, relatively flat section of the trail that followed a brook for many miles. Lots of bird calls echoed through the air, something not regularly heard on many sections of the LT. The pond was absolutely calm when we got there, no wind rippling the surface and no one else in sight. The tenting platform sitting by the water’s edge looked so inviting. Farther along the trail, we arrived at the “rock cairns”, a very unusual feature on the LT. We stopped and built cairns of our own (of course) and hiked out to the overlook where we sat in the sun and had lunch. Later on, just when it felt like the trail should be ending, we reached a lovely set of cascades that were located right beside the trail. A nice way to end a lovely hike.” – Susan “Sister Sue” Plisinski, age 68
“Devils Gulch. Damn! Or something more like Harmon Hill maple stands in the midday sunshine. Also, DAMN!” – Parker Herlihy, age 22
What does being an end-to-ender mean to you?
“I’ll never forget how I felt when we reached the Canadian border. It was a foggy day, a little chilly even but the feeling of completion just warmed me. I sat on that rock looking down at the border statue watching the fog slowly lift, watching the fog reveal Canada to me. After 3 weeks of sweat and tears, we made it! I honestly didn’t want the trail to end, the trip to end. The rocky trail and water-less streams made a huge part in making this adventure forever stand out from any other thru hike. The challenges we faced were unplanned but the strength gained was unpredictable. Thank you Long Trail and Green Mountains for giving me what I didn’t know I needed, a time to be at peace with myself and truly embrace every step!” – Margo Sauter, age 32
“Being a Long Trail end-to-ender has meant a lot more to me than I think it does for many people. I have faced a lot of adversity in my life while trying to finish this hike and getting to the end on my own two feet has made me feel incredibly proud and that if I can do this I can anything. Keep dancing even when the music sucks!” – Allyson “Pops” Scheunemann, age 19
“Completing the trail with my wife of (35) years was an honor and a privilege. Proving to ourselves that “goals” need to remain an important part of our daily routine no matter a person’s age, gender or fitness level. Most importantly that inner solitude is still within reach if we are willing to “disconnect” from the digital dilemma of our days and take a chance on what is just around every corner here in Vermont… our Green Mountains and a trail that you will never forget!” – Dennis “Daddy Long Legs” Curran, age 68
“Being an end-to-ender means never limiting your ability or doubting yourself. Before this hike, I never actually thought I could live in the woods for 26 days, carrying everything I need to survive on my back. It has shown me what a minimalist life one can have and how all the stress and extras in ‘off trail’ life are unnecessary. I met so many interesting characters on the trail, all hiking for their own reasons. I learned how living such a simple life, even for just a few weeks can change your mindset on your life forever. Hiking the entire length of my home state via the Long Trail has shown me how capable and badass I truly am.” – Lila “+1” Meyer, age 16
“Being a Long Trail end-to-ender (section hiker) has given me an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of this State, appreciate the efforts of so many individuals to create and maintain this “Footpath in the Wilderness”, meet so many amazing hikers of all ages and abilities, challenge myself both physically and mentally, learn more about our environment, encourage others, and most importantly, grow as a person. It certainly has inspired me to continue hiking and exploring this beautiful world.” – Sandy Bossick, age 72
“I am not the prototypical naturalist hiker. I don’t necessarily feel most comfortable when I’m covered in mud or climbing a miserable ascent or digging a hole to do my business. But there is something about completely immersing yourself in nature that allows you to uncover things about yourself that you’d otherwise never consider. And in the 3 weeks it took me to hike the 272 miles of the Long Trail I had just that opportunity. Being a LT end-to-ender will always be a source of deep, existential pride for me. I set out into the wilderness not to escape the realities of the world, but instead to FIND the realities of the world. The “real world” is an illusion; a numbing series of false culture, talking heads, and sponsored ads – so the Long Trail will forever be a ‘footpath in the wilderness’ that led me to something more meaningful. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to explore it.” – Doug “Captain” McGowan, age 32
“Being a Long Trail end-to-ender gives me a sense of accomplishment. If I can hike 272 miles, what else can I do?” – Cassandra Royer, age 14