I didn’t wake until it was quite light out this morning. And it’s hard to get moving when the world and all your gear are wet. So it was 9am before I started hiking.
The trail was kind of meandery, up and down through the forest. It started out by coming by a lot of lakes. Later, it would come close to lakes, but not close enough that you could see them from the trail. In general, there were no views or any interesting sites for the latter half of the day.
Finally, as the sun had disappeared, I started climbing the last steep mile up Maiden Peak. The temperature dropped rapidly as soon as I had to switch to headlamp light, and the climb was so strenuous it seemed to last forever.
At the turn off for Maiden Peak Shelter, I saw the telltale pole-dragging grooves showing the others had come this way.
Indeed, Owl, Phoenix, Firefly, Grommet, and two “locals” were already there and the fire was going strong in the stove. The two I hadn’t met were Red Bunyan (the ax man responsible for splitting the wood) and his partner Kathryn (or some variation of that name). They were just up for the night. He was in the middle of a chess lesson with Owl, while she was playing a game of Phase 10 with the other ladies. Owl and Phoenix had arrived some two hours before and everyone was pretty settled in, having already taken all the space in the loft. So I took over a bench near the door and started cooking.
By the time I had cooked and eaten and hung up my tent to dry and laid out my mattress and sleeping bag, the games in progress were over. Also, though the cabin had a copy of the co-op edition of Codenames, no one seemed interested in playing. Indeed, the early to rise crowd were quite sleepy.
But that didn’t include the weekenders. Red threw a Jiffy Pop on the stove, and I ended my night eating sweet popcorn and taking a shot of whiskey by the fire. What trail magic! And then I dashed outside into the freezing wind to get in one last urination. There was no bucket inside or connected privy or anything like that, so anyone who had to go that night had to freeze.
I moved my bed down to the stone shelf directly next to the stove and the weekenders’ pallets. The stone floor stole a lot of heat, so my mattress never really warmed up that night. Also, the front door opened inward and had no catch on it, so the wind would push it open and blow directly across me every time it gusted. So, within minutes, I was up and leaning a large piece of firewood against the door to hold it shut. I still got a good cold blast every time someone got up to pee that night. I’d say the area around me was in the mid-20s in spite of the stove we kept fed all night.
But I did manage to get some sleep anyway. I could stay warm in my zero degree bag as long as I didn’t toss and turn too much.
Total distance: 22 miles