I woke up to full sunshine and panicked, but it was only 6:15. I verbally woke Tandem and then ate and packed in my tent away from the flock of mosquitoes caught in my tent fly. I opened the tent and the fly almost simultaneously in order to release them. What a mistake! I jumped out and pulled stakes and packed as fast as I could. I really need my own bug spray!
I stopped by the picnic table where Tandem was eating long enough to say that I was heading out. I knew that our destination for the day was 22.4 miles away on top of Bear Mountain, so I paced myself for that distance.
I failed to find a Geocache the night before but knew there was one a couple of miles ahead. Since I needed the CT souvenir, I stopped for it, which required a 200 foot bushwhack through heavy brush and uphill to get to it, but I found it!
Tandem and Jukebox caught up with me at US 7 / CT 112, where I was sitting and enjoying trail magic snacks and sodas. We hung out for 15 minutes snacking, and I took an extra Coke for lunch and a full bag of Twizzlers for the fireworks viewing on top of Bear Mountain that night.
We crossed the bridge over the Housatonic River together, they hiked on while I took a bathroom break in the woods near the Housatonic Valley Regional High School tennis courts. For kicks, I checked for nearby geocaches. Since I was only 40 feet away from one, I found it too.
The trail took me by Falls Village, which had a great view of the hydro facilities and waterfalls on the very swollen Housatonic river. It was a great indication of how much rain we had had during the last few days.
There was a big climb from the river to the top of Mount Prospect. I caught up with Tandem and Jukebox at the intersection of the side trail to the Limestone Spring shelter where we had lunch, and I relished the extra Coke. After lunch we hiked out into a huge meadow with a great view called Rands View.
I fell behind but caught up with them at a second cooler full of trail magic Sprites and snacks at US 44. Then we had .4 miles of road walking before a very tough 1,000 foot climb up Lions Head. This must be a popular day hike for locals, since I passed at least a dozen coming down.
We met at the Brassie Brook shelter for dinner and met a few older humorous section hikers. One of them shared some delicious chocolate squares with strawberry centers. We were 1.4 miles from the top of Bear Mountain, which also meant that we were at 1,500 miles! After dinner and “packs on”, we returned to the AT to find someone had kicked around the rocks that used to be a “1500”. Tandem fixed the numbers, and we took pictures by it.
We walked briskly to the top of Bear Mountain and found a friendly weekend hiker sitting on top of the enormous rock pile there. He pointed out the camping area, so I grabbed the prime, slightly sloped tent site. Tandem and Jukebox followed suit and set up their hammocks nearby. The other hiker set up his 3-man dome tent.
We all settled in our screened-in dwellings to avoid the cool wind and few bugs. Someone that we later nicknamed Harry Caray showed up and loudly announced his entrance. He wasn’t camping but was here to watch the fireworks. I went to the west side of the mountain to capture images if the sunset then joined the others on the easterly-facing rock pile. We relaxed as well as can be expected on the rocks. I ate the Twizzlers and we watched as the firework displays began popping as far as the eye could see. It was an amazing sight!
The only thing that took away from the experience was Harry Caray who would not sit down or shut up. All he did for the next hour was tell us where to look and whether one of us was missing a good fireworks display somewhere. He called me “master” due to previously being a Scoutmaster. The issue with this was that he was then calling Tandem “mistress”. Once when he pointed out that “the master is missing some great fireworks”, I told him “dude, chill out”. That didn’t stop him. We started laughing at him, disguising it as joking with each other.
Once the fireworks had mostly run through their finales across the horizon, I excused myself to my tent. I heard him ask the others if the master was asleep, so I killed my lights and phone and immediately dozed off. The next morning I learned that he had hung around for 30 more minutes yakking about stupid stuff before hiking out.