People who have hiked all 273 miles of the Long Trail, either all at once or over the course of many years, are called End-to-Enders. To date, over 3,100 hikers have reported their hikes and received their Long Trail End-to-End certification. The certifications are then archived in the collections of the Vermont Historical Society, along with a selection from each hiker’s journal. Many hikers take on a trail name, a pseudonym often given to them by other hikers based on a characteristic they have or something they do. So the Historical Society has some very interesting pen names on those journals.
For hikers choosing to hike the entire Long Trail all at once, a thru hike, it usually takes about 20 to 30 days. Summer and fall are the most popular times for a thru hike. Hikers will generally carry all the equipment needed for the entire hike in their backpacks, but resupply their food along the way. Frequent stops in towns near the trail allow for grocery shopping or picking up packages of food they mailed themselves ahead of time. Water sources can be found frequently along the trail and treated for drinking. We have many resources available for planning a Long Trail End-to-End hike, including a map, Long Trail Guide, and End to Ender’s Guide.
As we near the end of the thru hiker season, End-to-End applications have been pouring into the Green Mountain Club office, and we love reading the journals that come with them. A journey like this inspires so many emotions. The hike can be variously inspiring and monotonous, joyful and painful. Read on for some snippets of several hikers’ journals at different stages of their trips:
JP and I bid our farewells and off I went to start this long journey. Saw a large black bear stroll through a beaver meadow toward the trail I was headed for from about 400 yards away between Seth Warner Shelter and Consultation Peak. My heart rate sped up a bit and I started clinking my poles and talking loudly to make some noise. Ten minutes after I passed that spot, I heard a large crash in the woods only to find out that a deer had made a run for it. Needless to stay, the heart rate remained up for a bit. Ate lunch at Congdon Shelter and listened to the nearby stream flowing. It was helpful to have that peaceful moment at that time! First day on the trail and see a bear and a deer, and have my first trail magic experience, all in all a good day. Two gentlemen had a cooler with cold drinks at the AT/LT crossing at Route 9. The red Gatorade was definitely needed and much appreciated! The suggested 2 liters of water was definitely not enough due to it being so warm outside. Made it to check point #1 at Melville Nauheim Shelter for the night. Met my first of many people hiking the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail at the shelter. It was a pretty full house, with Bananas, Biscuit, Boomerang, Nappy, Sunshine, Spaghetti, Eskimo, and of course, Polar Bear. Learned how to properly hang a bear bag (put a carabiner on a rope, tie a rock near the carabiner, toss rock over a tree branch, attach food bag to carabiner and raise up, tying off the other side of the rope on another tree). Made it to shelter before the rain started pouring. Total mileage 15.9 miles, starting at 7:45am and ending at 5:30pm from VT/MA border to Melville Nauheim shelter.
– Ursula, Day 2 –
I am sitting by a fire at Clarendon Shelter. There is an old bearded man who walks from NYC to the Whites every year. Alex, Julia, a couple who is moving to Burlington, and a German AT hiker called Happy Feet are also staying the night. I hiked with Ken most of the day. We saw a gorse (or maybe junko?) flap over the underbrush like a possessed feather duster. Such a drama queen! We climbed White Rocks Mountain and Bear Mountain. There were hundreds of rock cairns on the former, and a boulder that looked like it was frowning, amid the conifers that smelled so good. There was a rock scramble right before this shelter that made my knees tremble, but overall I felt my strongest today. Schedules be damned, I’ll have no truck with them anymore. I do what my body tells me.
Sleeping by the river makes for good rest. I found myself with Ken in a tiny meadow filled with head high grasses and white flowers even higher. Later we came to another meadow and the flowers were smaller and so white and smelled so sweet. The fire is whistling so high that I can barely hear it. We are in a grassy clearing that the wind blows across. Maybe the smoke will make me smell less awful. In some ways backpacking seems more pointless than the rest of my life. In other ways less. I heard a bird call like a scratchy screech and a woodpecker’s hammering and right now what might be an owl. The cool wind from the Rutland airport on the scramble up here was nice. I saw a black and white butterfly and there is what appears to be a face burned into this bench that I am sitting on. I graduated from high school more than a week ago but it feels like longer.
I have been called Mary Poppins because of the seemingly random oddities that I have in my big red external frame. I also have been called Billy Goat because of my dexterity on rocks or something. I love rock hopping barefoot down rushing rivers. The light is fading so I will get back to my tent soon. But I don’t want to leave the flickering of the fire.
– Billy Goat Irene, Day 7 –
I almost got off the trail today. When I called my wife before getting on the LT I heard her voice and my baby’s voice. I had just said goodbye to the guys and I was alone on the trail. My Achilles’ tendon is still hurting. I texted Emily early in the day and she urged me to continue and not stop. She’s my best friend, I trust her advice deeply. I kept walking down the trail.
At the Rolston Shelter I stopped for lunch and met an awesome Nobo, Chuck, as well as two other hikers. We had a great meal, and I enjoyed talking to them. As I was packing up, Stop and Go walked up. They were the French Canadian couple I met on Day 3. Even though I had only shared a snack with them, Go ran up and hugged me. Even Chuck said he had been waiting to meet me. Apparently all of them had been reading my journal entries at the shelters. That’s the amazing thing about the trail, life is different. Life is more special, relationships better. I feel like these new friends have been friends for years, not days.
The day’s hiking was not bad. I did a little over 12 miles and wanted to take it slow with a full pack. There weren’t many views, but a small glimpse of a Chittendon Reservoir. The terrain is slowly changing, the AT section was fairly flat, but now there is a more rugged, rooted, up and down terrain. At dinner and lunch I ate bacon, cheese avocao wraps that really quenched my hunger. At camp my Achilles is hurting, but Stop showed me some stretches and things to try to loosen it up. I’m hopeful it will stop swelling in the coming days.
– Paperback, Day 10 –
Jay camp. Last night in the woods. This camp is right by the road, so I’m listening to cars going by, which is kind of funny. Haven’t really heard anything like that since the south, where we could hear a train basically every night. Amazing how far sound can travel sometimes. Haystack Mountain wasn’t too bad, even after all the southbounders told us it would be. Coming up from Hazens Notch though was another story. We went up about 700 feet in much less than a mile. We basically went up the side of a massive cliff. Not easy, and very sweaty. We did about 12 miles today, and we’re expecting to do about 12 miles tomorrow. My body feels surprisingly good, and I think Debi is feeling the same way. It was actually supposed to rain today but it didn’t. I feel very fortunate for that. The humidity seemed to break for an hour or so, but came back as it got a bit later. Tomorrow’s weather is forecasted to be cloudy with a chance of showers, and we will be climbing Jay bright and early. I’m ready for it. We have 12 miles to go, and I think we’ll both be smiling the whole way to the Canadian border. It’s still so funny thinking about how far we’ve come. I mean, we’ve walked from Massachusetts to Canada over Vermont’s most difficult mountains. It feels great to be able to say that. Assuming everything goes well tomorrow, we’ll be done and into North Troy.
– 5 Liter, Day 19 –
Congratulations to all new End-to-End hikers! It is certainly a great achievement!