The ShakeDown – Days 1-4 thru Connecticut

Spending 4 days and nights in the woods was a real wake-up call.  In order to ensure that I was ready to start my flip-flop, I hiked the majority of the Connecticut section of the AT.  This is not a simple “Walk in the Woods” as Bill Bryson refers to it.  It’s rigorous, with constant ups and downs, with eyes to ground 90% of the time to ensure footing around rocks and roots.  Adding to the physical challenge, I was, truly, all alone.  Since few thru-hikers have made it to CT this season, I was the only person in the woods.  This didn’t bother me while hiking, but I did get the willies at night, especially when there was no cell service.

Day 1 – Hoyt Road to Mt. Algo Shelter (11 miles)

Day 2 – Mt. Algo Shelter to Silver Hill Campsite (11 miles)

Day 3 – Silver Hill Campsite to Belter Campsite (11 miles)

Day 4 – Belter Campsite to Undermountain Road (13 miles)

Welcome to Connecticut

Connecticut likes to intimidate its visitors by introducing them to 10 Mile Hill shortly after entering the state.  It’s really much shorter, named after the 10 Mile River, but let everyone find out for themselves.  The trail meanders along the Housatonic river for a bit, and in and out of NY.  When I arrived at the Mount Algo shelter, I was exhauster.  The freeze-dried chili I had for dinner was awful, and now it was time to settle in for the night.  I know I don’t deserve this, but I was able to stream the Uconn Huskies winning the NCAA championship from my tent.  Many thanks to my good friend Phil for the technical assistance.  Go Uconn!

More Up and Down

Day 2 had me hiking a lot more rocky terrain, topping it with a harrowing hike down a cliff near St. John’s ledges.  Now, this might be a walk in the park for a more experienced hiker, but for me was the biggest challenge of the four days.  Several times, I had to drop the poles down and perform the butt-slide maneuver.  As a new hiker, I try to be cognizant that a stumble with a top-heavy pack on a cliff is a bad combination.  One step at a time got me to the bottom.

The Silver Hill campsite was incredible, with one caveat. It had a cooking area, swings and sitting area looking over the hills.  Unfortunately, since covid hit, the state has removed the handles to the well pumps, since the water quality is not being tested.  As a result, all water needs to be ported up to the site, a 500 foot climb.

End of the Road

The trail leveled out a bit for days 3 and 4.  The walk through the small town of Falls Village was magical.  There seemed to be waterfalls everywhere and I wish I had more time to just sit and stare.

Lessons Learned

Ok, so a Shakedown hike is supposed to be a learning experience.  This is what I came away with:

  • I was able to hike 11 mile each day, but it wasn’t easy.  I expect that my endurance and physical ability will improve.
  • Chafing is a real thing.  Bring the body-glide.
  • Take care of your feet.  Even with gaiters, my feet were filthy.  Each night I cleaned and moisturized, and I put tape on the pads of my feet when they started to burn.

A Final Point

I haven’t seen any bears. Similarly, I spent nearly my entire life without seeing an actual beaver dam.  Now that I’m hiking, I see them everywhere.  No actual beavers yet, but I know they’re there.  The photo below is a double-deck beaver dam.  I thought that was something special.

Thanks for listening.

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