61 pics and random babbling from another amazing Cohos section: Coleman SP to Stark. This time I came armed with better insulation except for one important omission and of course not nearly enough socks!
The folks at the Stark Village Inn weren’t available for a shuttle on the day I started, so I made arrangements for parking the scoot at Coleman State Park and getting a ride back when I finished. I hit the trail around 1pm after making a tour of the campground because I missed the trail the first time heh. That was about as lost as I got the rest of the trip, so glad I got it out of the way early.
The Tumbledick Trail passed through a few areas that had been forested but were in various stages of growing back. In one of these spots I scared a bear out from a pile of slash pretty close to the trail. He must have been napping to not hear me coming sooner. I felt bad about how scared he was, but after the bear that wasn’t scared I was glad to see his butt tearing off down hill away from me heh.
The trail had been pretty squishy throughout, but sometimes all the water was put to good use. There was a sign reading Allison Falls here and it seemed a lovely place to be on a warmer and dryer day. I didn’t stay long…this time.
It was a short day ending at the Panorama shelter after about 3 hours from Coleman. As the cloud bounced up and down off the ridge the air would go from wet to wetter. I grabbed a bag of water from the flow just a bit south on the trail that passed right in front of the shelter. Looking at how dense and wet the forest was I opted to stay in the shelter. That is when I realized that I’d forgotten to add a sleep pad for just such an occasion.
In between rain splatters I caught this picture of the panorama heh. Then it was dinner and curling up on the boards on top of my underquilt and sit pad. The air inside the shelter was full of cloud in the light from my headlamp. Better than outside, but definitely cloudy for inside a shelter.
The morning temperature was 38°f and the clouds had parted a bit. There was coffee and my new high speed breakfast concoction. Actually it is the same old blend of two packs of Cream of Wheat plus one pack of full fat cocoa. Recently I discovered by accident that if you add too much water you can chug the whole thing in a couple of minutes. Much faster without chewing and no spoon to clean up heh.
That left more time to appreciate the changing view, but it was chilly and despite the happy looking sky I was expecting sadness later in the day. Best to get rolling and watch some of those beautiful yellow blazes go by.
Well, OK, maybe just one more minute. That was so pretty I had to soak it in a bit more. Totally breaking the rule of thirds on this shot, but that cloud pattern was amazing!
Even up on the ridge the trail was squishy. No point in worrying about it after the first ten times you hit a wet spot so you learn to laugh about it. The cool air was great for my pace. The sense that the clouds were coming for me was a good motivator too.
I felt bad for NOBO hikers having to pass by this sign on their way up from Dixville. There was a sign to the right advertising the Panorama shelter ahead via the yellow blazes though. Good placement!
While taking some pics before descending I found my boots slipping on this rock at the edge of the void. Sorry I don’t have better pictures, but I wasn’t going out there heh. I was in a hurry, but that isn’t how I wanted to descend.
I had to avoid a few cars crossing the highway, but saw no people wandering around in the wetness. On my way back on Sunday there were people all over the area. Glad I missed the crowds.
Starting the climb up the other side there was a big surprise…water! No, this part may have been squishy, I don’t recall, but it was very pretty. They list an upper and lower falls, but there was a steady cascade for quite a while.
As I climbed up the other side of the notch I could feel the moisture in the air building. The cloud was coming for me! Given the slippery rock on the other side and the increasing moisture I opted to skip the Table Rock selfie experience. I know that is wrong and bad, but there was a cloud out there looking for me!
The cloud was definitely on my trail as I passed through the open areas of the ski runs. Thankfully I had a good footpath to follow and just enough blazing to navigate without wasting any time. It was exciting to be hunted, but I was getting the sense that the cloud was going to find me before I found the Baldhead shelter.
Of course the freaky noise the wind was making as it blew through this tower didn’t help much heh. I’d hate to be up there alone on a dark day with weather closing in, except I was and it was sort of neat 🙂
This is the last pic I took on this second day of the section. The cold and rain was enough to make me put on my raincoat, which is a rarity while hiking. After descending this road there was a short section of lesser road where I refilled my water bottles at the bridge before starting the climb. The Baldhead shelter is “dry” so I filtered an extra 3L bag as well. Then began a long, wet hike up a mountain that really tested my patience.
Sweating from the climb inside my raincoat kept me from freezing to death in the increasingly cold wetness. As much as I was tempted to take it off I had a feeling it was safer this way. That extra heat comes in handy when making camp and getting dry. That poor raincoat doesn’t smell very nice any more though 😦
There seemed to be quite a few more false summits than necessary before reaching the shelter location. Each time I saw sky above the next steep pitch my hopes went up and then so did the trail heh. I lost count of how many, six maybe? Then I reached the hut to once again find nothing but dense forest around. I considered trying to hang across the trail to the latrine, assuming no one else would be dumb enough to come up there that night. Then the rain started coming down seriously and I hid inside the shelter like a wet puppy heh.
I woke up around 11pm and my thermometer said it was 38°f. Doing some simple math told me that I was going to be a popsicle laying on those cold boards for another 7 hours. Thankfully I come prepared for just such emergencies and was able to quickly locate a hand warmer. Tucked into an interior abdominal pocket it kept my core temperature up until dawn. People talk about fire building being a life saver, but those pocket warmers are worth carrying year round.
Dawn showed hints of a sunny day to come. I knew it wouldn’t be warm, but at this point I was looking forward to warmer at least. It was 33°f as I got busy making a bag of hot chocolate gruel and a cup of coffee.
Then as the sun began to climb higher in the sky I saw something scary; The digital thermometer showed the temperature plummet 4 more degrees in a few minutes. Suddenly the grass in front of the shelter all frosted over and turned white. Not knowing how far it would go I was happy when it held at 29.1°f for a while before climbing back up towards 30 again.
The grass wasn’t the only thing that turned white during the sudden freeze over. My boots and wet clothes all went solid as well. I opted to swap out the clothes for dry, but only had the one pair of boots. On a cold morning you can tell how hardy a hiker is by how they deal with latrine seats and boots. This morning the boots were much worse than the seat.
Time to get stomping!
It was good to be moving to generate some heat, but I kept stopping to pull out my camera. Maybe it was the not freezing to death thing, but everywhere I looked was beautiful.
These trees were catching the morning sun and sending up clouds of steam as they warmed up. I spent a few minutes taking pics and video, but also just staring at it, soaking up the moment. It was still very cold, but life was very good on the Cohos that morning!
The Gadwah Notch Trail worked its way down towards Nash Stream gently. Eventually it began to follow an old woods road with meadows from time to time.
I came upon a tree with a yellow blaze that had fallen across the trail. Taking it as a sign and a nice place to sit, I opted for a serious lunch break since the clouds weren’t after me at this point. Please note the sock you see next to my food is actually my phone protector and not a used sock. My phone pairs with my inReach to let me pull up my location on a map. When I did a spot check to verify my location I was pleased to see that I was closer to the stream than expected.
That break was a great motivator and I hauled butt through the short walk along the road just after the headwaters of Nash Stream. I saw a person outside of a camp and we waved from a distance. 48 hours and that was my first contact heh.
The rolling section bypassing the Nash Bog flew by and even the hike up the Sugarloaf Arm was soon finished. Finally a camp with some open forest! First I hung up all of my clothes. Then I thankfully got my hammock up so I knew I’d be sleeping in comfort.
The Old Hermit Shelter is amazing! It has been there since ’12 if I recall and it looks brand new. No ugly graffiti, but also no stains on the floor. It has an unusual design, to me at least. That opening at the rear gives it really good ventilation I’d guess. The whole thing was held together with big wooden pins rather than metal hardware. Beautiful craftsmanship!
Being able to spend a few hours in camp was a great way to end a really great day on the trail. My clothes weren’t really going to dry, but I was out of the wet stuff and enjoying my camp clothes.
I loved the way the pegs that hold the shelter together were left long and sticking out. There are many places to hang things under that roof and some of the stuff I left in there over night actually did dry a bit.
Day four started with some great sunshine. Again I had to resist the urge to keep pulling out the camera. The weather wasn’t expected to last and I had plans for the day despite only needing to get to the Percy tent site.
There was my plan! Lunch on top of North Percy was my goal, though I giggled a bit when I first spotted it from this vantage point. I put my chances at a solid maybe as I recall.
Nash Stream from the snowmobile bridge was looking pretty, but I could see the clouds gathering. Really appreciated the bridge as the stream was wide and I’m guessing cold heh.
As I stopped to take these pics of the falls along Pond Brook a man passed by on the trail above. We waved, but again from a distance.
Then I came upon the high water warning sign and began to wonder if this was high water. I wandered back down to the road and met the man I’d seen earlier, so about 70 hours in I had my first conversation. He said not to worry about the water crossing and I headed back up.
I laughed when I got to the dangerous crossing. No one had mentioned a bridge. It was a bit wobbly on one side though, so a bit scary. 🙂
Then it was up the Trio Trail towards Percy. This climb was so gentle and even had a few views along the way. By the end I was sort of tired of winding around and ready to just climb straight up, but taking the longer, easier way was nice for a change.
The rolling hills thing was a great way to work the way up towards the ridge. Some parts were steeper than others, but all just a nice forest walk.
Can you spot the skinny moose in this picture? It won’t be easy because he kept his tail to me as he looked over his shoulder.
I did what I could in post production to give you a better view. There just isn’t much moose there to work with.
I stopped at the Percy tent site and quickly set up camp. Then with only my food bag and rain gear in my pack I headed up towards North Percy. I grabbed this pic on the way up the slabs near the top because I wasn’t sure how long the weather would hold off.
Almost there! I could hear voices ahead and sure enough there were some day hikers at the summit. It was interesting but strange to see people in such numbers. There were at least five or six heh. It seemed very crowded after being alone for days.
Soon they had to head down and I had the place to myself for a bit. Pictures were taken, cheese and sausage were eaten. It was nice!
On the way back down I was struck by just how steep that slab was. Going up was much faster as I had to carefully make my way down. Glad I didn’t have a full pack on for that!
I was sitting on the tent platform pondering an early dinner ahead of the rain when I heard the first drops hit. I started sprinting back and forth, ferrying everything from platform to tarp. After hanging out for a bit it was clear the rain wasn’t going anywhere so I arranged things to allow me to make dinner. Of course being Day Four my friend the Hunger showed up. Much chocolate was eaten and I think some Doritos too if I recall heh.
It rained all night. In the morning it was still raining. I decided to go with my secret weapon, no cook breakfast. It is a special mix of chocolate, nuts and espresso beans. Too much sugar to use on a regular basis, but super fat content to go with the caffeine. Great for a hard, fast burn without stopping to make coffee or anything in the morning. Perfect for hiking out on the last day of a trip!
The hike out was going to be wet even though the rain stopped as I was breaking camp. I opted to save my better pants for the shuttle ride so put on what can only be described as my worse pants that morning. It really didn’t matter much at that point.
With some rain on four of the five days I wasn’t pretty and I didn’t smell good, but I was laughing my way down the mountain.
The early parts of the descent were a bit ugly. Some very large boulder drops that could use some steps or at least a smaller boulder to break up the distance. Those giant steps down are murder on old joints. Looking at them from below I’m not sure how I’d get up them going the other way.
The lower sections rolled along quickly and I soon passed the turn off for the Devils Rest shelter. My map shows another connection from the other side, but if it exists I walked past without noticing.
Eventually the trail rose up and joined the Bald Mountain Notch Trail to descend towards Percy Road and Stark. It was on this section that I ran into the famous Bonnie of the CT and her owner as they were headed up. I was not only recognized by name, but she placed a call to Nancy at the Stark Village Inn to come pick me up for my ride back to Coleman. You just don’t get service like this on most trails 😉
I really can’t say enough about how nice the Cohos Trail is for someone like me who enjoys a remote, wilderness feel to their hike. Camping alone and seeing no humans for days on this section is definitely my sort of hike. With so little traffic the footpath is not always well defined, especially now with leaves falling. The blazing is sporadic at times, but generally always there when you need it. I’m sure that on weekends and especially during the summer months there are more people out there so I can’t promise you solitude. Still, this is definitely a path less traveled, so if you’re heading out pack your self reliance…and your sleep pad!
With the leaves falling I am going to leave the southern half of the CT for another time. Not sure I’d want to try to follow the footpath with a heavy leaf carpet. I have a few weeks of duty at home anyway. Then we’ll see what the weather looks like I guess before deciding what is next. The legs were feeling pretty perky out there for an old fat guy 😉
35 pics and some excited babbling from a four day section hike of the Cohos from the Canadian border to Coleman State Park. Had hoped this would be a thru hike but concerns about my sleep insulation sent me home to swap out some gear. I’m heading back to do another section in a few days heh.
I’d made arrangements to park the scoot at the Stark Village Inn and for a ride to the border. It was after 1pm by the time I put my pack on and headed into the no man’s land between US and Canadian customs booths. The CT starts with a lollipop loop around Fourth Connecticut Lake that starts and ends with a walk literally along the border.
The lake loop was soon completed and I was headed back to where I’d started. I’d seen the sign for my next bit of trail on the way in and despite the late start felt good about having dinner on time.
The trail from the border towards Deer Mountain was not heavily used, but easily followed. I passed by Third Connecticut Lake where I found a few kayaks parked. Never saw the owners though.
The lightly used trail joined up with a snowmobile trail that eventually became more of a road. Being interested in getting to camp I passed by the trail up to Deer Mtn without notice, though I’d already decided I wasn’t going to make the effort.
I’d made a reservation at the state park not because I thought it would be full, but because I wanted a spot that would work for my hammock. My guess was correct that site 17 had what I was looking for heh.
Dinner was served, neighbor was chatted and sunset enjoyed. The next day was going to be a race against the weather, trying to reach a shelter about 8 miles away before the expected rain hit. Early to bed…
Day two started out with a wide open road that became grassy and eventually well grown over. Somewhere along the way I missed the turn to Upper Blackcat and ended up on the highway. I followed that from the East Inlet intersection down to the West Inlet intersection where I was easily able to pick up the trail properly. This was the only time I actually lost the trail for the whole section though there were a few doubts at times heh.
When I reached the dam at the bottom of Second Connecticut Lake the water level had been brought way down. The sky was what I was watching though and it was a great motivator.
I followed the Falls in the River Trail south from the dam and with the gate open there was a nice noisy flow. I ran into a few day hikers around the falls, but didn’t stay long to chat.
The CT passes through private lands in many areas and that means running into sections that have had trees harvested at various times in the past. This section was cut a year or two ago and trail maintainers have artfully painted a series of blazes to get you through. Challenging at times, but totally doable thanks to their efforts.
That is my last picture from day two because feeling the rain getting closer was keeping my focus on speed. Once I cleared the cut area and was back on trail I flew through Moose Alley and on towards the Bog Board section. I was on the boards when the rain started and I was almost running the last mile or two to reach Tillotson Hut. Once there I did a quick recon of the possible local water source to find a few puddles but no flowing water. As the rain picked up I thought I might just collect from the shelter roof. When I looked again after a few hours there was a nice stream to collect from in the gully.
Near dark I thought I was hearing strange sounds in the forest and at one point felt something thump the shelter. I was curled up under my quilt keeping warm when suddenly a man in a raincoat walked past the open front of the shelter. I didn’t get his name because I was so surprised, but he’d come out in the rain to tend to the latrine! The Cohos may not be famous yet, but they really do try hard to take care of their hikers 🙂
Day three was also expected to rain on me so I hit the trail early to get in some miles. The top of Covell Mtn had a bit of a view, but the giant blow down was hard to stop looking at. Amazing how that tree stood there for so long with so little dirt to work with.
The rains were kind enough to hold off for a while. I eventually broke out of the forest onto an old road that led towards the highway again. This crossing held the joys of the Happy Corner Cafe and Young’s Store. Despite my protests at being too dirty and smelly the folks at the cafe let me sit at a table and eat heh. I had lunch and ordered a second meal wrapped up to go for dinner.
This signboard outside Young’s Store was the start of a section that had few if any blazes for the most part. Some corners were marked, but long stretches of road or snowmobile trail were unblazed.
Following the map and guidebook instructions kept me headed in the right direction, but attention was required to maintain confidence. As the sky darkened with the approaching storm I admit I checked my GPS once to be certain that I was where I thought I was along the Lake Francis Trail.
I made camp for the night near the lake with my tarp set at what I hoped was the right angle to take on the storm. The first big blast hit just before dark. The windward side of the tarp was perfect, but the lee side barely survived as the foot end caught too much air. When it seemed to have passed I messaged my wife that all was well and dozed off…only to be awoken around 9pm by another huge blast of wind moving through heh. It popped one of the lee stakes and then another as I held on to the tarp looking for the first one. After managing to get both back in the ground securely I took the end of my whoopie sling and tied it to the corner of the tarp. That took some of the load off of that stake when the gusts hit and I was able to ride out the rest of the storm in my sleep.
After a night of wind and waves the morning was shockingly quiet. Noise had become the norm at some point and now it seemed strangely absent. I had cold french fries and a cheese stick for breakfast, laughing about it being the hiking man’s poutine, but it actually was pretty good.
Then it was time to take on the 20+ miles of road walk to reach Coleman State Park. A new route that heads more directly through the forest is planned and may be blazed next year, but for now, this is the route. It was almost all forest roads and ATV trail with only a few paved sections.
A big highlight of the day was the snack bar at Grandview. If they had been open it would have been nice I’m sure, but being alone there with the view was fine by me. I broke out the cheese and sausage for a late lunch.
A couple on ATVs did pull in for a few minutes, take some pics and then head back the way they’d come from. It must be very different during the season with a bunch of those things ripping around. I did encounter a few ATV trains during the day, but they were easy to hear coming so I had plenty of time to get out of the way. Thankfully none caught me in areas with giant mud puddles 🙂
Then the trail branched off onto a farm path and the next few miles were very peaceful indeed.
After two days of rain it was wonderful to be soaking up the sun. Walking through farmland was reminiscent of my youth, but we didn’t have mountains on the horizon like this.
A horse…some cows….
Even some people! I ran into these two nice ladies working on a NOBO section hike that would complete their hike of the entire trail. After walking all day without seeing any footprints I’d been starting to think the road walk was a cruel joke I’d fallen for. Seeing them doing it too made me feel better heh.
Someone had piped this water along the road, but I couldn’t tell if it was just a gravity feed from the ditch or an actual spring. Given the rubbish scattered about I took the time to filter it, but appreciated the easy way of filling my water bag.
From here I ground out the final miles to Coleman State Park where I threw myself in the shower before making either camp or dinner. I wanted some time to get dried off before it got dark and was glad I’d kept moving all day. I’d made it from Lake Francis to Coleman in about 9 hours including breaks. A good dinner in my belly and I was ready for bed. Well some chocolate and then some snacks too, but then bed. Seems the Hunger was starting to appear after four days 🙂
The night was an odd one…first the neighbor’s camper seemed to be configured to kick on the generator every few hours which is not only against the rules, but really annoying! Then it started to rain unexpectedly, at least to me. Each time the generator woke me up I was surprised to hear it still raining. In the morning I checked the forecast via satellite and the numbers worried me. I’d been borderline cold at night several times on this trip and something about being cold and wet in the mountains made me nervous. Something clicked and I decided to pull the plug here rather than keep going.
Looking back now I’m not sure why that seemed like such a clear choice, but I had to respect the feeling. I knew if I was dying later I’d feel pretty silly for not listening to this hunch heh. So I went home, took the girls to the fair, road the Ferris wheel and bumper cars with my daughter and will head back to Coleman to pick up the trail in a few days. Maybe something bad was going to happen out there, maybe I was just meant to go to the fair and have fun with my family, but no matter what any fortune cookie says, I think I did what I was supposed to do even if I don’t know why.
So far my time on the Cohos has been amazing. The trail has a wonderful feel to it and the bright yellow blazes and signage have become familiar and friendly. The folks I met along the way, hikers and locals, were also notably friendly.
I have some video I shot on this first section that I’ll be putting together later, but hopefully the pics have given you some idea of how pretty the far northern reaches of New Hampshire can be. Honestly though, I think a person has to walk through these forests to really appreciate the peace and beauty found there. I know I can’t wait to get back!
A few pics and a short video from a couple of nights spent on my old friend the GLT. I went with the intent of doing a three night complete loop, but my other old friend, the weather surprise showed up with some tropical heat. By the morning of Day 3 it was too hot to be fun so I headed home.
The afternoon continued to heat up and get steamier. I pushed on past the Town Corner site due to the water there looking pretty grim. Should have stayed there because it got dark before I could make it to the Lane site.
I was trying out a different camera on this trip, a GoPro which is much smaller and lighter than my usual Sony. Trying to decide if the quality is good enough to save the weight. Also trying out a new editor, Davinci Resolve, to put together my videos. There may be some learning curve on both accounts, but I hope this works for you 🙂
(Don’t turn up the volume too loud or the waterfall will blow your ears out when it shows up.)
Trail journals are a personal thing by nature. Just as hikers hike in their own way, they journal in their own way too. Some folks spend a great deal of time during the day on trail and in camp, focused on filling pages with notes about their experience or something. Not sure as I haven’t ever been rude enough to ask what all the scribbling was about heh. Other folks carry a journal that they never remember to write anything in at all and the rest either fall in between or don’t even think about it in the first place.
I tend to fall into the group that carries a journal, but rarely remember it is there when I’m on an adventure. Partially that is due to my focus on what I’m doing at the time rather than thinking about documenting it. Partially it is because of the way my memory allows me to retrieve the experience later negating the need to write it down at the time. The rest of the explanation likely has to do with my love of cheese and sausage. Why spend time writing when I could be eating‽
My journals tend to come along for several trips before anything gets written down. By then the paper has soaked up humidity and dried out again numerous times. Combined with the friction of the pages rubbing against each other while riding hundreds of miles in my pack that gives the paper an odd feel; Sort of spongy and porous so neither ink nor pencil produce sharp lines. I find that fitting for the notes I tend to leave myself in my journals as they are often just a few hazy words giving a slight indication of what was on my mind. Just enough to remind me of what I was thinking when I made the note with no effort made to convey complete thoughts. These notes can be amusing when seen later at home with a head full of coffee and a roof over my head.
The note in the picture above is a great example of that. “Existential crisis averted Day 4” has few details, yet conveys enough of a message to fill pages of notes as I look back on that moment now. This is from a week long, solo trip I took to Baxter State Park in early June of this year. It was my first chance to get out on trail for over two months and over the first few days of the trip my brain was a mess. There seemed to be a lot of questions about who I was and what I was doing wandering around the forest by myself. Should I be home being a husband or daddy? Should I be working or saving the world? It seemed that I had only questions and answers with no clue which were important in either category. Who was I supposed to be?
So I wandered through the forest for a few days, going through the actions of making water, camps and meals with all of this turmoil in my head. Then on the fourth morning, as I relaxed in camp before loading up for the day, I realized that the noise had stopped. Questions and answers had stopped swirling and I could see what was important…the answer to who I was supposed to be.
I was just a guy, sitting in the woods, happy. There could be no more clear answer than that. While I remain husband and daddy wherever I roam and those callings come first, I am at heart a man who is happy in the wilderness. Alone or with others, being out there is time well spent and accepting that fact empowers a person with the conviction to go and do and be.
If you’re the sort who doesn’t carry a journal or remember to make any notes, maybe give it a shot sometimes. Just enough to jog your memory later and bring back a moment. If you’re the sort who fills pages of notes in one of those big books every day on trail, maybe ease up and experience the ride a bit more without letting the notes take all your focus.
Just that one faded, scribbled line in a rumpled notebook was enough to take me to that moment and bring it back in full detail. I can see the camp at Long Pond in the morning light, hear the red-wing blackbird and woodpeckers, and know what it feels like to be where I’m supposed to be. Soon…
48 pics and the story of The Mama’s triumphant return to Mt Mansfield and this year’s annual “marinara in the wilderness” location: Lake Carmi State ParkLast year’s failed attempt to climb this mountain inspired us all to come back stronger next time. Diets were changed. Winter exercise increased. Then of course real life got in the way and it all fell apart the last month or so before the trip 🙂 We didn’t let that or the weather daunt us. There had been some heavy rain the day we arrived and our day to climb started out feeling steamy, but thankfully cooler than the 90s of the days before.We were stopping early and often per our plan of taking care of everyone’s needs before they became problems. No shortage of places to sit on this part of the trail, but the little one was ready to go.We were definitely having a lot more fun this time! There were a few challenging bits for those with shorter legs, but we were moving right along.Definitely looking much happier than the last time we were on this spot. I got a lot of great pics of The Mama with epic clouds behind her.Still a bit more to go. Just over this hump is where we ate lunch and turned around last year. Soon we’d be on unexplored trail which is always a bit more exciting.Then we hit the somewhat crowded summit where we tried to look cool about the whole being on top of mountain thing 🙂 Pretty sure if there was no one else there it would have been a lot louder heh. We try to be good neighbors!That happy face might be because she’s got her shoes off or maybe she is just glad we’ve finally reached this spot. Cheese and sausage might have something to do with it too.From the summit we could look down on the spot where we stopped last time and it seemed so close. The trail winds around the side to the left rather than coming straight up the cliff so the walk is much longer. Having done it I’m all the more sure that turning them around last time was a really good idea. Coming this much more would have made for a lot of suffering before we got back to camp.Not much suffering to be found this time around other than a healthy cloud of blackflies on the summit. A lot of people since it isn’t a long walk from the top of the toll road, but that motivated us to start our long walk back down.We enjoyed the lean to quite a bit on this trip as it was far removed from the other campsites and the parking lot. Work to carry everything down to the camp, but worth it. We ate well and then made a fire mainly to make s’mores as it certainly wasn’t chilly. I invited Ranger Ira to come join us when his shift ended, more as a joke than anything since I assumed he’d want his dinner. We’d just wrapped up our toasting party and were about to put everything away when he wandered up. He decided that he’d have his dessert first that night and we had a blast swapping stories with him for a bit. Not sure we want to climb Mansfield again anytime soon, but we really enjoyed our two nights at Underhill again this year. It helped that they timed the downpours to happen when we were in camp!Then we were off to Lake Carmi State Park, almost to the Canadian border. This is a bustling campground with lots of people and lots of noise. Not our usual thing, but we wanted some place to chill out after the mountain climbing thing and if you ignored all the noise this was a beautiful spot. The LT was wet inside from the previous night’s storm so I put a tarp out front in case another came through. They positioned it for the view, not protection 🙂This place was definitely about the views! And the ducks!! No really, there were ducks everywhere. They’d wander through camp looking for scraps or handouts. There were signs saying not to feed them, but of course people do.Yup, views and ducks pretty much all the way down.The next day we headed out to explore the hiking trails near the park gate. We saw no one else out there and I think the gate ranger was a bit surprised when Frau Stranger asked about the trails. We covered most all of them except for a few short cut offs. First there was a huge meadow area that used to be a farm. Lots of birds and flowers. The trail was just a mown path that wound around the perimeter. This old stone wall gave the trail its name, but not much of it remained. Guess it got tired of waiting around to fall 😉Not sure if this is a snowmobile trail or what, but the mowing stopped here so we did too.Almost back to the car I spotted the other trail option hiding behind a tree. We were glad we looked for it because it took us through the forest and down along the shore of the lake.That fuzzy thing in the middle is a very large bird which appeared to be an eagle. It launched from a tree right over our heads as we came through and made a wonderful whooshing sound with its wings. It appeared to be fishing when I tried to take this shot, but autofocus thought I wanted a picture of the tree heh.Then the trail headed back away from the shore and through a fern filled glade.No really, it was filled! With the sun coming through the trees it was really neat there. I’m used to seeing ferns like this early in the Summer, but not in August. After all of that walking there was some swimming and some relaxing. Just because we weren’t sleeping in the hammocks doesn’t mean we couldn’t hang them up.And of course there were more ducks. Lots more ducks!Finally it was time for the annual “marinara in the wilderness” which has been going on for a decade now. The pasta changes from year to year, this time I went with spinach and cheese tortellini. The sauce is always cooked fresh with shrimp carefully planned to survive in the cooler until the big event. We had a full grocery store just miles away this time so that part was easy this year compared to some.
This was a very successful trip on many levels. The mountain was climbed, marshmallows were toasted and shared, ducks were seen and shrimp eaten. Plans for another trip after this fell through so I’m especially glad we got a chance to enjoy this one so much. Alone or with others, I hope you’re getting out there because Summer is almost gone. Time for family trips is over which is sad, but Fall brings thoughts of solo adventures…