During the early morning, the mosquitoes were gone as the trail lead me down to a very nice morning view of Griffith Lake and more extended bog bridges. It still seems odd to me to find all this water above 2,500 feet, but I’m guessing that glaciers carved out these depressions in the solid bedrock and the depressions hold water like a bathtub. After leaving the shoreline, I entered the Big Branch Wilderness and continued along the ridgeline on some unusual rock formations. It looked as if the granite layer had been folded until it snapped, leaving the rough edges exposed above ground like a compound fracture. A short side trail to Baker Peak yielded a nice view of Dorset Peak in the Taconic Range before the trail began to descend towards Big Branch.
The Big Branch was sporting a large, and recently built, suspension bridge with a very cool design. After crossing the Big Branch, the trail followed the banks of the river until reaching USFS 10 and then followed the road for a short distance to get across the Big Black Branch. At the junction of the road and where the A.T. re-enters the woods, there is a small rest area with a Forest Service privy where I took a break and met a couple of women who were taking a long section hike. They were retired friends who were trying to see how far through Vermont they could go within 30 days. I told them that I thought that was an awesome adventure and that I hoped to see them down the trail.
As it turned out, I saw them just a few miles later when I arrived at Little Rock Pond. They, along with several other hikers, had stopped at the pond for a lunch break and asked me to join them. Unfortunately, I had some ambitious mileage goals for the day and had to continue for another hour or so before stopping for lunch. While I obviously didn’t stay there, Little Rock Pond is another location with a shelter and tenting platforms managed by a caretaker.
Later in the afternoon, I arrived at one of the most bizarre sights I have ever seen in the woods. Hundreds of hikers, over the years, have created a large area of rock art by building numerous cairns out of the surrounding rocks. There was a youth group resting in the area that gave some perspective to that size of the area covered by these rock sculptures. Winding through the sculptures is a blue-blazed trail leading to a lookout point named White Rocks which I decided to explore. I immediately regretted my decision as the trail began to lead steeply downhill, but the view of Wellington, VT was worth the effort.
From the area of White Rocks, the trail descends a thousand feet to VT 140 only to climb a thousand feet to the summit of yet another Bear Mountain. There was no view from the summit, so the mountain just stood as my last obstacle prior to reaching my destination for the day. When I reached the Minerva Hinchey Shelter, there were only two other guys there and one of them was going to actually sleep in the shelter despite the mosquitoes. I visited with them for a while before I climbed the hill and found a nice spot to set up my tent. After hiking nearly 20 miles on a day that started at sunrise, I don’t believe I will have any difficulty falling asleep tonight.
Date: July 19, 2017
Starting Location: Griffith Lake Tenting Area
Ending Location: Minerva Hinchey Shelter
AT Miles Today: 19.1
AT Miles To Date: 1,680.4