I pull into the West Haven Park & Ride to leave my car and jump into Bethany's van, today's plan is to become the first females to complete the VT 4000er FKT while simultaneously participating in Summits In Solidarity - a hiking initiative for racial equality - as today is their annual hike day to raise awareness. We cruise over to Killington Trailhead to get started at 7:44am and I immediately start falling in love with the trails. This is my first time hiking the Green Mountains and I am absolutely smitten, grinning from ear to ear, as we ascend. We reach the summit at 8:56am to a quick view before suddenly we're socked in. No matter, these trails are so beautiful and the forest so lovely I'm unfazed by the lack of view. We start the descent and I'm having a blast, bouncing from rock to rock and feeling like superwoman. About halfway down the mountain I shout back to Bethany... and don't get a response. I slow down and realize she's not there so I stop and wait. A few minutes later she comes around the corner frowning, she's not injured just discouraged. I wonder if she will be able to rebound for the rest of the mountains. Down to the trailhead we go and then we start the long 2 hour drive to Mt Mansfield. Traffic is a bit congested but only sets a few minutes behind. Shout out to Nigel for being the first to complete this FKT, his trip report helped me realize the most logical way to go about it with the driving logistics given my lack of familiarity with the area. We reach the Mansfield trailhead via the Long Trail and begin the climb just as the rain starts up, I had wondered if the rain would become a factor today but as it comes down it cools me off and leaves me feeling strong as I push upwards. We reach the summit at 12:41pm as the winds nearly knock us over while we try to capture a photo. I laugh and let it pump me up, loving the intensity and rocky scrambles over the Chin. We're forced to slow down a bit to accommodate for the slick, wet rock which tries to take our feet out from under us intermittently. Back in the car and we're toweling off as we head to Camel's Hump. That's when Bethany let me know she would need to drop. She wishes me luck as I jump out of the van at the Burrows trailhead and I bound upwards, pleasantly surprised with how friendly the ascent is and the beauty of the forest in this area. I reach the summit at 3:41pm, the rain still coming down hard and the wind making it difficult to stand up at the summit. Mother Nature in all her glory! I'm loving every second and feeling really strong especially on the descent as I sprint back out. Once I'm back in the car Bethany let's me know she won't be able to support me to finish. I swallow hard, completing the calculations in my head. After getting dropped at my car and then making the drive back to the final trailhead this will add almost 3 hours of driving time to the FKT overall time. I want to vomit. I press down the feeling, knowing I'll have to stay in the right headspace to finish. Pro tip: If you want to beat my time don't drive back to the VT/NY border before going to the final trailhead lol On the 1.5 hour drive to the final trailhead I give myself a pep talk. Today isn't about me, it's about getting a woman's name on the board because representation matters! It's about supporting Summits In Solidarity, because when the BIPOC community faces adversity much much more harmful than what I'm facing they don't have the option to quit. I reach the trailhead for Abraham and Ellen at 7:00pm, since the FKT ends on the final summit I feel good about pushing hard the entire ascent to maximize the daylight. I head out efficiently but carefully, recognizing I am solo now and night will fall soon, injury is not an option. Abraham comes quickly and I summit at 7:48pm, the rain has stopped by now but the clouds hang low and I'm surrounded by white. It's very peaceful. Across the ridge I push, while much of the climbing is done at this point it's still a long ridge run across to Ellen and I'm watching the light fade. I'm loving the terrain on the ridge and feel like I'm cruising, reaching Ellen at 8:46pm. I did it! Relief rushes over me. Now just for the long run back out over the ridge and down Abraham. I had wondered how it would feel to run the ridge in the dark solo but I feel strong and empowered as I go. My hope is that another woman sees my name under this FKT and thinks "I could do that, I'm going to do that" and if that's you please reach out as I would love to help you go crush it!
10,630 feet gain
7:06:12 moving time
summitsinsolidarity.org - Please check out their website to learn, sign up & donate!