July 19: Day 16. Battell Shelter to Appalachian Gap (VT 17), 10 miles

BC on the trail somewhere along the Lincoln ridge line.

DF: Today started and ended really well. In between, not so much. We were on the trail by 6:45, scrambling up Mt. Abraham. It was truly a scramble–we needed hands and feet to get up the rocks. The view from the top was magnificent, 360 degrees. Stunning. The summit is over 4000 feet and above tree line, so there was nothing to impede the view. We could see the mountains we’d hiked during the last few days to the south. We could see the Adirondacks and the lake to the west. We saw where we’re headed to the north. And we saw all the way to the White Mountains in New Hampshire to the east.

We headed north, as usual, along a wooded ridgeline, as usual, hiking up and down over six more peaks ranging in height from over 3600 feet to over 4000 feet. All were conifers–none had the open vistas like Mt. Abraham.

We passed several ski areas–first both sections of Sugarbush and then Mad River Glen. We stopped for lunch at Stark’s Nest, our last peak of the day, with a warming hut and chairlift belonging to Mad River Glen. It’s a historic single chair lift–very cool.

While we were there, we started calling places in Waitsfield to find a place to stay tonight. The first place said they had no rooms, and there were no rooms available in town due to several weddings in town. The second place also had no vacancies, and everyone else had an answering machine. We tried not to panic and started making plans to hitch to Waitsfield, get groceries, then hitch back to the trail and hike two or three miles to the first shelter.

The hike down to the road was wild–ladders and iron rungs in the rocks in several places. The nastiest trail we’ve seen so far.

We got to the road and started looking for a ride. A local couple out for a motorcycle ride came over to ask about the trail up to the view–we dissuaded them from attempting the climb…

We got a ride from Deb (driving a red VW). She dropped us off at a shopping center with a grocery store and The Mad Taco. She recommended the taco place, and urged us to try anything on draft from Lawson’s, a local brewery. We were happy to oblige, so we stopped in for a taco and a beer before grocery shopping.

We also tried again to call one of the local inns, The Hyde Away, and spoke to Margaret, the owner. They did have a room for the night, so we returned to our original plan of clean clothes and showers. This place is lovely. There are inn rooms, a restaurant, and a bar. The taps are all Vermont beers, and the food is locally sourced. We’ve had a lovely rest after five tough days.

BC: [Expletive], what a day. Great climb and rock scramble to the top of Mt. Abraham, our first open alpine summit with 360 degree views. Then it was all downhill from there, figuratively and literally. In particular, the very steep, rocky descent off Mt. Ellen was bad, and the climb down to the road at Appalachian Gap over ladders and rock chutes and cliffs was very tiring.

Stopped at Stark’s Nest for lunch, with great views and a nice table for two inside the warming hut. Had an easy hitch into Waitsfield with a local, then got a room at a small country inn and got an easy hitch there after a good resupply at Shaw’s Market. The Hyde Away is really nice – decent room and a great farm-to-table restaurant and bar.

A panoramic image from the top of Mt. Abraham.
DF on the rock scramble up Mt. Abraham.


DF on the top of Mt. Abraham.
BC on the top of Mt. Abraham.
DF on one of the open ski runs of Sugarbush.


DF at the top of yet another rock scramble.
Looking south from the summit of Mt. Abraham.
BC enjoying lunch at Stark’s Nest.
The Stark’s Nest warming hut at the summit of Mad River Glen ski area.
Ladders made from rebar on the descent to Appalachian Gap.
BC descending a ladder on the way down.


Local Vermont craft beer at The Mad Taco (highly recommended.)