Long Trail – Day 21
July 4, 2016
Corliss Camp to Hazen’s Notch Camp
I was up a little past 5:30 this morning and hiking by 6:15. Magic Mike was planning on only going to Tillotson Camp, and I had to push to Hazen’s Notch. For the first few hours I hiked alone. After 1.2 hours I summited Butternut Mountain. At the summit I sat down for breakfast and reflected. The wind was cool as the sun broke through the canopy of green. I was going to miss this when it was all over. Even though it has only been 3 weeks, the woods had become my home, the shelters my refuge. With only two days left, that realization began to sink in.
I kept hiking, over a brook and Bowen Mt. with a relatively easy grade. I kept passing southbound hikers. They were gruff and unfriendly. I was somewhat surprised. I said hello to one guy in a broad brimmed hat and he looked at me. When I said hello again, he grunted.
I decided to hike up the mountain at Spruce Ledge Camp. I’m glad I did, because I was greeted by Slim, Woody, and Rosie. I met Slim and Woody the day before and they were very affable. Rosie was their hound dog, hiking the trail as well. We sat around and talked for a while. Apparently, Magic Mike made a great call by not pressing on last night. They told me that they had the worst nights sleep yet and the shelter was full. All the gruff guys I met that morning stayed at Spruce Ledge the night before. They were 2-3 days into their hike and were very green. They laughed heartily at the grunter that I met on the trail. Even though it had been 65 last night, he had gotten in his sleeping bag, then wrapped himself in a 4-season bivy in the shelter. Every time that he rolled or moved it made a sound akin to a bag of potato chips being opened.
After resting, I hiked to Devil’s Gulch, a rock strewn alleyway between two cliffs, before summiting Belvidere Mountain. I stopped at the summit and fire tower to soak in the view. Slim, Woody and Rosie came up after a while and for the rest of the day we hiked together.
It was hot, and the humidity was high. The trail was pretty bone dry, but at least I had the others company. I was somewhat worried that Hazen’s Notch Camp would be full of people, and my last night on the trail would be anticlimactic. Around 7:15 I made it in, and the only other person in camp was Hangman, a Nobo I had met yesterday. We were so happy that we had a place to sleep. Soon we all made dinner, shared our excess food and made a fire. At the fire pit near the camp was a perfect sunset shot of Jay Peak. We sat, talked, laughed, listened to music, and told stories of the trail.
I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect last night.
Total mileage is 21.1 miles.