Morning comes early for those sleeping outside. The happy campers who we had entertained with our antics the night before were up and out proverbial door before we had fully come to. There was coffee and breakfast to be made. Other campers may be content with a few handfuls of nuts, some dry bone chew squeak toy to chaw on, but not us. I had hiked in a dozen fresh eggs and that had arrived to our campsite unbroken and ready to use. Of the ridiculous foods I have brought camping, I think this raises the bar. Next time we are in the woods we may have to make a cake or create some other unlikely meal. Yes, there will come a day where the camping and hiking is too extreme for anything but MREs and those expensive camping foods like powered guava and monkey brains (may contain nuts) or whatever it is that the campers seem to have to fill their tucker bags.
We made to the trail by 9AM.
A late hour for most hikers I am sure, but we are soft city people for the most part, out in the woods to harden up but not too much. And to the trail we went and of a sudden it became difficult. For the most part this section of the Long Trail follows a pattern of being extremely difficult for a while and then having a level (by mountain standards) run for a time where one can gather one’s breath, regulate one’s heart, and commune with nature. This simple jaunt is then again interrupted by a scramble up or down or a rope or a ladder or some other unlikely terrain.
There was afforded stunning views from each mountaintop (although the summer murky haze was present and cut down a view that should afford the Presidential Range to the Adirondacks). From the top of Burned Rock this view was a majestic panorama and a rock outcropping allowed our group a space to spread out and enjoy the sun. We did not take too much time, however, since it was slow going. One of our party had no experience in camping nor hiking and he started to fatigue but still pressed ever on. Others of us had snack attacks, or had to rest after a climb to re-regulate the heart or allow muscles to recover. This was not a simple walk in the woods.
Our group pressed on. Up rocks. Lowering down ropes. The ladder was an interesting feature. I am not sure what we would have done had someone not hiked in several miles carrying an aluminum ladder and then secured it to the living rock with chains and strong wires.
The Long Trail is older than the more storied Appalachian Trail. The southern end is well used but as one goes further north, at least after Camel’s Hump, I am told the trail gets more wild and unused and fewer people are met along the way. As it was we met four hikers on the trail for the entire day. An incredibly low number, I think, considering it was a holiday weekend and the weather was textbook perfect for a walkabout. The Long Trail is maintained by a private charity and crosses private lands as it also dives right through state forests. All the infrastructure for the trail is built and maintained by the Green Mountain Club and much of the trail is in far superior condition to that we experienced at Mount Marcy earlier in the year (I am now convinced that the Lake Colden trail is straight up ghetto… or as “ghetto” as something can get in the wilderness). If you get a chance do check out or donate to http://www.greenmountainclub.org/
From Mount Allen our party became disconnected. Each of us had to draw on some super power of our own. Two of our party struggled in the back, I took the middle to scramble, pant and puff and be in pain, and then scramble again, and the rest pushed ahead as the advance team.
Our struggling friend was being helped but they fell back farther and farther behind. I got a second wind after I used the last of my water to choke down some food and when I caught up with the advance team they too were out of water. Of the things we did not plan for, and after the more than moist Mount Marcy expedition, the polite summer weather had left the woods dry and the many little tributaries were just damp paths through the forest undergrowth. From our camp to the next there was no water and since we had a purifying pump with us, we did not take as many bottles as perhaps we should have, had we really considered that climate change would have found us out here in these pretty little woods.
I was the first to the campsite. I had read on the Intertubes that the campgrounds had been closed due to bear activity. This was proven incorrect by two hikers who had passed through the area and were able to confirm that the cabin was open. Unlike the lean to before, this was a true cabin with a door and windows. The door was fastened shut with a number of fittings and inside we could see a wooden bar with the legend “bear-a-cade” painted across it with two images of bears. This was a last stand against the bears. While there was a picnic table covered by a tarp, the campsite was fortified. Two large metal boxes were at the edge of the camp to provide a secure area for all things food.
There was also a guardian, a keeper of the cabin who worked for the Green Mountain Club. She was nice enough if not a little sullen. I could understand why since we were a noisy lot. I quickly made to preparing the dinner as our party arrived in dribs and drabs. We wondered about our two friends who had fell behind. Suddenly, one of them (the more experienced since he had been to Marcy), emerged from the woods and informed us that his companion had fallen farther and farther behind. The hikers I met had given him water, but we were sure he was out by now. It was getting dusk. Which quickly leads to night. In the woods there is little transition between day and night.
We pumped water and sent off a one-person search party, however, it was not long before our struggling companion made his triumphant entry to the camp. Of all of us, he was the only one to have seen a bear.
To wit we made merth and made dinner and there reached a point where I was no longer functional and we struggled under the baleful watchful eye of the caretaker as we attempted to keep the site immaculate and bear-free.
And piling into the cabin, to sleep we went again. Having made 11 miles since our last camp it may not be much to those who have joined the 47 club of the Adirondacks (and summer and all season just to add another bragging level), but to us this was an accomplishment and had we thought to bring a flag, we would have planted it right there.
Editor’s Note: Additional photos by M. Abedi and M. Gafary.