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  1. #1
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    Default Conditions on the Long Trail, especially northern section?

    Hi, new to the forum! Am planning a southbound Long trail thru hike in September with Fido but the repeated mention of deep mud pits became alarming...I don't mind mud but extended soaking can be tough on the paws and being able to find dry spots to tent is essential. We do not sleep in shelters or lean-tos.

    I keep up with trail conditions here and at:
    http://www.newenglandtrailconditions.com/vt/

    Although we are experienced backpacking in the Adirondack High peaks, White mountains, and southeastern sections of the AT, the only hike I have ever done in Vermont is Camels Hump.

    Is hiking the LT really so different (muddier, wetter) than these other mountain trails?

    Can any of you knowledgable folks give some perspective on

    1. Conditions in the past week of the northern LT
    or 2. What the northern LT is generally like in September, moisture and blow-down wise, relative to trails like un-maintained ADK 46ers, for example (Allen, Santanoni...)?

    I really don't have a good mental picture of what to expect so any help is appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Conditions Aug 4-7 2015 from Rte. 118 to Journeys end were extremely wet & muddy. See the thread "Vermud."

  3. #3

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    I would expect conditions will still be very, maybe even exceptionally, muddy. There has been enough rain on and off to keep those puddles from drying out much. Bring lots of socks just in case and waterproof boots are a big plus. Gaiters would help too. I was really kicking myself for not bringing any on that hike with Rafe.

    Also, keep in mind the Long Trail is not very dog friendly and it will have a very difficult time in some sections. Heck, the LT isn't very hiker friendly, it's one obstacle after another and the trail has no mercy. But that's what makes it fun and interesting. Never a dull moment... And if your dog likes to run after wildlife, keep it leased as much as possible. A run in with a porcupine is a painful experience, a run in with a Fisher cat could be deadly and chasing after a bear, moose or deer could result in never seeing the dog again.

    Tent sites are marginal on the northern end of the trail, but there are generally one or two at the shelters. And you MUST camp at the shelter sites since you are on private or state land until you get into the National Forest south of RT 4. In theory your suppose to stay in the shelter unless there is absolutely no room to squeeze in, but with a dog we'll let you waver that requirement.

    Another complication with a dog is the only places to stay in towns will be B+B's and most probably don't allow dogs. You'd best research this. There are only two hostels on the LT, one in Rutland called the Yellow Deli and the Green Mountain house in Manchester Center. I don't know what their dog policies are.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4
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    Ample tent sites at all the camps and shelters we passed by, except maybe at Tillotson Camp, where there were only a few, and most of those had been taken. Slo's a stickler for staying at established campsites. Me, not so much.

    It seems like the northern LT is almost always going uphill or downhill. There were few flat stretches and in any case we came to dread them because of the mud. I think I prefer rockscapes, even wet ones, to deep muck. Views are rare. Jay Peak was a notable exception.

  5. #5

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    Both the Yellow Deli Hostel in Rutland and Inn at the Long Trail in Killington allow dogs. Green Mountain House does as well, but will be closed by Sept 15th.
    Order your copy of the Appalachian Trail Passport at www.ATPassport.com

    Green Mountain House Hostel
    Manchester Center, VT

    http://www.greenmountainhouse.net

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alfred View Post
    Hi, new to the forum! Am planning a southbound Long trail thru hike in September with Fido but the repeated mention of deep mud pits became alarming...I don't mind mud but extended soaking can be tough on the paws and being able to find dry spots to tent is essential. We do not sleep in shelters or lean-tos.

    I keep up with trail conditions here and at:
    http://www.newenglandtrailconditions.com/vt/

    Although we are experienced backpacking in the Adirondack High peaks, White mountains, and southeastern sections of the AT, the only hike I have ever done in Vermont is Camels Hump.
    This has been an extraordinarily wet year, and a lot of trails just never firmed up. That was true in the ADK's as well as in Vermont. You're an ADK hiker, you say. Have you done the Northville-Placid? Vermud can be similar. Rob's videos (https://www.youtube.com/user/12trysomething) show a little of what it's like on the LT. It might have firmed up some by now, but I know that the Northville-Placid still had its quicksand pits a week and a half ago.

    You probably know the drill from the ADK's, too. If you did Santanoni and Panther up by the usual route from Tahawus, you know that it's pretty well impossible to keep your feet dry in the beaver swamp near Bradley Pond. Vermont has more pools of that sort of stuff. Anywhere that the trail isn't doing a steep up and down, the mud accumulates.

    I can't speak to the blowdown issue. I haven't done the northern part, where it doesn't get A-T maintenance. The A-T, of course, is manicured compared with anything in the ADK's.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I would expect conditions will still be very, maybe even exceptionally, muddy. There has been enough rain on and off to keep those puddles from drying out much. Bring lots of socks just in case and waterproof boots are a big plus. Gaiters would help too. I was really kicking myself for not bringing any on that hike with Rafe.
    If it was like the ADK mud has been, wouldn't gaiters and waterproof boots just be keeping the mud in? I know I sank more than boot-deep in several mud holes on the Northville-Placid last week. Gaiters never seal perfectly, and I'd imagine that I'd just have had muddy socks after the first dunking. I made out OK with a lot of Gurney Goo on my feet, but I never had dry socks while walking after the first hour.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another Kevin View Post
    I can't speak to the blowdown issue. I haven't done the northern part, where it doesn't get A-T maintenance. The A-T, of course, is manicured compared with anything in the ADK's.
    The trail was also heavily overgrown in many places. As you said, it makes the AT look civilized and manicured by comparison.

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    GMC tries hard but the Long Trail Patrol tends to be focused on high use areas or major projects. The membership base is getting older every year and they like many outdoor organization are struggling to retain members in an era where younger folks don't formally join anything and think a long term commitment is liking a facebook post. Thus the number of available hands to work on the entire trail is getting lower and the majority of the effort goes down south of Maine junction and Mt Mansfield. The trail corridor is pretty well established and the mud pits aren't going anywhere. The only option is labor intensive rocks steps, turn piking or puncheons and without labor they are going to stay that way.

    Some long term GMC volunteers I met a few years back commented that the club has a choice they can build capital projects or maintain the trail but they cant do both. Folks would rather donate to a bridge or the latest addition to the headquarters then donate to the LRP. Even if they do donate to the LRP, the LRP is focused to supporting the capital projects.

  10. #10

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    From 118 to the boarder there were a few blow downs. Some we could climb over, some we had to crawl under and a few we had to go around. I'd expect that to be also typical of the sections south of 118.

    I carried a small pair of pruning shears and brushed some of the trail between Belvidere and Tillotson camp. Couldn't do it all since it just takes too much time. As it was, we barely managed 1 mph through there. But I did open up most of the really bad spots. Then from there to boarder, something would have to really annoy me to pull out the shears and cut it out. Usually if it tried to poke me in the eye as I went by. Everyone has to do their small part, even if it's just moving tree branches and sticks off the trail.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    From 118 to the boarder there were a few blow downs. Some we could climb over, some we had to crawl under and a few we had to go around. I'd expect that to be also typical of the sections south of 118.

    I carried a small pair of pruning shears and brushed some of the trail between Belvidere and Tillotson camp. Couldn't do it all since it just takes too much time. As it was, we barely managed 1 mph through there. But I did open up most of the really bad spots. Then from there to boarder, something would have to really annoy me to pull out the shears and cut it out. Usually if it tried to poke me in the eye as I went by. Everyone has to do their small part, even if it's just moving tree branches and sticks off the trail.
    Thank you! For anyone else that decides to follow Slo-go'en's lead - and I hope you all do - even if you can't move a big blowdown, you can at least lop off the small limbs so that people can climb over or crawl under, rather than having to whack around it. And whatever you can do is something that the maintainer behind you won't have to do. It's wonderful to find a trail prepared so that a chainsawyer can get right on cutting out the heavy stuff. (Or a pair of bucksawyers in places where chainsaws are prohibited.)
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    I didn't mean to come off as ungrateful... I have a feel for what a monster job it is to keep any trail in working condition. Have done a bit of trail maintenance myself and fully intend to do lots more.

    On this LT trip I did my part by being slow, as in slower than Slo. He did a lot of his hedge-trimming while waiting for me to catch up. Then I'd catch up and have to wait helplessly while he did battle with some particular bush or tree limb for the next several minutes. Needless to say we didn't cover many miles that day.

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    Mud hardly gets much mention by recent thruhikers on long trail facebook page. They acknowledge it was very muddy, thats about it.

    I suppose it seems like a smaller deal in the overall course of a 3 week hike. There is mention of foot issues from it though.

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