Total LT miles: 49.7
After our beautiful sunny happy first day on the trail we woke up to dark skies and the rain and wind picked up just as we got going. We scurried across the rocky summit of Jay Peak hoping we’d get below tree line before the storm got more intense. We were in the trees descending at a pretty good clip soaking wet splashing thru ankle deep water running down the trail. The terrain was rugged and slick and rocky. We stopped at Jay Camp to shelter for a moment before crossing 242 and climbing back up. It was hard work and we started to slow down. There was a lot of slipping and sliding and scrambling. I noticed Stud was limping. She had been having some knee pain and it started to look more serious. She told us she was struggling and I suggested we stop and sit and wrap it up but since it was pouring and we were close to the Hazens Notch Camp she wanted to push on. Stud is rugged and tough and in the 12 years I’ve known her I’ve never scene her physically hurt. We made it to the shelter. We were wrecked and Stud said she could no longer put weight on her knee. Our goal for the day was to get up to Tillotson Camp but we barely made it to Hazens Notch. The reality that Stud was injured set in. We ended up hiking out to Hazens Notch Road and got a ride to Johnson where Studs car was and then we drove up to Montgomery and checked in to a funky place called Grandpa Grunts where we sorted out our resupply. Stud dropped us off at the trailhead back in Hazens Notch the next morning and we hugged goodbye. It was so sad. She was so bummed and so were we.
Travis and I made our way up in the rain to Tillotson Camp and spent the afternoon just connecting and relaxing at this lovely mountain top shelter where we sat in a cloud.
The next morning we headed up and over Belvidere Mtn again in the rain slipping and sliding down the rocks. Travis started deteriorating and said he was feeling sick. He slowed way down and I knew something was wrong cuz he is a really fast hiker. We got to Edens Crossing and Travis realized he needed to get off the trail. He encouraged me to go on without him and meet him down the trail after he recovered. I was scared cuz I never backpacked alone before. He gave me a pep talk and we both cried and hugged goodbye.
Then I was alone. I felt kind of manic and was practically running. I felt strong and solid and embraced the solitude but I missed my friends and my heart broke for them. I was feeling good and then I got to Devils Gulch which is like a mansion of boulders that you climb thru. It was breathtaking and unique and hard and scary and I kind of wimpered thru most of it. Some of the holds were out of my reach and falling seemed catastrophic as there were cliffs and dark abysses between the boulders under foot. I got really stuck on one spot but then either a moose ran behind me or a tree fell and it lit the fire to get me over that boulder.
I made it to Corliss camp 15 miles later and was warmly welcomed by four southbound hikers from Arlington Mass!!! And they were playing Yahtzee! I got out of my stinky wet clothes, gathered water and heated up the chili I had been rehydrating I my bag before joining in for a round of Yahtzee. These folks were a hoot and wouldn’t you know I rolled a Yahtzee on my last roll. All sixes.
Got a late start today climbing Laraway. I’ve scene so much fresh moose poop on the ridges and it’s very misty and mossy and whimsical up there. Frogs leap off all the stepping stones across the bogs when I walk thru. No views up top. In the clouds which cleared on my way down and took a long break in a clearing by a stream where the sun was finally shining so I could dry out my clothes. It was so peaceful. I soaked my feet in the stream while eating some snacks. Then I climbed up another ridge and checked to see if I had service. Travis and I had left things saying that we’d meet in Johnson at the post office on Tuesday morning. Travis got a room in Jeffersonville and I was determined to get there tonight. I gave him my ETA. I was six miles away and truckin along almost jogging down the mountains. I busted out on a dirt road called Plot Road and there was Travis with a chocolate chip cookie waiting for me!!! He was feeling so much better and the sun was shining and we hiked the last 4.5 miles out to rt 15. He had even picked up our resupply box that Stud left for us in Johnson stashing it by the road before he hiked in to meet me! This means we don’t have to hitch back to Johnson tom and then back to the trail. We got a ride to Jeffersonville. I showered and sat in my towel while Travis sweet talked the motel owner to run our laundry. Stud surprised us with whoopies pies in our food box! Tomorrow we climb Whiteface and begin the really tough sections of the trail that include Mansfield and Camels Hump. Very exciting!