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AT 2017: Day 100, Mohican Outdoor Center to Brink Road Shelter

Helter skelter in a summer swelter

Hike with Gravity

Thru-hikers today have it easier than hikers did in previous decades. The trail is mostly the same as it was then. We still have to walk and climb, just as hikers have always done. The two main differences for us are cell phones and the lighter materials used in our gear.

As cell phones began to be commonplace, there was some pushback by some hikers. They tried to shame those who brought their phones with them on the trail, complaining that the phones brought in too much of the technological world into the natural world.

I haven’t noticed anyone making a pretense of that now. Everyone has a phone and they use it when they please.

Generally, though, cell phone use is now more discrete because hikers tend to use texting more than calling, and that helps to limit the intrusion.

Weather Hot and humid
Trail Conditions Rocky for all but about three miles
Today's Miles 14.0 miles
Trip Miles 1,318.4 miles

Wireless reception isn’t completely widespread, though. There are many locations along the trail where reception is limited or non-existent. Sometimes it’s only available near the tops of mountains.

I’m not obsessive about checking for a connection, so I often miss opportunities to check my messages and the weather, the two main tasks I have for getting on my phone.

I missed a chance to look at the forecast today, but it wasn’t difficult to tell what it was going to be.

Hot, followed by extended periods of hot. Humidity: a lot.

As I went to retrieve our food bags from the bear box this morning I threatened to slam the door loudly in retaliation for the noisy hikers who walked past our tents last night. Civility got the better of me, though, and I closed it quietly.

Once we were packed up, Stick and I went to the camp office to see if we needed to pay for our camping spot. The office was still closed and there were no staff members in sight, so we shrugged our shoulders and headed on.

Our next stop before returning to the trail was a water spigot, where we filled up our water bottles. We also guzzled as much water as we could. We knew the heat would put demands on the water we could carry.

To leave the Mohican Outdoor Center, we had to backtrack along a gravel road a couple tenths of a mile before reaching the trail. From there the trail made a short, steep and rocky climb of about 500 feet up to a ridge top.

At a couple spots along the ridge were exposed ledges. These provided nice views, but also provided openings for the sun to beat down.

After about 2.5 miles of walking I arrived at Catfish Fire Tower. Climbing to the top is not permitted, but several school-aged children had climbed to as far as they could go. They were perched on the stairs as I walked by.

Beyond the tower, the trail entered a thicket of rhododendron, creating a tunnel much like I frequently saw in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

While walking through the green tunnel, I was surprised to see some of the bushes were still in bloom. I didn’t expect that this late in the summer, but then, I have not hiked before in the Northeast.

After the trail exited the rhododendron it passed a swampy bog, then turned onto a gravel road. For this short section I didn’t have to walk on rocks, but now I had to walk without shade.

A stream flowed along here. The water was yellow, but I couldn’t tell if it was that color from tannins or from iron. My guess was tannins, because the water flowed from the bog.

I was a bit leery of collecting water from this spot, but according to Guthooks app, the next option was a beaver pond. The water there was certain to be questionable, so I decided to take my chances and fill up here. At least my filter cleaned up some of the yellow.

When I arrived at the beaver pond I was glad to confirm I had made the better choice. The water here looked murky.

Beavers definitely lived here and it was obvious they had been, well, busy.

The trail turned onto another old road, but this one was shaded. It wasn’t long, though, before the trail left the road and returned to its usual rocky path.

I stopped for lunch on a ledge along the long ridge I had been walking for about three miles. Looking down from there I could see Fairview Lake YMCA Camp. Or I should say, I could see and hear the camp. The campers where having some kind of water competition, and their shouts and cheers echoed across the lake and up the ridge.

The trail became especially rocky in the afternoon, with a steep climb over large boulders.

It then followed a ledge. Though still rocky, this section wasn’t difficult. Nevertheless, it was occasionally exposed to the hot sun.

Almost immediately, the rock ledge was followed by a nice, shady and flat section of trail. I probably would have tried to make up some time on this easy section, but the heat and humidity were draining me of energy.

The rocks returned on the climb up Rattlesnake Mountain.

At just under 1,500 feet in elevation, this mountain wasn’t impressive by any standard. Still, it was nice to reach the top because it opened some hazy views of the Pocono Mountains.

By now the time was nearly 5:30 p.m. and the temperature wasn't quite as warm as it had been.

After a short drop, there was another climb to the top of another unimpressive mountain. The traverse over Blue Mountain was longer than over Rattlesnake Mountain. It was also reminiscent of balds in the Southeast.

There were more hazy views from here. I enjoyed them, but didn’t linger, as I was nearing my stopping point for the day.

Several people were camped near Brink Road Shelter when I arrived, but I didn’t know most of them. The only familiar faces besides Stick were The Honeymooners.

There were several wide-open spots for tents near the shelter. Despite the number of people here, we had plenty of room.

After setting up camp I walked over to the shelter to check it out. I had read it had been completely rebuilt.

Compared to some shelters, this one was almost like a cabin.

It wasn't nice enough to make me want to sleep there, though. I like my tent.

There was plenty of water here, but finding the best place to fill water bottles was a little tricky. The water flow from the spring was spread out, with very shallow puddles. It took some wandering around to find a puddle that was deep enough to dip my water bottle without getting mud, sticks and other debris in it.

The time was nearly 8 p.m. before I finally started heating water for my dinner. The air temperature was finally cooling down a bit, but I wasn’t.

Later, when I crawled into my tent, I laid uncovered on my sleep pad for nearly an hour to help me cool down from this hot and steamy day.

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast

It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine." ref.