Thu Oct 1st, 2020, 0620-1730
Stark’s Nest to Boyce Shelter, SOBO LT mile 132.5
6500 gain, 7200 loss
It’s hard to leave a warm hut when it’s cold outside. I always think I’ll be faster packing up inside a hut, since I don’t have to deal with my tent, but I’m usually slower. Today’s no exception. It’s nice watching the light slowly grow in the east. It would be beautiful to watch a sunrise here but we need to press on. We catch the sunrise on the way up Mt Ellen (4075′) instead. At this vantage point, I can see all our previous mountains as well as the Whites to the east and Adirondacks to the west. This trail segment follows a ridgeline for about 9 miles and is part of what’s known as the Monroe Skyline, with consistently good views along the way. On this fine fall day, it doesn’t disappoint.
Stellar practices for an early ski season at the top of a lift on Mt Ellen.
We stop at another ski hut to find the Miami hikers just finishing their breakfast. It’s nice to get to chat with them a little more. They tell us that Adam, our friend from Taft Lodge a few nights ago, spent the night here too but left early. I’m happy to hear that he’s just ahead and look forward to catching up with him. We climb Lincoln Peak and Mt Abraham next, the latter of which is just over 4,000′. The top is clear as we ascend but becomes obscured by a cloud just as we reach the summit. I don’t mind. A trail runner is there with her awesome dog Maple, so I enjoy petting the dog while we chat about the trail. Vermont’s full of rugged mountains, nice people and happy dogs. What’s not to love?
We descend a ways into Lincoln gap, entering the Breadloaf wilderness area (largest wilderness along the LT at 17 miles). Some blowdowns and overgrowth are indicative of the limited trail maintenance in this area…no mechanized tools are allowed so it’s harder for volunteers to do the work. I enjoy the solitude of this stretch. We only see a handful of people the rest of the day.
I catch up to Adam around 2 pm, following him to Skylight Lodge by 3pm. The place overlooks a beaver pond and is pretty nice. A guy is there making it his temporary home…he’s already spent 3 nights and seems very content, if not a bit lonely. We had planned on staying here but since it’s so early and the weather so nice, we decide to push on another 2 miles to the next shelter. It’s supposed to rain the next day, so that’s 2 miles I won’t have to hike when it’s wet.
The hills have all turned yellow…I’ve never seen such stunning fall colors.
The next shelter faces west towards the setting sun and has good tent sites, so I’m glad we kept going. It’s also another night we get to spend with Adam. We’ve seen him nearly every day since our 3rd day and are glad we’re matching paces. He’s a smart cookie, with degrees in physics and machine learning. But out here, he’s a down-to-earth and adventuresome backpacking enthusiast. The 3 of us cook dinner in the shelter, trading stories. Topics range from the search for other planets and the Great Filter to the search for the best trowel. I eventually leave the shelter to the boys and nestle into my cozy tent. It’s been 4 nights since I last slept in it and I’ve missed it.