7 October 2014
BEAVER POND LEAN-TO TO STEPHEN’S POND LEAN-TO (19.5 miles)
Our fourth morning began by recrossing the precarious bridge between Cedar Lakes and Beaver Pond.
This area had a beaver dam until hurrican Irene came through in 2011. Three years later, the water levels still appeared strangely low and the banks were sharply exposed.WIthin the first mile of our day, we came to the old Cedar Lakes Dam. The dam is no longer functioning. It offers clear evidence of the area’s logging history, but I would prefer to have it removed, so that the lakes could be reconnected. It is a shame that there is no funding or motivation to do so.
We took only a few breaks- one to fill our water bottles, and other to eat lunch and snacks. I particularly enjoyed the water refill break, as G did all of the work and I got to just relax.
Coming along this bridge, we had to pause to admire the craftsmanship. G, who is a professional land steward was impressed by a lot of the bridges that we crossed on the NPT, but this one was probably his favorite due to the impressive cut that he was pointing to in the photo. Almost all of the trailwork in the Adirondacks is done by volunteers, but it is clear that whoever made this bridge had experience.
We arrived at the Wakely Dam late in the afternoon. The campground was open, but almost deserted. G went off to use the exceptionally nice handicapped-assessible privy (he claimed it was the best privy that he had every seen) while I set my self up for a Serious Break at one of the picnic tables. We had already come 13.4 miles, and my feet were sore and swollen. The pinky toes on both feet were developing ugly blisters, so I took the time to tape them and two other hot spots with athletic tape. (I have found that layers of athletic tape, left in place for days, works better than anything else for about-to-be-blistered skin.)
When we finished our Serious Break, I decided to tie my boots to my pack, and walked the half mile through the campground in my crocs. G has been carrying his boots since his achilles began to bother him on day two. After he switched to walking in his minimalist sneakers, the pain in his heel subsided, but was still a distraction for him. He wrapped my bandana around his ankle, which seemed to help, but he swore off every hiking in heavy boots again. I, however, replaced my boots on my feet before we reentered the woods at the edge of the campground.
Until 2009, the next six miles of trail followed paved and dirt roads through public and private property. Five years ago, a new route was opened that avoided the roads and the private property. This new section of trail turned out to be remarkabley challenging for us. Because the trail is relatively new, it is not well trampled down yet. Most of it was cut into a slope, but it was not benched, and we walked on an uncomfortable slant. The forest in this area has several logging roads running through it, many of which had become wet compacted ditches. When the route was not crossing the side of a hill, it was following these mushy avenues.
Besides the difficulties, this section of trail was memorable for one fascinating site- For over a mile, the ground was covered with sugar maple seedlings. Thousands and thousands of seedlings. Sugar maples do not produce seeds every year, but are known to have “mast years” when all of the trees within a stand will rain down thousands of their samaras. How do all of the trees in the neighborhood know that the time is right to reproduce? A mystery!
We did not arrive at Stephen’s Pond Lean-to until after dark, of course. Thankfully, it was unoccupied. Tired and sore, we made a simple dinner from one of my dehdrated meals and climbed into our sleeping bags against one side of the lean-to. Not a full moment after we had turned out our head lamp, scratching noises started coming from the other side of the shelter.
“What is that?” G asked. “Do you think that it is a racoon trying to get the bear canisters outside?”
“It’s a mouse,” I assured him. A few seconds later, he was deeply asleep, but I was still awake when the small animal crawled quickly onto my head. “G,” I whispered urgently, “there’s a mouse on my head.”
Waking with a start, he scurried out of his bag quicker than the mouse and was up on all fours. “What? Where is it?”
“He’s gone,” I said. “It was just a mouse.”
“Geeze, what a way to wake a person up! ‘There’s a mouse on my head!'”
“Well, there was. Good thing that I had my wool hat on.”
G was soon back asleep, but I spent the night listening to the mouse scratch and squeek its way around our packs.
67.0 total miles