Fri Sept 25th, 2020, 0600-1630
Spruce Ledge Camp to Waterman Brook, SOBO LT mile 54.7
24.0 miles, 7200 gain, 6500 loss
I slept perfectly overnight, despite some nearby anonymous snoring (earplugs do wonders!). My shirt and skirt were still wet in the morning…recall my pond excursion the afternoon before? I optimistically hung them to dry overnight, but nothing dries at night on the east coast. I hated putting on wet clothes to start the day but at least it wasn’t cold.
I woke feeling pretty great, like Tony the Tiger grrrrreat! Perhaps I’d finally found my hiker groove. I hit the trail very early, having to use my headlamp for the first 15 minutes. I already felt productive, despite an in-your-face steep climb to start, followed by a few more. The miles in-between were quite gentle. From reading some blogs, I knew to expect an easier day, ending with a nice country/forest road walk. This also helped boost my spirits. I was flying along, making it to the Corliss shelter, 6.7 miles in, by 0830 am. It was a really nice shelter, with a loft and 4 sides in a beautiful notch. A chipmunk was sweeping up inside after the overnight occupants. I caught him in the act and he sheepishly scampered out the open door.
I began to think I might even be able to make 10 miles by 10 am…my rock-steady goal for fast hiking. It took me until 2 pm to go 10 miles the day before, but today was a new day. I took off for another climb, feeling charged. Laraway mountain came and went (including a nice overlook to the south) and so did 10 am. And the winning number was…almost 11 miles hiked! At this pace, I’d have more miles hiked by noon than I managed in total the day before. I descended to a small valley where the trail rambled gently over some hills, through a few meadows, across roads and past a very nice shelter with skylights.
I finally took my lunch break at a stream, 16.5 miles into the day. I was so relieved to get all the miles in early, I could just take it easy the rest of the day. I came down into a big valley, with a nice overlook above the Lamoille River. We crossed the river on a pedestrian suspension bridge and continue for a mile through fields and along a cruisey bike path…all so relaxing and such a joy to walk!
We turned onto a country road where there was a small farm stand offering fresh and pickled veggies. The sign read “pay what you think it’s worth.” I put a $5 spot in the can and snagged a small jar of dill pickles. They were so good, I ate them all, leaving the jar to be re-used. I also grabbed some cherry tomatoes to add to my couscous dinner. I wish there were more of these self-service healthy-food stands on trails I’ve thru-hiked! I hadn’t really enjoyed such a find since New Zealand. Way to go Vermont!
It was a picturesque day and a perfect rhythm. We walked casually along the forest road in the dappled sunshine. We arrived at Bear Hollow Shelter by 3 pm, our “best case” destination for the day. I’d hiked 22 miles already, but there was plenty of time left in the day and I still had energy. We went a few miles more, making it to a creek on the slope of Whiteface mountain. We could save the mountain climb for the next morning, finding some passable tent sites in the wash near the creek. A waterfall tumbled down nearby and I relished the white-noise it would bring overnight. Not every night need be next to a shelter, especially when the weather was so nice. The perfect ending to this great day was my dinner with fresh cherry tomatoes: yum!