Laura Wodward Shelter to Hazen’s Notch Camp
September 28, 2007
LT Miles – 9.5
Total LT Miles – 18.2
Extra Miles – 0
I lie around and eat pop-tarts. The rain diminishes.
Hopes for the sun to come out prove futile, so it looks as though it’ll be a moody ascent up Jay Peak.
The summit is one and a half miles to the south – all uphill.
The path from the shelter dips gently around a turn, where I’m greeted with the image below. The trees seem to say, “Good morning, welcome to another lovely day in our woods.”
The final section of the climb is mostly up these ski trails. It’s a strange world, wondering what lies beyond the inside of this cloud.
I meet three men doing some construction work to prepare for the imminent ski season. I hear them long before I see them.
One looks at me like I’m out of my mind, the second looks at me with mild curiosity, and the third looks with a glint of camaraderie. I ask them to take my picture. The third steps forward for the task.
The path follows the crest of Jay Peak above treeline for about 50 yards, then descends sharply into stunted fir trees. Going down the wet rocks is tricky, slow work – having to anticipate every footstep and butt-slide. This goes on endlessly, it seems.
I finally reach a lower elevation among hardwoods, for the first time in nearly 24 hours.
My knees don’t appreciate the long way down.
This is Atlas Valley Shelter – a bit of a scrappy place that was not built by the GMC. It’s near the Vt. 242 road crossing at Jay Pass.
There’s a loop trail to Jay Camp nearby, which I forego to skip the purposeless extra mileage.
The trail on the south side of Jay Pass brightens almost immediately. I snack on some Snickers bars and peanut butter as fuel for the rolling terrain ahead, and make my way up the gradual Gilpin Mountain.
I’m loving hiking right now.
Upon inspection of the map, I discover the trail is leading me over three more peaks. First it was Gilpin Moutnain. Domey’s Dome, Buchanan Mountain, and Bruce Peak now block the way.
There are frequent, characteristically steep sections of trail.I take them as they come, and don’t particularly mind the terrain. The peaks consume the afternoon.
The upper elevations are still completely fogged in. Domey’s Dome is indeed an especially round, dome-shaped mountain. I wonder if it’s hollowed out, perhaps, and inhabited by a troll named Domey?
This is what switchbacks look like on The Long Trail. It winds back and forth like this throughout a particularly steep section.
Chet’s Lookout – absolutely no view from that rock today, but in a moment of brilliance I almost bust my butt trying to get up there anyway.
Bruce Peak fell from its limb.
It’s quite a drop from Bruce Peak, and another mile of small ups and downs before I reach Hazen’s Notch Camp – my destination for the evening.
I’m ready to call it a day after the recent, wearisome miles.
Here I meet Upload and Stitches, a middle-aged northbound couple from Michigan. They hiked the Appalachian Trail last year. He’s called Upload because he was always uploading to his online journal, and she’s called Stiches because she fell and had stitches on her forehead. We sit at the picnic table, prepare our dinners on our little hiker stoves, and shoot the breeze.
I’m grateful for the company – the last time I was in a similar setting – mingling about at a shelter with other hikers – was already five years ago.
The Professor rolls in just before dark – another northbound older gentleman. He’s a professor of “obscure and useless knowledge,” as he puts it, and used to work underwater on a submarine for weeks at a time.
Off to the side of the shelter there’s a picturesque fire ring, backed by a nearby mountain ridge – likely one I’ve just come down from.
The last half-hour before sunset finds us marveling at the brief appearance of sunlight shining on the ridge, but it’s gone in a moment. Raindrops fall on the metal roof of the shelter throughout the night.