DF: We got a late start today, since we waited for breakfast at the Inn. It was frustrating to wait, since we were up early, hungry, and anxious to get on the trail. Breakfast was good, though–coffee, blueberry pancakes, bacon, and maple syrup.
When we arrived at the inn last night, we found Ultimate, Eleven, and Brad staying across the hall from us. Brad was kind enough to give us a ride to the trail this morning.
We were on the trail by 9:15, with a long day ahead of us. It began with a quick climb up Baby Stark and Molly Stark Mountains. We stopped for a great view at Molly Stark’s Balcony and met up with two hikers (Steady and her friend) whom we leapfrogged the rest of the day. Steady seems to be a full time long distance hiker–she just got back from hiking the Scottish National Trail.
We stopped in at Birch Glen Camp, then made good time to Huntington Gap. That section of trail was the easiest we’ve seen on this hike–great surface, gentle grade, pretty woods. Things got a bit more typical–roots, rocks, etc.–on the way to Cowles Cove Shelter where we stopped for lunch.
And then the fun really began. All the way up Burnt Rock Mountain we had hands and feet scrambles. The top of the mountain was bare rock, sloping steeply away to nothing. The traverse to the next peak was a scramble, too. At one point we climbed down an aluminum ladder into a ravine. It really was a lot of fun, but it was also really difficult. Fortunately, once we started the climb to Mt. Ira Allen the trail returned to normal. We climbed over Ira and Ethan Allen, then down to the shelter.
It’s an enclosed lodge, our first one on this trip. The tent platforms are full with a summer camp group. We’re sharing the shelter with Steady and friend, a mom and daughter on a SOBO section, and a kid named Joe from eastern Tennessee out for four days.
BC: Stiff climb up Baby Stark and Molly Stark mountains to “balcony” view, then an incredible rock scramble over Burnt Rock Mountain and climbs of Ira and Ethan Allen mountains. The shelter is enclosed, with two sleeping platforms. We made the mistake of choosing the upper bunk, so I hit my head on a roof beam every time I rolled over.