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Too muddy, too muggy, too buggy -- Part 1

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Having done about 750 miles of the Trail in a series of section hikes and day trips, it has become increasingly difficult to choose a place to do a hike. In looking for such a section, I have to balance cost & ease to get to each terminus, my ability to hike this part without major discomfort, and the time I will reasonably need to complete the walk. As the cost to reach the Trail goes up as the distant to a terminus increases, short hikes have become cost-inefficient -- I simply can't spend $150 to hike ten miles. Nevertheless, as I made plans for a week-long July trip, I noted that Vermont had an amazingly attractive combination of easy mass-transit to the Trail, well-spaced shelters, and no major difficulties for slow-poke backpackers like myself. I noted the warning not to hike in Vermont during the "mud season," but concluded that waiting until July would allow me to avoid this problem. When my calendar for last week began to open up for me to get back on the Trail, I hoped that I would be able to find acceptable weather for such a trek. As I checked the 10-day forecast for Rutland -- literally daily, often more than once a day -- I felt the predictions of precipitation probabilities of 10% for Tuesday and Wednesday (ie, July 9 & 10) were acceptable. I thus made my reservations for Amtrak travel and first night's lodging.

In one sense, my decision seemed to take advantage of a perfect time to travel to Vermont. Amtrak is offering a 20% discount to go there
and lodging has lots of summer vacancies.

However, unbeknownst to me, hiking the A.T. in the summer of 2013 does have its drawbacks:
1) the Trail, and other backwoods parts of the Green Mountains, have still not fully recovered from Hurricane Irene in 2011. In some places, recovery may still take years. As this pdf shows
the U.S. Forest Service (as of late May of this year) still notes closures of roads and trails.
2) May and June of 2013 have been the wettest back to back months IN VERMONT HISTORY
What's bad for strawberry growers can't be good for hikers.

Thus, although I am reluctant to tell people not to visit this wonderful state with a wide variety of beauty, honesty requires me to make note that the Mud Season has been extended (at least) into July; and there is no way to know how much longer it will continue.

Anyway, I was blissfully unaware of the extent of the above problems when I got on the train up to Rutland. I did know that the odds of rain had changed to 60% for both of these days, but I figured I would just handle it the way I had handled it in the past. Because of good planning on my part, my arrival at Rutland
and at the Hikers Hostel
went quite well. I even got a free root beer when I checked in. My discussion on my being (pretty much) a complete teetotaler must have impressed this group!

Perhaps because of nervousness, perhaps because I had drunk too much soda pop, perhaps because I just don't sleep well anywhere but my own bed; I did not have the best sleep this first night. Thus, as I got out of bed at 5:30a, I wasn't really sure I was ready to hit the trail. The free breakfast helped a bit, and the fact that I got to the Transit Center and on the 6:30a bus to Manchester
with no problems, gave me a bit of confidence.

Upon arrival at Manchester, however, I began to run into trouble. I knew that the bus stop in this town was the City Hall, but I figured that place
had to be near the center of Manchester Center. But it isn't -- the location at 6039 Main Street (05255) is almost a mile from there. My plan was based on the idea that there would be taxi cabs from this company
at the bus stop, or at least phone numbers to call. No such luck! Make certain you have the phone numbers when you arrive, or plan a five mile hike up to the trailhead, on a winding, hilly, narrow road.
As I have noted elsewhere, getting a taxi in small towns like this is NOT like getting one in a large city. You don't call a central dispatcher who then contacts an available cab. No, you instead call the cell phone of someone who may or may not be available at all when you need a ride. I felt almost lucky to find that one of the two such drivers was, indeed, free to assist me. He had no problem getting to the City Hall and then taking me to the Trail.
Note that, despite what their URL states, this company does NOT "Gladly accept" credit cards. In fact, they don't accept credit cards at all UNLESS the fare is over $100!! Bring enough cash for the $15 fare to the Trail.

Updated 07-21-2013 at 23:28 by GoldenBear