Day 149 – August 3 – 14.5 miles – Garfield Ridge Campsite to Ethan Pond Campsite
Elevation Change: 7162
The morning began with a steep descent down to the Galehead Hut.
During the descent we had several beautiful views into the valley below.
When we got to the Galehead Hut, we could smell freshly made food. We quickly went inside to see if we could eat any of the leftovers.
When the huts made breakfast for their customers they would usually have a little left over. Anything that was deemed garbage at the hut had to be carried out by the employees. So when thru hikers showed up and ate the leftovers, it worked out for everyone.
When we went inside, the leftovers were set out on a table with a sign that said,”Free thru Hiker breakfast!” Sitting next to the sign was a pile of chocolate chip pancakes and some oatmeal. Awesome!
The Tramily ate second breakfast and then Zeus and Flashfire headed out. Stoat and I stayed and talked to Re-wire and Outlaw, who had just walked in, for a while.
When we went back outside with full bellies, we were able to appreciate the views around the hut.
After leaving the hut, the trail became very steep.
Gaining 1002 feet in 0.8 miles, I think it was the steepest section of trail yet.
The views at the top of South Twin mountain made it all worth it. From our vantage point we could see the Fanconia Ridge on one side, and the Presidential Range on the other.
We knew that after South Twin Mountain, the trail would bring us to Mt. Guyot, 2.3 miles away. What we didn’t know, was that the 2.3 mile trek would be on an exposed ridgeline. There were great views in every direction.
After leaving Mt. Guyot, the trail led back into tree cover. We came to a side trail that led to Zealand Mountain. We knew that there wasn’t a view but we decided to check it out anyway.
From the summit, we were able to see three mountains. However, the three mountains happened to be on a hand carved sign.
Shortly after leaving Zealand mountain, Stoat and I saw a few logs on the side of the trail and decided it was a good place for a lunch break.
When we were almost done, two Gray Jays flew into the trees on either side of us. They turned their heads when they looked at us as if to say,” Watcha got there? I think you want to share some a that. It would be a shame if somebody, ah… I don’t know, pecked your knee caps. Just sayin.”
Feeding the wildlife is against the rules of the park, but there’s nothing wrong with pretending to feed the wildlife. I put my arm out to see what would happen. After only a few seconds, one of the birds landed on my arm. It walked over to my closed hand, looked at it for a second, and then tried to get the “food” out of it. It stayed on my arm until I reacted slightly to a pinch from its beak. Luckily, Stoat already had his phone out and was able to take a few pictures.
It was a pretty magical moment.
After lunch, the trail began a long descent. About 1.5 miles later we came to a side trail for the Zeacliff cliffs. By this time, the overcast skies had grown a little darker. It looked like rain was on its way, but we were suckers for side trails. Especially ones that were supposed to have great views. We took the side trail.
When we got to the cliffs, we had a gorgeous view into the valley below. However, rain was definitely on the way.
From where we were standing, I could see that there was a way to get to the very edge of the cliff. I had to check it out.
As I made my way down I saw something that made me realize we couldn’t stay there.
From the cliffs, we made our way quickly down the 1 mile section of the AT that brought us to the next hut. Along the way, we passed an all female trail maintenance crew working on the trail. As most of the trail maintenance crews we had passed in the last 149 days were comprised of mostly older men, this was a little surprising. Not a bad thing, just different.
When we were almost to the hut, we crossed a weakly running stream. We didn’t think to much of it.
When we got to the Zealand Falls hut, Zeus and Flashfire were hanging out on the front porch. As we went over to say hello, the skies open up. We had made it there just in time.
The front porch quickly became crowded. From what we were told, the hut was one of the easier ones to get to. So, it was popular with families with young children. The hut was filled to the max with their guests and the porch was filled with everyone else. We got along with each other just fine and had several nice conversations.
When the rain let up, it was time to get going. Before leaving we checked out the source of the rushing water that hadn’t been there when we arrived.
The Falls of Zealand Falls had returned.
The trail leaving the hut was mostly flat and the scenery was beautiful. The area felt very different from the last couple days.
When we left the hut, Zeus and I were out front. After a while Zeus turned to my and said,”Where’s Flashfire?” I didn’t know, and I also hadn’t seen Stoat in a while. Thinking something might be wrong, we turned around and backtracked until we found them.
When we found them we discover the root of the problem.
The side of the trail was lined with blueberry bushes. Stoat and Flashfire couldn’t stop eating them.
After about 2 miles, the trail turned and left the valley we were in. We were now following a stream that went through a different valley. This area was a lot more swampy than before. There were long sections of the trail that involved walking on planks.
Along the way, we found a spot where we could stealth camp. Flashfire was concerned about the rain that was in the forecast and wanted to go to the campground that had a shelter.
When the Tramily left that spot, Zeus and Flashfire got ahead of Stoat and I. When we got to the campground, Zeus was on his way back. He mentioned that the shelter was full and he was going back to tell Flashfire the news. That was the last we heard from them for the night.
The campground did have room for hammock campers so we wound up staying there. It was another pay site, but it was too late in the day to find another stealth site.
The name of the campsite is Ethan pond campsite. Named after the pond is was located near. After dinner, Stoat went down to the lake to see the sunset. I was already in my hammock when he got up to go. I was too comfortable to get up again. I missed out. The sunset turned out to be a good one.