Vanessa was still asleep when I left this morning, so I didn’t have an opportunity to thank her again for her wonderful hospitality. Thinking that I needed some nourishment to power me up to 0.8 mile uphill road walk to the trailhead, I found an open coffee shop on Main Street and picked up a gigantic cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee. While I was standing in front of the general store enjoying my breakfast, a guy walked by and asked me if I needed a lift back to the trailhead, so I graciously accepted his offer.
Back on the trail, I hadn’t walked a hundred yards before I came upon the 1,500 mile marker! I’m still excited to reach these milestones because the numbers are so immense that it is hard to fathom that I have actually hiked that far on my own two feet.
Starting at the Undermountain Road, it is a thousand foot climb to Lions Head to get back on the ridge line. I sure was happy that I had eaten that cinnamon roll. The payoff for the climb was a gorgeous view of the valley below.
As I continued along the ridge line, I encountered something that I hadn’t seen in weeks. Mountain laurel was blooming everywhere! After a short but steep climb, I reached the summit of (another) Bear Mountain, the highest peak in Connecticut. At the summit there is a huge rock cairn that you can climb for an even better view. This seemed like a wonderful place to stop for lunch, so I took a break while soaking in the view.
From the summit of Bear Mountain the trail follows a steep and rocky descent to Sages Ravine. In Sages Ravine the trail follows the Sawmill Brook for nearly a mile while winding through a gorgeous old growth hemlock forest. At the north end of Sages Ravine I reached my second milestone of the day when I crossed the border leaving Connecticut and stepped into Massachusetts! The states lately have been really flying by.
Leaving Sages Ravine, I started the 900 foot climb to Mt Race making this my third summit of the day. When I reached the end of my climb, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The cliffs on Mt Race extended for over half a mile with views that seemed to go on forever. Honestly, it was difficult for me to pull myself away from this wondrous spot but it was getting late and I had one more peak to summit.
My final climb of the day was by far the most difficult. It was only a 650 foot climb to the summit of Mt Everett, but it was an extremely steep climb that started out with a lot of roots that soon deteriorated into a rock climb. Near the top, my admiration for the trail building crews grew by leaps and bounds when I passed their tool pile that included a small generator and a hammer drill that they had carried up and were using to install steps on some of the more difficult rock sections.
At the summit of Mt Everett, I met two thru-hikers named Zookeeper and Critter. There was a third guy hiking with them, but I didn’t get his name. These guys started at Springer Mountain the same week that I started and I was just amazed that after four months we hadn’t before met one another.
At this point I was pretty spent from all the climbing, but I still had to negotiate a descent from Mt Everett that was almost as steep as the climb up. When I finally reached the bottom of the mountain, I headed for the Glen Brook Shelter only to discover that the camping area had been commandeered by a youth group of about twenty kids. I gingerly picked my way through their campsite to get past their tents and headed for the shelter.
The Glen Brook Shelter is in a pine forest and is located on the side of a steep hillside covered with pine needles. This combination made descending to the shelter treacherous, but I managed to make it down without slipping. There was one hammock hanging in the area but I seemed to have the shelter to myself. I was so tired that I considered just sleeping in the shelter, but the volume of mosquitoes in the area put a damper on that plan. After a quick dinner, I climbed back up the hill until I found a flat spot large enough for my tent and got everything set up. I’ll try to go to sleep as soon as the kids quit playing guitars and shining their 100,000 lumen flashlights around the woods.