Spruce Ledge Camp to Roundtop Shelter
September 30, 2007
LT Miles – 14.7
Total LT Miles – 47.4
Extra Miles – 0
My morning view – this is Devil’s Perch Outlook – only a few steps from Spruce Ledge Camp. It looks to the north, with Ritterbush Pond in the foreground, and Belvidere Mountain in the background – where I stood on the fire tower yesterday.
I’m slow to rise and pack this morning. Most of the weekenders leave the shelter area before me.
I take my time, fill up with untreated water from the spring, and hope for the best. I can’t help but drink the floating bits of dirt and leaves. They crunch in my teeth.
Spruce Ledge Camp
In contrast to yesterday, the path feels deserted on this Sunday morning. All the weekend hikers must have turned back north to the nearest road.
The first six miles consists of a relatively flat walk along a ridge… something I’m completely unaccustomed to on this trail. It’s a breezy, peaceful, sun-splattered morning, and an excellent autumn hike.
Today is my twenty-seventh birthday.
I meet Slacker, a spunky lady that’s slack-packing this section (True to her trail name). Slack-packing is when a backpacker on an extended trip leaves their heavy backpack in town, and day-hikes from road to road.
She has a glint in her eye that tells me she’s thoroughly enjoying the morning’s walk.
I stop for a break at a random spot in the forest, and pull out a card my mother gave me to open on my birthday. It’s a Hallmark card with a small speaker inside that plays a snippet of “The Italian Symphony.” I find it to be fitting music for being in the woods.
The occasional thick, sprawling trees whisper about how they were spared years ago when this land was logged – perhaps for homesteads, grazing… I’ll never know.
The trail descends to Corliss Camp.
At Corliss Camp I come upon three young men sitting side by side on a bench, facing the fire ring with their backs toward me, eating lunch. They sit close to one another, laugh, and joke – causing me to miss the camaraderie of my old Appalachian Trail friends. They have a group trail name – The Professionals – and have hiked northbound from Massachusetts.
I stop and have lunch too. We discuss the comings and goings of the trail – hikers we’ve seen, the conditions of shelters, good water sources, and so on. I ask about the services in the next town to the south, Johnson, where I’m going to resupply tomorrow. This trio recommends the local bar for drinks.
A weekend hiker arrives. Since I’m without a means of water treatment, he tells a relevant anecdote from his hike on The Arizona Trail.
“This one day I was awfully dehydrated,” he says, “And chugged this terrible looking water from a cache. So about a week later I’m hiking along, and I remember feeling so worn out that I decided to get in my sleeping bag and rest. I crapped my pants in my sleep!”
Ah, Giardia, every backpacker’s favorite water-borne illness.
I sip my untreated water, and crunch on a little dirt.
The path steeply ascends from Corliss Camp, and leads up Laraway Mountain. The trail distinctly reminds me of the Appalachian Trail in Maine and New Hampshire on this beautiful day.
I suddenly step out on a stony vista.
I have the location all to myself for only for a moment before a man, his son, and his son’s fiancé appear. The older gentleman shows up before the younger ones – he’s a former Long Trail end-to-ender.
We listen as the area plays host to a whole flock of unruly, noisy ravens.
I descend along the base of some impressive cliffs. Water drips on me from above, a result of all the recent rain.
At the base of Laraway mountain there’s a place called Codding Hollow. It is home to an aged, rusted automobile, a hushed forest where the trees resemble matchsticks, and an old stone wall. All of this lends to a mysterious, haunting twilight aura.
Just look at that conspicuous white rock.
Maybe there was a Vermont prison inmate who served a life sentence for killing his wife. He wasn’t guilty, just an innocent accountant. In jail he met a “guy who can get you things.” This would be a good place for him to hide buried treasure after he escapes, don’t you think?
I should start digging. After all, it is my birthday.
I cross Plot Road, and enter a peaceful meadow with a wide view to the sky.
Now I make double time in the gathering dark, one more mile uphill to Roundtop Shelter.
Directly behind the vacant shelter lies this view to the west. I cook a solitary dinner by the light of my headlamp, read over the register, and go to sleep.