I really hate it when things are left hanging in my life... Before now, there were miles coming off of Camel's Hump on the LT that were left undone. Taking part of my long weekend to tackle them seemed like the right thing to do. Originally, I was going to park my car and hike into Camel's Hump State Park for a NOBO approach but after driving it, I decided to take a SOBO approach. This seemed more logical anyway. I parked at the parking area after the Winooski Bridge and did a little overlap in miles. This lead me to a road walk for a piece and then down and through some beautiful farm land. I also thought this was a great way to warm up the legs after driving for 2.5 hours. It's 2.8 miles from the bridge to the parking area for the State Park's SOBO Long Trail approach. But because it is flat, it goes by rather quickly with 2 sections of road walking. Also on the farm land, there are 3 ladders over electric fences and one crossing that could be a ford in high water.
I seemed to be making good time once I got to the park trail. Following the SOBO LT, it's 2.9 to Bamforth Shelter. That is our plan to end for the day. Our first stop though which was about half way to the shelter was Duxbury Window. A nice clearing with a great bench for lunch. I had some tuna of course and Isis took a rest, water, and treats. So far the trail has been pretty quiet. Not a whole lot of people had Friday off I believe.
After Duxbury Window, you hike up some significantly steep sections. One in particular is full of roots which makes it a little easier but still tricky footing. With a full pack on, this is quite a work out. Thankfully the temps have dropped and it's not humid at all. Isis and I continue hiking over some pretty up and down trail in the woods with a few peaking views. It's not really a PUD area but so close... The shelter is .2 down a blue blazed trail... Not as bad as a .3 but still will add some mileage. We see that there are 2 double tent platforms pretty early on and then a single just before the privy. I will take that one for the night. After the snore fest at Mont Clair Glen that kept me up all night back in July, I think I will go back to tenting. PLUS it keeps Isis out of everyones business and she doesn't keep anyone but me up with her shaking and moving around. Also, I don't have to worry about her wandering off. We do rest at the shelter and I sign the log book. I had packed in some pineapple chunks I had frozen which were now mostly thawed now. BEST trail snack ever. We checked out the eating area since there is a ridiculous amount of bear activity at Camel's Hump. It's going to be quite a hike back and forth. So, I leave everything related to food there in the bear boxes which saves me from rigging up a bear bag. We then check out the water source which is again, a hike to get to it... It's almost just a trickle coming out of the pipe (another reminder that we need rain). I fill up for dinner and head back to set up the tent. Guy lines are your best friend when you have a non-free standing tent. It goes up easy though and I'm happy. Time for dinner which is burger with wild rice and Nuun for my water.
After settling in for the night and journaling, The chipmunks and squirrels began racing around and under the tent platform... This in turn really got Isis' attention. As the sun went down, I began closing up the flies for the night which kept some heat in but let enough air in too. I had started to have a really good sleep and there's no telling how long I was asleep before I heard something. IT was definitely bigger than a squirrel and I hope it was just a raccoon or even a fox... But It may have been something bigger. Thankful, it was just passing through as I was able to fall back to sleep without too much issue. First time I had been visited by something of "that size". Waking up at about 6am, I got moving and wanted to get on trail. We had a lot of miles to cover today if we wanted to head back to the car. 9.6 miles to be exact to go to the summit and back to my car at the bridge. These were hard miles with many steep pitches and quite a few more ladders. There were some nice stairs made of wood to go up and down too. The trail seemed to be a challenge before it even got challenging. It was also still very quiet but then again, it was early. We broke tree line after a few miles and the world opened up. It would be like this until the summit with a few ducks into the trees. Bamforth Ridge is the long approach to Camel's Hump so, give yourself time.
As Isis and I continued, we would run into a few more Thru Hikers as that seems to be the only crowd up this high this early. There are some tricky sections between the open vistas to note. A tight squeeze between rocks and once crevasse type formation that someone could get a leg stuck in. Isis and I had the most difficulty there as it takes a bit of precision to jump with a dog and a full pack. Thankfully she uses the 16' lead now. I just let her go. Still though we had to pause after to collect my breath and slow my heart. It's a far drop on one side and a tight squeeze on the other if your leg gets stuck.
I love a good challenge as much as the next hiker. But I will say that the urge to turn back was strong. From there it was 1.3 to the summit which is hard to believe since as you walk this ridge it look so far away. I really only needed to the old hut clearing but we pushed up anyway. It's a clear day and very quiet still so I take in the view and we quickly begin to head back down. It was a long hike back to the car for us and there seems to be ever decreasing day light. Not that I don't have a headlamp or anything... Just that after our hike back is the drive back for 2.5 hours. So, we back track over familiar tails and with each passing landmark, my confidence grows. Getting closer to the trail head we begin running into the holiday weekend hiker crowd. Everyone is super nice and the dogs are well behaved. Even Isis is not stressed. She had a decent staring contest with a Jindo on the trail too, while I talked to her owner. Nice for Isis not to react at all. Backtracking though the farm land was a little warmer than yesterday given that it's now afternoon but still easy (ish). My feet are starting to throb though but no sign of blistering. I feel oddly satisfied once we get back to the car and now eager for the remaining miles from Smuggler's Notch to Canada. 2017 will be a great year.
I feel like things for the Long Trail are now finished for this year. 55.6 new miles covered leaving about 64 miles for 2017... Not easy miles mind you so, I'll be conditioning throughout the year as well as gear upgrades. Chances are good that I will take to the cooler weather to hike to Canada in late August or September and it looks to be about a week long journey to remain. I could not be more happy with myself or with Isis. She and I have formed a very close team on the trails and I love watching her grow and develop as a hiking dog. We have our own style that works great for us and it seems with each hike she teaches me something new about her and about myself. We'll be back on the AT before long as we wait for the LT2017!