I woke up around midnight to the sound of torrential rain on the metal roof. A hypnotic sound. Almost like white noise. I recorded a snippet. It continued for at least two hours. Then… as quickly as it started. It stopped.

After the rain stopped, the winds came. The trees danced and sang, releasing a portion of their leafy treasure.
fullsizeoutput_2468On my way back from the privy I see my friend waiting. and ready.

Today is a 7+ mile day. The guide book says about 6 hours. We are hiking by 9. We are well rested. This is the easiest tread yet. These are the various ways the trail looks now.
fullsizeoutput_2446There are still some areas of high color. These are the easiest areas to follow the trail as it contrasts so well with the rocks, trees, leaves.
fullsizeoutput_2460In the areas where the leaves are yellow and brown the trail can’t be followed by color. Other senses take the lead. Can you follow the trail in these pics?
fullsizeoutput_244f What causes the color changes? As leaves lose their chlorophyll, other pigments become visible to the human eye. But from what I’ve read, researches don’t know why a tree turns red one year and yellow the next. There are small areas where the maple leaves are red AND yellow. The surface of these leaves seem almost waxy.
fullsizeoutput_2463Here’s an area where the maples are all yellow.
And, here’s an area where the majority of leaves are turning brown. We walk through these randomly changing leaf colors on the forest floor all day. It’s a magic carpet ride!
fullsizeoutput_245aThe sky is visible through the bare trees. Another bonus of hiking in the fall.
Something’s changed in the watershed. There are more rivers.
fullsizeoutput_2451Another abandoned machine part.
You can see the rusted machine parts across the river. Someone painted an arrow on it directing hikers to the SOBO trail.
The small springs and creeks are still pretty dry, but the 10-20 foot wide rivers have appeared. Crossing one of these, I slip on a rock. I plant my right hand pole behind me to steady myself and in slow motion I slide down onto my treking pole and it breaks. Yikes… At least I didn’t break. I pick up the two pieces and look at them wondering if I can perform a trail repair of some kind. I have some small pliers in case Sherman got into a porcupine. So, I have one tool and I have access to rocks. I put them into a side pack pocket and put it on hold until I reach the shelter.
I see Stratton Pond through the trees while we’re coming down the mountain. The pond is a big.
fullsizeoutput_2467We wind our way down to it and discover the shallow water is full newts. Sherman takes one lick of water and walks away. I find it interesting when he does that. He loves outdoor water. Streams. Puddles. Occasionally he takes a taste and… No Good…
The trail takes a detour around a flooded area. In a half mile we arrive at a big beautiful shelter. A section hiker, Jim, is there. He’s a trail maintenance leader for the AT in Massachusetts. He’s currently on a 4 day loop around some of the small lakes in the area.
Queen and Timber show up in a bit and the 4 of us sit around the table drinking tea and coffee. Talking shop and life. It’s a beautiful café in the wilds of VT.
We all set our gear up on the lower bunks. I don’t think much about how narrow they are until later when Sherman and I are headed to sleep on a 24″ wide bunk.
Now it’s time to look at my broken hiking pole. I get out the pliers and pull out the broken piece that’s still in the pole. It’s about 8 inches long. Then i look at the piece that broke off. It’s flattened from bending before it broke. Can I make it round enough to force it into the pole? I start with the pliers and every piece I grab and bend breaks off. I go looking for a rock. Maybe I can pound it into a conical shape that I can force into the pole. More pieces break off. I have nothing to loose, so I keep banging and get the pieces between the cracks in the metal to bend inward a little bit. Jim is watching and makes a few suggestions that help. I’m ready to try to force it in, and the whole latch mechanism comes off. Shit. Then we see that it has just come apart. I put it back together and now know that I have to get the broken piece far enough in that it stabilizes these plastic pieces together. I put the tip on the floor and by wiggling while pushing it goes in far enough. I extend the top section to it’s max and magic! The total length is within 1/2 inch of the other pole. I shorten the other pole and it’s ready to go. The bottom section is bent a bit, but I can put weight on it and it’s stable.
Fine Line shows up just before dusk. We’d been telling Jim about her and she materialized. She’s such a bright spirit. And a very unusual mind. Tried to understand how a mind like that works and just couldn’t. So simply enjoyed the interplay.
After dark two guys and dog arrive. Nice dog. One obnoxious guy. Funny comments. They crawl into upper gallery w dog.
Sherman and I toss and turn all night finding ways to squeeze ourselves on the skinny sleeping boards.