43.8 miles to the Southern Terminus.
In the middle of the night, there is another torrential rain. It too stops after a couple hours, the winds rise again and the dancing trees release more of their treasure.
Today is a 15+ mile day including the last big mountain on the trail. Stratton Mountain. Queen and Timber head out 30 minutes before us.
Sherman, right outside the shelter, pulling on the leash, anxious to get going! Notice the large milky quartz rock. None others around…?
Weather today is forecast to be sunny after 10. Tomorrow, Thursday, rain starting about 2 through late Friday night. The forecasts change quickly and frequently when a Hi or Low Pressure front is coming through. So many small valleys and intersecting mountain ridges…
At this point, for the first time, the light and colors really felt like winter…
From Stratton Pond it’s a 1500 foot elevation over 3 miles to Stratton Summit. It’s a much easier trek than I imagine. There are a few rocky areas but it’s mostly a continuous hike up a big hill. We pass Queen and Timber while they’re taking a break. I’m surprised when we reach the top. It doesn’t feel right. Too soon. Not a rugged enough climb. The only way I know we’ve reached the top is the fire tower.
This is the view from the ground on Stratton Mountain. All fogged in. There’s a spectacular view from the top of the tower I’m told, but today is a Cloud Walk. Nothing but white to see. So, we don’t climb the tower and we head down the mountain.
Since the heavy rain and wind last two nights the trees have shed so many leaves that hiking here is a whole new experience. The Green Tunnel has opened up. The feeling of being embraced, surrounded by the forest is gone. It’s changed from an experience of walking IN to one of walking THROUGH… Does that communicate?
The last bit of down before Story Spring Shelter is a rocky descent.
Then we’re at the shelter. It’s break and lunch time. We eat and rest. I leave a note for Queen and Timber and just as we’re ready to leave they arrive. We talk for 10, then Team Sherwyn heads toward Kid Gore. Another 4.8 miles.
Just as we were leaving the light changed and just lit up the whole scene!
There are two big hills to climb on the way. Near their summits they are steep and rocky. The first rocks we’ve seen in awhile. Then it’s down, down, down to Kid Gore. Who named this shelter? An odd name…
The sun is on it’s way to the horizon. We walk into the tenting area and there are no more trail blazes. The trail is horribly marked here. We try a few paths that look and feel trail-y. Nope. So we backtrack to where the trail enters the tenting area, see a blaze and head out. Oops. It’s the way we came in. So, back to the tenting area.
I start going slowly around the circumference of the area and finally find a 4 inch square pice of wood with a white arrow on it pointing at the trail we came in on. It’s tied to a tree. Someone has put it here so that NOBO hikers don’t get lost. Hey! What about the SOBO hikers? Anyway, this is the clue that shows which way the trail goes. It’s another 100 yards before there’s a white blaze.
Now that I’ve found the trail, the shelter is quite close…
We get there as the light is beginning to dim.
This is the view from the front of Kid Gore Shelter.
About 15 minutes later Sherman starts to bark. He rarely barks continuously, and this is one of those times. In a few minutes Queen walks in and the barks turn to big wiggles and wags.
30 minutes later, in the dark, Timber shows up. He heard Sherman and thought about heading cross-country toward the barking. Then he realized what a BAD ideas that was in the dark.
We all got lost and all got found by that little square wooden arrow sign.
I added this locale to my list of problems to share with the GMC after the hike. In one of their publications they ask hikers to let them know of any places that need attention: poor blaze marking, trees blocking the trail, shelters leaking, etc. This one is now on my list. Probably half my list is poor marking at places the trail makes a dramatic change in direction. In all these places there are many false trails that dead-end. They’re places that hikers have gone and found it was the wrong way, turned around and gone back to try again. It’s like spokes of a wheel. One of them is the “real” trail. The others are false starts. After trying each one, you return to the hub of the wheel and try the next spoke. Frustrating. But, once the game is understood, it’s easy to play.
This shelter has one of the best views from the open front of the shelter yet. We sit at the picnic table, eat, talk and then become pumpkins.
43.8 miles to the Southern Terminus.