They said it could be done...
by, 07-26-2011 at 11:59 (882 Views)
And, for any sane person, they probably would have been right.
BTW, who are the "they" who keep saying, "It couldn't be done"? Are they the same people who say things, for which people say, "You know what they say..."
Anyway, what was attempted -- successfully! -- was a hike on the A.T. during last week's heat wave.
Okay, it was a series of day hikes, during which I carried little more than water and a filter to get more water.
And I used my free shuttle service to get to and from trail heads.
And I slept each night at this room
eating a breakfast buffet each morning and eating here
And it wasn't exactly a difficult part of the trail -- in northwest Connecticut, from Sages Ravine to the intersection of Highway 7 and Highway 112.
Nevertheless, it was twenty miles or so of hiking, during days when the heat index went well over 100 F -- and weathercasters were constantly telling people to "Stay indoors and avoid strenuous activity."
Repeating the fun that I noted in the link above, my wife and I went to Lakeville, Connecticut. She dropped me off at the trail each morning, then each of us did what we enjoy -- me, hiking on the A.T.; her, relaxing in rural America. At the end of my hiking, I'd call her and she'd pick me up. By ending up in Salisbury each day, my wait was never more than a few minutes.
And I constantly used an old trick for staying cool -- drenching my shirt and hat with water (doesn't need to be filtered, so any clear stream will do) so that it's external water that's evaporating off my body, not sweat. Think of it as a portable air conditioner. It does require a hat and long-sleeved shirt, but I always wear those anyway.
The first day was a test of my ability to hike in heat, with the only challenge being a hike up Prospect Mountain.
The hike could hardly have started more easily -- this section of the A.T. is either on roads OR is the part specifically designed for wheel-chair accessibility. Although I never did notice the "small, vine-covered building past the transformer" at the hydro-electric plant (which had the faucet I wanted), my filter allowed me to get the water I needed. Although the water flow over the Great Falls of the Housatonic was pretty weak, this fact did allow me to walk through the middle of the falls area.
I should mention that the water at each stream was quite adequate for supply.
When I started up Prospect Mountain, I knew this was going to be the one difficult part of the day. But I was well hydrated, stocked with water, and having no trouble handling the heat. Then, about three quarters of the way up this hill, I made an amazingly stupid mistake.
It's no crime to get three meters off the trail before you realize that this isn't where the trail goes. And I consider it an act of charity to add a couple of sticks along this part of the trail, hoping to help the next people to not repeat my minor mistake. I am still dumbfounded, however, that I then immediately began going DOWN the hill; and that I didn't notice that I had turned around till I had cost myself an hour of hiking time.
Actually, I DID quickly notice that I was going downhill, but fooled myself into thinking that I reached the crest. Why I did that, when I (1) could see I had not reached the top and (2) had a topo map showing that the top of this hill was flat for quite a while, is beyond me.
I also noticed that I was passing things going down that I recalled seeing when I was going up. Again, I just fooled myself into thinking that the walk down had the same stuff as the walk up. I stubbornly refused to admit I had made a mistake, just not wanting to climb back up the hill. Not until I reached a log where I had taken a break did I finally come to reality. A bit of an ego blow, but at least I was now back on track. Problem is, I DID have to go up the hill again.
Prospect Mountain has several overlooks that would be great on a crisp, clear day. Unfortunately, this was a hot, hazy day; so I didn't even bother to take any photos from these vantage points.
The slope on the north side of PM was incredibly steep, even going down to U.S. Highway 44. I could hear the cars clearly, so I knew I was close. But they were still a couple hundred meters below, and it seemed almost STRAIGHT down below. It was quite a relief to actually get to this road.
While walking parallel to Highway 44, there as a scene I wanted to get a photo of, but decided not to. It was a field of bright wild-flowers, with the steep slope of PM in the background. Why not take the photo? Because it would have meant walking through a field of high grass -- and I've already had my case of Lyme Disease, thank you! It then occurred to me that attacks from ticks certainly kill more Americans than those from black bears -- in other words, I'd rather go into an area where I might meet a black bear than into one with ticks. Always compare the risks!
The walk from Highway 44 to Highway 41 was unusual because (1) half of it was on pavement and (2) a lot of the rest was through an open field -- neither of which you want on a hot, sunny day! But I arrived little the worse for wear.
Because I had done so well on this first day, I felt confident that I could handle the hike over Bear Mountain, just south of the border between Connecticut and Massachusetts. The question was how to get to the A.T. from a parking spot. My original plan was to take the shortest route, which was the trail east from the gravel road called "Mount Washington Road" in CT and "East Road" in MA. Fortunately, I had checked out this road two days before, and found this was dirt road of questionable maintenance, barely usable by a low-clearance sedan. So I chose the alternate, longer way of hiking the Under-mountain Trail from its trail-head on Highway 41, then the Paradise Trail to the A.T. at Sages Ravine. This would mean I would have gone over three miles before I had done one step on the A.T., but this was actually less time-consuming than getting to that other trail-head, as well as a lot less risky for the driver.
The hike to Sages Ravine was uneventful, and the hike up Bear Mountain, although VERY steep, was no major difficulty. The problem came on the mountain, which had very little shade at a time when I wanted every bit I could get. So I just kept walking through the sun, stopping only to get photos at the Lion's Head. Getting down the mountain was also without major problems, and there was plenty of water to filter and re-stock my containers. When I got back to the pickup point (again at Highway 41) I actually had plenty of water to spare.
No major lessons learned on these hikes, unlike those done earlier this month. Although I'm accumulating miles VERY slowly, I am gaining the experience and judgment necessary for a real section hike later. Hope you will all want to read about it!