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  • Long Trip Day 4:

    I woke up to a bright and dripping morning. Actually, I was woken up. Well, I was half- awake, anyway, denying the light penetrating my eyelids, all comfortable and warm in my sleeping bag and knowing, dreading that soon we’d have to get up and face the day. Several minutes later everyone could hear Steph and Maisey’s voices raised in a chorus of “Goooooood Mooooooorning!” We all groaned. “Get up! Get up! Get up!” And eventually we got up, sluggishly. Giant Shelter, in which we had slept, was not giant. It was actually pretty small. But what was not small was the mountain we were about to climb. They had warned us that Giant Mountain was not our longest hike, but pretty damn hard. If it was anything like Hurricane Mountain then I knew I was going to have a rough day. After a hurried breakfast of bagels (We have a lot of those on the trail) we set out to tackle the obstacle. I had no idea what to expect. We crossed a swamp and then the trail started going up. They were right- the trail up Giant Mountain was steep and rocky, but enjoyable. After three days my pack had lost weight (funny how that works) and it was fun finding ways up the slippery slabs of rock. It was wet, and Ruby skinned her knee, but it was an adventure. I plodded higher and higher, weaving, clambering, crawling; and chatted with my talking buddy Davis about what it was like where we lived and freaky YouTube videos. I also learned that mountains can be deceiving; after a while I’d see light through the trees, I’d see a patch of sky, the trail would get real steep, and I was sure that the peak was just over the next rise. But the next rise would come and there’d just be more trail in front of us. So it was quite a while before we broke out of the trees on to the bare peak of Giant Mountain.
  • Well, not exactly bare- there were shrubs, small pines and about 8 other people. We settled down to snack on GORP (again) and admired the view, while more people kept coming up the other side. I guess a big mountain with a good view qualifies as a tourist attraction. Afterwards Davis and I explored the rocks, for they beckoned with discovery, finding nice nitches at the bases of jutting cliffs carved by the wind, and even a mossy clearing beneath a protruding rock cliff shielded from the wind by a row of pine trees. We joked that this moss pile looked like a couch and that rock like a bathtub. But soon we were called up; the troop was moving on. We were on a tight schedule- we had to meet FS (Field Specialist) Tim at the base of the mountain. Tim would drive us to our new campsite (I know its wimpy, but even the counselors know that walking that far would kill us) and help us during our climbing expedition the next day (The trip was called ADK hike and climb after all). So we stepped off the bare rocky peak, one moment hair billowing in the wind, the next engulfed in the muffled forest. We were going down now, and it was tough. Going down there were still many of the obstacles there were going up, but it’s harder to control your momentum with a heavy pack when you’re trying to slide down a slab of rock. My knees were starting to remember pain. Sometimes I had to fall flat on my butt to get down the tiniest of drops because I couldn’t handle jumping. On the way down, before we had gone too far, an old man hiking in the other direction said that we were “almost there”. He really got my hopes up. We were close to salvation from this tiresome trek? Hoorah!
  • But as the hike dragged on, I knew it was bogus. What exactly did “almost” mean? Eventually, though, the ground began to even out slightly, and I knew we were near the bottom. Then a man stood in our path, a fairly old man. Several of our party screamed “FS Tim!” and hugged him. So this was FS Tim. I guess I got to meet him sooner then planned. Tim was an old man- apparently he had been working for Farm and Wilderness for a lo-o-o-ong time. I guess he was in pretty good shape for his age; I mean, he’d made it this far up the mountain from the bottom, and had probably done more intense stuff then that in his career, being a field specialist. Well, together we hiked downward again, and it was still an awful lot of hiking, and the trail zigzagged across stones and roots. Eventually I heard the blissful lulling sound of speeding cars, and eventually we reached the highway. It was such a relief to finally sit down in Tim’s van. I could almost hear my butt sigh as I sat down. We drove for only two miles, but that would seem like forever if we were walking; and then we pulled off the side of the road and were suddenly at out campsite. I got my tired legs moving again, and helped set up the tents. The Girl’s tent was huge, with a broken flap, but the boy’s was cooler. Before dinner we had some chores to do, like setting up shelters by stretching tarps between poles so the supplies would stay dry, collecting firewood, and filling up the canteen in a nearby stream. After a delicious feast of cheese tortillas, tomato soup, and a bucket of pulled pork that Tim brought (and s’mores!), everyone piled into the big tent for some lax time. We played card games and had a snuggle-fest.
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