DF: Another fourteen mile day. Once we knew we were stopping at Hazen’s yesterday, we began to make plans. The Jay Peak ski resort has a new restaurant at the top of the mountain. We’d met the food and beverage manager (Chris) at the Hyde Away in Waitsfield, and he’d told us how great it was. The forecast was for more rain, so we called to make sure they’d be open, even in bad weather. We were assured they’d be open rain or shine, so we started looking forward to lunch at the top. Three NOBO guys rolled into the shelter after 6 PM–they’d also called Jay and were excited about sandwiches and maybe even beer at the top.
We were off by 6:45, and we had a few hours before it started raining. I started to say we had dry hiking, but that really wasn’t true. The trail is so overgrown in many places that I was soaking wet from fighting my way through it all. The rain started around 10 AM, and it hasn’t stopped yet.
We were on top of our third peak of the morning (Domeys Dome) when it started raining. We had one more climb, a drop down to the road, and then the assault on Jay Peak–a steep climb to almost 4000 feet and a beautiful alpine summit with views into Canada, New Hampshire, etc.
So. The peak was totally socked in with fog. No views. And, much worse, the restaurant was closed. The guys had passed us just before the summit, so all five of us crowded into a tiny vestibule to try to stay warm and eat some lunch. Remember that it was below sixty degrees, with a strong wind, pouring rain, and we were all completely soaked. Dripping. Wet. And angry and disappointed. We’d been there for a little while when we saw the gondola moving, and soon a bunch of kids from the resort summer camp arrived with a couple of counselors. They let us inside to use the restroom and fill up water bottles. We were also able to dump our trash (it’s the little things that make hikers happy).
We headed out into the rain and a really strong, cold wind to begin our descent. It was very slow going–steep, rocky, and very slick, with torrents of water running down the trail in places. We arrived at our intended destination, Laura Woodward Camp at around 2 PM. We expected a four-sided building, with a door (that’s what a Long Trail “camp” is), but it was an old, small, sad-looking three-sided shelter. Even though we were cold and wet and eager to get out of the rain, we really didn’t like the idea of spending the rest of the afternoon there. The next shelter, Shooting Star, was only 4.3 miles further, so we pressed on, figuring we’d be that much closer to done in the morning.
So here we are. Still raining at 7:30 PM, and getting colder. We changed into dry clothes, made hot tea and noodles, and we’ll be fine for the night. One of the guys from last night (Emmett) is here–the others called for rides at Jay Peak and made a run for the border to finish tonight. There’s also a guy just starting his SOBO hike.
Short hiking day tomorrow. Looking forward to reaching Journey’s End, then getting into town for hot showers and a real bed.
BC: Another long day for the northern Long Trail. The problem with hiking all day in the rain is that once you stop, you immediately need to change into dry clothing to avoid getting cold and possibly hypothermic. So when we got to Laura Woodward camp so early in the afternoon, it seemed very reasonable to continue hiking. It wasn’t until we were well past the shelter that I realized that decision put us on track for a 14 mile day. But we made it, got to Shooting Star by dinner time, put on dry clothing and made some hot drinks and food. All’s well that ends well.