15.8 miles, 1543.5 overall (Upper Goose Pond Cabin)
In the morning I check my phone and I have a text from Mouse. I had sent her one a few days back congratulating her on a great music recommendation and asking if she had met any southbounders yet. Her reply was that she had met the first 3 southbounders and they were named Miles Davis, Angry Bird, and Dave. I have to wonder to myself if Dave is a trail name or if that hiker simply doesn’t have a trail name yet. Mouse is still about 500 miles from Katahdin so anyone heading south that she meets will have about a quarter of the trail done when they meet her. However it might be harder for Sobo’s to get trail names since there are so many fewer of them.
I am surprised to hear the bear box open while I start packing up. Apparently these Canadians are early risers! Well, at least one of them is. I pack up, eat my breakfast and then get moving. It is supposed to be another day in the 80’s and I’m a little bit mad at myself because I don’t get out of the campsite until almost 7.
The trail immediately starts uphill but not for long so it serves as a good warmup. For the next several miles I am mostly on flat to downhill terrain. I pass a pond with obvious signs of beaver activity and can even make out their den in the middle of the water. No signs of the beavers themselves though. I can’t decide whether I like the ponds and lakes we have been passing lately or not. On the one hand, I definitely enjoy the change of scenery. I like the idea of possibly getting to see a beaver along the side of one of them. On the other hand, I know that these are some of the stagnant water sources that are contributing to the vast quantities of bugs with which we have been afflicted lately. Perhaps we’ll call this one a draw.
As the trail winds through the forest I am treated to some interesting new fungi that I haven’t seen yet on the trail. Shelf fungi have become common recently and I see several large ones on trees. I also see a large yellow fungus covering a log. It looks soft and spongy but I avoid touching it, instead taking a close up picture instead. Eventually the trail opens into some fields and in the middle of the valley in which these fields lie is a road that provides access to the town of Tyringham. The data book tells me there isn’t anything I desire in town but at the road I see another hiker trying to get a hitch. I strike up a conversation and pretty soon I find out this is Miles Davis – my first southbounder! I talk to him for a couple minutes, explaining that I haven’t seen any thru-hikers in a couple days and so I’m not sure who is behind me. He tells me he stayed at Upper Goose Pond Cabin (my destination today) last night with about 30 other hikers. Pretty soon I get going so as not to lower his chances of finding a hitch, but I’m excited by the prospect of having more southbound hikers to meet soon.
On the other side of the valley I head back uphill, listening to some more Count of Monte Cristo. I am now about 20 chapters in but there are 119 total. It seems this book will keep me occupied for quite a while. I decide to continue listening for the rest of the day. I hike over Baldy Mtn which doesn’t seem to reflect its name, past Knee-Deep Pond which looks dirty enough that I don’t bother checking whether its name is accurate, and pretty soon reach the side trail to the cabin.
Upper Goose Pond Cabin has a great reputation among thru-hikers. The cabin is situated directly on Upper Goose Pond and has 2 docks on the pond as well as a canoe that hikers can use if desired. There are volunteer caretakers who stay at the cabin to help maintain the property and to help hikers. They also provide spring water and a pancake breakfast with coffee! All this and all they ask is for donations to keep the place going.
I don’t take a siesta today because I want to get to the cabin early. I figure instead of siesta-ing I will simply take a dip in the pond instead. I arrive at the cabin just before 3 and find a sign announcing that the caretaker will be back around 4. I poke around a bit and find an open door to the bunkhouse upstairs so I make myself at home. I change into my swimsuit, grab my pack towel, and head down to the pond.
The water is almost perfectly clear. When I walk out on the dock I can see fish swimming below. Out on the water are a couple of kayakers and in the distance I can see two people swimming near an island in the middle. I wade into the water and it is refreshingly cold. I go far enough to sit in the water and stay there for a few minutes, getting a bit of a cleaning while also cooling off my muscles. When I’ve had enough of the water I get on the dock and sit in the sun to dry off, watching the two swimmers by the island head in on a rowboat.
When I head back up to the cabin I meet Wendy the caretaker and her dog Finnegan. Her husband is out for the day and will be back later. We talk for a few minutes until other hikers start showing up. Jihad et al show up as well as Instigator and Expeditor. I meet several new hikers including Sunroof and Yellowtail and another young couple named Bandaid and Laces who started their thru-hike in Delaware Water Gap. They just returned from the doctor because Bandaid found a bullseye rash this morning. He is the third hiker I’ve heard of who has gotten Lyme this year. The other two I’ve heard about through blogs – UV got it back in Virginia and Longstride got it in PA. I’m sure there are others who have gotten it that I haven’t heard about. It makes me quite happy that I’m still Lyme free and have only found 2 ticks on me the entire trip. Others have found as many as 17 on them. I hope my good luck continues.
We all cook dinner behind the cabin on the picnic tables. The caretakers pass around cornbread and a pastry dessert for us to have with our dinner. Afterwards we hang out on the porch of the cabin and on the picnic tables. Some section hikers who are there ask us questions about thru-hiking and we answer for a while before turning in for bed. It is still light out as I’m falling asleep on the Appalachian Trail.