Wed Sept 30th, 2020, 1500-1620
Appalachian Gap to Stark’s Nest, SOBO LT mile 109.3
2.4 miles, 1500 gain, 280 loss
A nero into town and a nero out basically added up to a zero. It was a real ‘pissah’ outside anyway (meaning lots of rain), so there was no rush to get back on trail. It rained hard all night and well into the morning. I cracked the windows to let the cool air in, while the white noise and soft bed made for a perfect sleep. In the morning, I did the usual chores while also lounging in bed. Breakfast was yogurt parfait, sausage, and waffles with real maple syrup, of course, served by the Inn. It was all really good but kind of small portions. Good thing I didn’t have severe hiker hunger yet.
The only other thing I did in town all day was go back to my favorite grocery store. I got another sandwich for dinner on the trail. By 2 pm, we started walking out of town, easily getting a hitch within 5 minutes. Vermont may be the easiest state to hitch in. Our ride was an insurance adjuster, who drove around the state inspecting houses. He loved it this time of year but admitted that winters were no picnic.
We started the trail in the afternoon, with only 2.4 miles to go to a ski patrol warming hut we planned to stay in. It was reported to be the best shelter on the whole trail, having great views and plenty of amenities. It was open for hikers to use, with respect. We arrived to find 3 other SOBOs, 2 of whom were from Miami. My fellow SOFLOs at the top of a mountain in Vermont, go figure. They were just taking a break before pressing on.
More slick rock trail, but at least with affixed ladder steps!
The Watch-keeper of Stark’s Nest
After they departed, I went to town cleaning the hut. I sweep dust and debris while Tom moved stuff around and gathered trash. It made a big difference and was the least we could do in exchange for staying. We arrived so early, there was time to kill before dark. We also did a little exploring, climbing onto the ski lift tower to take some awesome pictures. I used the peak finder app to better understand the lay of the land. To the east, I could just barely see Mt. Washington in the distance, at over 6,000′, the highest peak in New Hampshire, and New England, for that matter. To the north, I could also see Jay Peak (finally!), Camel’s Hump, and Mt Belvidere…all points I traveled over. To the west were the impressive Adirondack’s. It was a peak extravaganza and one of the best views I had the whole trip, with all afternoon and evening to enjoy it. I was so glad we nero-ed out of town to allow ourselves this treat. I’d been denied views from so many mountain tops, this really made up for it. I also enjoyed sitting on the infamous Mad River 1-person ski lift…perfect for social distancing!
Two day hikers, Tom and Chai, along with their dog arrived just at dusk. They were locals so we chatted with them about the surrounding area. Everyone seemed to adore living here and I got such good vibes about the place. I felt like I already knew half the town after all the people I’d met. They took off, back towards their warm homes and we were left with a large, empty and rapidly cooling hut. This was the first night that it felt really chilly. I had some tea and settled into my 20 degree quilt…finally it was good to have the insulation. A nearly full moon lit the hut most of the night. A few mice played games but mostly it was very peaceful and quiet.