Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 19: Cranking Out the Miles!

Dscn6420September 22: It rained hard overnight and drizzled into the morning, but by around 9:00, the rain had finally stopped. Just as the weather forecasts I heard had predicted. It was still ugly and overcast, but if the predictions held true for the rest of the day, that would clear up as well.


I hit the trail, dealing with a bit of tree snot, but otherwise not a big deal. The fog seemed to grow thicker the further up Bolton Mountain I headed, however, and the tree snot become ever thicker right along with it until I reached a small break in the canopy and suddenly realized that there was actually a very light rain falling—it wasn’t just fog anymore!


I considered pulling out my umbrella, but it was just the lightest of sprinkles and didn’t want to take my pack off to retrieve it. I hiked onwards.


Then I started hearing what sounded like machine guns and bombs going off far in the distance. What the…? But then I remembered Slowfoot warning me of a military training range nearly that you could hear from the trail. Nothing to worry about!


As I neared the summit of Bolton Mountain, the trail became much more rugged and difficult. Rocks and boulders—and there were a lot of them—become slippery. When I reached the summit, it seemed like a huge waste of effort since there wasn’t even a viewpoint to admire even if the day were clear.


From Bolton Mountain, the trail descended steeply for half a mile and my progress slowed even more until I finally made it to Puffer Shelter where it stopped completely.


I had covered 4.2 miles, but it wasn’t even noon yet and I decided to wait out the rain. It was, after all, supposed to have stopped near sunrise. Surely it would finish soon and I could continue hiking dry from the rain.


Dscn6427Within minutes, I began to shiver—the cold creeping into my wet clothes. I pulled out my clothes bag and changed into my dry camp clothes and hung my wet hiking clothes around the shelter to dry out a bit. I ate some snacks and started reading my Kindle. After an hour, though, I was getting cold again from my lack of exertion.


So I dug deeper into my pack and pulled out my sleeping bag. I still expected to wait out the rain, but I wanted to be warm while I did so!


In the early afternoon, Hill and Fire-Eye arrived at the shelter for a quick break to liven up my stay, but they didn’t stop for more than a half hour or so. One of them had an aunt who lived near the trail several miles away and they wanted to get there for the night. With real beds and hot showers. I envied them. Then they were gone, and I went back to reading my Kindle.


The rain continued to fall, and by around 4:00 in the afternoon, I had to admit that I wasn’t going anywhere for the rest of the day. At this point, if I left now, I might not be able to make it to the next shelter before dark. Disgraceful! A measly 4.2 miles for a full day of hiking?!


Late in the afternoon, three southbound friends arrived at the shelter—two Canadians and a Vermonter. I was glad they had arrived since by now, I was bored to tears reading my Kindle. I do like to read, but I like to read in moderation. I’d been reading my book all day long and I welcomed a stimulating conversation. =)


The fact that I cut my day short—very short—wasn’t critical. I was already a little ahead of schedule and I did carry enough food for 10 days of hiking even though I expected to cover the distance between Rutland and Stowe in 9 days. Delaying my arrival into Stowe meant I had to be careful not to over-indulge eating my snack foods so I wouldn’t run out of food, but I wasn’t going to starve. All the same, I was happy to take some left over jerky that Hill and Fire-Eye carried and a handful of peanutbutter M&Ms from one of the Canadians. You can’t eat too much while on a thru-hike! =)


Near sunset, the rain did finally stop for a while, but it was way too late for me to push on to the next shelter at this point. Nope, I was done for the day before it had barely even started.


The rain was pretty light, but you can see it pouring
off this giant boulder in large streams near the
top of Bolton Mountain.


The trails became very, very wet. This isn’t a creek—it’s the trail!


And if creeks running down the trail wasn’t bad enough,
it doesn’t help that the rocky surfaces along the trail—and
there were a lot of them—are now quite slippery.


In the safety of Puffer Shelter, along with two Canadians
and a Vermonter. =)

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