Long Trail Day 2 - Laura Woodward to Hazen's Notch

Posted on August 7, 2017 by Chris Lumens in long-trail.

On the second day of our Long Trail backpack, we hiked from the Laura Woodward shelter to the Hazen’s Notch shelter. We hiked over Jay Peak which was the tallest summit of our trip and one of the highlights. I had another busted SOTA activation. It was a pretty busy day.

We left the Laura Woodward shelter before 8am knowing that today would be a hard one. First we had to do the climb up Jay Peak (the tallest point on the hike), then down to the highway, and then right back up the other side onto a ridge and across a bunch of little mountains. I had my first granola breakfast today. I really like it when hiking, but I put way too much in the serving. Oh well, gotta eat it all.

The climb of Jay pretty much immediately started. Soon, we were seeing the first signs of the ski area.

The trail briefly emerged onto a ski trail, then cut back into the woods and began a long, steep climb up to the summit.

I think we were able to see Montreal in between the trees at some point on this climb. The last few tenths go directly up a ski trail. We were able to see in all directions, making this the first really great view of the whole hike. We could also see that there was weather potentially moving in. The summit was in and out of the clouds, and we knew there’d be rain coming at some point today. We hoped to be done hiking first.

We’d heard rumors of some sort of snack bar being open on the summit, but I guess we’d gotten there too early in the day. The gondola was not yet running tourists to the top, and if anything was open it would probably be for them.

I got out my antenna and sat behind some bushes to try to activate the peak, but I was only able to manage one contact in the 15 or 20 minutes I was there. I later decided this was due to low battery, but it sure was discouraging given yesterday’s busted activation. I started to wonder if there was much point in carrying all that radio stuff. While I did my activation, Kaitlyn hiked on without me.

The clouds rolled in, so I got moving. From here down we saw lots of day hikers even though it was a Monday. So much of the Long Trail is just a path through woods that this section seemed very busy. I caught up to Kaitlyn about halfway down, but shortly after took the side trail to Jay Camp to filter water and use the privy. She was waiting for me at the VT 242 crossing.

From there, the trail just climbed straight back up towards Gilpin Mountain. It was much more humid than yesterday and we were already tired from Jay, so this was kind of a grind. I’d thought about activating Gilpin, but the summit ended up being quite a ways off from the trail - farther than the GPS track I’d downloaded ahead of time indicated.

The trail went up and down a bunch of minor named peaks. Our favorite name was Domey’s Dome, where we had lunch. It didn’t have much of a view though.

Lunch was various meat bars, Trader Joe’s Everything crackers, and hummus from Pack It Gourmet. It was a really satisfying lunch, even if it wasn’t especially high in calories. It ended up being one of my favorites.

After that it was just up and down yet more peaks - some unnamed thing, a very steep (but luckily fairly short) climb up Buchanan Mountain, and then another climb over Bruce Peak. None were prominent enough for SOTA, but the elevation gain just kept piling up. On one of these peaks, we found a summit sign that must have been installed in winter.

There wasn’t a lot of water up on that ridge so we had to fill up from whatever trickles we could find. The humidity meant I was drinking an awful lot. The day ended with a seemingly endless two or three miles along the ridge towards Hazen’s Notch shelter. I don’t think either of us ever thought we would get there.

Luckily, we got to the door of the enclosed shelter right when it started raining. We had to go back out in the rain to fill up water bottles and do a few more chores, but it wasn’t a big deal. The shelter was kind of a dungeon, but it had a nice view back to Jay (at least, when the clouds allowed).

It was empty when we got there, but I knew with all the rain everyone would be ending their days early. Sure enough, the other southbounder we’d been leapfrogging showed up and then various northbounders came in over the next several hours. The shelter ended up being full with two people in tents outside and one lady on the floor. She didn’t mind because she planned on leaving very early the next morning in order to finish the trail.

We passed the evening by reading the shelter journal, talking about the trail in both directions, playing a dice game Kaitlyn brought with her, and having dinner. By bed time, with everyone’s wet clothes hanging up and everyone’s stinky bodies sitting around, the shelter was pretty damp and nasty. But at least it was dry and there were bunks to sleep on. I don’t remember what I had for dinner.

It rained throughout the night. We tried to get to sleep early knowing tomorrow would be a big day to make it to VT 118 where Sarah would meet us to resupply. I don’t know that I slept very much, though.