Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Day 108: Upper Goose Pond

June 23: I woke up to overcast skies, and for the first time since two days earlier, I felt hungry! I ate a full breakfast. I still wasn't at 100%, however, since I never really got hungry during the day and ate perhaps 30% of what I normally did during the day. A big improvement over the day before, but definitely not normal either.

Late in the morning, it started raining, but only for an hour or so--just enough to annoy me--before it stopped and largely cleared up.

The day was largely uneventful, and I didn't see anyone for most of the day until I arrived at Upper Goose Pond. The shelter here is a wonderful, two-story building. Calling it a shelter is something of a misnomer since it's a full-fledged building with staircases instead of ladders, all four walls are accounted for, and there are even walls in the structure to create separate rooms. These are deluxe accommodations, right off the shore of Upper Goose Pond.

Even better, thru-hikers are allowed to take the canoe out for a spin at no charge! I always regretted having not done that during my 2003 thru-hike, and I had no intention of repeating the mistake. I signed the waiver, put on a life vest, and Nancy (the caretaker) helped me throw a canoe into the water and off I paddled!

I asked Nancy if there was anywhere in the lake I should head to. Some sort of interesting destination to check out, and she suggested a small island near the middle of the lake and that's where I headed.

Hiking on the trail, I didn't feel much of a breeze, but out on the water--holy cow it was strong! On the way out, the wind was behind me and made the paddling easy. I had a bit of a challenge making it back, however, when I turned around and the wind was in front of me.

The island I aimed for was a tiny little thing and I longed to camp on it. How fun would that be? It couldn't have been more than 50 feet across. I could land the canoe and claim the land for... I don't know. Be a conquistador for a day. =)

One side had all sorts of elaborate cairns set up in the shallow water that I tried to paddle close to get photos, but the wind was hard to deal with. As soon as I stopped paddling to pick up my camera and take a photo, the wind would whip the canoe sideways and push me away from the cairns. I made several attempts and took a few sad photos from a distance, but I never did get the photo I was looking for.

I padded on a bit further to another strange dot in the distance that I couldn't quite make out. As I got closer, I identified it as another large cairn just off the shore. Even though it was on the shore of the "mainland," I suspected the person(s) who created it probably paddled out since there appeared to be no trails near this section of the trail.

After that, I paddled back to the shelter, making sure that I circumnavigated the small island I passed earlier. I'm an explorer, and explorers have to circumnavigate stuff. By the time I got back, my arms were exhausted having battled against the wind.

After getting back to the shelter, I sat for a half hour chatting with the other hikers there which included Forrest, Neon Mountain and a southbound girl who was section hiking for a week but whose name I didn't catch. Plus Nancy, the caretaker.

As I sat there, I could see some mean-looking clouds coming over the horizon. I really wanted to stay here for the night, but I had already made plans to meet some people a couple of days from now ahead on the trail so I pushed onward. Not only that, but I had replacement shoes and my laptop shipped to me in Dalton and I wanted to get into town before the post office closed tomorrow. I needed to get closer to Dalton tonight.

I said goodbye to everyone and continued on. Maybe a half hour later, an absolutely drenching downpour struck. A heavy, demoralizing downpour. The trail crossed I-90, then US 20 where my guidebook pointed to a hotel--the Berkshire Lakeside Inn--0.1 miles east. As heavy as the rain was, I'd take it! It was too late in the day to hike 7.3 miles to the next shelter and I sure as heck didn't want to set up my tarp in this downpour.

I walked into the hotel lobby and asked about the availability, and the woman said she might have a room. Hmm.... What did that mean? For the right price she'd kick someone out of an existing room?

Then went on to explain that she had one room left, but someone had called asking about it and said that they would "call back." Presumably, they were calling around to several places getting prices and if the price was right, they'd stay here. But so far, she hadn't heard back and didn't want to give it to someone else if they were interested, but asked if I wouldn't mind waiting for 15 minutes.

No, not really. It was pouring buckets of rain outside. I was happy to stay indoors, even if it would only be for 15 minutes. She called the people who had called earlier and left a message on their voicemail explaining who she was and that there was another person standing in the lobby already interested in the room and that if she didn't hear back from them within 15 minutes, she'd give the room to me.

I went into the small room next to the main office--used for the continental breakfast in the mornings--and took a seat and waited. I grabbed a Coke out of the fridge dropping in quarters into the honesty box inside the fridge to pay for it. I asked the woman if I could connect to the wi-fi using my smartphone, and she gave me the code to do that. So I caught up with email and messages while waiting out the clock.

Fifteen minutes later, I paid for a room and stepped outside to cross the parking lot to my room. I was somewhat taken aback at the abrupt change in weather. Not only had the torrential downpour stopped, but there were breaks in the clouds and at this moment, the sun was actually shining brightly!

I was still soaked from the rain earlier, though, and still glad to be in a room. I was ready for a shower and to burn all of my dirty, wet clothes. Of course, I wouldn't burn my clothes--I still needed them tomorrow! But since I had no clean clothes, I walked around my hotel room after taking a shower completely naked because hey, why not! I was clean and I planned to stay that way! At least until I hit the trail again in the morning. =)

From my room, I could hear traffic from I-90 a short ways behind the hotel. For me, I-90 is something of a landmark because I knew it leads all the way to Seattle. Home. I could jump on that road and it'll take me just a few miles from home. But no, home will have to wait.

My big question, though: Could I hike the 20 miles to the post office in Dalton before it closed at 4:30 tomorrow? I wasn't sure.... I'd be cutting it close!

The Upper Goose Pond Cabin--it was practically a mansion!

It was also undergoing some maintenance....

I push off for my canoe ride around Upper Goose Pond. =)

These are the cairns just off the small island I kept trying to get close-up photos of, but the wind made it all but impossible!

Pumpkin Butt lives nearby, and clearly his family was out on the trail to cheer him on! =)

The trail crosses over I-90 on this bridge. They even labeled it "Appalachian Trail" so anyone driving under it knows it's the Appalachian Trail!

Usually, in photos when its raining, you can't actually SEE the rain in the photo. It's too small and fast. This torrential downpour, though, you can SEE the rain! You can even see it splattering on US 20. But never fear, there's a hotel just 0.1 down the road we'll hit! =)


Mary said...

I wish I could see the inside of that deluxe shelter!!!

Ryan said...

I didn't think to take a photo of the inside. It's much less interesting on the inside, and I didn't spend any time in it except to get a life vest and ore for the canoe. (I also signed the waiver they make you sign inside too.) Then I went immediately back outside where it was light and bright!

Unknown said...

Neat looking shelter! Lots of cool photos with all that green around

-Only Dreaming
(Who is seriously longing for springtime)