The first thing Mark and I noticed when we crossed the border into Vermont were the flies. It was as if every fly in New England flew to Vermont for the Shit Festival. These weren’t just any old flies, they were those beefy, slow flying, dung stuffed quarter ounce guys that can carpet fresh feces before it even hits the ground. I know Appalachian Trail thru-hikers can smell real bad, but on that particular day I was stunned to observe the flies leave a pile of shit and land on me!
The flies actually come in three varieties. First, the common shit fly. ‘Nuff said about this guy. Second, the deer fly. These neon green eyed bastards would circle our heads for miles. If they landed, they’d bite so painfully I’d lose my balance. The third fly is the horsefly. This big-ass fly would land softly, scoop out a hunk of flesh and leave behind a bleeding crater. In the heat of the summer dog days, you could hear the collective hum of the flies if you stood quietly in the woods. Mark would refer to the state as Flymont and name stuck as we swatted the winged pests all the way to the Connecticut River.
Despite the flies, Vermont dished up some fine hiking. The mountains of this area weren’t the tallest, but the views were fantastic. The forest was quite moist and the lush vegetation was surely why they called them the Green Mountains. One of my favorite spots on the Appalachian Trail was Glastenbury Mountain. At the wooded summit was a icy spring that would cause a headache if you drank it too fast. The nearby shelter was well built with an incredible view. The best feature of this site was the fire tower right behind the shelter. Mark and I shared the shelter that evening with a pair of young and pretty hippy chicks who cleary didn’t want anything to do with us. I think they may have caught me leering lustfully at them.
A common sight in the New England woods are beaver ponds. Beavers are responsible for some of the more scenic mountain ponds. Their engineering skills were a continuing source of amazement and we passed quite a few beaver dams on our way north. Another rodent we would encounter was the porcupine. The slow moving, dim witted creatures had a taste for salt so we kept our boots and packs off the ground to keep them from nibbling the sweat-soaked equipment.
Vermont is clearly a beautiful place. Once we got used to all the flies, the Green Mountains proved to be a great area to hike. We moved through the lush New England forest at a liesurely pace along a glacier worn spine of granite, lingering on every overlook we passed. The moisture laden air cast a hazy filter upon each vista but not enough to spoil the view. The hiking was fairly easy through this region and we hardly broke a sweat. The Appalachian Trail shares the path with the famous Long Trail in this section. The manicured trail and well built shelters reflect well on the dedication to the Long Trail.
…continue the expedition, read: Dog Days in the Green Mountains [link]