The New England Trail, Part 5: Rainy Days, Road Walks, and Rocky Trails

After two days off for storms, we did not want to wait any longer. It was time to get back on trail!

Our feet were rested. The temperatures had dropped again, thank you, Mama Nature. We set out on a wet morning, enjoying the misty quiet of the day. Packs were full again, unfortunately, but that meant we were going to be camping again, and I refuse to complain about that. The trail has a predictable pattern. Climb up, ridgeline, climb down, road walk. Rinse and repeat. It is all just a matter of how difficult or long each of those parts are every day.

Time to play in the rain!

We started the day with our bigger climbs and reached the tower of Castle Craig midmorning. Completely socked in and devoid of views, we did take advantage of the shelter the tower offered for a snack and a stretch. The rain let up by the time we reached the next reservoir, and jackets were soon stashed as the day warmed up a little. The day’s road walk took us through quaint suburbia, though the traffic noise from a nearby highway was a dull background roar.  A quick stop at a Dunkin, because, well, we are in New England, and we loaded up on water and climbed our way up the next ridgeline to the Lamentation tent site.

Enough space for a handful of tents, but the highway noise and light pollution were a distraction

While the site itself wasn’t bad, we had passed so many better locations in the last half mile. Situated just off the ridge line on the south side, there was no escape from the highway noise or light pollution. Maybe when the leaves are in, it wouldn’t be an issue. It didn’t make for the best night of sleep, but it got me moving the next morning!

The next day was clear and sunny again, and the first clearing gave us views of the castle from the day before. Down again to the Hubbard Reservoir and a gorgeous trail around its edge (and much appreciated porta potties!). The climb up to Chauncey Peak looked steep on paper, but, in reality, had the best laid switch back I have ever hiked. At the peak we spied another rock quarry, a foreshadow of what was to come. We were soon transported back to Rocksylvania and its grapefruit sized rocks, making the cliff walks tricky. Fatigued already, sounds from the nearby firing range down below fried my nerves as I navigated the last few miles of the day. I was grumpy when we reached Band Aid’s jeep, stashed at New Guida’s restaurant, but an old school chocolate milkshake set things right again.

Leaving my car at the restaurant, we set out for what would be our last overnight on the trail.

The promise of a short day kept my spirits up in the face of the ankle breaking terrain. Ish. I caught up with Band Aid at the view on Powder Hill. Wait, a ski lift in Connecticut? Sure enough. The trail goes right by the lift, and then follows along the Powder Ridge Mountain Bike Park. Thankfully there were no people enjoying the park, but I couldn’t help but wonder how that works out during the busy season. Mountain bikes and hikers doesn’t seem like the safest mix.

We arrived at the Cattail Shelter late in the afternoon, after a rocky descent full of PUDs (pointless up and downs). The strangest shelter, or rather shelters, I have seen. Each with room for one, two if you’re friendly, and so close to civilization we could clearly hear sounds from the nearby house. Had I been hiking solo, I wouldn’t have stayed. It set all my alarm bells off.  Too close to the road, too close to houses, in the line of sight from the high trafficked trail. But there is safety in numbers, and so we settled in for a cold night.

The Cattail Shelters. between them, you can see how close we were to houses.

We woke to a deliciously cool morning, but Mama was swinging warm again. The rocks continued, slowing me down as I slipped on the downhills, but spring was doing its thing all around me, so it was hard to keep from smiling. We side quested to a country store for a lunch break before. Telling stories as we made our next climb, Band Aid and I fell into a comfortable rhythm. I tried to shut out that our adventure was only a few days from completion.

As I reached the last view of the day, Band Aid well ahead of me again, I stopped. Wait, what was I looking at? There in the distance, I could just make out the Long Island Sound! Overjoyed and excited beyond measure, I told my ankle to shut up and flew (relatively) down to the parking lot where my hiking brother was waiting for me.

We were almost there!

I do believe that is water in the distance! Stay Tuned for the Finale!

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