A 15-mile stroll through the forest, staying overnight at a shelter along the Appalachian Trail, and reaching the summit of three 4,000+ foot mountains.
I arrived at the Ripley Falls trailhead at 12:30, a pretty late start, but there’s no rush. Four hours later Ethan Pond is reached, sparkling in the sun. There’s shelter and it’s decided that I’ll stay here until morning. While making an entry in the shelter’s logbook, too hikers emerge from the trail. A fellow by the name of John and his girlfriend (her name escaped me) from North Carolina have been heading north having started their trek in Georgia at the beginning of the AT. We greet each other, they inform me that they spotted a moose on the other side of the pond, and we go to separate campsites. By 17:00 the tent is set and I’m enjoying some more trail mix. The plan is to shoot the sunset by the water of the pond.
The sunset was astounding. The colors of orange and pink were of the most vibrant, with all the trees and mountains as a backdrop. John had visited me at my camp, platform #5, prior and told him of my plans if they were inclined to join. He did, but his partner had already fallen asleep. The conversation while watching the sky was pleasant. Telling of stories, why I was there, why they were through-hiking the Appalachian Trail. He tells me a couple stories of how a few injuries have set him back, having mentioned being blown off a trail mountain-side and after learning to do 40 miles in a day is not a good idea. Darkness takes hold and we return to our camps.
Six in the morning comes all too quickly. It will be a long day down through the valley then up and around to Mount Tom (4,052′), then Mount Field (4,327′), and finally Mount Wiley (4,255′). Around 08:15 a bubbling brook is found and decide to have breakfast here. I set out and roughly an hour later come out to a ridge, what a view. Though it looks like I missed the peak of the foliage by mere days. The wind blows something fierce around here. It was actually quite loud, however right now – things are calm, including me. Feels like the temperature is in the 50s, the warm sun feels so comfy. In the distance, roughly a mile away, Zealand Falls Hut can be seen.
Passing the Zealand Falls Hut, it’s noted that I have not encountered anyone since Ethan’s Pond. Mount Tom is reached just before 13:00, with a partial view from the summit just barely able to see over the treeline. Mountains as far as the eye can see, including Mount Washington. Cracked open a summit beer, “Wasted Life” from Bone Up Brewing in Everett, MA – the beer name being quite ironic of the present moment. Taken from my personal logbook, “Tom is a bitch getting up.” Not too difficult but makes you work for every step.
Along the way to Mount Field, I encounter the first humans of the day. The current location reminds of the Forest Moon of Endor, though I did not note in regards to how. There were no ewok sightings nor Imperial troops. Right after writing an entry noting Mount Tom, my camera battery died and I neglected to bring a secondary (what a rookie mistake). It figures as moments later I notice birds appearing very close to me. Reaching into my bag, I take some trail mix and hold out my hand. Seconds later, a grey jay, a bird known to eat just about anything, swoops down and lands on my hand to grab a piece. This repeated several times. Their beaks had to be an inch long, yet even when darting down to my hand, they are so very gentle and precise. Feeling them launch off my hand was the coolest part. The summit of Mount Field is reached at 14:20 and is more or less obstructed of a view with the pine trees too tall and too dense.
The last summit of the day, Mount Wiley. It’s 15:35 and there is no view from the cairn. Time to get out of the woods and go enjoy a beer. Setting out for my departure, I reach the vehicle at 17:30 and make my way South towards Boston.