July 17: Day 14. Sucker Brook Shelter to Emily Proctor Shelter, 11.6 miles


DF: We climbed six mountains today. We also went through another ski area–the Middlebury College Snow Bowl. The mountain tops were, as usual, narrow ridgelines with lots of conifers, rocks, and moss. Lots of steep climbs and steep descents. It’s beginning to be routine.

Near the top of the first mountain, Worth Mountain, we encountered a pileated woodpecker defending its nest. It flew around us, squawking loudly as we walked through the area. Several other hikers reported being strafed and almost hit in the head. We also saw large piles of bear scat (and the usual moose scat) up there, but no new large mammal sightings so far.

We’ve had some gorgeous views today, including our first view of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. We took a side trail to Skyline Lodge overlooking Skylight Pond. The pond was full of yellow bullhead lilies, plus a few loud bullfrogs and a mama duck (Black Duck?) with one duckling.

Our shelter companions tonight are two older men, one out for an overnight and the other on a southbound section. We didn’t find the tenting area–apparently it’s some distance further up the trail northbound. The weather looked threatening this afternoon, and we even had a few stray showers, but it looks like it’s going to be a clear night.

BC: Lots of climbs again today, but it seems to be getting easier. We took a lot of side trails to views, and one to Skyline Lodge and Skylight Pond, easily one of the prettiest spots on the trail so far. Crossing Middlebury mountain there was a pileated woodpecker defending a nest – it didn’t attack us, luckily, but other hikers were not so fortunate. Steep climb out of Middlebury gap, of course. Met Spark Plug heading south, then Bill and Gappy in the shelter. Both of them are twenty years older than we are – I am impressed and amazed, and hope I can still be hiking in twenty years.