Danby, VT(1668.7) to Clarendon Gorge Stealth Site(1683.4) 14.7 Miles
Today didn't start off very well. Kevin and Tim decided to cook up a big breakfast, which was great, but meant a very late start for me. Tim made us cinnamon rolls, potatoes, and ginormous omelets. After breakfast I cleaned up the kitchen while we waited for our ride back to the trail. Our ride, Fat Man Walking, thru-hiked the AT two years ago. This year he follows the herd north, providing trail magic and shuttling services to hikers. He drives a little RV around with his adorable puppy, Frannie.
I didn't start hiking until after 10:30. Breakfast was awesome, but definitely not worth such a late start. The first mile and a half was very relaxing. I followed a babbling brook the whole time. You would think that I could have gone very quickly over such flat terrain, but it was reminiscent of Pennsylvania with all of the rocks.
I managed not to fall on my face today, so I'll consider that a win. The brook ran into Little Rock Pond. If this spot had been closer to the end of my day, I would have camped there. The lake was beautiful.
Since it was way too early in the day to stop for more than a quick picture, I pushed on. A little farther down the trail I came across a wonderful, "Rock Garden". Rock gardens are spots were people build cairns. This was one of the largest I've seen so far. I couldn't quite capture it with a picture.
Just past the rock garden, was a blue blazed trail to, White Rocks Cliff. It was .2 miles off trail, but with the late start I knew I wasn't going to do a big mile day, so I decided to slow down and enjoy myself. I'm at the point where going .2 miles off the trail seems ridiculous. I'll be in the Whites next week and I'll have limitless views. I have to remind myself why I'm out here sometimes. It's not to walk 20 miles per day, but to see and experience cool things.
The side trail was very steep going down to the cliffs, which meant a very steep up on the way back. I ditched my pack behind a tree before I headed down. Best decision ever!
The next few miles were all downhill, but it was very well graded. At the bottom of the mountain was a really nice stream. I had just drank the last of my water, so I took yet another break to filter more. I had a pretty steep climb ahead if me, so I cameled up at the water source. I drank a liter and filtered another 1.5L to carry with me.
I barely even remember the 1,000' climb up Bear Mountain. It was 1.7 miles, but I hardly noticed. Last night I downloaded a new audiobook, American Sniper, it is fantastic. My favorite audiobook of the trail! Audiobooks are such a great distraction. I can't remember why I stopped listening to them. I think I've listened to half of the book already. Anybody have suggestions on what I should get next?
I had planned on camping at the next shelter I came to, but one mile short of the shelter I hit, Clarendon Gorge. The theme of today was doing things I normally skip, so I dropped my pack and went swimming. The gorge was really cool, there were several swimming holes along the river banks. Even though, technically, this is a no-camping zone there were several tents pitched when I arrived.
After my swim/bath, I went about setting up camp. I'm set up right next to the waters edge. I love setting up next to running water, it's like having a white noise machine playing. Although people are camped all around this area, I am enjoying the solitude. I got all of my camp chores done quickly since I didn't have to chat with other hikers. I might actually get to bed early tonight.
"Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” ― Dalai Lama