Fri Oct 2nd, 2020, 0550-1500
Boyce Shelter to David Logan Shelter, SOBO LT mile 153
5600 gain, 5900 loss
It rains lightly on and off during the night but at least my tent is dry in the morning. I finish packing just as it starts to sprinkle again. The forecast called for a 60% chance of showers between 10 am and 1 pm. This translates into steady drizzle with occasional heavier rain from 6 am until…well it’s now evening and still going. Hence the reason I don’t have many pictures to add to this post.
Everyone wakes early and we’re on the trail well before dawn. The drizzle and reflection off the wet ground disrupts my headlamp beam, making it hard to find the trail. Dawn takes a long time to reach us in the gloom. More annoyingly, I’m eating a ton of cobwebs all morning. We cross a road and pass another ski area…the Middlebury College Snow Bowl. I cross paths with 2 lady trail runners on a ski run…they are the last people I see all day, besides my hiking companions.
We leave the Breadloaf wilderness behind at the gap but I’m somewhat sad to see that we’re entering another, the Battell Wilderness. I sigh at the prospect of negotiating downfalls and overgrowth, all the more tedious in the wet and with an umbrella raised like a sail. The trail goes up onto a ridge and stays there for 8 miles, lumbering over 4 different small peaks. Its foggy, wet, and cold on the ridge, with not much to see. I ride this roller-coaster in autopilot, drowning out the inclement conditions with podcasts. My extremities get pretty soaked from all the overhanging vegetation but I manage to keep the umbrella deployed, ensuring my core stays dry.
Finally the rough conditions end at the next gap and the trail is smooth sailing the rest of the day. This still does little to improve my mood…I’ve let myself get cranky due to the conditions. Stellar and I take a lunch break at Sunrise Shelter, which isn’t a very apt name this day. It’s good to be out of the rain but I get chilled pretty quickly. I make some hot water to tide me over, then just have to get moving again. I’m quiet and subdued, not much of pleasure to be around. Stellar tries to engage me in uplifting conversation but I resist. My mood is all my own making and as I later reflect, I’m lucky to have such good trail friends. But we all suffer a few bad days and I continue hiking alone until our destination for the night.
There’s one really nice distraction in the afternoon. I find the coolest salamander, ever! It’s named a yellow-spotted salamander for obvious reasons… it’s all black with yellow polkadots. It lumbers so slowly across the trail that I feel inclined to help it along, lest it get stepped on. I feel like how it looks. Cold and slow. The rain tends to bring the herps out, so it isn’t all bad. Three cheers for salamanders!
The trail stays pretty level for once, so I don’t get my temperature up from any steep climbs. I cross Bloodroot Gap, where there’s a thermometer nailed to a tree. It reads 40 degrees. Well, no wonder I’m feeling like such a lug. And yet, I’m hiking all day in the cold rain and still getting the miles done. In fact, I’ve put in my required 20 before 3 pm and consider doing another 8 to the next shelter. But no, we’ve done enough for the day…it’s time to relax and warm up.
A nice empty shelter in a cove awaits us. I settled in to take a nap, warming my extremities and being mostly useless in my hibernation. Stellar sets about making a Herculean effort to strike a camp fire (again, I’m so lucky to have such great trail friends). Adam arrives just as he gets it going. By this time I see a chunk of blue sky and think we’re in the clear. We have a nice fireside dinner, trying to think of a trail name with a physics theme for Adam. Atom? Neutrino? Neut for short? Then it begins to rain again. So much for being in the clear. But hey, we have a cozy shelter and roof over our heads, so we’re some happy campers in the end. As I look back on this day, it only brings a smile to my face.