This page is a work in progress.

Daily Log-2003

Stories by The Dog Team and written by Sugar Dog

Please note that Daily Log entries are based on a race day, from 4:45 am to 4:45 am.

Day 0

Rad Dog arrived in Vermont on July 27th to help Cave Dog scout out the southern section of The Long Trail.  Previously, Cave Dog had been hiking long sections of the trail, then hitchhiking back to his car.  He found Vermonters very generous and helpful in this regard.  Over the next week, Rad Dog checked out road crossings and prepared for the challenge.  He hiked with Cave Dog each day, and helped him get to and from trailheads by dropping him off at a northern trailhead and then hiking in from a southern trailhead, meeting him part way.

Training had started well but did not end well.  When Cave Dog got to Vermont, he was treated to a dry spring that lent dry beautiful trails.  But then the weather dramatically changed into a fickle and wet summer clime.  The trail gradually became muddier.  Then, just a few weeks before the challenge, he caught a cold that quickly turned into bronchitis.  He was hacking up large chunks of phlegm on a continual basis.  The foul weather was not helping his ailment.  Cave Dog curtailed his demanding training schedule and slept more in an effort to shake the illness before the challenge.  This was helpful, but he would continue to hack up a small amount of phlegm even after the challenge was over.

The media caught up with the Dogs early on this venture.  They must have felt frustrated in trying to chase them down.  As Cave Dog began to feel better, the situation became more frenetic in an effort to salvage training goals.  Newspapers and magazines that had become followers of The Dog Teams adventures were trying to reach them, but there was little time with the crammed schedule.  Channel Three out of Burlington had aired stories using file footage from the Adirondacks the year before.  Eventually they managed to track down the Dogs and interviewed Cave Dog at the Route 9 road crossing early in the morning on August 3rd.  Little did Cave Dog, Rad Dog, or the camera crew know that this would later be the site of the most horrendous and heart wrenching episode in The Dog Team's many adventures.

Rad and Cave Dogs arrived at Bolton Valley Ski Resort on Monday, August 4th.  When they arrived, waiting was New England Cable News, a 24 hour regional news station that syndicates to Channel Five News, for a story that would air that evening.  Bolton Valley was to be the primary of two base camps set up for the event by the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association(VOGA).  Because of the long nature of the trail, a southern outpost was also set up by VOGA at Stratton Mountain Ski Resort.

On Tuesday morning, August 5th, while out checking road crossings and doing errands, Rad Dog got a surprise phone call from Burns Dog who was calling from the Manchester, New Hampshire airport.  The surprise was that he was a day earlier than Rad Dog had been told.  When Rad Dog told Burns Dog that he was in northern Vermont, Burns Dog laughed for a full minute in disbelief.  Rad Dog immediately jumped in the car and raced down to New Hampshire to pick up Burns Dog.  They checked out more road crossings in southern Vermont and then stopped by the Bread Loaf Campus at Middlebury, where Cave Dog was staying for the summer with Sugar Dog while she worked on her Masters degree in English.  Working quickly, the Dogs managed to carry out all of Cave Dog's belongings from the room:  boxes of canned food, maps, clothing, gear, and everything that he had previously been storing in the van.  On returning to base camp, they were distracted with a visit to the emergency department because Burns Dog had been bitten by a stray cat earlier in the day.  With the doctor's consultation, Burns Dog decided to postpone the decision about getting rabies shots until after the challenge.  They continued on to Bolton Valley Ski Resort, where the base camp was established, and arrived in the wee hours of the morning.  Burns Dog would eventually decide to take the rabies shots, to be on the safe side.

In the meantime, since Rad Dog could not return to Bolton Valley, Cave Dog was stranded at base camp without a car and no food.  After getting desperately hungry, he wandered down the road on foot and found another hotel that had a bit of food but for most of the day remained hungry, which did not bode well for his carbo loading.  He also was able to make some website uploads and send out some Dog Team emails at this hotel.  Earlier he had wasted hours trying to keep an Internet connection to no avail.  The base camp switchboards were too unstable this day.  This would later become a continuing problem, as support crewmembers would call base camp from the field only to get a busy signal even though no one was on the phone at base camp.

The weather leading up to the challenge was terrible and the forecast was for no change in sight.  A large low pressure system was stuck in the upper Midwest.  Meteorologists were calling it a stubborn low pressure trough because it had stopped moving completely.  This system altered the usual jet stream pattern from being over the border in Canada to descending sharply into the South and regaining the North by traveling up the Eastern Seaboard.  The jet stream brought with it a complement of very hot and humid Southern air that produced violent lightning storms and torrential downpours as it rose up the higher peaks.  It was not budging.  The Dog Team knew that this was about the worst weather prediction possible for a challenge atop the Green Mountains of Vermont but everyone was ready.  There was no room for postponing because everyone, including Cave Dog, had to leave for work or other commitments by the 12th.  So, they decided to go for it anyway and try their luck.  Unfortunately, luck was definitely not on their side.

On August 6th, the Dogs madly scurried around, moving into the donated spacious Bolton condominium from the hotel where they had been staying.  They organized the gear, set up maps and time charts for The Dog Team, and tried to get everything in order before The Dog Team members arrived.  Adog, Gold Dog, and Wilbur the Dog arrived around 3 pm and were rather overwhelmed by the chaos, and so they escaped for dinner until they could help the process.  Lucky Dog checked out the last road crossings and then came to base camp, where he showed off his photos of The Long Trail white trail blazes.  In the meantime, Sugar Dog arrived from Middlebury and began to get food and Camelbaks ready for the challenge.  AlpineSummit Dog arrived and was promptly put to work packaging small toilet paper packets for Cave Dog.  Lady Dog had not arrived, yet, so Burns Dog was slowly becoming the de facto base camp manager.

Rad Dog, Sugar Dog, and Cave Dog finally left for Journey's End trailhead at 10:30 pm, leaving Burns Dog in charge of base camp.  One hour later, AlpineSummit Dog and Lucky Dog set out for their first road crossing provision spot at Route 105.  Rad, Sugar, and Cave Dogs hiked into the Journey's End camp.  Mystified that they never get any sleep the night before a challenge, they finally rested for the night at 1 am, hoping for three solid hours of rest before their 4 am wake up call.

Adog, Gold Dog, and Wilbur the Dog left from base camp at 3 am to go north on The Long Trail towards Doll Peak to meet Cave Dog.  They reached Stowe and got a call from Burns Dog that they had forgotten to take hot food for Cave Dog, so they promptly turned around and ran into Burns Dog as he was flying down the hill from base camp.  Without even leaving their cars, Adog and Gold Dog got the food they needed, and headed back out.  Then the fog hunkered down for the night and morning.  They could not see more than 150 feet ahead of them, and were already racing to make up for lost time.  They had decided that the best shortcut to the trailhead for Jay Peak on Route 242, would be to cut off of Route 100 and take Route 58.  This would turn out to be a much longer distance.  After four or five miles on Route 58, the road turned into a dirt road without any markers and became increasingly narrow.  While navigating down Route 58, they barely missed a deer leaping across the road.  Just as Gold Dog said, "All we need now is to run into a tree across the road," they turned the corner, to see a large tree lying across the road.  Luckily, as they went to pick it up to move it out of the way, it crumbled, and they had no trouble getting it moved.  After another eight miles, they finally caught up with Route 242 and started going east.  While driving on Route 242, two full grown bears appeared at the side of the road, having just crossed it.  Gold Dog figured that it was approximately four miles to the trailhead, but after eight miles, they still had not seen the trailhead.  Retracing their drive, they spotted the pull out for the Jay Peak trailhead and started up the trail.  This was a bit daunting, as the bears sighting was merely a mile from where Gold Dog and Adog had to hike.

Back at base camp, Lady, Good, and Rus Dogs flew in from Portland, Oregon to Albany, New York.  They would run into a series of mishaps.  Somehow their tickets were for the wrong day.  After straightening out this mess, their flights were delayed.  After a long day of delayed flights and layovers in airports, they rented a car and drove to northern Vermont.  They were not able to arrive into base camp until 3 am.

With foul weather, foul forecasts, training illness, shortened training schedule, fear of rabies, miscommunication about flight pick ups, ticket reservation screw ups, delayed flights, a less than satisfying carbo load, faulty base camp phone, forgotten food, a tree, deer, and bears in the road, short cuts that turn into long cuts, and little sleep all around, there were ominous portents to beginning one of the most competitive long distance mountainous trail records in the world.  Soon it would be apparent that two support crewmembers would not arrive at all and another was delayed by a day.  Unfortunately, the difficulties would not stop.

Weather:  Thunderstorms and heavy downpours, separated by rain, mist, and hot and humid air.  By nightfall, clear and warm trending to fog.

Day 1

In the meantime, at 4 am, Cave Dog sat down to a breakfast of sausage and scrambled eggs in the Journey's End camp.  Rad, Sugar, and Cave Dogs then took the Journey's End Trail to the northern terminus of The Long Trail, to begin the challenge.  The trail was especially muddy, and, with the amount of water they slogged through, at times it appeared that they were walking through a creek, not a trail.  With the light barely appearing at 4:45 am and foggy skies, Cave Dog took off down the trail with a Dog Team howl and began his journey.  Rad and Sugar Dogs made their way back to the shelter to collect their things and hiked out to the trailhead.

On the Jay Peak Trail, Gold Dog and Adog claim that they were lucky to have Wilbur the Dog with them to guide them, as they felt that they were the blind leading the blind. Thinking back to Cave Dog's prechallenge email about pairing up hiking partners for safety, they wondered if this kind of pairing was what he had in mind as they maneuvered their way up the trail.  Arriving at the top of Jay Peak, the Dogs saw a sign that warned them not to go in the direction indicated, as it meant that they would have to pay for their own rescue.  Wondering, "what idiot would choose to go in that direction," the Dogs realized that in fact, that was where their trail was, and the sign was a warning for skiers, not hikers.  They started to pick their way down the trail, which became very steep and slippery, as they were navigating down wet rocks.  After trying to reach Cave Dog on the radio and not getting any answer, the Dogs decided that they would probably have another hour or so before his arrival, so they began to set out his food and gear.  With all of their difficulties during the drive up it was apparent that they were not going to make it to Doll Peak; so, they set up just below the summit of Jay Peak.

Just as they began setting up, Cave Dog ran up.  It turned out that Cave Dog's radio wasn't working because the radio got wet.  With all of the overhanging vegetation wet from previous rains and heavy morning fog, Cave Dog was all ready soaked.    He stopped for only a moment to change shoes and socks and get some food and fluids.  Then Gold Dog and Adog climbed back up to the top of Jay Peak and walked down the ski slope.  Coming out on Route 242, Gold, A, and Wilbur the Dog had a mile and a half walk back to their car.  Right before they reached the car, Wilbur the Dog surrendered and refused to walk another step.  Wilbur the Dog, a miniature longhaired Dachshund, was told to pull it together despite his exhaustion, and he managed to find the motivation to keep walking, though Gold Dog claims Wilbur the Dog was saying that he is the only real dog in the place, and was being treated like a dog.

Rad Dog and Sugar Dog drove from the Journey's End trailhead to Route 242 to see how Lucky and AlpineSummit Dogs were doing.  They had stopped for breakfast after their first provisioning spot on Route 105, and started to set up their rather elaborate roadside provisions.  Complete with a table to display Cave Dog's food options, a folding chair for Cave Dog to rest his weary legs, and a towel to dry off his soggy feet, the Dogs had quite an impressive display.  They relayed to Sugar and Rad Dogs that Cave Dog looked great and was feeling good when they saw him at Route 105 earlier that morning.  On this note, Sugar and Rad dogs headed back to base camp, stopping along the way to pick up some more foot treatment for Cave Dog in an effort to keep his feet from blistering from the wet trails and undergrowth.

After supporting Cave Dog at Route 242, Lucky and AlpineSummit Dog drove over to Route 58.  They became worried when they realized that there had been no support crewmember's cars at either Route 242 or now at Route 58.  They knew there were no side trails; so, they felt sure that Cave Dog was going to be missed by backcountry support.  As it would turn out, this section was only 6.8 miles long between road crossings.  It had been decided before the challenge that there would be no backcountry support on this short section.  Not realizing this, AlpineSummit Dog began running up the trail to meet Cave Dog despite the fact that he had an injured big toe.  This would be just one of many times that the support crewmembers sacrificed for the team.

Upon returning to base camp, Rad Dog and Sugar Dog greeted the arrival of Rus, Good, and Lady Dogs, and set about planning for the afternoon.  Good Dog and Burns Dog headed out to hike in to meet Cave Dog along the trail between Routes 58 and 118, since he had a longer hike of about ten miles without any road crossings for provisions.  In the meantime, Sugar Dog and Lady Dog coordinated what food needed to be bought, as Burns Dog passed the baton of Base Camp Manager to Lady Dog, and she took charge of operations.  Groove Dog arrived from Maine, after a seven hour drive, around 1 pm.  He decided to get some rest for the afternoon, as he planned to hike through the night with Cave Dog on a 13.5 mile stretch between Route 15 and Route 108.  Adog and Gold Dog regaled The Dog Team with their stories of their morning's hike, as Rus Dog and Rad Dog prepared to leave to hike in to meet Cave Dog.  Lady Dog became the chef of the hour, whipping up quiches and pasta for Cave Dog's menu of the day.

Good Dog and Burns Dog hiked in on the Frank Post Trail to Tillotson Camp, south of Haystack Mountain.  The Dogs heard Cave Dog over the radio saying that he was approaching the trail junctions of The Long Trail and the Frank Post Trail.  When he heard this, Burns Dog took off running to the trail junction.  As they approached the junction, they could see each other hiking to Tillotson Camp from different trails.  They marveled at reaching the rendezvous at exactly the same time, just narrowly preventing a missed provision spot.  Good Dog dropped his pack, grabbed the food for Cave Dog and took off as fast as he could to meet up with the Dogs.

The conditions of the trail all morning and most of the day were wet.  At every chance, Cave Dog changed into dry shoes and socks.  After hiking in the Southern Appalachian Mountains for five days with fifteen big blisters because of the damp conditions, Cave Dog and the team were being very vigilant about foot care.  However, this was quickly causing a run on dry socks and shoes.  Extra trips had to be made from base camp to the support car in order to keep up a supply of dry shoes.  At base camp, Lady Dog was working at various methods to dry the shoes more quickly, so they could go back out into the field.  She settled on cooking them in the oven.

The support crewmembers that were supposed to meet Cave Dog atop Bowen Mountain between Route 118 and Codding Hollow Road got detained trying to find other members of the support crew to give them instructions.  The base camp phone was proving extremely frustrating.  Crewmembers would call to check in only to get a constant busy signal.  In the meantime, the base camp kept the phones clear and was wondering why no one was calling from the field.  The management of the resort said that the phone system had been hit by lightning so many times that it did not work very well.  In addition, cell phones did not work at base camp.  This frustrating situation would continue to cause team communication breakdowns.

The support crewmembers, now delayed from running around trying to make up for a faulty phone system, were not sure that they could make it to Bowen Mountain before Cave Dog.  Deciding to not take the gamble, they drove to Codding Hollow Road and hike north on The Long Trail instead of taking the shorter Davis Neighborhood Trail.  This ensured that they would not make it to Bowen Mountain but it also ensured that they would not miss Cave Dog completely.

In the meantime, Cave Dog had already run out of supplies before reaching Bowen Mountain.  The very hot and humid conditions were making him drink up supplies much faster than usual.  A ten mile supply of water was only lasting six miles.  This heat and humidity hung on everyone like a heavy wet shroud, sapping the energy.  Cave Dog reached Bowen without support and not sure when he would be able to drink or eat again.  With such extreme activity, it is difficult to keep up with food and fluids, but next to impossible to keep up and catch up at the same time.  But there was nothing to do, so he continued hiking despite intense hunger pains.  Soon the uphills became exhausting.  His legs felt queasy and unsteady.  Every step was taking a toll.  He had no idea when he would get supported again.  He had no destination to focus on, only the pain, lethargy, and the fact that backcountry support had been behind all day.  He was reached at Jay Peak not Doll Peak, support had to run to catch him at Tillotson Camp, and now there was no support in sight.  It was very difficult to maintain anything that resembled a good pace.  In the end, he would go on this way for an hour and forty five minutes.

Atop Laraway Mountain, Cave Dog crossed paths with support.  Usually, on the first day of a challenge, he hardly sits down except to change shoes, eating as he hikes.  Now he collapsed down with his head spinning and tried to pour down the fluids and eat something despite his parched system.  He got up feeling shaky but relieved that he was now back on track.  His digestive system was tied up from flipping from one extreme to another.  The next stretch was mostly downhill and he was able to pick up the pace again.

In the meantime, Lucky Dog and AlpineSummit Dogs perfected their road crossing provisions.  Not only did they have a table and chair set up for Cave Dog alongside the road, but they even had a milk carton vase with wildflowers, and treated Cave Dog to an abbreviated warm water sponge bath.  After meeting him at Route 118, Codding Hollow Road, and Plot Road, Lucky and AlpineSummit Dogs met up with Groove, Burns, and Sugar Dogs at the Route 15 Lamoille River bridge crossing.  Burns Dog braved a downpour and hiked in to meet up with Cave Dog.  Lucky Dog and AlpineSummit Dog handed over extra supplies and gear that they had to Sugar, Groove, and Burns Dog, and then returned to base camp where they dropped off dirty gear and AlpineSummit Dog stayed to refuel and sleep.

Night and Yankee Dogs were going to hike with Cave Dog during the more difficult night hikes to keep him company.  Unfortunately, neither of them could make it to the challenge for the first night.  Burns and Groove Dogs volunteered to pick up the slack even though they felt apprehensive about not being conditioned for the pace.  Burns Dog joined Cave Dog near Prospect Rock and they hiked out together as dusk turned to nightfall.  The two Dogs walked along Route 15 towards the trailhead for Whiteface Mountain.  Sugar and Groove Dogs followed closely behind in the van, trying to find the turn off for the trailhead off of Route 15.  They turned down a driveway mistakenly and pulled back onto the road, where they were blinded by a spotlight that a neighbor was shining on the Dogs in the van.  Jokingly, the Dogs commented to each other that perhaps the neighbor was taking down their license plate to call in such a motley looking crew.  Sugar and Groove Dogs pulled to the side of the road.

In the meantime, Cave Dog was in a great need for a bathroom.  Since they were on the road not in the woods for this section, there was nowhere to divert off to make a doghole to bury the remains.  As walking was becoming more difficult with the great need to evacuate the bowels, Cave Dog spotted an older women in her driveway.  Burns Dog ran up the driveway and asked her if Cave Dog could use her bathroom.  She said that she lived alone and could not do that.  When Burns Dog told her that he understood and began to walk back, she noticed Cave Dog along the road.  She said, "Is that the guy that is trying to break The Long Trail record."  Burns Dog told her it was Cave Dog.  She replied, "I saw him on TV.  He can use my bathroom.  But not you, only him."  Burns Dog motioned to Cave Dog that he should come up.  The house was chaotic with two big dogs jumping on Cave Dog and the women exclaiming her excitement at meeting Cave Dog.

While Cave Dog was inside, and Sugar and Groove Dogs were waiting on the side of the road, a woman drove by with her windows down and yelled to the Dogs, "You need to stay off of private property."  The Dogs were a bit confused and a bit frightened, so they drove on to the logging road that began the next stretch of The Long Trail.  They parked near the trailhead and waited for Cave and Burns Dog to walk up and then set up Cave Dog for his first night's rest of ninety minutes.

Cave Dog had been debating on whether he should take his dognap here or at Route 118.  He preferred to sleep in the comforts of the van than along the trail.  He was not sleepy but he was not sure he could make it to Route 118 without needing a nap.  He decided to go ahead and sleep here but it would prove a bad choice.  He tossed and turned and for ninety agonizing minutes he could not sleep despite knowing that there was no more time to sleep for another 24 hours.  The Dogs briefly celebrated Groove Dog's birthday with some birthday cake and then prepared Cave Dog for his 13.5 mile night hike with Groove Dog.  Once they were ready, they took off into the night.

Burns Dog and Sugar Dog then drove to check out the Beaver Meadow Trail for Burns Dog to use to meet up with Groove and Cave Dogs near Morse Mountain.  However, the trail was somewhat difficult to find and the Dogs decided that it would be best to have Burns Dog hike in from Route 108 on the Sterling Pond Trail.  This would be a much longer route but they could be sure of the trailhead.

En route to the trailhead, Sugar and Burns Dog were pulled over by a police officer who told them that indeed, their license plate number was called in by a citizen in Johnson.  It seemed that there had been many burglaries in the area recently, and so the residents were more vigilant about suspicious activities than usual.  At first, it was looking to be an intense situation.  However, the police officer was very excited to learn that Burns and Sugar Dogs were connected to Cave Dog and The Dog Team, as he had heard about Cave Dog on the radio, television, and in the newspaper.  Wishing The Dog Team good luck, the policeman sent them on their way.

From Route 108, Burns Dog took off down the Sterling Pond Trail armed with a bear bell and some change in a bag to scare up any bears lying in wait.  Sugar Dog went to the southern Long Trail crossing on Route 108 to wait for the Dogs to hike back out.  Shortly after arriving, Patrick Joy from the Times-Argus drove up with a friend in tow, trying to find out information about how to get access to the Mansfield Toll Road to meet up with Cave Dog.  Luckily, just at that moment, Good Dog pulled in, looking for Sugar Dog, to pass along the information about the toll road.  We need to wholeheartedly thank Terry Smith who was the key to getting us access to the Mt. Mansfield Toll Road, since it usually  is not open to visitors until 9 am.

Once they knew where to go, Patrick and his friend took off and Good Dog filled Sugar Dog in on the latest information.  Lucky Dog showed up moments later; he had been looking for Sugar Dog after returning from base camp, and although Lucky Dog seems endowed with infinite energy, he finally was ready for a rest.  He parked alongside Sugar Dog and passed out for the night.  Sugar Dog tried to get some sleep, but was not successful, since she was concerned about when the Dogs would arrive.

Groove Dog had been unable to sleep before his hike, as well.  Both he and Cave Dog now felt sleepier than before their futile effort to sleep.  The trail up Whiteface is a long, rough, and steep uphill.  It felt even more so during this long, hot, wet, humid, foggy night.  Cave Dog was still feeling depleted from hiking without food and water earlier in the day and it was making it especially difficult to stay awake.  This was taking a toll on his pace.  He tried to recover with a few dognaps, but they were ineffective.

This was a very grueling time, but it also had one of the lightest moments on the trail.  Cave Dog was relieving himself in the outhouse at Bear Hollow Shelter, when he discovered in the toilet paper a note that stating, "Packed with Pride by AlpineSummit Dog".  Cave Dog found this so funny that he worried that his laughter would wake up the hikers in the shelter.

Eventually, they got to the top of Whiteface and Cave Dog went on ahead, leaving Groove Dog to navigate the rest of the way on his own.  Burns Dog would soon be hiking in from the other side.

After awhile, Cave Dog caught Burns Dog by radio.  It turned out that he was being detained near Sterling Pond Shelter by a growling animal that appeared to be a bear.  He would not be able to make it to Morse Mountain.  As Cave Dog passed the shelter, he was able to catch a glimpse of the animal that was growling fiercely.  It turned out to be a hiker's dog.  Cave and Burns Dog had a good laugh at their false concern.  Burns Dog hiked with Cave Dog for about an hour on The Long Trail until Cave Dog took off on his own.  Burns Dog tried to catch up with Cave Dog and in his enthusiasm, he sprained his ankle.  He walked another two miles out to the trailhead at Smuggler's Notch Picnic Area, trying to be light on his ankle.  The sun was now rising, alleviating the difficulties of the long night.

In the meantime, Groove Dog had finished off his water on his way down Madonna Peak as the sun began to peek out, and he continued down Madonna happy to see on his map that the trail would soon level out.  He had radioed out ahead to Burns Dog who had some extra water, which was left in the trail for Groove Dog.  He stopped to take a rest and tried to wring the last few drops of water out of his water bottle.  As he was tilting back his water bottle, he fell over and fell asleep for about 15 minutes.  When he awoke on a cold, slimy rock, he was a bit disoriented and started hiking towards a peak.  Thinking that it was a false peak for Madonna, he pressed on, only to realize that he had gotten turned around and summited Madonna twice.  Fueled by his newfound frustration, Groove Dog put a little more vigor in his step and continued down Madonna on the Sterling Pond Trail to meet up with the hobbling Burns Dog and energetic Lucky Dog.

Weather: Fog in the morning, partly sunny and warm, very humid, downpour in the evening and then trending into night fog.

Day 2

In the meantime, at 6:30 am, Cave Dog came out to meet Sugar Dog ahead of Burns Dog at the Smuggler's Notch Picnic Area.  As he was going through the picnic area, he bumped into some through hikers that he and Rad Dog had met during their scouting of the southern sections.  This gave Cave Dog a boost of inspiration.  In fact, about 85 percent of the hikers on the trail recognized Cave Dog instantly.  They often cheered him on and sometimes offered food or took photographs.  The Dog Team was very pleased to see this enthusiasm and positive impact they were having on the local hiking community.  For many weeks after the event, The Dog Team got wonderful emails from hikers and mountaineers exclaiming their excitement over the effort.  Many told of the inspiration that The Dog Team brought them through their adventures.

Cave Dog down for Route 108, where he banged on Lucky Dog's van window to wake him up and then headed up Mt. Mansfield.  Sugar Dog checked in with Lucky Dog, who was still a bit bleary eyed, and asked him to wait in the Smuggler's Notch Picnic Area for Burns Dog, while she drove up to Mansfield's summit to meet up with Cave Dog.  Lucky Dog picked Burns Dog up and they headed over to the Sterling Pond Trailhead to pick up Groove Dog.  After picking up the tired Dogs, all three Dogs headed back to base camp for some well deserved rest and recuperation.

Sugar Dog drove over to The Inn at the Stowe Mountain Resort area and met up with Bill, who came outside to unlock the gate to the Mansfield Toll Road.  Sugar Dog precariously drove up the steep road and met up with Patrick Joy from the Times-Argus with his friend, who planned on meeting Cave Dog and running down the trail with him.  After about an hour, Cave Dog was seen coming over the crest of Mt. Mansfield's Upper Lip and he stopped in for some food, water, and a new pair of shoes.  Cave Dog took off running with Patrick and his friend, just as the fog was coming up over the mountain.  Sugar Dog made her way down the mountain and back to base camp.

After parting with the newspapermen, Cave Dog headed over to Nebraska Notch for another backcountry reprovision.  Unfortunately no one was there.  Once again dismayed at the team's difficulty with backcountry support, Cave Dog headed out without food and water.  This time the pain was exasperating.  Cave Dog had to climb Mt. Clark, Mt. Mayo, and Bolton Mountain before his next reprovision.  He could coast down the backsides of the peaks but the ascents were excruciating.  Every step sent a deep penetrating pain through his muscles.  His head felt dizzy and body quacked.  Keeping good time became less a mater of competition and more a matter of survival.  He could no longer sweat; his mouth was parched; and his eyes were dry.  Despite his deteriorating condition, he would not allow himself to stop.  As his pace slowed, time seemed to slow as well.  With only a third of the course completed and so many factors counting against him, Cave Dog began to wonder if it would be more appropriate to stop and try again when conditions were more favorable.

In the meantime, AlpineSummit Dog traversed a maze of snowshoeing trails up to Bolton Mountain.  While writing an inspirational note to Cave Dog in the mud of the trail, AlpineSummit Dog met a hiker who was intrigued by The Dog Team's challenge.  AlpineSummit Dog told the hiker to bark like a dog when he ran into Cave Dog on the trail to psych him up.  Shortly after that, Cave Dog called over the radio to ask AlpineSummit Dog to meet him further up the trail, nearly on Bolton Mountain's summit.  Once again AlpineSummit Dog found himself running up the trail on his injured foot.  AlpineSummit Dog gave Cave Dog some much needed water and food.  Despite knowing that he could no longer give his best effort, Cave Dog was now feeling better, or at least, the pain was gone.  On cue, food and fluids were starting to do their job.  He looked at his watch and was dumbfounded to find he was still an hour ahead of record pace.  He was would have to go a lot faster if he was going to get any sleep during the slower night sections.  It seemed ridiculous to contemplate stopping when he was still well within record time.  So, he pushed ahead with renewed vigor.

Conveniently enough, since he was so close, AlpineSummit Dog was able to radio directly to The Dog Team at base camp.  He then returned to base camp and went on to walk along Duxbury Road in the pouring rain with Cave Dog.  They shared quite a laugh as Cave Dog thanked AlpineSummit Dog for the note that he had left for Cave Dog in his toilet paper.  AlpineSummit Dog got Cave Dog some ice cream to enjoy on the road as he progressed.  Supporting Cave Dog along Stage and Duxbury Roads from the van, Rad Dog and Rus Dog provided food and clothing as needed.  The Dog Team had an unexpected and wonderful surprise when Tim Seaver even came out to encourage Cave Dog at Bolton Notch Road.

Back at base camp, Lady Dog was busy with her usual organizational prowess, keeping provisions, trails, and Cave Dog's times straight.  However, she also added a new dimension to her baking and cooking talents.  Instead of cooking up quiche, Lady Dog was broiling Nikes.  Since Cave Dog's sneakers get so wet on the trails, The Dog Team needed to devise a way to dry them.  The dryers were not sufficiently drying his shoes, and the sunshine was intermittent and also not strong enough to dry out his sneakers.  Lady Dog and Rus Dog thought that maybe baking Cave Dog's shoes was the answer.  The oven was too hot for the rubber of the sneakers, so the Dogs decided to broil them.  Despite the unpleasant odor, the broiling did the trick, and all of Cave Dog's shoes have now benefited from some of Lady and Rus Dogs' culinary designs.

In the midst of Nike broiling, Two Dog arrived at base camp to pick up provisions and directions for the Burrows Trail trailhead to hike into Camels Hump.  Within minutes she was on her way out the door and off to Cave Dog.  Meanwhile, Cave Dog was having a particularly difficult time getting up Camels Hump.  This is one of the more difficult sections of the trail with 3,600 vertical feet of gain and rocky in nature.  It was not a good section to be on after being completely depleted just a couple hours before.

Sugar Dog also headed out in the same direction, to hike in on the Beane Trail to reach Huntington Gap.  Over the radio, Sugar Dog heard Two Dog arrive at the Camels Hump summit around 2:30 in the afternoon.  In the meantime, the skies opened up and it began pouring with some striking thunder heard in the background.  Upon hearing the thunder, Two Dog descended from the summit to a clearing out of the way of the worst of the weather troubles.  Sugar Dog decided to hike another mile and a half in to the Cowles Cove Shelter where she met several Long Trail section hikers from Vermont, Wisconsin, and Quebec.  They all got very excited about meeting and seeing Cave Dog in action for his provision stop, since many of them had heard of his challenge.

Meanwhile, Good Dog hiked to Mt. Ellen, where he sought refuge in a ski supply hut while he waited for Cave Dog to arrive.  Around 7 pm, Cave Dog reached Camels Hump and Two Dog.  He then headed down the mountain to Sugar Dog, where unfortunately his eager fans had all fallen asleep.  He grabbed some food and water and headed down the trail where Night Dog hiked in from Appalachian Gap to meet him.  Around 1 am, Cave Dog reached Appalachian Gap on Route 17, where Burns Dog, Yankee Dog, and AlpineSummit Dog were waiting.  Three hours earlier, three avid local hikers: Nancy, Mike, and Steve, who followed Cave Dog's challenge over his website, showed up to support him as he passed through.  They offered to do provisions for Cave Dog on Saturday, and signed on to help The Dog Team.

Upon Cave Dog's arrival at Appalachian Gap, he was set up in the van for his ninety minute rest.  Yankee Dog rested up for the night's hike and Night Dog hiked ahead on the trail.  Sugar Dog stopped by Appalachian Gap to say hello to the Dogs, and while sitting in the parking lot with AlpineSummit Dog and Burns Dog, was lucky enough to witness an outstanding shooting star that lit up the sky.  The Dogs also turned their thoughts to Good Dog, who had been up on Mt. Ellen for at least ten hours, awaiting the arrival of Cave Dog.  Rad Dog had stopped by Appalachian Gap earlier in the evening to possibly hike in to Good Dog to provision him with water, food, and clothing since he was up there for such an extended period of time.  However, The Dog Team decided that Good Dog is an experienced hiker who would certainly be well prepared for any situation.

Cave Dog was woken up at 2:45 am after getting his first decent sleep for the challenge, and had some dinner and water before leaving Appalachian Gap to hike with Yankee Dog.  On the way up to Ellen, it was discovered that Cave Dog's energy drink was completely rotten.  It had been mixed up just before he left App Gap.  So, The Dog Team's only explanation was that in the intensely humid air the powders were activated enough to begin to rot without refrigeration.  Cave Dog had noticed a bad taste in his drinks earlier, but this time it was undrinkable.  Yankee Dog and later Night Dog would give up much of their water to Cave Dog, but there was not enough to go around and everyone go dehydrated.

Throughout the challenge, Cave Dog had been greeted with cheers along the trail by hikers.  Usually, though, there are few hikers on the trails at night.  This night Yankee and Cave Dogs came across a whole slew of hikers that cheered from inside their tents or came out to see the two Dogs pass by.

After summiting General Stark, Yankee and Cave Dogs caught up with Night Dog.  He parted with much of his water and they continued on to meet Good Dog atop Ellen.  Good Dog ended up on Ellen for fourteen hours, the longest anyone has ever waited along the trail for Cave Dog.  After leaving Good Dog, the three Dogs enjoyed arising sun atop Abraham and ran down to Lincoln Gap.

Weather: Clear skies in the morning, warm and increasingly humid, isolated showers in the late afternoon, night fog.

Day 3
Saturday 8-9-2003

Burns Dog and AlpineSummit Dog met Cave, Yankee, and Night Dog at Lincoln Gap.  They new that Cave Dog had a longer section before his next reprovision; so, they stuffed two hydration bags into one slot.  After some food and water, Cave Dog took off again on the trail.  Night Dog and Yankee Dog drove back to base camp to rest up from their night hike.  Burns Dog and AlpineSummit Dog called in to base camp to report on the night's events and then tried to track down Rad and Rus Dogs to tell them to back hike up the trail to meet Cave Dog a little closer to halfway for this section.  On their way to find Rad Dog, AlpineSummit Dog and Burns Dog ran into Ant Dog and his friend John.  Rad Dog and Rus Dog pulled up moments later, seeing all the Dogs congregated at the trailhead.  They only stayed for a minute, and then they were off to Skyline Pond Trail to hike into Skyline Lodge.

Lady Dog and Sugar Dog prepared to move the base camp to their southern outpost at Stratton Ski Resort.  They packed up all the food, maps, and gear that The Dog Team would need for Saturday through Monday.  Burns Dog and AlpineSummit Dog discussed strategy for how to handle the night hikes, and tried to estimate times and distances of Cave Dog's arrival at different points along the trail.

Ant Dog waited at Middlebury Gap on Route 125, for Cave Dog to arrive, while Nancy, Steve, and Mike, the enthusiastic Dog Team supporters, hiked in to support Cave Dog at the Sucker Brook Shelter between Romance and Worth Mountains.  Up until this time, Cave Dog had been carrying a two and half ounce GoLite rain jacket for the periodic storms he was experiencing.  Atop Worth Mountain, Cave Dog discovered that somehow he had left without it, and it poured.  Lightning was striking regularly, and Cave Dog was completely drenched and shivering from the wind.  A light tee shirt and shorts was not enough.  By the time he reached Nancy, Steve, and Mike at Romance Gap, he was having a difficult time keeping himself warm.  Mike was kind enough to give Cave Dog his raincoat despite having to hike back in the downpour without cover.  That raincoat had been his trusty protection against the elements for his through hike of the Pacific Crest Trail and it served Cave Dog well.

Cave Dog was provisioned by Ant Dog at Brandon Gap on Route 73, and then Groove Dog and Good Dog provisioned Cave Dog near David Logan Shelter.  Unfortunately, the night hikers had miscalculated.  They thought Cave Dog was going to be farther down the trail.  So, Cave Dog did this night section alone.  It was very difficult for Cave Dog to keep awake without company, and he had to take extra care to keep oriented.  Short dognaps did not help.  This normally easy section of The Long Trail seemed extremely long and interminably slow to Cave Dog.  Cave Dog was very happy to find Groove Dog willing to hike with Cave Dog even though he had not anticipated having to hike this section.  Even with Groove Dog's good company, Cave Dog was having difficulties.  Burns Dog took Yankee Dog to Route 4, and he back hiked in to meet up with Cave Dog, relieving Groove Dog.  With Yankee Dog's energy, Cave Dog started to regain his pace.

Meanwhile, Burns Dog and AlpineSummit Dog worked on finding another trail access to The Long Trail between Route 73 and Route 4.  The entire length of The Long Trail between Route 73 and Route 4 is 19.9 miles long, leaving Cave Dog without provisions for more miles than The Dog Team likes.  Burns and AlpineSummit Dogs noticed a road called South Pond Road on the map that would give them access to The Long Trail before Cave Dog reached Route 4, which was exactly what they wanted.  They mentioned their South Pond Road idea to Ant Dog, who agreed to check out the trail to see if it actually went through to The Long Trail.  However, when he arrived, he saw that it was gated off and on private property.  Ant Dog went to the neighboring property and after telling him about Cave Dog's challenge and why they wanted access to the road, the owner of the property agreed to unlock the gates and let Ant Dog leave some provisions at the shelter on The Long Trail junction there.  Leaving some pizza and water behind for Cave Dog, Ant Dog thanked the owner and headed back home to rest up from the day's activities.

Yankee Dog hiked back out with Cave Dog but after a while Cave Dog began to regain his strength and went out ahead alone.  At Route 4, Cave Dog rested for an hour under AlpineSummit Dog's care before heading out to the trail where Night Dog had already started hiking.  This would be the last time that Cave Dog slept during the challenge.  Counting only quality sleep, he had two and half hours over four and half days.

Weather: Overcast and humid, rain throughout the late afternoon and into the evening, then fog

Day 4

Cave Dog met up with Night Dog at Little Killington and took off further down the trail, leaving Night Dog to hike back out to his car at Route 4.

After seeing off Cave Dog and Night Dog at Route 4, AlpineSummit Dog met up with Sugar Dog at Upper Cold River Road.  They entertained themselves by running North up the trail to scratch messages in the mud for Cave Dog as he passed through.  Granted, they were both very tired Dogs who were easily amused.  Right before Cave Dog arrived at Upper Cold River Road, Ant Dog and his friend John showed up to cheer on Cave Dog.  The Dog Team members then drove around to the Lower Cold River Road to meet Cave Dog again after a 1.5 mile stretch of trail.  Even though he had just put on new sneakers 1.5 miles earlier, Cave Dog had to trot through a stream that rendered his dry sneakers soaking wet, and he changed his shoes again.

At that point, AlpineSummit Dog sadly had to take his leave from the challenge and head back home to the Adirondacks.  He wished The Dog Team well and went back to base camp.  Ant Dog and Sugar Dog then plotted out their day, and Ant Dog called in Cave Dog's pace times to Lady Dog, while Sugar Dog drove on to meet Cave Dog at the Route 103 provision stop.  Arriving in the parking lot, she met Winston, a fairly new transplant to Vermont from Washington, D.C., who was intrigued by Cave Dog's challenge and wanted to see him in action.  Sugar Dog told him to come back in a couple hours when she expected him to come through.  Ant Dog arrived at the provision spot as did a photographer from the Rutland Herald, and it wasn't long before Cave Dog ran through.  Unfortunately, Winston missed Cave Dog by just a few moments, but he managed to meet Sugar and Ant Dog at the next road crossing on Route 140.  Cave Dog didn't stop there for long, but he did manage to grab some ice cream to help combat the heat and his hunger.  Winston got some photos of Cave Dog refueling and then was kind enough to help out the Dog Team by picking up Cave Dog's discarded wrapper from the trail, which was covered in ice cream and too messy to carry.

Ant and Sugar Dog stopped by the house of one of Ant Dog's colleagues from work and filled up the 7 gallon jug of water in the van for future provisions, and they brainstormed how to manage the rest of the day, alternately consulting their maps and calling Lady Dog for her advice.  The Dogs then drove on to USFS Road 10, and along the way, heard from Rad Dog who was with Rus Dog on top of Mt. Baker.  Upon arriving at The Long Trail junction on Road 10, Ant and Sugar Dogs met two enthusiastic Cave Dog fans, David and Paula Quesnel, who already have Dog names (251 Big Dog and Top Dog, respectively), from their pastime of geo-caching in Vermont.  Sugar Dog and Ant Dog asked the Quesnels if they knew anything about a road called Old Rootville Road, that would give Sugar Dog hiking access to Prospect Rock to potentially reprovision Cave Dog in his long stretch of hiking between Rt.11/30 and the Stratton-Arlington (Kelley Stand) Road.  David immediately told Sugar Dog that Rootville would take her within a mile of The Long Trail, but that mile included 1000 feet of elevation gain.  He offered to drive her up in his jeep instead, and the Dogs were amazed at their good luck.  Soon after, Cave Dog came running off the trail in the middle of a major downpour, got some food and a rain jacket, and he was off again.  Sugar and Ant Dogs drove back to Stratton where they revised their plans, and Groove Dog agreed to take Sugar Dog's place on the road provisions for the night, while Ant Dog and Good Dog decided to meet up with the Quesnels to drive up to Prospect Rock to await Cave Dog's arrival.  After some frantic gathering of gear, Night Dog and Groove Dog headed off to USFS Road 21/Mad Tom Notch Road to wait for Cave Dog, Good Dog and Ant Dog were off for their jeep adventure on Old Rootville Road, and Lady Dog was off to drop Burns Dog  off for a bike ride on North Brookwood Road that was found after great searching by Lady Dog.

During the afternoon, Lady, Groove, and Burns Dog mulled over the 17.5 mile stretch of hiking that Cave Dog would be doing starting that evening with Night Dog.  They discovered that there was a trail that seemed to lead to The Long Trail via North Brookwood Road, adjacent to Stratton Resort Area.  Groove and Burns Dog checked out the trail, but had difficulty finding it, and when they did, they thought it would be easier and faster to bike into the trail.  In the meantime, Lady Dog decided to check out the trails for herself.  She first went to the Stratton Welcome Center, but because of the remote access to the roads,  they did not have any information.  Then she asked one of the maintenance men at Stratton and he directed her to someone who told her that the road was half a mile down the road from the base camp, but he was not certain if it went all the way up to The Long Trail.  When she arrived at the end of the road, she saw a sign for trail access and started walking on it, but it was evident that it was not the trail.  She walked back and ran into a local resident named Rhoda, who directed her to one of her neighbors, the Dixes (coincidentally enough, they shared the same last name as Lady Dog).  Rhoda Dix and Rhoda, walked Lady Dog back to the trail she had been on and pointed out a spur trail to The Long Trail that was about four miles long in their estimation.  Lady Dog thanked the women and headed back to give the Dogs the news.  She convinced Burns Dog to take the trail she had found, and later in the evening, as everyone headed out to their posts, Lady Dog dropped Burns Dog off with his bike where the trail began.  

In the meantime, Rad and Rus Dogs met up with Cave Dog on Baker Peak, sending him along with provisions to USFS Road 21/Mad Tom Notch Road, where he would see Night Dog and Groove Dog.  At Mad Tom Notch, Cave Dog picked up Night Dog and the two Dogs hiked through the night.  Cave Dog decided not to take a break to sleep on that night, instead, he pushed on.  The Dogs met up with Groove Dog once more at the intersection of Vermont Routes 11 and 30 where Good Dog and Ant Dog decided to check in to see Cave Dog before heading off to Old Rootville Road.  Unfortunately, the van which Groove Dog was driving broke down at that point.  The power steering went out and the alternator could not take the extra stress, so it too gave way.  Luckily, Rad Dog showed up with Rus Dog.  The van was towed to a mechanic in Manchester, and Groove Dog picked up his Jeep from Stratton to meet Cave Dog at the Stratton-Arlington and USFS Route 71 crossings.  

Cave Dog and Night Dog plowed on through the evening, putting up with their usual share of hot and humid weather, alternating with some showers.  They met up with Good Dog and Ant Dog who awaited their arrival at Prospect Rock, and then the Dogs pushed on to Stratton Mountain, the highest peak south of Killington, just a few feet below 4,000 feet.  They would need all their energy for this one.  Unfortunately, they were missed for their provision point at Stratton Mountain, and the Dogs suffered tremendously as a result.  Night Dog left Cave Dog on the summit of Stratton Mountain, and Cave Dog pushed on to the Stratton-Arlington Road where he met up with Burns Dog and Groove Dog.

Weather: Overcast and humid, occasionally clearing, intermittant thunder showers

Day 5

From the Stratton-Arlington Road to USFS 71, Cave Dog had a two mile hike that took much longer than Groove and Burns Dog had anticipated.  When Cave Dog emerged at USFS 71, he explained to the Dogs that he needed someone to hike with him, as he was having difficulty discerning between reality and fantasy as he hiked.  Burns Dog eagerly offered to hike with Cave Dog, as he was concerned about him.  The Dogs did their best to cheer on Cave Dog and told him the mileage he needed to maintain for the rest of the day in order to break the record.  A record time was still in sight, and so Burns Dog and Cave Dog took off.  Unfortunately, Groove Dog needed to drive back to Bar Harbor, Maine that day, in order to make it home in time for his sea kayak guiding job the next morning.  

In the meantime, Sugar Dog had hiked in early that morning to the Caughnawaga Shelter from USFS 71, and was awaiting a signal from Cave Dog.  She soon heard from Burns Dog that he and Cave Dog were en route.  When the Dogs showed up, they looked exhausted.  Burns Dog had been up all night and had not had enough to eat.  Cave Dog laid down on the floor of the shelter and would barely move.  Sugar Dog asked him what he needed and he replied uncharacteristically that he didn't need anything.  She promptly ignored this answer and changed his shirt, socks and shoes, and reprovisioned his water and food.  She told him to eat, but he fell asleep with a tortilla of spaghetti in his hand.  She told him to drink, and he barely took a sip.  When she handed the new CamelBak of energy drink to Burns Dog, he got confused between the old and new CamelBaks.  It seems that Cave Dog had barely had anything to drink from his old CamelBak, so much so that it was barely distinguishable from the newly replenished one.  Sugar Dog made sure that Cave Dog drank half a liter of water, some Ensure, and finished off his tortilla before she sent him on his way.  She wasn't sure when the Dogs would run into Rad Dog, who was hiking in on the trail from Route 9, so she put two CamelBak bladders in one pack for Cave Dog, and gave Burns Dog an additional liter of water and some extra food.  She was hoping this would be enough to sustain not only Cave Dog, but Burns Dog too.  Sugar Dog was very concerned about Cave Dog's exhaustion, but she figured that he would rally his energy for the last sections, as he seemed to do in these challenges.  Trying not to be too worried, Sugar Dog said good-bye to the two Dogs and then hiked out back to Route 71.

Rad Dog in the meantime had hiked in from Route 9 and was going to meet Cave Dog and Burns Dog at Little Pond Lookout.  Rus Dog started to hike in the opposite direction from Route 9, going south on The Long Trail to Congdon Shelter.  By the time that Cave Dog and Burns Dog met up with Rad Dog, Cave Dog had seriously started to deteriorate in his energy level.  Burns Dog left Cave Dog in Rad Dog's capable hands and hiked down behind the two Dogs after resting a bit.  Rad Dog did his best to keep Cave Dog's spirits up with his usual jokes and the Dogs even broke into song several times.  However, Cave Dog was beyond exhaustion mentally, and his missed provision spots now took their cumulative toll on his body. The weather did not comply either, and it began to pour, one of many storms the Dogs had seen during this challenge, in which the sky seemed to open up with no clear skies in sight.  Not only was the rain relentless, but lightning began to streak across the sky.

Meanwhile, Lady Dog and Good Dog went to Route 9 to provision Cave Dog as he hiked out.  Sugar Dog met up with the Dogs there after hiking out to USFS 71.  When she saw them, they were waiting on the other side of the bridge just off the road at Route 9.  Good Dog was soaked to the bone from waiting in the rain, and the two Dogs expressed serious concerns about where Cave Dog was.  They had not heard from him yet over the radio, and it was already five o'clock, long past when they had expected him.  There was nothing the three Dogs could do but wait.  After about fifteen minutes, they heard from Rad Dog over the radio.  He was speaking rather softly and very calmly, in a way that concerned Sugar Dog, as she was used to his enthusiasm and exuberance.  He explained that he and Cave Dog were just above Route 9, near Split Rock, about half a mile away from the road.  Rad Dog asked Sugar Dog to begin hiking in on the trail with a fleece and a rain jacket, as Cave Dog was wet and cold from the downpour.  Sugar Dog thought this was unusual, as Cave Dog only had half a mile to go, but she grabbed the fleece, and was wearing the rain jacket as she headed up the trail.  Several times over the next five minutes, Rad Dog radioed to Sugar Dog to check on her progress as she hiked towards Cave and Rad Dogs.  This made Sugar Dog even more nervous, as she sensed that something was definitely wrong.  

As she rounded the corner, she saw Cave Dog sitting on the ground at Rad Dog's feet.   He was shivering and soaking wet, though he gave Sugar Dog a wonderful smile when she saw his face.  The Dogs quickly got Cave Dog out of his wet t-shirt and put on the fleece and rain jacket to warm him up and keep him dry.  He was barely responding to the Dogs and seemed beyond exhaustion.  Sugar Dog told him that they could sit and rest a while longer, but Cave Dog suddenly wanted to get down the hill.  However, he could barely walk.  Rad Dog supported him on one side and Sugar Dog supported him on the other.  However, between the rocky terrain of the trail, its steep switchbacks, and the downpouring rain, the two Dogs struggled to get Cave Dog down the hill.  Rad Dog tried to sing some songs to keep spirits up, but it was hard to concentrate on balancing Cave Dog and safely manuever down the trail.  Cave Dog continued to ask if they had reached the road yet, and the Dogs did their best to reassure him that they were close.  At times, Rad Dog and Sugar Dog had to move Cave Dog's legs for him, and Rad Dog even carried Cave Dog over steeper rocks.  A short distance from the end of the trail, Cave Dog asked the Dogs to get Sea Dog to carry him.  Rad Dog gently explained that Sea Dog was not on The Dog Team for The Long Trail Challenge.  Cave Dog then asked for Good Dog, and Sugar Dog took off down the trail to get Good Dog.  Good Dog ran in to meet Rad and Cave Dogs, and the two Dogs struggled, but managed to get Cave Dog out to the car that Sugar Dog had pulled up to the trailhead on Route 9.  The Dogs quickly dried off Cave Dog in the heated car, and had him drink some Ensure and some water.  They covered him in a warm sleeping bag, and then Sugar Dog drove off with Cave Dog to take him back to Stratton to recuperate.  Rad Dog was torn about whether to go with Sugar Dog or to stay behind to hike in to retrieve Rus Dog from the Congdon Shelter, further down the trail.  He ultimately decided that he would be needed to hike in to Rus Dog.

Sugar Dog pulled over at the side of the road one mile down to strip off Cave Dog's wet clothing to make sure he was warming up and made him drink some more water before setting off on the road again.  Returning to Stratton, Sugar Dog got Cave Dog in some dry clothing and got him in bed under a warm sleeping bag.  She tried to find some food for him to eat, and Cave Dog spied an open bag of Cheetos near the ground.  Though he claimed they tasted good, he also declared that they tasted like plastic, but he continued to eat them as Sugar Dog hunted for a more nutritious meal.  She managed to find some corn and chicken, but there were no utensils to be found.  The Dogs were supposed to move back up to their Bolton Valley base camp that morning, but between the broken down van and the general chaos of this last day, Stratton Mountain Resort generously offered the Dogs a room to spend one more night in.  Unfortunately, there was now gear for the entire team in one room, and things were a bit hard to find.  While Sugar Dog hunted for utensils, Burns Dog arrived.  Lady Dog had waited with Good and Rad Dogs for Burns Dog to hike out, and she then drove him back to Stratton.  The ankle that he had sprained on the first night of the challenge was aggravated, and he was limping, exhausted, and hungry.  Lady Dog headed back out to Route 9, where Good Dog and Rad Dog were hiking in to retrieve Rus Dog.

Sugar Dog promptly ordered five pizzas for The Dog Team, and then sought out another room for the Dogs to use for the evening to alleviate their cramped quarters.  In the meantime, Cave Dog slept.  When the pizza arrived, Burns, Sugar and Cave Dogs hungrily wolfed down their food.  Cave Dog declared that the meat topping pizza was the best he had ever eaten, though he fell asleep several times while eating it.  Sugar Dog was able to find additional accomodations for the night at Stratton appropriately enough in The Long Trail condos across the road.  Sugar Dog rallied Cave and Burns Dog to get in the car with their gear and drive over to their room where they would spend the night.

Back at Route 9, the Dogs were hiking in to Rus Dog.  Because of the rain, the trails had become treacherous, especially in the opening section of the trail near the trailhead at Route 9, which is especially rocky and steep.  Rad Dog was terribly exhausted from his day of hiking in to Little Pond Lookout, and his previous night's hike into Baker Peak, not to mention the ensuing trouble with the van that he had taken care of.  Good Dog hiked in to Rus Dog, who was bravely and patiently waiting during the storm in the Congdon Shelter.  The Dogs hiked back out and arrived at Stratton late that evening to find several pizzas and a note from Sugar Dog that she, Burns, and Cave Dog had moved across the street for the night.

Day 6+

The Dogs slept hard that night, needing the rest desperately.  Around 4a.m., Cave Dog turned to Sugar Dog and announced, "I'm back."  Indeed he was.  He was more lucid than he had been the night before, and seemed energized, despite being sore.  Cave and Burns Dog headed over to Liftline Lodge where Lady, Rus, Rad and Good Dogs stayed and gathered them for a breakfast back at The Long Trail condo.  Sugar Dog collected some food for the Dogs and the group was finally reunited and well rested for a discussion of the previous day's events, and a de-briefing of  The Long Trail Challenge.  

However, there was not much time to spare, and the Dogs quickly readied for the rest of the day's events.  Laundry was done, gear was sorted and packed, and Rad Dog and Lady Dog went to retrieve the van from the mechanic's.  When the van retuned, all of Cave Dog's gear was packed into it for a return drive to Bolton Valley Ski Resort.  Burns Dog took off in Sugar Dog's car for Bolton Valley to get his belongings and then drive to the airport, where he needed to catch a flight to San Francisco.  Rus and Rad Dog drove off with Lady and Good Dogs to Albany where they were all catching flights that afternoon.  Cave Dog and Sugar Dog drove up to Burlington to meet Burns Dog at the airport, and to take Sugar Dog's car.  Unfortunately, The Dog Team could not spend more time together after the challenge ended.  Within an hour of finishing breakfast and talking about the challenge, The Dog Team split up and headed for their new destinations, leaving The Long Trail behind.  

Rad Dog and Rus Dog barely made their flight in Albany, while Cave and Sugar Dogs waited for Burns Dog to show up at the Burlington airport.  Unfortunately, Burns Dog missed his flight, but was able to find a new one out to San Francisco, his new home.  Cave Dog and Sugar Dog then drove back to Bolton Valley Ski Resort where they were faced with the challenge of sorting out Cave Dog's gear.  By the next morning, they were already behind schedule for their cross country trip to Salt Lake City and then California, where they had engagements awaiting them.  They dropped off the van in Lake Placid with A Dog and then they were on their way.

The Dog Team would appreciate anyone that finds inaccuracies in this site to email:

Any other suggestions or questions, please email: was created by The Dog Team.

Please note that this site is a work in progress ©