Hiking back in time to celebrate 100 years of the Long Trail

Dew shines in the early morning summer sun along the network of trails near the Winooski River. It’s where Mike Debonis continues his journey back in time on Vermont’s Long Trail. This year, the trail is celebrating 100 years. Debonis is honoring the anniversary by dressing in traditional 1917 attire – all wool – and spending his vacation on the spine of the Green Mountains.

“I grew up in Vermont,” Debonis said. “Some of my first memories of the outdoors are getting out on the trail.”

His trek, like those of hikers 100 years ago, also includes a handmade brown ash backpack and wax fabric to keep his materials dry.

“It’s a little different in some ways. The trail doesn’t change that much; the gear is different and some of the things change, but the hikers are the same they are having the same experience,” Debonis said.

The bridge is the biggest difference in the 100 years since the first Long Trail guide came out. Back then, you would have to be ferried across the river on a boat to continue the trail. So to keep the trip as authentic as possible, friends picked him up so he could ferry across.

“One-hundred years ago to get across the Winooski River, the May family that owns the land around here, you would get in a boat and pay 25 cents to have someone take you across,” said Alicia DiCocco of the Green Mountain Club.

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