Friday, June 21, 2019
Start: Ausable hiker parking lot
End: Wedge Brook campsite
Elevation gain: 1766′
Around 3:30pm, I headed to the Mountaineer to rent a ADK-approved bear canister. I picked one up and headed down the road to the Ausable hiker parking lot. It was probably 80% full, though based on the people I saw walking past me, the majority of them were day hikers.
For this weekend, I have a lot of elevation gain planned, so I attempted to pack as light as I could, basing my assumptions on my hike two weeks ago. However, this hike is a different hike and the season has continued to change, bringing more bugs now than two weeks ago. I may have miscalculated; this campsite is surrounded by flowing water and swampy areas on all 4 sides and is buggy as hell. This was a bad time to opt for my quick fly setup that doesn’t include mosquito netting… I suppose the pound I saved on my back will be extracted from me via blood and annoyance. I’m currently cooking dinner while pacing around the campsite, wearing my rain jacket and mosquito headnet. It’s the only reprieve I can obtain. For the first time ever, I regret not having leggings. I can only hope the sun going down will drive them away, or this is going to be a very long night.
The first 3 miles or so of today were road walking through the Ausable Club. I imagine its heyday was back before air conditioning existed, when rich people would escape the cities and head to the cool mountains to vacation for the summer. Dozens of family cabins, with wide open green fields for entertainment – golf, lawn bowling, tennis, a “ladies loop” [walking trail]… Unsurprisingly, I only saw white people in attendance at this club on my walk through. As I passed by, I reflected on my blue collar, working class upbringing. Even just walking through, I’m so very aware that I have no idea how to interact in these settings – I don’t know the rules. I was glad to follow the road past the gate and into the forest.
I followed the road until the intersection with the trail leading to Beaver Meadow Falls. It was a little side trip, with some doubling back on the opposite side of the East branch of the Ausable River, but it was worth it. The sight was spectacular, and as I walked along the river, I saw the river take a series of falls through a narrow section of gorge. The roar of the water was magnificent and humbling, reminding me of the power of water. A drop of water by itself is nothing, but when it is one of millions, all gathered together, they can become an awesome force that cuts through rock, forming chasms and canyons, and reshaping mountains and the world as we know it.
I arrived at the campsite quite quickly today, with just under 2 hours of walking, getting here just around 6pm. I set up my shelter, treated 2 liters of water, made dinner while pacing, ate a walking dinner, and then changed clothes, brushed teeth, and set up the bear canister for the night. I’ll say, sleeping under a tarp makes me much more aware of bears and potential smellables. I know it’s all psychological because a zippered up tent isn’t going to stop a bear, but all the same, I feel much closer to nature, in all the itchy and uncomfortable ways.
Here’s to hoping I get some decent sleep tonight. It’s 8:30pm and the sun is going down; and the density of bugs has been slowly declining over the past hour, so we shall see. I’m planning on being up around 5am, since that’s when the sun will start waking up. Nighty night!