Long Trail Memory

The late October morning dawned mostly clear and damp after a night of intermittent rain. The Long Trail was icy and snowy in places, an effect of its winding its way along the spine of the Green Mountains. Bleary-eyed, I stumbled down the steep rocky path from Skyline Lodge to the pond to take in the sunrise and to rinse away the sleep in the mirror flat water. The first rays of sunrise eased their way through dense evergreens, illuminating the water vapor rising from the pond. Fall-colored trees, winter-dead grasses and rocks sparkled and flashed golden, reds, yellows, and browns and mixed with the dazzling flicker of low light on water. This incredible sight is one saved for those who venture into the high places of Vermont.

I grudgingly left this spectacle to heed one of nature’s other, more personal calls. The “long walk” to the outhouse was made longer by the slick trail and a broken sandal. The outhouse was not much to look at, they usually aren’t, but it had the necessary amenities. To aid in the compost of waste, sawdust or other similar organic matter is typically tossed into the dark and unmentionable depths of the privy after use. As I was about to let a handful go, I saw two gleaming eyes looking up beseechingly at me. My amazement at a mouse in such a dreadful place was doubled when he climbed the ever-present stalagmite to apparently plead for his release! I quickly snatched up a twig from outside, and lowered the gantry… Marvelous creature! Without hesitation he climbed aboard, and clung fast as I plucked him from the depths. His ascension complete, I lowered him to the forest floor, and he promptly scampered away, no doubt for a long bath. I like to think I delivered his “Trail Magic” that day, and consider the experience and its Long Trail setting to be one of my fondest Long Trail memories.

David Armstrong
Burlington, VT


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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.