Battell Shelter to Skyline Lodge
October 9, 2007
LT Miles – 14
Total LT Miles – 133.6
Extra Miles – 0
I’m awake at first light, but the air is so cold that I opt to stay in my sleeping bag. I reach for my water bottles – expecting them to be frozen – but they’re not. The temperature must be in the mid-thirties.
I begin the day’s hike bundled in several layers of clothing.
Most layers are shed by the time I reach Lincoln Gap. I cross the road and enter the Breadloaf Wilderness, meeting two female day hikers.
“Did you do the section between Lincoln Gap and Appalachian Gap?” one asks. “How was it?”
“Really? It’s supposed to be beautiful! They call it the Monroe Skyline.”
They also enlighten me that today is John Lennon’s birthday. Happy birthday, John.
At the top of the climb from Lincoln Gap I come to Sunset Ledge, with a wide view to the west. I have the place to myself for only a moment before a father and son show up. They ask me about other good hikes in the area.
I suggest they go back to the road, and north to Mount Abraham – pointing out the clearly visible peak.
The morning is overcast without much sun to light up the foliage.
The trail south of Sunset Ledge feels deserted.
The Breadloaf Wilderness has the character of a young, open forest laden with ferns, dotted with some aged trees.
I often hear Canadian Geese and scan the sky for their V-shaped migrations. This happens nearly every day.
I fashion them as my southbound brothers, traveling all the way to the tropics.
I also flush out grouse and turkeys in the brush quite regularly. Only a fluttering of wings in surprise, and they’re gone.
from Mount Grant
I meet a lone backpacker at Cooley Glen Shelter. He gives his name, a regular name… John, I think.
“I’m Duct Tape.”
“Duct Tape…” he replies, “You were on the AT in 2001?”
I look at him again, and a slow moment’s recognition pieces my memory together.
He’s an old acquaintance from the Appalachian Trail in 2001.
“So what have you been up to for the past six years?”
He’s been living in Austin, TX, and now Brooklyn, NYC. We go over old times on the Appalachian Trail. I remember when he turned 18 at the Trail Days Festival in Damascus, Virginia. I was 20 years old at the time.
Skipping to current events, we exchange experiences on the Long Trail in both directions. “They have a thermometer at Skyline Lodge,” he says, “It was 34 there this morning … Have you seen any moose? I saw one the other day…”
Soon it’s time to continue the day’s hiking. He’s going north – one of the last north-bounders of the season.
The day grows long.
The sky darkens.
Wind whips on Mount Roosevelt.
I think that’s Killington, appearing far to the south. I’ll be there in four days.
I meet two section hikers at the Emily Proctor Shelter – Quiet Walker and Darkblood.
Here I pause only briefly – a light rain has commenced, and Skyline Lodge is a mere two miles to the south.
Skyline Lodge is packed with at least 20 noisy high school kids on an organized trip. They’re quick to make room for me (Before I even ask, to their credit, and along the wall to boot), but there’s no hiding the fact that this is a much different shelter experience than I’ve grown accustomed to.
I clear a corner of the porch area to cook my dinner, where I hope not to be stepped on. One of the leaders offers me a huge pot of pesto pasta. Score. They’re nice people, just oblivious to group size regulations.
Besides, it’s not like I should expect 20 teens to hush up immediately at dark and go to sleep on account of a crazy lone hiker. They have flirting and gossip to attend to.