This was our second attempt of the summer making the gap-to-gap hike along the Long Trail. We made the hike in about 7 hours, stopping for lunch on the stoop of a ski patrol lodge at Mount Ellen.
Our first attempt was an overnight, but we retreated in the morning because we weren’t up for the long hike with so much gear. This time, we traveled relatively light, with two small day packs carrying a lunch, and extra layer for each of us, first aid and a total of 6 liters of water.
Most importantly: It was Lana’s first hike!
Tori and I recently adopted a 6-month-old black lab mix, and she took right to the trail. We brought some dog food for her (forgot treats – oops!) and a flexible travel bowl.
We wanted to complete the whole route during the day, and we’d never hiked more than 10 miles before (the gap-to-gap hike is ~11.6 miles, according to the map from the Green Mountain Club) so we left Burlington at around 6:30 a.m. with two cars. After picking up breakfast and leaving a car at Lincoln Gap, we drove to Appalachian Gap and started hiking at about 8:45.
The initial climb out of Appalachian Gap was steep in places, including a few sections with iron rungs drilled into rock scrambles up the mountainside. I had to pick up Lana and carry her up a few times, but she is really agile and hopped right up most of the rocky parts.
As soon as we reached the ridge line, Mad River Glen opened up on our left and we stopped at the summit lift to take in the view. It was hot in the sun, so we got back on the trail and under tree cover before long and continued.
I find the strangest part about hiking a trail like this with multiple peaks was getting a sense of tempo. We got to Mad River Glen very quickly, then it felt like a much longer hike to Mount Ellen.
The distance from Mount Ellen to Mount Abraham, the two 4,000-footers on the hike, is broken up by two lesser peaks so it doesn’t feel like too much of a slog. After we summitted Mount Abraham, we felt we “only” had to descend about 2 more miles so it would be quick and easy. Somehow, it seemed to take half of the day. Of course we were already tired, but it still seemed as though we were in the final 1.7-mile stretch (after the intersection with Battell Trail) for about three hours.
By the end of the hike my legs were a strange mix of numb and burning, and my toes hurt from rubbing into my socks as I balanced along the trail. It definitely gave me a new appreciation for the people who spend weeks or months hiking with heavier loads than we had and no clean bed to look forward to. When we were done, we picked up the car we’d left behind at Appalachian Gap, then Tori went to pick up a ridiculous amount of chicken for dinner.