July 8: Day 5. Stratton Pond Shelter to VT 11, 10.6 miles

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Sutton’s Place in Manchester Center.

DF: Ten and a half miles today, then our first town stop. We’re in Manchester Center, VT, at Sutton’s Place guest house. It’s an old Victorian house, run by Frank Sutton.

Last night at Stratton Pond Shelter, thirteen souls sheltered from a night of ferocious thunderstorms. We were fortunate enough to arrive and get settled in before the worst of the storms. Most of the hikers rolled in during the mess. All but one bunk was taken, and there were two in the loft. Most were AT thru hikers who’d been together for the last 1600 miles. They were making plans to stay in town today, too. It was quite an interesting bunch, including one kilted and bearded young man who bragged that he hadn’t done laundry in 500 miles.

The first hiker hit the trail at 5:15 this morning, and others starting moving around soon after. We headed out at 6:45, then stopped at the pond to take pictures and get more water. We were on our way by 7. The trail followed the lakeshore vey closely for about half a mile. After all the rain, we were sometimes walking in the lake.

The rest of the day was typical for this hike: roots, rocks, and mud. Lots of mud. We’re getting stronger and a bit quicker, but the thru hikers are still blowing by us like we’re standing still.

We had lunch at Spruce Peak Shelter, built in 1984 out of logs. It’s the first shelter I’ve seen with windows, a door, and a wood stove. I think it’s used in the winter by cross-country skiers.

We made it to the road by 1:15, and got a ride into town fifteen minutes later. We got showers, then walked into town to the laundromat. We went next door to Mrs. Murphy’s Donut Shop while our clothes were washing.

After our laundry was done, we visited the local outfitter–we’ll go back tomorrow to buy some things–and then went looking for dinner. We had a great burrito at Cilantro, then went across the street to Gringo Jack’s for a local beer (and the Red Sox pregame on the bar TV).

We’re back at the guest house, enjoying a beautiful evening on the porch. On the agenda for tomorrow: resupply, repairs, and recovery.

BC: Easy trail today – not much up and down but plenty of mud after very heavy rain overnight. Snug and dry in the shelter with 11 other long distance hikers. Controlled chaos in the morning – I’m always amazed at how a crowded shelter can empty out so efficiently, though the design of this shelter helps a lot, with the covered front porch and eating area. We were on the trail by 7:00am and at Rt 11 by 1:15pm. This is a large, fast road, and it took 20 minutes to hitch into town with Jack, who dropped us at Sutton’s Place, the rooming house downtown.

We got showers, laid out our gear to dry, and headed down to the laundromat. Given how little stuff we have with us, I’m still surprised at how much space everything takes when it explodes out of our packs.

Good dinner at Cilantro, a very local Chipotle-style semi-fast food joint, then a couple of beers at Gringo Jack’s, then home for an early bed time.

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Morning at Stratton Pond Shelter.
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Dragonfly checking over the map at our lunch stop.
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Semi-organized gear in our room at Sutton’s.
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A panoramic from Prospect Rock.
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A Long Trail sign painted onto some old machinery.
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Crossing a small stream in the woods.