I spent most of last fall planning for the JMT. I bought guidebooks, watched Mile, Mile and a Half until it was taken off of Netflix and Amazon Prime, poured over maps and read travel books. I prepared permit applications weeks in advance and looked up as many free fax online services as possible. Then it was time. Time to send in the permit requests, enter the lottery, roll the dice. I began full of hope…my permit request was received.
I got the emails from the nameless, faceless and CLEARLY EVIL firstname.lastname@example.org at 1:20 PM daily. After lunch, before teaching 7th, my heart was broken every day for a week and a half. At the end of January my final available date passed. I knew the chances were slim, my dates were limited and I wasn’t the only one who has seen Mile, Mile and a Half. Nevertheless, I was upset.
My mom was supposedly upset on my behalf, but this did also mean that I was completely free to plan a backpacking trip with her. Our annual trip (for the last 2 years) has been an approximately one hundred mile section of the PCT. We’d done a section in Washington in 2015 and Oregon in 2016. Northern California would be the obvious choice this summer but the wound was still too fresh, the Sierras had betrayed me and I wasn’t ready to embrace them with open arms. We were also thinking it’s time for us to do a complete trail. A real shakedown before attempting the full PCT in 2018. I don’t know who said it first but there was no discussion necessary, we were excited to hit the Vermont Long Trail.
The winter continued on as we started to plan, and it continued to snow on the West Coast. And snow. And snow. And snow. In February snowpack was already around 90% of March 2016. Then it hit 100%. Then 150%. Then it passed the legendary 2011 snowpack. Then the actual record of 1982-83. We’re now in an over 200% snow year. There are ski resorts in California that expect to stay open for the entire summer. Yosemite Wilderness Permit Office…I forgive you. I have never been so happy to be denied for something in my entire life.
Snow is fun on the Vermont Long Trail!
The Vermont Long Trail will be amazing. My parents have a house near Middlebury and my aunt and dad will be resupplying us at 6 day intervals. The will actually be the least amount of food we’ve had to carry at one time. I’ve been dehydrating like a madwoman. I’ve almost finished 13 meals (shooting for 20) I just need to add cheese and spices to most of them. Lots of cheese. (See feelings on cheese here). My mom got me a head net for my birthday (See feelings on head nets here) and we’re both getting gear together. This is one of three trips for the summer but it has the most preparation involved (the other trips have cars) and the most dehydrated food. Fortunately I’m actually writing down what I’m doing as I make stuff so I’ll have actual dinner recipes after this.
I’ll be flying up to Vermont on June 17th and hopefully we’ll hit the trail June 20th. We’re leaving our finishing date fairly open since we have yet to do a backpacking trip where we haven’t finished 2 days early or hiked extra miles in pursuit of brunch.
As a side note I’m bookending the hike with a road trop in early June and a trip to Canada and the PNW in July which I’ll elaborate on later. This is when being a teacher becomes worth it.