Finally got an earlier start and got on the trail around 6:30am. Passed up the two section hikers after doing the first decent climb out of the shelter. Came across a section that was closed and rerouted due to damage from Hurricane Irene. I decided to take the "closed" trail instead of the reroute that took you on roads. I had heard from others that the closed route could be taken but crossing one river could be tricky because the bridge was washed out by the storms. Sounded exciting, so I took it! Was a really nice trail actually. And shockingly, didn't see another person on it! Haha! Made it to where the bridge was no longer at, after crossing a sign on a tree marking the 500 miles remaining for us NoBo's. There were a lot of trees and debris in the river. I must have crossed too early to get to the other side, because I got a little turned around and couldn't find the trail. I knew I could turn back if worst came to worst, but I kept moving through the woods, bush whacking my way through to try and find the trail again. There were some pink ribbons hanging in some trees, so I followed those. Figured it might be a new route for the trail in the future that had been marked out. Finally got back to the actual AT!
Talked briefly to a father and two daughters who were out hiking the Long Trail, while I was filtering water. When I got to the next shelter, they went on and I stopped to talk to the caretaker for about 10 -15 minutes. I got back to hiking, attempting to catch up to Wildflower who was 6 miles ahead of me as of last night. The uphill was one of the toughest yet, but I tried to keep pushing through it. At one point I passed the father and two daughters as I was going pretty strong uphill still, and they gave me a "way to go Meat" cheer as I passed. Loved it!
Made it to Cooper Lodge, where I refilled water at a stream and made myself some lunch quickly. Wanted to try to catch Wildflower still, so I moved on as I ate lunch. Made it about a mile or so way when I realized I might have missed Killington Summit. Looked at my book, and definitely did. Ugh! The summit isn't part of the AT, but I had wanted to do it, so I turned back and hiked back up to Cooper Lodge. Went up to the summit, then down to the gondola to catch a ride down. Enjoyed a burger and beer at an outdoor bar area that was new to me. Was put up after Irene knocked down some of the base lodge. Then it was back up the gondola and on the trail again.
Got a hitch about 7 miles into Rutland, to the Yellow Deli and hostel. I showered and changed into my other clothes, then was put to work in the kitchen doing dishes. Met a bunch of SoBo's and a few NoBo's, including Spoon who had been there for 3 weeks helping out.
I had fun in the kitchen and then they fed me some good homemade food! I had Maté for the first time and it was good. The folks who ran the hostel and deli are a community of the Twelve Tribes, which I've never heard of before. They all seemed to be really nice people. Best way I can describe them with only very limited knowledge I have, is that it had sort of a hippie and Amish feel to it. Good times experiencing something different.