14.2 miles, 1508.1 overall (Glen Brook shelter)
I sleep incredibly well. Vanessa’s house is about 200 years old and doesn’t seem to have air-conditioning so I sleep in the bed next to the window and fan. It is a successful strategy and I actually need a sheet to stay warm. I get up just before 6 and pack my things. I settled up with Vanessa yesterday and told her I’d probably leave early. I head downstairs and walk out, making sure to shut the door behind me.
I am hoping some place will be open early for breakfast but it doesnt appear so. The coffee shop doesn’t open until 7 and I don’t bother checking the hours on the other restaurant. Instead I simply head back to the trail and eat a Clif bar on the way. Pretty soon I have finished the road walk portion and am back in the woods heading uphill.
At the top of the first climb I hear a group talking and when I reach the top I find what appears to be a Boy Scout troop. The only thing that makes me uncertain is that these boys all appear to have good gear and have their packs packed well which is surprisingly atypical based on the scouts I have seen so far. They are stopped for a break at a view and offer to move out of the way for me. The Scoutmaster offers to take a picture for me and I jump at the chance since I don’t have many pictures of myself taken by others so far. Once I’ve taken in the view I follow them down the hill toward the 2 shelters up ahead and talk with them on the way down. They are from Pleasantville, NY and their troop has been section hiking the AT for a couple years now. They have completed sections from as far south as PA all the way up to here. I’ve caught up to the older boys. The younger boys are in a separate group a bit further up the trail.
The scouts stop at the first shelter and I continue to the second for my break. At the second shelter I find the younger group still packing up and getting going. The boys are taking their time, preferring to come up with trail names for each other rather than pack up. It seems they met Manbearpig last night and are now enthralled with the idea of trail names. I don’t stay long but while I am there I finally get a great picture of a chipmunk as a brave one runs around the shelter. It seems chipmunks up north are much more brave than southern chipmunks. I have finished my break and am leaving just as the scouts are on their way out.
After the shelter comes the big climb of the day. Bear Mountain isn’t too tall but the ascent looks steep and it is getting late in the morning so the temperature is rising. I’m anxious to get over it and find a place to siesta on the other side. I’m so anxious that I forget to look to see if there is a sign marking the completion of 1500 miles. I pass this milestone just as I begin the ascent and by the time I realize it I’m halfway up the mountain with no desire to go back down for something that may or may not be there.
At the top of the mountain the data book says there is a “rock observation tower.” On the way up I wonder what that means – is it an observation tower made out of rocks or is it a tower for observing rocks? The answer disappoints me even more than I would have thought. At the top is a pile of rocks that barely resembles a runaway truck ramp, let alone a tower. A plaque designates this as the highest point in CT but a day hiker who arrives just after me informs me that this is actually only the highest peak and the highest point is on the slope of another mountain.
The series of disappointments this mountain has given me doesn’t get me down too much and I descend to find a place for a siesta. Having finished the Tour de Delis in NY and CT I am forced to find a place in the woods rather than a business establishment where I could eat all day. Desirable traits for a woodland siesta location include a cool spot, access to water, a place to lay down, and a lack of bugs. On the way down the mountain I find all of these plus a great view in Sages Ravine. The trail follows a picturesque stream downhill and I find a pool in the stream with a great rock to lay on right next to it. I set up to spend some time here, filling up on water, laying out my thermarest, and grabbing my bag of gorp to snack on. Although there are few bugs I keep the few that there are at bay by putting on my long sleeve shirt. This works out doubly well since despite the heat of the day the stream is actually making the spot rather on the chilly side.
It is around 11:00 when I make myself comfortable. For the next 4 hours I pass the time either writing or sleeping as hikers pass on the trail above. I see both groups of scouts go by as well as several groups of day hikers. I can tell they are all jealous of my spot as well as my sloth.
Around 3:00 I reluctantly get moving again. As I’m leaving I run into a group of day hikers who interview me for several minutes about my hike. They are a friendly group and I answer all the questions they want to ask before I move on. Only a few minutes downstream I cross the water and am treated to a sign welcoming me to Massachusetts. I pause to sign the register and take the requisite pictures.
At the next campsite I run into the older group of scouts again while they are taking a break and, a short time later, pass the younger group also taking a break. They all plan to camp at the next campsite which is short of my destination so I won’t see them again.
I climb another ridge and am treated to about a half mile of ridge walking with some great views, but also some pitch pine that I don’t enjoy. It is particularly prickly and despite my best efforts I keep running into it. Then I descend again only to climb another PUD called Mt Everett before finally descending to the shelter I’m aiming for.
When I arrive there are several tents already set up in a beautiful camping area amid a stand of hemlocks. I am still able to find a great spot and set up. I talk briefly to some of the other campers and quickly realize that I’m the only thru-hiker here. Most of the others are just out for the weekend but the hiker in the tent next to mine is out for a month, hiking north into Vermont. We talk for a while over dinner and I learn he is from Miami and has been taking the last year off from college to work as a tram guide in Key West. We talk a bit about hiking and I give him some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way before I turn in for the night. Tomorrow looks to be another warm one so I want to get to sleep early. I should be up and out of camp tomorrow before most of the others have stirred on the Appalachian Trail.