Another trail-ism! I heard “Vermud” from so many people, and it really didn’t seem like something I would ever want to say aloud, just like the terms “nearo”, “tramily,” or “slack packing.” (Nearo - almost zero miles hiked that day; Tramily - one’s trail family, or those who one hikes with most; Slack Packing - leaving behind all of the gear one doesn’t need for a day hike where it’s not a full pack, but almost empty, or slacked) They all sounded so silly at first. I felt strange saying them. I wanted to contest, resist, and rebel. At first, I didn’t even want to call it the “A-T.” It was like Kevin from The Office saying “Me think, why waste time say lot word, when few word do trick?” Now, I have almost no choice but to say those terms, because, well, everyone uses them to no end, and they get across a certain meaning quickly. “Vermud” was just one of those terms for almost the whole 150 miles of Vermont.
I crossed into Vermont from Hanover to Norwich on the longest section of paved, or non dirt trail on the AT. It’s tough to walk on concrete and macadam after continually stepping over roots, rocks, and rough terrain. One could compare it to playing on an acoustic piano versus an electric keyboard without weighted keys (hey! PianoJack stuff!).
And so the first fifty miles of Vermont began. They were beautiful. They were such a fun time even if I felt lazy after those White Mountains in NH. I walked down really old roads that only saw our AT foot traffic lined with rock walls that must have been extremely tiresome to make. I strode through fields that were seemingly just there in the middle of the forest. A welcome change. Farms were everywhere, and once I came upon a view, there were rolling hills of green and homes in between. It was different in every way from the beginning of the trip, besides the trees and bugs.
Then I slack-packed Mt. Killington. It was a six hour day, and I hiked 18 miles. I left most of my stuff at the hostel in Rutland and caught a ride to the trailhead. Killington has a story from my past as my parents had brought my sister and me there to learn how to ski when we were kids. I remember learning about pizza vs. french fries, as well as flyyyyyying down that mountain as fast as I could on those skis after I learned. Speed was and always will be fun since then. Rollercoasters scared me to death as a kid and then my sister made me ride Batman and Robin at Six Flags in NJ. Hooked on coasters. Seeing that huge mountain and I had to “fall” down it? Scared out of my little snow pants. All of a sudden, I was yelling “Somebody stop me!” a few days later as I zipped by my family. I was scared to hike this trail and that fear doesn’t seem to go away no matter how brave I am until that first step is taken. Now it’s an adventure.
Killington was a blast. I had a cider at the summit lodge. It was as if I was actually on vacation. Then I had to get my full pack with a full supply of food and water back onto my rear end and start really working again… through Vermud.
Oh the mud. I had a day in the rain that made every other day seem like a dream. The mud didn’t stop unless one was on top of a mountain. Wait, yeah, there’s the mud. Oh and around that corner, guess what’s lurking, just waiting to eat one’s boot, or make one slip and fall on their butt making it feel like some kind of ungodly mess was just slathered onto a backside? Oh. It’s mud. Wait. Hold up one second, did you have fun that day previously where you hiked lazily beside a stream and listened to Kiefer while birds chirped and butterflies greeted you like little lovely cats purring and soft pine needles underfoo… NO IT’S MUD, YOU DOLT. UNFATHOMABLE MUD.
It wasn’t really all that bad… in hindsight. It… it’s not like I have PTSD over it or anything. Sheesh. What am I some kid of lame-o clean-freak? I’m out in the woods for months on end. Isn’t this supposed to happen? Shouldn’t I have expected this?
I did, but not like that. My feet finally got wet. After getting 1/4 of the way through the trail they were soaked for two days. That was fun. And my clothing, almost all of it was soaked from just falling over, so that was really fun too. Vermud.
Vermont… I spent a night at a hostel called The Green Mountain House, and they had $1 pints of Ben and Jerry’s. That was Vermont. I climbed the peak of the mountain where I learned to ski! That was Vermont. Reuniting with a couple of hiking buddies from the 100 mile wilderness? That was Vermont. No, it was not mud only, and it made one more “ism” relevant; trail-legs. My trail-legs have finally come to fruition. Further and faster than ever I can hike. Run up hills and slide down valleys with ease, I can. It’s another “ism” I had no idea how to define, and had no way of saying it out loud but now can, and have to accept. Trail-legs, along with every other colloquialism, is now a part of my vernacular, and I like it.