Dedicated to Mara's travel and hiking adventure journals as well as her words of wisdom and suggested resources for hikers and travelers.
Sages Ravine - a weekend along the AT
Friday, January 2, 2004 to Saturday, January 3, 2004
My friend Skeeter proposed a post-New Yearís backpack. I hadnít been hiking in months but the miles were short and this area wouldnít be too difficult for my now, out of shape, body. I hoped this hike would help to chase the last remnants of my cold off rather than sink me back into it.
Having been assured that the ground had been bare, Skeeter and I left our crampons at home. The morning snowfall left about an inch of snow on the ground but with rising temperatures, I wasnít expecting that to be a problem.
We were following the Laurel Loop route as suggested in a recent Appalachian Trailway News article by Cosmo Catalano. It incorporated portions of the Appalachian Trail, the South Taconic Trail, as well as some connector trails.
Due to our late starting time, we reversed the direction in order to give ourselves more options for camping during the first day in case we needed to stop early given the sunsets at this time of year. We soon regretted leaving our crampons at home. Both the road and the trail leading up Mt. Everett were sheets of ice. Picking our way along was slow, tedious, and involved a lot of slipping, sliding, and careful flat-footing. I took a slow motion flop at one point and contributed one unintentional ďsnow angelĒ to the few that a day hiker ahead of us had already made.
We stopped for a bite to eat at the shelter near the summit and admired the view over the Housatonic Valley. The sky was completely overcast but the light under the clouds was an eerie, orange/brown color. The ice was still a challenge leading down Everett and made for the longest .7 mile Iíve done in a long time but it was better than the ascent. Thankfully, that was the last of the bad ice. From there on, we only found occasional patches to contend with.
We stopped for the night at the Laurel Ridge campsite and headed for the group area tent platforms. We cleared the snow off the platforms and set up our tents on the wet wood. Our timing was perfect. It was still dusk when we got there and gave us enough time to set up our tents and start our dinners before it got too dark. We were lucky, however. The moon was high overhead in the early evening and through thin clouds, often cast usable light on our camp.
Skeeterís new stove had him cooking and eating in no time flat. I was heating more water than usual for dinner and a hot drink so my meal took a bit more time. That worked out great as I had forgotten my spoon and had to wait for Skeeter to finish with his before eating anyway.
By the time I finished dinner, Skeeter was already settled in for the long winterís night. I took a bit longer but it was still only 7:30 or so when I finally got settled in. We talked a bit more and then I read for a while before going to sleep shortly after 8:00.
We were both surprised to be awakened at 10:00pm with the arrival of two more people setting up a tent on the last of the three tent platforms. We would find out in the morning that this father and son team had apparently come through Sageís Ravine in the dark. They had also gotten quite wet for their troubles, too.
The rain we were expecting the next day came at 5:00am. We slept until it was light and then went through our morning routine, somewhat slowed by the wet conditions and condensation created by the saturated air and fog. Thankfully, it had stopped raining by the time we started hiking.
Crossing Sageís Ravine was a bit dicey. I stopped to put plastic bags, err, vapor barrier liners, on my feet in case I slipped and ended up planting a foot in the stream. Skeeter, with waterproof footwear, found a wet place to cross. He was then able to stabilize the far end of a log that I was able to use to get across without getting my feet wet. One of these years, Iím going to get myself some good cold weather (but not winter) footwear for hiking. My Limmerís are now too short to wear and my Sorrels and plastic boots are both too warm for these transitional season hikes.
While it had been raining that morning, it hadnít rained enough to completely wipe out the snow and ice in the Ravine. That left ice pillars on the rocks and a sugar coating of snow on the forest floor. I found myself in awe of the simple beauty nature can provide.
Our route had us turning onto an unmarked trail down an old road. We passed an AMC cabin without even seeing it though we did see the woodpile. It wasnít long before we hit the road.
I hadnít slept well. I think I must have wrenched my back on one of the slips I took on the first day. And my knees were now playing the price of a few months of inactivity. I decided to bail out of the hike when we got to the road. With the fog obscuring all possible views on the trail ahead, and some drizzle threatening to turn into heavier rain, Skeeter also decided to bail.
We started walking the few miles back to the cars. Just as Skeeter realized he had dropped his gloves, a car approached. We decided to hitch knowing Skeeter could drive his car back for the gloves. The driver stopped, agreed to give us a ride, and then asked if we might have dropped some gloves. They werenít that far back so he brought us back so Skeeter could pick them up and save himself a trip.
We were soon warming our cars up and warming ourselves up.
I think both of us were glad we bailed. It didnít take long for heavy rains to catch up with us as he drove back to New York and I drove back to Boston.
On Sunday, I realized it had been years since I had been quite that stiff and sore. It reminds me that I really need to get out more and stay in shape. Thankfully, my cold is either better, or certainly not any worse than when I started. Hopefully, I truly have it kicked for the New Year.
Last updated, February 20, 2005.
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