Thursday September 2nd, 2021, 0825-1800
RT 341 to Telephone Pioneers Shelter, SOBO AT mm 744.4
5341 gain, 4820 loss
The rain came down heavy all night but I stayed dry and warm in a real bed. It stopped early in the morning and we were eager to get out of the stuffy hotel room and back on the trail. The news on TV was all bad…the storm had caused a lot of damage throughout the country, with flooding and tornados in the Northeast. More than 10 people had died in NYC from drowning in basement apartments. Up to 7 inches of rain had come down. Just terrible events which made our predicament seem so trivial.
Maybe the trail would be impassable but we weren’t going to wait around to find out from others…we’d just see for ourselves. I wanted to at least get out of Connecticut, some 14 miles down trail. Chris gave us a ride once again. We were lucky to be able to depend on her while we were stuck in the area. At the trailhead, water was already seeping off the mountainside and onto the road. The grassy field that we had come across the day before was reported to be waist-high in water by another hiker.
We started off steeply, side-stepping all the water that was running down the trail. Water was oozing from every nook and cranny all day, even at the highest points on the ridgeline. My shoes were soaked soon enough and would stay that way for days. I was bragging about having forded the Kennebec river, joking that we might have some challenging crossings today. No sooner had I said this that we came to a roaring brook. It was probably fordable but sketchy. We all decided to butt-scoot across a big log, instead. It was very slippery, with a long and treacherous fall into the cascades below. Well, I never expected this kind of a challenge on the AT. Type 2 fun.
In addition to all the water, animals were also seeping from their hiding places, probably displaced by so much rain. Efts were everywhere on the trail. I almost fell head over heels when I found a turtle…a TURTLE walking the trail! It was in a puddle and just scooting along like it was out for a hike. We were near the top of a ridgeline, so it was the craziest place to find it… like the hurricane picked it up in Louisiana and dropped it here. When a turtle hikes the AT….my new replacement phrase for when hell freezes over.
We dropped back down into the valley to meet with the Housatonic again. No longer did I wish I was aqua-blazing. The river was an absolute torrent, overflowing its banks and tearing at anything near its path. It was incredible to behold. Almost as breathtaking, we came to the confluence with 10 Mile river and watched the 2 torrents do battle. This side river thankfully had a large bridge, as fording it would have meant certain death…I am NOT exaggerating! I watched a huge tree trunk come rushing down the river as we crossed the bridge. I could just imagine my lifeless body in its place.
Mid-day we came to the NY/CT border. There was a sign to welcome NOBOs to CT but nothing indicating entry into NY. A middle finger is all us SOBOs get. Glad to be done with CT, the early miles of NY were very pleasant. We walked a road detour around a bridge that was supposedly out. It was not a day to chance a ford.
I saw a total of 5 people on the trail all day: 3 were day hikers, 1 a section hiker, and one guy looked to be thru-hiking with his dog. I warned the section hiker of the challenging spots and he told me about how a kind resident had put him up for 2 nights to escape the storm. Too bad we hadn’t been as lucky. I didn’t talk to the guy with the dog and later wondered how he would get the dog across the swollen creeks.
The late afternoon held a variety of delights and surprises. There were beautiful farm fields with cows, sodas and snacks for sale at a plant nursery along a road, and a long stretch of nice boardwalk over an estuary. Swaths of the estuary looked like they had been bowled over, evidence of significant flooding earlier in the day. A large water snake blocked the boardwalk in one spot but obliged to move back into the water when we tapped the wood near it. In Florida, I would have guessed that it was a cottonmouth but this one was non-venomous, just looking to dry out a little.
In the last mile, we passed a giant oak tree, said to be the largest on trail. Unfortunately it was situated right next to a road, with trash nearby. I patted it for good luck. We arrived at a shelter to settle in for the night. It was just us there and the nearby tent sites were wet and slanty, so we decided to stay in the shelter. It was still a bit wet at the corners, indicating it wouldn’t have been a pleasant spot in the storm. But it served us just fine after the storm.