A Long Trail Tale

In the summer of 2006, I hiked the Long Trail from south to north, solo at first. I was using the Long Trail as both a therapeutic hike and a training mission--I had lost a love in the preceeding months, and was hoping for some time alone to process what I had been through. I was also training to complete a marathon on Jay Peak two weeks after I finished the hike. Pre-Long Trail, I had done marathon training, so I was in good shape. It was a good thing, because I only had eighteen days off from work to complete it! I pushed for big miles up to Killington, arriving in just over five days. The World Cup was being played that year, so I got a hotel room at the Inn at Long Trail and watched some matches over pints at McGrath's Pub. While sitting there nursing a beer, a hiker who I had passed two days previously showed up in the pub, the heels of his feet sporting the worst blister I had ever seen, or have ever seen since. He was being forced off the trail to head to Burlington to be checked out for infection at the hospital. Since he couldn't get a ride until the next day, he stayed with me and took in some liquid brewed medicine over some soccer matches.

As we were talking, he mentioned another hiker, "Doc" as he called her, who was struggling with the hike, and thinking about getting off. He told me she would be arriving at the Inn later that day, and that I should meet her. A few hours later, she arrived and after talking, she seemed really down about her hike. It wasn't what she thought it would be, and she seemed to be missing companionship on the trail. I asked her what day she had planned to finish her hike, and she said the same day I was planning on finishing, even though I had started days later than her. I told her that night, "If you can stick with me, I'll get you to Canada...we're now on the same schedule." As it turns out, we started out the next morning hiking separately, but she caught up to me quickly. I took her over some very rugged terrain and chewed up big miles with her in the next eleven days, but we got to Canada together. She remains one of the toughest persons I've ever met. Despite me remaining in Vermont and she returning to medical school across the country, we remain friends to this day, and I spent Thanksgiving this past year with her and her family.

- Greg Osilka, of Burlington, Vermont


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Longtrail 100

VPR is marking the 100th anniversary of The Long Trail with a month-long series of reports and essays. Through this series, we'll explore the history and future of The Long Trail and introduce listeners to the people who built, maintain and hike it today.