Oh, people. It was a very rough day.
The reason I did the poll was mostly so that I would know, at times, WHY I continue on. There are the days – much rarer now, thankfully – that I’ve had completely had it, and am ready to quit. It’s a dangerous mood to be in without my hiking partner to provide equilibrium! But the comments and notes of support buoy me up; I am not alone in this! And self pity is denied!
Still, today was a very rough day, and a good foretaste of what lies ahead. I covered 11 miles, and climbed and descended a lot.
Let’s go into detail. Bear Mountain was the first mountain. A long gradual climb to the top; mercifully, a pine-shaded area greeted me at the summit, because the sun was scorching today. The climb down was something I was dreading, because I was told it would be worse than the St. John’s Ledges descent. Much to my surprise, I completely enjoyed the physical and mental challenge of divining the best route and doing the actual climbing down. At one point, it took me 4 different attempts at different spots to get a safe route down. It was a highlight, not a terrible thing at all!
Once down, it was into Sages Ravine. I ran into a ridgerunner – one of the people who take care of the shelters and the trail, and thanked her; we had a nice chat by the stream the AT parallels through the ravine. I got some pictures of small waterfalls, but I’m not sure if it was in CT or MA… Evidently they aren’t either, because the official “Welcome to Massachusetts” sign is about a half-mile misplaced north of where the actual border is.
The bugs were really bad by the river, and the water very cold, so I did not take advantage of swimming hole possibilities. I was relieved when the path turned away and began climbing again. On the way lay Laurel Ridge Campsite, and I was tempted to stop.
“No”, thought I, “It is only 4:00 and too early to stop. There is another campsite in 3.1 miles, and a shelter in 5, and I still have at least 3 hours of daylight yet. Besides, I was told the next mountain, Mt. Race, is much easier and has great views.”
Oh, boy. This thinking thing… I am not very good at it. The climb up to the top was okay. But… YOU ARE AT THE TOP. The VERY top. The TIPPY top. At one point, there is NOTHING between you and a 2000 ft dropoff – except a very kind group of strangers who came across a petrified, utterly frozen Ziptie, and got her across.
Oh, btw, I figured out that “Taconic” must be the old Indian word for “ugly rough grey weathered and wrinkly rock that hates you and wants to tear your shorts”. There was a lot of taconic today. Sometime buttscooting was necessary. No, no people were mooned during my hike. But I was having very unpleasant Pennsylvania flashbacks – okay, MA, you got your licks in. Now be nice to me!
It took me nearly 12 hours to cover 11 miles, which is truly sad. When I finally reached the side path for Race Brook Falls campsite, it was past 6; no way was I going to get to the shelter beyond, especially since Mt. Everett lay in between. Truly not up to another climb and descent today, and burning daylight, I walked .3 down the blue blaze, dutifully set up my tent and did all the usual camp chores. Including eating, though I just reverted to a cold meal tonight, I did not feel like cooking. No energy. At least this site has a bear box and privy, so I do not have to hang my food tonight, or dig a cat hole.
Someone just walked past my tent, and there are a lot of bugs that want in, but have no invitation. It’s kinda late, but I am trying to figure out where to stay tomorrow night. The next shelter, Tom Leonard shelter, lies about 16 miles away, across two mountains. I will see how my knees feel in the morning, they are very stiff and sore tonight. Sheffield, MA lies 10 miles away, and there is a tenting option I may look into. I’ll see in the morning.
First night in the new summer sleeping bag, though I have to say that the zipper being suddenly on the opposite side is a bit discombulating! The new pack performed very well also; having less weight really helped! This is apparently a popular campsite with locals – a trailhead on MA 41 is less than two miles away. I don’t think I’ll get much sleep tonight – I wouldn’t mind so much if someone offered me a beer. Ah well…
I hike on. Thanks to all of YOU!