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Too muddy, too muggy, too buggy -- Part 3

Rating: 2 votes, 1.00 average.
As noted earlier, my goal of fifty miles in four days meant I would have to hike fifteen miles on two of these days, and ten miles on the other two. Since Day 1 had featured an exhausting fifteen miles, I decided to make Day 2 a much more modest ten miles. This meant a stop at Greenwall Shelter (GwS), with an outside chance of getting to the Minerva Hinchey Shelter (MHS). Because I planned today being almost a recovery day from yesterday’s exhausting hike, I allowed myself to make a “late” start – ie, 7:30a. This early departure was helped by my deciding that I didn’t want to eat the oatmeal I normally have for breakfast. Why did I not want to eat oatmeal, a breakfast food I’ve enjoyed for over half a century? I don’t know – my stomach and my taste buds simply cringed at the thought of doing so. I’ve known from my first real backpack that my appetite disappears on the first four or five days of these section hikes; but I consider it unusual to develop an actual distaste for a specific food. I’ll just remove oatmeal from my morning routine.

On this day I actually had some pleasant (or not) interactions (or lack thereof) with other hikers.
I thought Sooty and Pearl would pass me for a “record” third time, but apparently my “early” start made it impossible for them to catch up.
As I read the log books of shelters, I noticed “Not a Bear” was ahead of me – and not surprisingly, getting further ahead each day. His page
didn’t give this info, so I’d love to know WHY he chose that trail name.
Two guys who had traversed the Old Job Trail gave a very firm warning: this trail is CLOSED.
There is a sign making this clear on one entrance to this trail; but the other entrance does not have this warning. Consider Old Job closed until further notice – which may take years.

One hiker saw the alcohol stove I was using and proceeded to tell me – with ABSOLUTELY no request on my part – “I used to have that type of stove. Would you like to know what I use now?” “I have no interest whatsoever.” “I now use Esbit tablets – much better.”
People, please be aware: if others ask you about your equipment, it’s okay to tell them about yours; if they don’t ask, then they probably don’t want to hear about yours; when they EXPLICITLY tell you they don’t care about yours, then they DEFINITELY don’t want your proselytizing.

Little Rock Pond, and its shelter, would have made a great spot for a long break – unfortunately, my goal of reaching GwS well before dark made such a stop ill-advised. It’s a beautiful stop, but I had to trudge onward. The three miseries I noted yesterday continued into today, so getting to MHS soon became a pipe dream.
I arrived at GwS with plenty of daylight and, just like yesterday’s stop, it was empty. I was able to begin some degree of washing of my clothes. Too bad the silty mud was not going to come off.
The night was aided by the arrival of the pleasant co-hiker, Sky Bird. Like me, he can only hike when he can arrange some time away from responsibilities, so we shared some “war stories.”

Day 3 left with the task of doing 25 miles in two days. In addition, Day 4 HAD to have me at Highway 4 near Killington by 6:20pm at the absolute latest – this was the time of the last bus into Rutland. This pretty much required that I make Day 4 a ten mile day, and this fact required that I make Day 3 a fifteen mile day – thus getting to Governor Clement Shelter (GCS) before dark. This meant an early start, which was not difficult with the good night sleep I got.
A quick stop at the MHS had me finding a bottle of orange-eucalyptus repellent, which I used on my ears as an experiment. Could this stuff keep me away for the cliché “a bug up my ear?” Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to help much. I don’t know if DEET would have been any better, but this stuff is not an improvement over artificial repellents.

The Airport Overlook is spectacular, but the clouds over the land, as well as my need to keep moving, meant I couldn’t take a photo that would be great on another day.
The hike just south of Clarendon Gorge was one of the scarier parts of the Trail – near vertical, slippery rocks, with little to grab onto, made worse by the drizzle that had started. I was glad I wasn’t going up, and even gladder that I wasn’t doing so during the downpour that started just as I got to the bottom. I had to worry about the woman who was doing exactly that; I hope she made it.
The view from the bridge over Clarendon Gorge was spectacular, what with all the rain the area has gotten over the last few months, weeks, and days. Again, concern for time made me continue without a photo.

My desire for speed did allow me to arrive at Lower Cold River Road with plenty of time to get to GCS. Somehow I missed the pretty clear signs
showing that the 1.5 miles north of Lower Cold River Road are closed. Instead, I followed the white arrows showing that you turn right at this road, doing so partially because another backpacker was doing exactly that. It was when I left the road and saw a second such sign that I realized something about the Trail: “closed” means “closed.” I thus backtracked on the road, and then began to follow the detour. This means that NOBOs turn left when they reach the road.
The re-route means you walk 2.5 miles on paved roads instead of 1.5 miles on a back-country trail, but it does mean that you actually make better time. The detour is fairly well-marked, but I wish I had a pen to write down the exact re-route details. I usually have a pen – actually, one that is also a small flashlight – but I lost this special pen along the way. If you find a flashlight pen, south of this road, feel free to enjoy it.
I probably should have been taking photos of the intersections, but (again) I was too tired and in too much of a hurry to do so. It was only when I got to this sign
that I began to use my camera. BTW, this warning sign does NOT apply to hikers – if using your feet, you actually walk on this road to get back to the Trail.

The detour rejoins the Trail right at the auto bridge that was destroyed (not just damaged) by Hurricane Irene. The river the bridge used to go over was roaring when I got there, and I seriously doubt anyone could safely cross it. If I had headed north on the closed trail, I would have gotten to this point and then been forced to turn around. NOBOs are thus warned: take the detour!

Being less than a mile from GCS, I figured I had it made in the shade. I should have noted the clear warning in the sign: “The footbridge over the west branch of Sargent Brook (0.1 miles south of Gov. Clement Shelter) is gone: you will have to ford the brook.” I got to the point of this ford, and my heart sank: the water was flowing faster than I would prefer for a simple ford, and I just couldn’t find an alternative to walking through water. I thus mentally reviewed what to do during a ford
and realized the biggest problem I would face was the heavy weight in my pack, causing me to be a bit unbalanced. I thus spent ten minutes or so tossing as many things in my pack across the stream as I could. After having gotten about half my stuff to the other side, I put on my sandals and began to walk sideways across the stream, my backpack loosened at the hips, holding my pole so as to maintain my balance and to check depths. After all this fear and effort, it took me twenty seconds to get across.

I spent more time collecting my stuff than crossing the stream, and arrived at GCS well before dark. I had accomplished my goal of arriving there, and felt good about making the ten miles on Day 4.

Updated 07-21-2013 at 23:39 by GoldenBear

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