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Codding Hollow & Laraway Mountain

  • Start: Roundtop Shelter
  • End: Spruce Ledge Camp
  • Approx Miles: 15.1

It’s nice to actually meet and hang out with everyone in the shelter this morning after our hectic encounter last night. I apologize for waking them all up. Everyone’s very friendly, there are five SOBOs (including an odd but interesting and friendly woman named Worm) and an older couple out for an overnight.

I tell my subway story when they ask my trail name, one of the older couple used to live in New York so we talk about that for a while. Worm mentions her re-supply plan is that she drove along the trail and cached bear cans full of food along the way before starting. Interesting strategy, haven’t heard of anyone doing that before.

The water situation here is neat. There’s a little pump, with instructions for how to prime it, haven’t seen that before. FarOut is full of comments claiming the pump is broken, others claiming those people are idiots and you just need to prime it, and still others complaining that someone left the priming jug empty1.

I’m enjoying myself and kind of want to stay, but I know I have a long-ish day ahead of me (15 miles to Spruce Camp) so I leave around 8am while everyone else is still packing up.

The water pump
Yet another reminder of the trip's impending end

It’s a pretty chill day of hiking overall. Some steep ups and downs, but all easy, well-maintained trail through deciduous lowland forest.

The trail passes through a section of private land being used for maple sap production. There’s a huge network of blue tubes for collecting maple sap that connects all the maple trees in the forest together. It goes on for a long time and feels crazy to walk through, it’s like I’m in some sort of sci-fi landscape. I even have to duck under the tubes where they cross over the trail at some points! I can’t imagine how much work it must be to set this up, keep track of how everything’s connected, and repair it when it breaks.

The trail goes on through more beautiful woods.

I hit the slopes of Laraway Mountain, the biggest climb of the day, and make it up to the lookout near the peak.

There’s a couple of older guys already sitting up there, one with a fierce looking dog who turns out to just be kind of lazy and friendly. Stoner types taking a smoke break, I can’t remember their trail names. They met thru-hiking the AT last near and are now good friends. Cute! We sit and chat for a while while I eat my lunch. They’re going SOBO, following the fall foliage down. I bid them farewell and press on north past the wooded summit of Laraway.

The day remains sunny, warm, and beautiful. I do a lot of contemplating about the rapidly approaching end of my journey as I hike. What it all means, how I’ll feel when I get back, what I’ll do. Being sad that it’s ending. Thinking “maybe I’ll do a triple crown trail next year!” But also really really appreciating every moment of being out in these perfect woods in the perfect weather. I’m literally singing2 as I walk for joy at how beautiful it is.

I eventually make it Spruce Ledge Camp a little after 5pm. The back half of the day was full of crossing over random nothing-mountains marked only by signs on their wooded summits. Today has been full of signs marking unremarkable spots. Codding Hollow, Laraway Mountain, Butternut Mountain, Bowen Mountain…

I head over to the shelter and who should I find there but Stiltz, Mooch, and Hang Ten! I’m surprised to see them, I was sure they’d have passed me for good after Route 15. Apparently they’re taking it slow for the last few days to delay the end of the trip. I can certainly understand that.

I’m happy to see them, but sort of conflicted as I do still feel like ending the trip solo. We catch up while having a smoke on this ledge with a great view of Belvidere Pond and Mt. Belvidere (which we’ll climb tomorrow). They had a great time and some misadventures in Johnson camping out back of a restaurant called Moog’s Joint. It sounded really fun, with live music, friendly staff. Everyone at Johnson Hardware was really helpful and gave them all hitches every which way. Makes we wish I’d gone into Johnson instead!

The view from the ledge looks out on this unsightly white pile of crud, which Mooch informs me is the remnants of an old asbestos mine. Yuck.

There’s an older couple staying with us in the shelter tonight, Jeff and Karen I think were their names. They live in nearby North Troy and do a lot of volunteer work helping maintain the northern section of the trail. I feel kind of bad, they’re perfectly friendly but I get the sense they wanted a quiet, chill overnight to themselves but had to put up with a bunch of hiker hooligans instead. Ah well.

I saw something in a logbook today that’s stuck with me ever since:

I don’t know who Faceplant was, but I couldn’t agree more:

Life is a gift.
Waste it wisely.
Hiking is a good start

  1. It works just fine for me. ↩︎

  2. Summertime by Skrillex & Kid Cudi ↩︎