Linda picked me up at exactly 8:00 am and I reluctantly left the dry comfortable sanctuary of the Mountain View Motel. She asked me if I had any success in finding a fuel canister for my stove and, when I told her I had none, she drove me to another hardware store on the other side of town where I again had negative success in finding a replacement cartridge. Finally back at the trailhead, I thanked Linda profusely for all of her assistance and headed down the trail.
From the trailhead at US 7, the trail leads along a flat walk for two miles that passes by farm fields before once more crossing the Housatonic River and returning to the woods. After crossing the river, I started the benign 1,000 foot climb to the summit of East Mountain where I was rewarded with a nice view of the valley below.
I stopped at the Tom Leonard Shelter for lunch where there was a trail crew actively working on the shelter area. A porcupine (or porcupines) had literally been eating away at this shelter and the crew was attempting to arrest the destruction. Porcupines apparently enjoy salt and they had been noshing on any wood that had been touched by sweaty hikers (shelter edge, bunks, picnic table, etc.). The trail crew had given every exposed surface a coat of paint, including the privy, and the place looked great. I thanked them very much for their work.
From the Tom Leonard Shelter, the trail was a smooth easy walk downhill where it crossed MA 23 and started a short climb up Beartown Mountain. The weather forecast had predicted rain all day, but it had held off until shortly after I took a nice picture through the trees of a pretty farm. Then the skies opened up and the black clouds released all of the water that they had been holding throughout the day. After 30 minutes, the trail became a cascading river and soon everything I was wearing became soaked with rain.
Had the rain held off for about 45 minutes, I would have been fine. But as it was, I arrived at the Mt Wilcox South Shelters dripping wet and met Rabbit and One Gallon who had suffered similar fates. I had met Rabbit way back in Shenandoah NP when she was hiking a section there with her mother, but hadn’t seen her since. She is from Ohio where she worked at the Columbus Zoo while going to college. One Gallon, however, was new to me.
One Gallon is hiking the Eastern Continental Trail and began his hike in Key West on New Years Day. From Key West, he hiked the Everglades Roadwalk, the Florida Trail, the Alabama Roadwalk, the Pinhoti Trail, and the Benton MacKaye Trail to join the A.T. at Springer Mountain. After completing the A.T., One Gallon will continue north on the International Appalachian Trail to end his hike in Labrador after 5,400 miles. In 1988, One Gallon got his trail name after successfully doubling down on the Pine Grove Furnace Half Gallon Challenge during his first A.T. thru-hike. He is an interesting character to say the least.
After dinner and visiting for a while, the rain finally stopped and One Gallon and I found spots to set up our tents. It was starting to get cool outside, so it felt good to get out of my wet clothes and into something dry and warm. I’m trying to dry my shoes the best I can, but I know it will be a lost cause. The dry sanctuary of the Mountain View Motel is now a distant memory.