The trials and tribulations of hiking Vermont’s grandest trail

James Gordon Hindes had his summer all mapped out. Toting a 60-pound pack and wearing hobnailed boots, Hindes would spend most of July and much of August hiking north from the Massachusetts-Vermont line into Canada. The year was 1931 and Hindes planned to follow the entire 275-mile route of the just-completed Long Trail.

Reading Hindes’ journal, which has been published by the Green Mountain Club, it is easy to get caught up in the adventure, the lure of the open trail, the profound satisfaction of living in the simpler world that the trail inhabits.

The Long Trail that Hindes and his hiking companion, Dartmouth College fraternity brother John Eames, explored was the newest trail through the Vermont wilderness. The state had, of course, seen its share of such trails before, starting with paths created along the main waterways by the Native Americans.

Then came Revolutionary War routes, like the Bayley-Hazen Road and the Crown Point Road, that were slashed through the woods, followed by paths cut by early European settlers. But the Long Trail was a different thing entirely. It was Vermont’s, in fact the nation’s, first long-distance hiking trail, and would inspire the creation of the much longer and more famous Appalachian Mountain Trail.

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