Section 1: Northern terminus, January 6 and 7, 2007
Saturday AM: raining, sometimes heavily, until late morning. Around 10 AM it had mostly let up, and I decided to head for the Rte. 119 trailhead. The drive is about 45 miles and took an hour. Managed to make no wrong turns, but even so there’s a lot of small towns and hick drivers.
Began hiking at almost exactly 11 AM heading south. It starts as a roadwalk, for about half a mile. Somewhere on the roadwalk I remembered that I’d forgotten my poles in the car. Decided not to go back for them.
The first mile of trail (after leaving the road) is through a heavily managed and “culled” forest. There were stacks of downed trees – three or four such – that seemed designed to impede progress along the trail. They were arranged perpendicular to the trail, and extended at least 100 feet in both directions away from it. There was no choice but to pick one’s way carefully over several four-foot high stacks of downed timber.
Otherwise the trail was pleasant and mellow and the weather quite agreeable also. Temperature was pushing 55-60 degrees F most of the day, though it was mostly overcast. I wore heavy fleece bottoms + nylon shorts + light polypro top + synthetic tee shirt. Plus the Quecha boots ($15 Decathlon closeout.) Wore the new lightweight hat and thin liner gloves.
The trail went over several small rises, none more than, say, three or four hundred feet, with pretty decent grading for the most part. It’s blazed with yellow triangles. Sometimes painted on trees, sometimes these plastic thingies nailed to trees. Sometimes yellow rectangular blazes. There would be any number of wonderful camping opportunities along this trail… lots of flat ground, nice pine-needle flooring. Yummy for camping. Even some water here and there.
At one point I reached a sort of theater made of logs. Some sort of formal gathering place. Then, down the hill and a bit further along, the trail came to a camp at the edge of Winnikeag Lake. OK, that explains the “theater” in the woods. Turns out to be a Christian girls’ summer camp.
At that point (after checking out the lake-edge for a few moments) I proceeded to get lost, doing probably about 1.5 miles (.75 mile each way) of unnecessary road walk. Eventually I figured it out… the next section takes you over another hump, maybe 500 feet or so, with a nice view of Stoge Meadow Pond below and to the north-east. Nice overview where I took a break; the sky was clear at that time.
From there, mostly a straightforward downhill to Rte. 12. More “managed” woods, some minor trail-losing episodes. It was dusk by the time I reached Rte. 12. At Rte. 12, the trail goes uphill again, maybe another 400-500 climb, to a wide ridge. It’s getting darker. I’m feeling rain. Donned the rain jacket and seattle sombrero. It’s getting darker. That shelter should be here by now… lots of places to camp. Occasionally, civilization (eg. houses and back yards) encroached on the trail. Somewhere around 4:45, when darkness was nearly complete and I was about to make camp… the shelter appeared. It’s set about 100 feet back from the western edge of Muddy Pond, which is not muddy and more like a small (say, 15 acre) lake. The rain had stopped, but the wind was rippin’.
I set up the Tarptent in a flash, a couple dozen yards from the shelter. Made myself a dinner and tea on the alcohol stove, sitting in the shelter. Got the job done, but it took too much alcohol. Cleaned up, got all the gear into the tent; left food bag on its string in the shelter and platy bag in a corner of the shelter. Read for a while by headlamp, then called it a night. The tent set up quickly and held up very nicely in the wind, and it’s amazingly roomy. I like it. Sleep was so-so. It really was a long night – from, say 8 PM to about 7 AM the next morning. My body doesn’t need 11 hours sleep. The new bag kept me warm. I slept in the polypro base layer and socks that I’d hiked in. (So my “spare” base layer was never used.)
Sunday AM: Up at around 7:15, made a decent breakfast (oatmeal, plus hot chocolate) and headed back up the trail at around 8:20. Sunny, clear, and a bit colder this morning. Nice photos of the lake and shelter. 40 degrees in the tent when I awoke, 35 degrees outside. By the time I was hiking, it was about 40-45 degree outside and stayed that way most of the AM. No wrong turns on the return trip. Made it back to the car by 12:40. (Distance 6.7 miles in 4 hrs. 20 minutes.) Some (minor) back pain and several stops to deal with burning toes in my left foot – just like the previous days’ hike.
At the car, I dumped most of the contents of the pack and left only the stuff I’d normally use for a day-hike. By 1:00 PM I was headed up Mt. Watatic. At 1:45 I was at the summit. Very pretty, but not quite as I remembered it from the hike with Merry, Alan, and Gail.
Apparently (my theory at least) I’d made the mistake of taking the Wapac Trail up and over the mountain, instead of the mid-state. Apparently the two have identical blazes. Whatever. The map showed the mid-state going up, over, and back down Watatic, and that’s what my trail did also. The problem was that I never found the granite monument marking the northern end of the Mid-state trail. Minor bummer.
This was a bit frustrating, as daylight was limited. I’d left the car on this part the hike at 1 PM; with 3.5 hours of daylight left. Splitting the time difference said that I had to get to the turnaround (ie., the granite monument) by 2:45, but 2:45 had come and gone, with no monument. Whatever.
What I did find was a young couple (names Nome and Dan) carrying, between them, a load of thin flagstones in a heavy canvas beach bag. We chatted for a bit. They were headed back to their car – a half mile away – with the bag of flagstones. Offered me a ride back to the trailhead. I accepted and helped a bit by carrying a couple of the stones in my (nearly) empty backpack.
And that’s how the hike ended. A pleasant, easy stroll back to their car, a ten minute drive back to the Rte 119 trailhead, and then the drive home. They seemed like nice young folks, had spent time in New Zealand and spoke enthusiastically about their hikes and adventures there.
Basic Gear Kit – tot 23 lbs with food and water
Vapor trails pack
MH Phantom 45 bag
Thermarest Prolite 3 short
Katadyn Hiker H20 filter
TinMan stove, Ti (1.3L) pot, 6 oz. Alcohol
2 qt. Platy bag, 20 oz soda bottle (H20 carrying…)
Petzl Tikka headlamp
2.5 lbs food
3.5 lbs clothing
1.5 lbs misc (white stuff sack – toiletries, small items)
2.5 qts. water.
No poles for most of trip (forgot them in car.)
Used poles for Sunday PM hiking (up & over Watatic)
Section 2: Muddy Pond Shelter (Whitmanville) to Goodnow Road (Princeton) April 21-22, 2007
I’d planned to do a longer section, but a five-millimeter kidney stone had me in the Lahey emergency room for a good chunk of the day on Friday. Beautiful weather all weekend, maybe even a bit hot. This after a very wintry early-April, with snow, sleet and cold rain, right up until a day or two prior to the hike.
So instead I left the house around 3:30 PM on Saturday, armed with my new Nimbus Ozone pack and a vial of Oxycodone tablets, prescribed by the ER doc. Took the Rte. 31 exit off Rte. 2, and from there wound through a few miles of rural-residential roads to Whitmanville, which is really just a road junction more than a town. The trailhead is a quarter mile up Bragg Hill Road. Left the pack and hiking boots there. Then, back down through the same streets once more, heading south. Below Rte. 2, I took Mile Hill Road, which goes by the Wachusset Ski Area base lodge and several Wachusset trailheads, to Princeton MA. A short drive West on Rte 62, then Goodnow Road, almost to the end, where there’s a parking lot for an Audubon nature/wildlife sanctuary.
Now, retraced the path to the Bragg hill trailhead by bike, which took a bit over an hour. (It’s about a 13 mile ride.) There were some steep climbs (on the bike ride) getting over Mile Hill Road. I got to the trailhead at about 6:45, which gave me 45 minutes to hike the 1.6 miles to the shelter before sunset. And 45 minutes is exactly how long it took. The trail was fairly flat, though it was boggy in places. A few patches of ice still, here and there.
The shelter was empty. Some person or party had left a large stash of firewood. I made dinner of Liptons noodles and salmon-in-foil. It was almost too much food; I had to force myself to finish it all. I had a cup of tea before and after dinner. The firewood looked inviting. Amazingly, I made a one-match fire, using just one sheet of paper from my notebook, and it burned nicely for an hour or more before I let it die out.
Slept like a log, wearing flannel bottoms, cotton tee, and flannel top. But when I awoke, around 6:15 AM, I was cold and in some pain from the kidney stone. I cut an old Percocet tablet in half, hoping that would deal with the pain. It didn’t so, fifteen minutes later I downed one of the Oxycodone tablets from the new prescription. That did it. Then I donned thermal top and bottom, and the sil-nylon rain jacket, to start the hike, a few minutes after 7 AM.
Forty minutes later I was back at the trailhead. I left some garbage at the bike (some cleanup at the site, left by previous visitors) and stashed the silnylon jacket. Now for some road walking, heading south toward Rte 2. The yellow blazes let me down, but I found them again by hanging a left on Bartherick Road. From there, it’s ½ mile or so to Rte. 2A, and then another half mile to a bridge over Rte. 2. Met another hiker coming north where the trail crosses 2A, but we didn’t chat… just said Hi and that was all. Somewhere on the stretch just north of Rte. 2, I stopped to remove the base layer and change into shorts and tee shirt (and bandanna on my head.) It was feeling like summer.
From Rte. 2 the trail soon follows a nice rushing stream for a ways, crosses a road, heads uphill, and then trucks through Leominster State Forest for several miles. This was surprisingly difficult – rocky and hilly, with one or two very steep climbs, and even a couple of nice views. There were a lot of folks out and about. While taking a break at one particularly nice vista, a gaggle of technical climbers showed up, apparently interested in the cliffs just below me. I was content to soak up the view and watch the hawks circle overhead.
At one point in that stretch I stopped to apply sunblock and immediately felt a whole lot better. I didn’t check the thermometer, but I’d guess the temperature was at least 75 degrees. It’s early season so the trees haven’t leafed out yet. Shade is scarce. Lots of day-hikers and families in the State Forest. Even ran into a group camping – two tents, campfire, coolers, the whole bit. (surprising because I’d heard that camping was not permitted in this park.)
The yellow blazes let me down again right where the trail crosses a road, in sight of (and just a couple hundred yards from) the base lodge of Wachusset ski area. It just wasn’t at all clear how one was to get up the mountain. So, I slabbed along the mountain for a ways, and then just followed a ski slope to the top, under the main chairlift. There were lots of people out and about on the mountain. The slopes were still partly covered with mushy snow and ice. I alternated between walking on mushy snow and the margins of the slope where the snow had melted. Both were tricky footing at times. I wished I hadn’t left my sunglasses behind…
I reached the top of the chairlift at about 2:30 in the afternoon. I was kinda beat, and had been dealing with some pain while hiking through the morning. The drugs were helping with the pain but doing nothing for my energy level. Since I’d summited Wachusset several times already (in fall of last year) I decided to shorten the hike a bit by taking the Semuhenna Trail directly southbound. I had a short break and a snack and called Merry from a picnic table. Very civilized.
From there, Semuhenna Trail to Harrington Trail, to Dickens Creek Trail back to the Audubon sanctuary and my car. All very mellow walking, and had me at the car a few minutes after 5 PM.
All that was left was to drive back to Whitmanville, retrieve the bike (and sneakers and helmet) and drive home.
The Falcon Guide puts the day’s hiking at 13.5 miles, but the “Official” (spiral-bound) Mid-State trail book puts it at 18 miles. Huge disparity! Hard to guess by “effort” alone, because this hike was a bit singular – first of the season, and under the influence of prescription pain medications. Not to mention the pain from that damned kidney stone, which remains as I write this. That saga continues…
Gear: Nimbus Ozone pack. Wolverine boots (much better than the Quechas.) Leki Poles. Pocket Rocket, Evernew Ti pot. I had the Tarptent but didn’t use it. Had the Phantom 45 down bag, it served well (it was 45 degrees outside when I awoke.) Katadyn Hiker filter. A Gatorade bottle for water. The platy was carried but I never used it; it was about ¼ full for the whole hike. The total pack weight was in the low-20 range, complete with food and water. I measured the canister before and after; I’d used 0.8 oz of fuel between dinner and breakfast. OTOH, it’s six cups of water boiled, so I should have expected no less than 0.6 oz fuel consumption. And I did let the Liptions simmer (on low flame) for a few minutes.
Section 3: May 5-6: Rutland State Park to Goodnow Road, May 5-6, 2007
Left the house around 11 AM. Took Rte. 2 west to Rte. 190, then 190 south to Exit 5, then managed to get lost and caught in heavy traffic (Worcester suburbs) for the next 45 minutes or so. I finally found a trailhead near Rutland State Park and left the pack and hiking boots there, by the intersection of the Mid-State trail and some bike path, a few hundred feet in from the trailhead parking lot.
Proceeded by car up Rte. 122 northwest toward Barre, then east on Rte 62 toward Goodnow Road, driving slowly and noting mileages of waypoints for possible shortcuts for the bike ride. Total mileage by car between the two trailheads was about 20 miles, and I was hoping to find a shorter route for the bike ride. By 2 PM or so I was heading back toward Rutland State Park by bike. Where 62 crosses Route 68, I headed south on 68, then took Intervale Road southwest. It was a pleasant bike ride though I’d forgotten to bring water. I started with part of a bottle of lemonade I’d picked up on the drive down. On the bike ride, I picked up a bottle of ginger ale at a store by the corner of Intervale Rd. and Rte 68. I ended up riding about 17 miles and took about an hour and a half.
Finally got to hiking around 4 PM. Weather was quite nice. A bit cool, mostly sunny but with scattered puffy clouds. Maybe 60 degrees.
The trail began routinely enough, well marked, but then crossed a dirt/gravel road and the blazes just vanished. I followed a path on the far side of the road but still, no blazes. I was reluctant to leave the yellow blaze at this point. Backtracked (back across the road) and found the blazes. The Mid-State had peeled off to the left without my noticing, a few dozen yards before the road crossing. My bad.
The trail then followed that road through the woods, past many swamps and marshes. Very pleasant, level walking. Well-blazed. After a couple of hours or so it took me to this huge stone dike, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I stopped there for a photo and a short break. Another hour or so, through woods now, took me to the Barre Dam. On the north side of the dam, there’s a campsite (for car-camping, or so it appears) but it was quite empty and felt forlorn. I found a site a bit out of the way with a picnic table and had dinner of ramen soup, tea, and a few bites of cheese. By the time I’d eaten and cleaned up, it was about 7:30. There was still some light left, so I continued walking for another hour or so until the daylight was quite gone. Found a spot to pitch the tent, just a few feet off the trail. Set up the tent, called Merry, and hit the hay around 9 PM. I had some annoying dream that kept waking me up, but I managed to get some rest. There were times when I felt hot and sticky in my flannel top and bottom. Not the best night’s sleep I’ve had, but it got the job done.
Woke at 6 AM, checked my thermometer, it was 40 degrees. Donned base layer and shorts and flannel shirt. Broke camp and on the trail by 6:45. Some hiker came by, southbound, just as I was taking the tent down. Easy walking. Slightly boggy trail in places, but no big deal. It was quite cool – even chilly at times – during the morning’s walk. A touch of warmth when the sun popped out here and there, but mostly cloudly with a cool breeze. I was happy to have hat and gloves. At times I was tempted to break out the wind (rain) jacket also.
After hitting Rte 56, the trail is a roadwalk for the next several miles, running south of and parallel to Rte. 62. It’s a partly paved road, with homes on either side (some nice ones, in fact) but there’s a stretch where it becomes just a rutted ATV trail over a “pass” through the woods. Back on the other (east) side it once again becomes a proper residential street, and eventually leads back across Rte. 62, just a mile or so from my hike’s end. Stopped a few minutes later – at about 9:30 – and called Merry from within the Audubon sanctuary. She didn’t answer, so I left a message on the machine. A half hour later I was back at the car.
Now back to Rutland State Park to pick up the bike (about a half-hour drive) and then home by way of Rtes. 56, 68, and 2, through Hubbardston and a couple other towns I’d never been in or heard of before. It took bit over an hour, including a stop at Bedford Farms for a quart of ice cream.
The Falcon guide says this hike was 14 miles. I probably did about half of it yesterday, and the other half this morning. Very little vertical (probably less than 300 feet) on either day. Lots of pleasant road walking. Between the two days, probably eight hours walking, tops.
Gear was essentially the same as for the Wachusset section. The pack weighed 21 lbs total, including a 24 oz Gatorade bottle full of lemonade, Platy bag with maybe a pint of water, and all the food. I carried a total of maybe 2 lbs food but ate very little. Last night’s dinner was Ramen and a bit of cheese. Other than that, just some nibbling here and there. I need to rethink the idea of sleeping in flannel. It wasn’t as comfortable this time around, for some reason.
Section 4: Rte. 20 to Rutland State Park, June 16-17, 2007
Left home Saturday around 9:30 PM. Took Mass Pike west, missed Auburn exit, so went on to I-84 exit, and backtracked along Rte. 20 looking for the trailhead. It took a bit of searching, but eventually I found it. Left the pack in the woods, up the trail a couple hundred yards, and then began the drive to Rutland State Park (Rte. 122.) Back west on Rte. 20, then north mostly on Rte. 31, with the last 3 or 4 miles on Pleasantdale Road. It was about noon when I began the bike ride back toward the Rte. 20 trailhead. Bike ride was about 20 miles, and went surprisingly quickly. Fairly straightforward, not too many hills. It was sunny and warm, and the one thing I was missing was sunblock for my arms and legs. Arrived back at the starting trailhead around 2 PM. Did the switcheroo and began hiking at 2:15.
Blazing was awfully haphazard on this section of trail, and I did an awful lot of backtracking, looking for blazes and turns I might have missed, pretty much from the get-go. The trail would alternate rapidly between roads and woods. Within 30 minutes of setting out, I’d managed to lose the trail, but not too concerned as I was pretty sure I was heading in the right direction and would cross it again soon. Which I did. Within an hour’s walking, just after the trail crosses over the Mass Pike, I stopped for a break on the lawn of some old historic schoolhouse. A mom, on foot, and her two young kids on bikes came by. For the rest of the day, it was mostly the same; trail rapidly alternating between roads and woods.
By mid or late afternoon the skies turned gray and I started hearing thunder, growing steadily lounder. I didn’t mind at all. The clouds kept the temperature down. I had an umbrella with me. The rain began around five or six PM, and right around that time I had one of my more aggravating “trail-losing” situations, which probably cost me a half hour or more in lost time. At one point, after losing the trail, I re-found it but ended up walking in the wrong direction. Sigh. The umbrella kept my head and upper body dry in the rain, but of course the Vasque Breeze boots did nothing to keep my feet dry. Far more aggravating were the mosquitos, which were numerous, persistent, and fierce.
It being mid-June, sunset wasn’t till well after 8 PM. Some time around then I began scouting in earnest for a campsite, and eventually settled on one, on a portion of trail that was posted as being Audubon property. This section was particularly rocky and boggy, but it had water, so I was able to restock for dinner. A mellow evening in camp. No fire of course, but the bugs were tolerable. Pitched the tarptent with the vestibule flap open. Slept well.
Sunday AM. Woke at six, on the trail by seven. Sunny and cool, but the woods are still wet from yesterday’s rain. The trail is varied, like yesterday. Within 45 minutes of starting out, I crossed Rte. 9. It was sunny and clear. I quickly lost and then re-found the trail on the north side of Rte. 9. Many short roadwalks and road crossings. Crossed over a tall earthen dam with a small lake/reservoir on the right (east side.) A guy fishing. His two dogs ran up to the trail to check me out. On the north end of the dam, a short uphill road walk and then through high meadows with chest-high grass. It appeared that some person or party had been through recently; otherwise there’d have been no sign of the trail at all. There certainly had been no recent effort to clear or maintain the path.
At one point the trail popped out of the woods and then proceeded along the edges of lawns in some new housing development before re-entering woods on the other side. The trail through Spencer State forest was mostly a wide path, apparently used by ATVs. The walking would have been perfect if not for the mosquitoes. Stopped to reapply DEET several times. Took a short break at the shelter on Buck Hill. Many local paths and trails merging in and out of the Mid-State trail, so it took some attention (and a bit of backtracking) to stay on the Mid-State.
Trail pops out of woods at Rte. 31 and heads west, and downhill, on Browning Pond Lane. Of course I lost the trail again; it seems it ducks back into the woods and runs parallel to the lane, but I missed that turnoff and re-met the trail at Browning Pond proper… all the while worrying about where the trail had gone to. Took a nice long break sittin’ on a rock by the shore of Browning Pond. There were folks out fishing, from the shore near me, and from boats. Still quite sunny, but clouds were moving in from the northwest.
Leaving that idyllic spot, the trail turns back into the woods west of the pond, climbing moderately uphill. I felt some rain and put on my rain jacket. Took it back off again about ten minutes later. It just wasn’t wet enough to justify the additional perspiration that it caused. It’s quite light, but not at all breathable. Eventually reached the crest of that hill at “Sampson’s Pebble,” a huge glacial boulder that’s covered with graffiti and appears to be a hangout for local high-schoolers. Lots of broken glass and old fire rings. Downhill for forty minutes or so, then another short break along the shore of Long Pond, until the rain picked up. A couple of guys in a boat, fishing, just off shore.
From there, a short jaunt out to Rte. 122, Rutland State Park, where the Subaru was parked, at about 3 PM. According to the Falcon guide, I’d walked 25.6 miles from the Rte. 20 trailhead starting at 2:15 the day before.
From there, the usual routine; back to other trailhead by car, mostly following Rte. 31. Picked up the bike and biking gear, stashed it all in the car, and headed back home, stopping once along the Mass Pike for a vanilla shake and large fries.
The final surprise of the weekend occurred at home as I was emptying the car. It seems my sneakers, which had been left under the bike, had become home to a colony of ants. This I discovered as I removed the bike gloves and socks from the sneakers. There was a sudden explosion of ants, followed by a mad dash for the vacuum cleaner. It took another fifteen minutes to scoop up the little bastards, and of course I’m sure I missed a few.
My arms and legs were covered with scratches and welts from mosquito bites and possibly a touch of poison ivy. As I write this (Saturday, 6/23) most of that damage appears to have healed over.
There were actually three shelters on this trail section, and I walked past all three on the second day of the hike. The first wasn’t expected and had no name that I could tell. It was next to a small pond. A rather high ceiling. Nice setting, but an unappealing structure. Buck Hill (the one I stopped at, for a break) was nondescript, both for setting and structure. The last one was in the woods a mile or two south of Rutland State park. A that point in my hike I was moving fast with the sole intent of reaching the end… so I didn’t stop to check it out.
Section 5: July 7, 2007: Rte. 20 to Southern Terminus (more or less)
Merry was away visiting her parents at Edmeston. I had everything set and ready to go before bedtime on Friday night. I was up at 5:30 AM, out of the house at 6 AM. Drove straight to the Rte. 20 trailhead (off of Carroll Hill Road, in Charlton) and dropped the pack, poles, and hiking boots in the woods next to the trail. From there, south and east by car to the town of Webster, MA, where I stopped at Friendly’s for a quick breakfast and to use the rest room. Then, Rte. 16 east a few miles, and back roads to SW Main Street, which runs through Douglas State Forest, where I eventually located the trailhead for the Mid-State and parked.
It was actually rather cool and hazy as I began the bike ride back toward Charlton, at about 8:30. The ride went quickly, took maybe 1.5 hours (about 18 miles) and the hike southward from Charlton commenced at 10:15. As it turns out, it was mostly along roads, at least until late afternoon – the final push through Douglass State Forest. Weather was mostly sunny, not too hot. When I stopped for lunch at Oxford, it was 78 degrees with a light breeze blowing that took the edge off the intense sun. There was maybe a mile or so of very pleasant woods walking early on, then some walking along a “pipeline” – one of those power-line clear-cuts… generally not so pleasant, and devilishly tricky with regard to trail markings.
I had expected the trail to pass by some dams and/or lakes (possible swimming) but no dice. It did come within view of a few small lakes, ponds and marshes, but completely avoided the Buffomville Dam/Lake and Hodges Village stuff. Too bad. At Oxford I stopped for lunch under a tree on a grassy lawn, then continued on for several more miles of road-walking with short interruptions of gravel paths and woods between roads. Heading east (and south) from Oxford, the walking was generally uphill, “peaking” in the woods at the top of Whittier Hill (no views.) On descending that hill, the trail pops out into a scenic country lane between farm fields and heads downhill steeply toward Sutton Street. Gunshots sounded from a gun club shooting-range nearby. (Numerous signs for “Singletary Rod and Gun Club” warning hikers not to stray from the trail.) Mr. Farmer was out doing stuff in his cornfields on a tractor. I took a short break sitting on a low stone wall in front of his house.
A short while later, around 2:30 or so I crossed Sutton St., and then a half hour later came to a delightful farm and farm store where I purchased and quickly consumed a lemonade and a Popsicle. Another half hour after that I finally entered the woods proper (Douglass State Forest) which was mellow and pleasant, except for the mosquitoes and midges, which had been blissfully absent on the road walking up to that point. Another layer of DEET kept them more or less at bay, though I was inspired to move quickly.
At 5:45 I crossed Rte. 16; according to the Falcon Guide, I’d walked 19.6 miles at that point (not counting the short stretch north of Rte. 20.) It took another 45 minutes or so to walk the final two miles to the car on SW Main Street.
Looking at the “Official” Mid-State guide, I see now that there are another three miles from there to the Rhode Island state line. As it was, I felt pleased to have done the entire planned hike in a bit over eight hours, and pleased that I would not be camping, but spending the night at home with Merry. It had been a fine day but I was in need of a shower. Maybe I’ll do those last three miles as a short day hike some time.
Except for one item, it was “the usual” gear-list, which I won’t recite because almost none of it got used. Since I didn’t camp or cook, I could have done today’s hike with a five-pound day pack. The one new item was my Platypus “Hoser” hydration system, which (so far) seems to work nicely. Just a few things to be wary of, like keeping the bite valve “high” and in clear sight and off the ground. It’s handy to be able to drink without stopping to remove the pack. The bag holds three quarts. I probably filled it with about 2.5 quarts before the hike. I’m guessing there was about ½ quart left in the bag at the end. That had been supplemented (during the day) by two purchased drinks – one at a pizza place in Oxford, and the lemonade at the farm stand later in the day. I was also carrying a pint bottle of water (a plastic soda bottle) in a side pocket of the pack, which I never touched, except once to rinse off the bite valve of the “Hoser” after I’d let it drop into the dirt.