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2019-09-23 at 16:42 #7492Udar GromovKeymaster
Day three summary: from Jacobs South Branch river camp to Trapper John shelter – 10 miles of hiking. High point – Mount Smarts – 3,238′
08:33 late wake up and first pictures of the camp and hammock
09:44 start a hike and start a climb onto Smarts Mtn from the river at 1500′ to about 3200′ in 2 hours with an average speed 2 mph.
10:06 unknown road crossing the trail – not on the map
11:36 reach the ¼ mile Mtn protection area
11:47 I am at the fire warden’s cabin. There are 2 additional trails going left and right from the top. Be careful to pick the right one. One hiker from Britain was checking soccer scores (there is a signal here at the top) and started to descent on the same trial as he came from. That was a costly mistake of 2.1 miles. Trail called Clarks Pond Loop and it will rejoin AT in 17 miles near next shelter – Moose Mtn Shelter.
Cabin has several windows, one bench, one kitchen-high counter, but you would expect to sleep on the floor. There is a nice round the fire-pit area outside, but there is no fireplace inside the cabin.
Few hundred yards down the side trail there is a puddle of water called Mike Murphy Spring, but I decided not to use it – not very attractive and almost stagnant.
13:06 start exploring around the fire tower. There is no view from the ground, but there a great 360 view from the tower.
13:38 start descending and almost immediately encountered another deviation – Smarts Ranger Trail – also not on the map. AT goes briskly down on a stony foundation.
14:15 multiple clearings and views begin to pop up. From one of these you can see the Smarts Mtn that looks unbelievably far, despite only half-a-hour descent.
15:00 reach the bottom of the trail – Lyme Dorchester Road – near Dartmouth Skyway. Here I met 18-year old Tommy who was waiting for return of his party from the mountain by their track. I donated a sheet of paper and a pen so that he can scribble a note, attach it to a windshield and hitch a ride home with locals. Of course there are no signal at the bottom here.
15:38 resume hike parallel to the road, but away from the road.
15:43 encounter a cement pole indicating miles remaining to the end of AT to the North and South. 1730 vs. 412. However this is most likely not an exact number as AT is getting constantly shifted around and rerouted, so more realistic figure would be 425 miles to the North.
16:20 a bliss of a trail by the artificial pond and a meadow and tall wild flowers and open fields.
16:23 AT crosses at intersection of Grafton Turnpike and Dorchester Rd. You can see a large parking lot along the road 100 yards away from intersection. Now, there is final 0.8 mile climb to the shelter remains.
16:48 – I reached an appendix (0.3 side trail) to the shelter.
16:56 – I am at the Trapper John shelter. There is a large stone stove here indicating former burned down hut? May be. There are already a large group of Dartmouth students here, but they will stay in one skeleton of a tent, so shelter is available. My British companion that made a wrong turn at Smarts Mtn, arrives several minutes later. He is South-bound and planning to do the entire AT from July to December.
This shelter is not far from human habitat so people would visit with their dogs and kids.
Water is good here. Just a few steps down there is lazy brook with clean water. Shelter can probably accommodate 6, but only 4 of us eventually settle in for the night, but North-bounders continue to arrive even after dark. These through hiker started in Georgia in May and will finish in Maine in October.
No one has energy to start a fire, but we engulfed into a conversation about Boris Jonson replacing Teresa May and the need to get a visa if your plan stay in US over 90 days. Many interesting parallels between US and British realities. Picking Verizon as the best provider for wilderness. Foreign credit cards can’t be used to replenish the monthly plan as you required to enter ZIP code at one point of the process.
My meal would be fantastic Mushroom risotto that I cook much longer that instructions required – otherwise rice will remain raw and will travel seamlessly along the digestive track. It is a bit chilly, but not cold. My bedding on the wooden shelter floor will be covered with tarp. This is an extra layer, extra warmth and extra protection from dew condensation. I already jumped on the last map-page of the trip – page 2 and tomorrow it will be 8 miles of hiking and 35 miles of biking to the car. Let’s hope for a good night sleep.
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