Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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Start: VT 100/Gifford Woods State Park                
End:  S. Pomfret-Pomfret Rd./VT
Today's Miles:                      24.1
Cumulative Miles:          1,714.3
Miles to go:                       460.6
Sue: "Good morning. Are you thru-hiking?"
Young male hiker: "Yes."
Sue: "Hi. I'm Runtrails."
Hiker: "I'm Darwin. I've been reading your journal."

Four ducks on misty Kent Pond

Field of flowers near Vermont 12           8-10-05

I was not expecting to hear that!

And "Darwin" was not expecting to see me. He thought I would be ahead of him on the Trail.

He was one of about twenty hikers who enjoyed Jim's trail magic at Gifford State Park on Wednesday, and he assumed I was on up the Trail by now. He didn't know I took yesterday off.

Darwin was off the Trail yesterday, too, so we were both starting about the same place today.

I caught up to Darwin after we'd climbed about 1,400 feet up Quimby Mountain this morning. We hadn't met previously. Darwin was off the Trail for several weeks after he reached Catawba, VA for an illness, one or more injuries, and a household move. I believe it was then that he did a Google search for AT hikers and found our website. Darwin's also a Virginia resident; he lives in Charlottesville.

When he returned to the Trail he decided to start again farther north so he could get to Katahdin before it closes (early to mid-October). Then he'll return to do the mid-Atlantic states and the rest of Virginia. He said, "I hope to be in the 2005 group of finishers."

So instead of doing a flip-flop, Darwin's doing a triple flip! I hope he makes it. An introspective man, he seems to be enjoying the Trail and learning a lot about himself in the process. His trail name derived from a comment he made about the flora and fauna he inspected while getting water at a spring near a shelter ("it seemed Darwin-esque").


I messed up our schedule by taking Monday off to rest. Poor Jim had to take me all the way back to Gifford State Park this morning so I could resume my run there (about a 45-minute drive). We went into the park so I could use the bathroom in the campground area. We noticed another camper in the spot we vacated yesterday morning, site #27. Jim parked nearby where the Trail cuts over to VT 100 and Kent Pond.

And who should be walking past us at 7 AM on the way to site #27 but Santa and Bigfoot. I introduced them to Jim, and Santa spotted Cody and Tater in the back seat. He remembered seeing Cody the first couple times we saw each other on the Trail - that was a long time ago!

Seems the new folks in site #27 are also doing trail magic - they invited Santa, Bigfoot, and two other hikers we saw to come over for breakfast. What a great idea. I don't know who they are, if they know someone on the Trail, if they saw Jim's trail magic and sign the other day, or what. After Jim left I should have walked over to say hi and talk to the hikers more, but I decided to get moving on over to Kent Pond.

The pond was really pretty that early, with ducks and geese swimming around and mist rising from the surface into the cold morning air. It has been in the 30s and 40s in this area (depending on how high up we are) the last two mornings, quite a change from the warmer temperatures to which we've been subjected all summer. I hope the hikers have their warm gear by now. This was the first morning since May, probably, that I've started out with a lightweight jacket on for a couple miles.

I love it! It's so much more pleasant to run and hike when it's cooler. Maybe I can start carrying less water now.


This is my last full day on the Trail in Vermont. Tomorrow I'll cross over into New Hampshire! Do you know what that means?

Only two more states to go!!!

I still get excited to be out on the Trail every day but I'm ready to be done. Like many of the backpackers, I've got ambivalent feelings about finishing this monumental task. It's tiring to climb up and down mountains every day for months on end, and part of me wants to rest and get back to "normal life." The other part of me loves the solitude and beauty of the Trail, and wants nothing to do with "normal life."

When I'm on the Trail, that seems normal.

I really enjoyed this 24-mile section. The AT guide book says it is "seldom used except by thru-hikers, so it provides greater opportunity for solitude." It describes the terrain as "rugged, with steep ascents and descents."

The book got it right, but I have to say that this section had more runnable miles than any section I've been on since the Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania! From the above description, I wouldn't have guessed how much smooth trail I'd find today. Boy, was I happy! Yes, most of the climbs were too steep for me to run but I ran a lot of the ridges and almost all the descents. None were as gnarly as the guide suggests.

I found a great spot for Jim to run tomorrow after he drops me off - south from VT 12, as far as he wants to go. He's about given up on finding runnable trail on the AT so I hope he enjoys this part.

The elevation profile didn't look too bad for today, but the numerous ascents and descents wore on me by the time I got to the last three hills. The second-toughest climb was at mile 21, going up Dana Hill about 800 feet from VT 12. It was moderately steep, had several false summits, and seemed interminable. I'm sure that had something to do with it coming in mid-afternoon, when I was already getting tired.

Today's elevation gain was about 5,600 feet up ten or eleven mountains and hills; the loss was about 5,800 feet. The highest elevation was only about 2,600 feet - but I kept going up and down all day, with no miles that could be considered flat.

You don't have to have 5,000- or 10,000-foot mountains to have a considerable amount of elevation change! I'm not complaining. I need all the training possible before I hit the Whites in a few days. I'm getting really nervous about that.

And that's my excuse for having such a slow time today (25 minutes per mile, with all stops included). I swear there must have been some "Horton miles" in there! I mean, I was running for probably eight or nine miles today. Both feet were in the air at the same time, however briefly. That's running, right??

What killed my time was the slow climbing and the intermittent areas of rocks and roots. I did better after my massage and spinal adjustment, but the fact remains that I am SLOW.   <sigh>

I'm happy to be catching up to the "bubble" of thru-hikers again and hope to see more of them tomorrow. I'm delighted to still find a few blackberries and red raspberries along the Trail (in fields and under power lines). I love all the pretty rocks Vermont has, including the shiny silver ones I saw today. I missed not being higher up in the sub-alpine zone today, but loved all the birch trees and ferns.

Here are a couple photos of interesting birch bark (I take a lot of photos of plants, mushrooms, and fungus, but don't often put them in the journal):

Time for bed. Come back tomorrow to see how I fared hiking/running through Dartmouth College . . .

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil