Climbing Killington and discovering secret planets.
Hiking early up to the next shelter I soon passed the official “500 miles to go” marker. Only a long distance hiker can say the bizarre sentence, “We’ve only got 500 miles left to go”.
The big challenge today was climbing 2000′ up Mount Killington, Vermont’s second highest peak at 3900′. The climb wasn’t too bad and I was at the top by 9:30am. Unfortunately it was raining lightly all day so there wasn’t much in the way of views. I rested and had a snack in the shelter near the top and then proceeded onwards.
A fairly pedestrian 2000′ descent followed and then an annoying 600′ climb, annoying because I had to descend it on a side trail to get to the inn I was staying at, and then climb it again tomorrow morning before descending it on the AT! Although the day’s trail was standard stuff the all-day rain made it all slick and slippery so progress was slower and needed more concentration than normal. It must be a month or more since it last rained (for me).
Checking into the Inn around 3:30pm I immediately did laundry and got a Guinness stew for lunch – the inn has an “Irish” tavern in-house. The bartender kicked me out for having no shoes on. I told him they were muddy but he said it was the rules and got quite aggressive about it.
Returning later for dinner I was relieved to see a different bartender and it turned out to be the most professional and personable bartender you could ever meet. His name was Owen, he was a local, and had been working there for over 20 years. He could work the electronic register with great aplomb. I sat at the bar next to two likely hikers, Tough Love and Pyro, and ended up having a great time over burgers and beers. Tough Love had also broken a crown off a tooth during the hike and was waiting to get it fixed. But unfortunately for him it was one of the top middle ones leaving him, “looking more homeless than usual.”
Tough Love had been listening to the next group at the bar wax loudly lyrical about how good a President Donald Trump would make and eventually he couldn’t resist walking over to try to find out how they possibly have such an opinion. As a young black man from a disadvantaged background in North Carolina this would be an interesting conversation. It was all good hearted and eventually we wrote it off as “blind hope”. Meanwhile Pyro became engaged in a conversation with a local who believed every conspiracy theory and wacky idea out there. President Obama has a clone. Hillary Clinton already has brain cancer. There’s a secret Planet X in our solar system “they” don’t want you to know about because it is inhabited. And many many more. We trail-named him Blacklist. Some of it might be true because, when pressed for his sources, he said it was in magazines and some of it was coming out now on the Internet. And a chap who sat next to me later was a semi-professional pyro-technician. It was a brilliant night and I was still in bed by 9:45.