Days 114 & 115

Day 114

We woke up early naturally today and all of us went for the continental breakfast. We found out that Mio was in town at the McDonalds .2 miles away, so Tandem let him know that we were in the Travel Lodge nearby. He was tying up the final requirements for his group’s school paper but did join us in the hotel’s dining area later.

We went back to the room to pack for checkout and all agreed that we had too much food left for the trail. I had been drinking a 2-liter bottle of Coke while in the room, so I had a half gallon of milk that hadn’t been touched. We checked out to start walking toward the trail and hitching. I was guzzling the half gallon of whole milk and loved it! We hit hitching pay dirt in about 10 minutes with a perennial gardener who volunteered to take us to the trail.

She was nice and had a Yellow Lab in the front seat of her pickup truck, so the four of us crammed into the back seat. It looked like a commercial. She took us all of the way back to exactly where we had left the trail. We piled out, donned our packs, strapped on our hiking poles, and were off on another day of hiking. It was 11:45.

We climbed 1,100 feet over three miles to the top of East Mountain, then took a break at the Tom Leonard shelter at 15:00 after 6.4 miles. We checked the weather and found that a thunderstorm was heading toward us from the west. It started to rain at 16:10 and was pouring 10 minutes later, so we decided to stay where we were.

Other hikers showed up for shelter from the storm. Once the rain paused, Tandem, Jukebox, and Mio set up their personal camp dwellings. I opted to keep my tent dry by staying on a lower bunk in the shelter. The shelter held eight, and there were five in it. Some Scouts hiked through later on a wilderness survival type of outing.

We had dinner in front of the shelter in a light off and on rain. It had been a short hiking day. However, my body crashed as soon as I laid down, and I slept very well having put on bug spray.

 

Day 115

As we had agreed, I woke my three hiking compadres at 5:00. Jukebox thought I had been joking about that. Those in the shelter were also mostly waking up. I packed, ate, and got filtered water. Tandem had coffee, and she and I were ready to hike out at 6:15. Today was going to be a 21 mile day to the Upper Goose Pond Cabin.

Week_17_Day_115.jpegWe left the Tom Leonard shelter and hike downhill for a mile. The rest of the morning was very up and down with rocks and roots, but we still made good time. Mio and Jukebox caught up with us after a few miles of climbing. They hiked ahead and mentioned a snack break at an upcoming shelter, but there were two shelters coming up 1.8 miles apart. Tandem and I passed them at the first shelter and snacked at the next shelter intersection.

We met a hiker who had been going for the supported thru hike record but stopped trying to break the record due to going to church services on Sundays. We also met a thru hiker trainer from eastern Tennessee who has thru hiked 11 times.

I led for most of the day, which made me hike faster. I was often a long distance in front of those three. We grouped together for lunch at a stream before climbing Baldy Mountain. Baldy is a 900 foot climb in 2.3 miles and was our last big climb of the day. After that, we hiked separately for the next five miles to the Upper Goose Pond Cabin. It was sprinkling when I arrived but soon stopped.

Jukebox and Tandem were already on the porch. I was greeted by the caretaker and given the overview of the cabin and pond. I unpacked, grabbed a bunk with mattress, and headed to the pond. I dove in from the dock and swam around for a while. The water was so clear and the sunfish bit at my feet. It reminded me so much of summers at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. I dozed and air dried on the dock.

Tandem was enjoying her time at the other dock. Mio came down and swam to the island in the middle of the pond, which was a fairly long way out there. We all enjoyed our time relaxing and swimming. I even took a nap on my bunk listening to music on my iPhone.Week_17_Day_115a.jpeg

We cooked dinner on the picnic tables in the back of the cabin. We had a Pasta Side again, but ate it from the bag, which kept the pots clean. Tandem, Mio, and Jukebox were playing Scrabble, and Tandem won. We cleaned up and enjoyed time in the cabin away from the Mosquitos.

I actually went to bed at 21:00 due to the early start to our hiking day and all of the swimming. Today was a great day. Tomorrow is a 20 mile day to Dalton, MA, where a friendly neighbor allows through hikers to camp in his yard. We also pass the “Cookie Lady” at lunchtime!

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