Mud, sweat, hail, and romance? Does the trail make you think of romance? It did for these couples. All the way back to 1918, when Mr. & Mrs. Lesage spent their honeymoon on the Long Trail (pictured at right), couples have been meeting and continuing their relationships on the trail. The October 1928 Long Trail News contains an article entitled “A Long Trail Honeymoon” by Elizabeth Man Sarcka:
We could see behind us the succession of peaks over which we had come from the Trail’s beginning, and on ahead, the magnificent march of them away up to the Canada border – the waving sky-line of Vermont. “Yes,” we agreed, “The Long Trail is the only place, the only place for a honeymoon!”
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, some more recent couples agreed to share their stories:
Pete & Katie Antos-Ketcham
Pete: “Katie and I met in 1998 while I was working my fourth season with GMC’s Field Programs. I was Lead Caretaker on Mt. Mansfield. Katie is from Oregon and was here to start her second year of graduate school at UVM. Prior to classes kicking off, she decided to hike Mt. Mansfield as she hadn’t done it yet. It was the Monday after Labor Day weekend and the mountain was still quite busy. I was working at the Visitor Center when she passed by and stopped to ask me the one question we all dreaded – is there a bathroom? In the late nineties, Stowe Mountain Resort had not started providing port-o-lets at the top of the Toll Road so it was the Summit Caretakers who had to tell folks the bad news. She hiked off and I thought I wouldn’t see her again. But to my surprise, she came back and I was glad she did. We struck up a conversation that ended with us exchanging numbers and agreeing to see each other again.
That following winter and the winter after that I spent winter caretaking for the Randolph Mountain Club in NH and returned to work for GMC during the summer and fall. In 2001 I became full-time with GMC. Over my total time at the Club, I held eight different positions from caretaker through Director of Land and Facilities Management until 2015. Katie completed grad school and decided to stay in Vermont. She worked in higher education and student affairs at St. Michael’s College and then got her teaching certificate and became a high school teacher – and she still is today.
We dated from ’98 through ’01 and were married in August of ’01. Our twins, Bailey and Carter, were born in 2008 and just turned 9. We enjoy camping, hiking, and skiing as a family – though we wish we did more of it – life with twins is busy. We hope as the kids get bigger that we’ll keep being able to do more and more and explore more places. We started working on the NH 4000 footers – we still have to finish. As a family, we have adopted Birch Glen Camp and Skyline Lodge. I may have the opportunity to travel to Denali National Park for work this summer and there’s a chance the whole family will join me after I am done working.”
Matt & Alyssa Krebs
Alyssa: “It was a hot, August day in 2002. Temperatures were projected to be into the 90’s. I told myself that, after approximately 1,700 miles of Appalachian Trail northbound through-hiking, it was a good day for a shower and an air-conditioned room. Now-or-Never, a trail friend, and I descended the ridge that intersected at Route 4 in Killington, Vermont. We did not click-clack our hiking poles across the pavement and back into the woods, following the trail up out of the gap. Instead, we took a right and hitched a ride a few miles down the road to the Killington Motel. It was there, in the parking lot, that I met my to-be husband–unbeknownst to me at the time, of course. He was coming back from the small grocery next door. Black hair, big beard, rosy cheeks, and sparkly eyes were headed my way, and they wouldn’t be going anywhere for a long time!
After finishing the Appalachian Trail in the fall, and soon after relocating to Montpelier, Vermont, Matt and I found our thirst for trail life had not been quenched. We launched ourselves on a through-hike of The Long Trail the following spring. And within a few years, we would be carting our two toddling children on any and all nearby walking adventures. I consider myself lucky. Fifteen years have passed, and many of our days are full to the brim with the chatter and happenings of our now eleven, nine, and three-year-old children. However, Matt and I still find a deep sense of peace and connection when we are in the woods. Together, as a family.”
Matt joined the GMC in 2009 and has worked in many different roles. He has served as an information specialist, stewardship assistant, and interim business manager, and is currently Operations & Publications Coordinator.
Caitlin Miller & James “Turtle” Robertson
Caitlin: “We met working on Mansfield together! I was a rotator and Turtle was the Taft Caretaker. We chased people off the sedge and composted sewage all summer together. We’re such a dynamic duo, I like to think of us as the Beyonce and Jay-Z of Vermont.”
Turtle: “I remember the first time I really talked to Caitlin was at the caretaker Alpine Walk during orientation. It was absolutely freezing out and raining, and some people were becoming mildly hypothermic. To lighten the mood I made a joke about a movie and, without missing a beat, Caitlin finished the line for me. I knew then that she was a special gal.
I spent a few seasons caretaking at different locations on the Long Trail. Within the last two years I’ve been working with our Construction Crew doing various projects throughout the state, such as the Taft Lodge renovation, Bryant Cabin rebuild, Boyce shelter renovation, and lots of other projects.”
Caitlin: “I also spent another season caretaking and then took a job as the Group Outreach Coordinator through the VHCB AmeriCorps program for two years. Last summer I became Southern Field Assistant.
We’ve also gone to Florida, section hiked parts of the AT, and had several misadventures in the White Mountains and in Maine. Turtle also took on the esteemed role of Prickles the Porcupine at the annual Mud Season Egg Hunt. He is the longest running Prickles, and holds the title with pride.
Next up, we’re hiking the PCT this summer! We’ll quest down to Florida, head to Guatemala for ten days to visit Turtle’s family, then hit the trail in April. Who knows where we’ll end up after the trail, but our general plan is for me to head to law school and Turtle to take up welding. We’re looking forward to someday having a whole herd of guinea pigs and a blue heeler pup. And, of course, continuing our hiking misadventures wherever we go.”