Mike Eaton, Personal Trainer, Takes on Vermont Long Trail
Sep 13, 2023
The Vermont Long Trail is 273 miles long and runs the entire length of Vermont from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States. The Long Trail has an elevation profile of 66,000 feet of elevation gain as well as 65,000 feet of elevation loss over the 273 miles and crosses over 53 mountains with the highest point of Mount Mansfield at 4,395 feet.
Mike Eaton set out on this epic adventure on June 12th, 2023, in North Adams Massachusetts and headed north bound to the Canadian border and completed the trail on June 29th 2023. He took a total of 3 rest days and hiked a total of 14 days. His longest distance hiking day was 30.3 miles fueled by the thoughts of pizza and town food and not trail food like bars and granola. His toughest day on trail was going up and over Bolton Mountain and Mount Mansfield in a single day with close to 9,000 feet of elevation gain.
Mike writes: At night, I would take shelter at the 3 sided open faced shelters that are strategically placed along the trail every 10-20 miles apart from each other. These shelters slept anywhere from 5-20 hikers with zero amenities, zero reservations, zero “creature comforts”, all they had was a composting privy or outhouse. The base weight of my pack (everything except food and water) weighed 16lbs. I sent myself food resupply boxes to the towns of Killington, Waterbury, and Johnson. I would head into town off trail to resupply my food for the next stretch of trail. With a full pack of food and a liter and half of water my pack weighed close to 27lbs. For water I had a water filtration system that twisted onto a Smart water bottle and any stream crossing I would come to I would collect water from the stream and filter water to a designated clean bottle. The experience I had just being out in the wilderness amongst the mountains free from the monotony of everyday life was the greatest feeling. When I finished the trail at the Canadian border and seeing the monument at the Northern Terminus this was the greatest feeling and sense of accomplishment in my entire life. “I earned it.”
One of the highlights of the 273 miles was earning a trail name. The name given to me was Silk by a family from Chicago due to the fact that I get on trail so early and broke the spider webs across the trail which were very annoying (hence the name Silk), I saw a black bear from a distance, I crossed paths on trail with a nude hiker which was pretty funny, longest I’ve ever gone without a shower (6 days), got my first hitchhike-from a parking lot trailhead into town, hiked in a lightning and torrential rainstorm at around 3,000 feet, and got my first trail magic where locals leave a cache of free goodies and treats for the through hikers at trailheads and road gaps.
This adventure was the single most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my entire life as well as the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced. The trail gives you a whirlwind of emotions and experiences that’s difficult to explain to someone that has never gone through the same experience. This amazing adventure only left me hungry for more. The Vermont Long Trail thru hike was a lifetime bucket list item. What’s next for me? I want to complete the Colorado Trail (560 miles) and then on to the John Muir Trail in California (220 miles).