Where’s my Stuff?

After first leaving Kid Gore Shelter, the trail made a tough 500 foot climb and I’m moving slowly. The trail surface however had improved, getting smoother and once the climb was over I was able to make some good time. Nearing the base of Stratton Mountain, I met a thru-hiker, Sunshine, and we walked into some great trail magic. Roy was helping his wife, Jersey Girl hike the AT, but also providing trail magic for other hikers as well. He’d set up in a parking lot with a stove and was making sausage and egg sandwiches. Also on the menu were OJ, milk, doughnuts and Kit Kat bars. Very nice guy. Looks like time for a second breakfast.

I don’t typically provide unsolicited trail advice, but I did tell Sunshine she might want to set her pace to match Jersey Girl. That way she might not have to pack near as much food if she could keep running into Roy.

The climb up Stratton Mountain was steep to start, then leveled out giving the false hope that you had topped out. Then got steep again. On the way, had a nice chat with Jersey Girl. The fire tower on top provided clear views, but the wind was howling. Could see the resort where my resupply was. Though standing underneath a Cell tower, I could not make a connection. After getting part way down a ski run, was able to get through and they said to just keep walking. Had my first fall of the trip on the slick grass of a black diamond slope. Made it to the resort by 3:30.

View from the top of Stratton Mountain, where the idea of the Appalachian Trail was first conceived

View from the top of Stratton Mountain, where the idea of the Appalachian Trail was first conceived

Got a very nice room for $84 but the desk staff could not find my food package. Per the Post Office tracking number, it had been delivered three days before, but was nowhere to be found. They sent out an email throughout the resort and also suggested I call the Post Office in the morning in case they somehow took it back.

In a worst case scenario, there is a convenience store on the property where I can resupply in the morning and the ski patrol stated they would haul me back up the mountain to continue my journey. Being able to do laundry and a shower make a heck of a difference, though my feet were sore from all the rock walking. Being the off season, the resort somewhat deserted, but one bar was open and it was $2 taco night. Started with two, got two more, then three more, then a salad for dessert. Being warm, clean, full stomach and a couple cold beers just makes the world a better place.

In the morning, the Post Office said they had indeed delivered the package, and mentioned this wasn’t the first time the resort had lost a box. Checked with several personnel and they were unable to find it. With no better option, I dropped $72 at the convenience store. Will see how good microwave mac n cheese is when there’s no microwave.

My ride back up Stratton Mountain

My ride back up Stratton Mountain

Once the new quickie mart resupply was packed up I met with Charlie of the ski patrol and he hauled me back up the mountain on an ATV. Charlie was a very nice guy, asked about my stay. Told him everything was great except of course the package issue. Got back to LT at 11 AM. A late start to be sure, but there was a lot of downhill and I was making good time. Went one 3.6 mile stretch in an hour. The plan was to make it to Bromley Mountain.  There were some great spots to camp near Stratton Pond, but I forced myself to press on.

Stratton Pond. The largest body of water on the trail.

Stratton Pond. The largest body of water on the trail.

The trail was a bit mucky in spots, though work had been done to alleviate that issue.

Work to keep a low spot from getting too muddy.

Work to keep a low spot from getting too muddy.

By 6 PM I’d finished 16 miles and strolled into Bromley Shelter. It wasn’t completely full, but wooden tent pads were also available. With nice weather, took the last one of four pads.

Tent platform on Bromley Mountain

Tent platform on Bromley Mountain

While setting up I checked my phone and noticed a voicemail from Stratton stating they had my resupply package ready to be picked up. It had been at the ski patrol the whole time. As I wasn’t about to walk 16 miles the wrong way, asked them to just mark it return to sender and give to Post Office. Dinner was microwave Mac n Cheese. Just added hot water and treated it like a freeze-dried dinner. That was a mistake. Ate some hard macaroni swimming in cheese drink. Next time I’ll cook it for a while.

The water supply was a small spring about a quarter mile downhill from the shelter. There I once again ran into with Beth from Connecticut. (I had lent her a water bottle back at Kid Gore Shelter (Night 2) so she could filter water.) Since then, she had been given another bottle by another hiker. Her hike was ending the next day, but was thrilled with the experience.  “I love it that the trail is so social. Even though I’m hiking alone, I never felt like I was ever really alone.”

Had been feeling pretty good about my time that day until I got in the tent and my bedtime reading was the book about Jennifer Pharr Davis’s record setting hike of the AT. Over the entire trail she averaged close to the pace of my best downhill mile. Temperature dropped to 45 degrees overnight. The fifty degree bag and liner seems to be enough. It’s a good thing as the extra clothes in my resupply box were not going to be helpful.