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Cloudland Rd to Thistle Hill Shelter/Joe Ranger Rd. Appalachian Trail Pomfret VT.

My pack was packed for a night on the AT. I even managed to get my zero degree bag in it without tipping the scale. I was hoping to cover miles from Stoney Brook Rd to Wintturi Shelter... Closing a gap and staying the night at The Look Out. BUT, my access point on Stoney Brook Rd was not to be found. It went all the way down from a paved road to a snowmobile/ATV track... Not interested in trying to find a crossing in unfamiliar territory, I went to plan B on another access road. Not going to happen... Same story. This was not my morning. So, I headed to Pomfret VT and Cloudland Rd. I'd hike a few miles towards Hanover NH instead and maybe stay at Thistle Hill Shelter. 

After battling road construction and Leaf Peepers, I made it to Cloudland Rd crossing and after talking to the people at Cloudland Market, I found a pull off to park in. It's small. Barely room for 2 cars... As I am getting ready, another car shows up and the lot is full... We are going in opposite directions (Thankfully, they were leaf peepers). I am heading North as far as Joe Ranger Rd. The trail goes through a field here that you are asked to walk the Perimeter. We stop and talk with a SoBo Flip Flopper and as we reach the woods, I hear some thing BIG coming. I still Isis in hopes that what ever it is, comes out to the field... No such luck, what ever it was, it followed the corridor along the rock wall. Into the woods we go and it's a cool morning. The green tunnel is now a mix of yellows and reds. It's a pretty straight forward trail... Not much variation in elevation and easy to follow. Isis and I make it to Thistle Hill in no time at all. It's not even Noon. The shelter itself is down a .1 side trail. 

Thistle Hill is a great shelter. Really clean and has a fire pit. The highlight is the Privy... Talk about a view. It's completely open with mesh screens and thankfully the lower half is wood panel. You can see the critters approaching, this would probably be welcome at night. Isis and I sat for a bit and made a plan. Unfortunately, it was too early to stop and sit around... Least I catch hypothermia from being sedentary, even after a change of cloths. Plus, I wanted to keep moving. The next shelter is a little too far away to hike to and hike back tomorrow. So, I settled for another mile and a half to Joe Ranger Rd. This would give me another access point, for another time. This section as some steeper downs which give me a work out on the way back. The forest is beautiful here and I've only run into one other Thru Hiker. 

On the hike back to the car, Isis took to zooming past me and waiting for me to catch up. She was in her glory with the cooler weather and she was showing off. I dropped my pack at the car and we continued to head south back to Dupris Hill. This was a vista we turned at during a previous hike. It's only .5 miles from the crossing to the top so, I closed that gap as well. I've hiked most of the LT in Vermont so, this is making me want to hike all of the AT as well and that means going back to fill in gaps. All in all, this trip was not what I truly wanted it to be... Some time on the AT and some shelter time. BUT it was significantly better than if I had just gone home.. I salvaged what I could and still managed some miles and some smiles. 

This little girl... She's my best trail partner (Ever) and as I have said so many times before, She is my heart. She gets treated as if she was human and is completely bonded to me and me only. She is the bright spot in a very dark time in my life and I'm pretty sure I'd be in a totally different mindset without her here or I would have stopped hiking a long time ago, were it not for her. So, when someone makes threats against her and I, I tighten up the ranks. BUT, this does not mean I will stop living my life. Let me make one thing clear... I raise my dog as I see fit and no one is going to threaten me to do it differently. She has the best life any dog could ask for and has seen a lot more than many dogs her age. It doesn't matter if she's on leash or off, reactive to strangers and strange dogs... Or not. We both deserve to be on trail and that's not going to change... We still put one foot and one paw in front of the other and have a fantastic time. 

This weekend was confusing and I like to believe that everything happens for a reason... Perhaps the shelter was going to be crowded at The Look Out and I would not have had the best experience with Isis. Regardless, I've got one weekend left before I need to take some time to get ready for my annual trip to my cabin in Pittsburgh NH... Maybe we'll try again for The Look Out. The research resumes tonight. 

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