Red efts dominated the trail this morning, it being too wet for even the toads or the frogs... well, there still were a few. It rained hard until we hit town with thundering roaring every few minutes. We seemed to be staying pretty dry and in good spirits likely motivated by the thought of town in the near future. As we left the woods and hit the pavement, patches of blue sky began to push through the gray mass.
It was such a novelty to be in a store. Though we had only been in the woods for 2 nights at this point we both felt alien wandering the aisles. We shared some mac n cheese and some chili at 8am hahaha), also buying sandwiches and some pastry for our lunch. We felt unbelievably rich!! Headed down the road and towards the post office just as it was opening up. A package for us! We mailed ourselves food here and at Long Lake, also doing a pick-up in BLue Mountain Lake with a little help from the parents. Could we possibly get any richer? We had bought some ocean spray little cylinders of juice powder in single servings and these turned out to be one of the best treats on the trail.
Once back in the woods the trail was flat and devoid of rocks for the first couple of miles. With full bellies, full packs, bright sun and easy going Jeanette and I were grinning from ear to ear. A blessing, and we made killer time. Got hilly and stayed that way on our approach to the Jessup River. Quite beautiful with a highlight being the actual river crossing. Lots of great places to camp or chill but we had or sights set on Spruce Lake lean-to #2 for the night and were not gonna stop till we had our satisfaction! I would definitely return to this area for day hiking or overnights in the future.
The last portion of our hike, the approach to Spruce Lake was beautiful and challenging. We were both past the point of exhaustion and got into one of those silly ranting kind of moods that happens with long distance hiking. Spruces and a hill down marked our approach to the lake. The first lean-to was not directly on the lake and had some serious mud out front. Passing it up was one of the harder things I did on this hike. I was so tired and wanted to just keel over but knew it was the right thing to do to just get to the next one.
Our excitement grew and the distance to the next lean-to (about 0.5 miles) seemed to grow as well. The welcoming yellow on brown lean-to sign sparked a wave of elation as we pawed through the semi-overgrown trail down to the lake edge and our home for the night.
Impossibly beautiful!!!!! It was sunny with a descent wind coming of the lake. Usually not something to make you smile but I was super glad for the wind. At least half of my clothes were wet from the previous rain, a fairly foolish decision to wash clothes and hope they would dry on a rainy day.
Within 2 hours our clothes were well on the way to drying, a swim/ bath in a pristine lake was had, wood was gathered for our first fire of the trip and I had figured out why my water filter was pumping so slow. I hadn't cleaned it once on the trip and we had been pumping water in some low, sketchy areas (the first leg of NPT being in the southern, low Adirondacks). With the sediment cleaned off the first bottle pumped blessedly quick. I don't think I have ever been more happy or content in my life as we settled in for the night. From my journal: 'Inventoried gear, cleaned my filter, ready to rage the trail another day!'
This is the day when we began to establish our routine for the trip. Wake between 5 and 6 AM, hike till 2 or 3pm and chill hard till we pass out (usually about 8 pm hahaha).
Day 3: 14 miles. Total: 32 miles.
P.S. That night, with a crackling fire, and a pink sunset framed by the undulating and ancient trout assassin lean-to, the loons began to sing.
Loon calls on Spruce Lake
They sang a song sorrowful, beautiful and intense.
The fish jumped, the bats swooped in and the half-moon shone.