We left the shelter like we arrived, cold and wet. While tiny glimpses of blue sky peaked through the canopy, the air was still crisp and the dampness of our clothes held a chill close to our bodies. We tried to move as quickly as our stiff legs would allow, but the downhill on our tired knees and ankles felt like punishment. We hiked on to Lone Mountain. Trail wove narrowly through thick brush. A brush so thick that just a few yards off trail could lead you out of sight of your intended direction. We kept each other close and Milo closer.
We crawled over a few blown down trees that stretched across trail. We limboed under others. Milo looked questionably at us each time as he stood on the other side, having just walked under the obstacle, with as little effort as lowering his ears.
We had lunch at the Spaulding Mountain Lean-to. As soon as we sat our packs down on the wooden ledge of the shelter, we started throwing everything wet out into the sun to dry. Once we finished, we finally sat down and took off our shoes. A cloud moved directly over us releasing a light rain. Great. So we jumped up quickly and packed out wet stuff away. We would have to dry it out later.
Milo napped hard during our lunch break barely lifting his head to eat some food. He did however have enough energy to chase a mouse underneath the raised floor of the shelter, emerging with a green mossy head.
Two hours went by like no time. And we rushed to pack up having spent too long sitting and not hiking. Our climb up Spaulding Mountain was like the other climbs on this section straight up. We had a few trees to climb over but nothing much. Critter packed up and starting walking before Garbelly was ready. Milo was unhappy and unsettled that we were apart. He waiting patiently for Garbelly to pack and leave the camp before starting down trail to put eyes on Critter. Once he has both of us in sight, he slowed to a trot, his normal speed on trail.
Our climb down was enjoyable, following a ridge towards Sugarloaf Mountain. Occasionally, through the trees we could see her size and the silhouette of an old chairlift on top.
The rest of the day was gradual pine paved trail. Every now and then we had to hop-scotch over rocks to avoid a muddy shoe. Garbelly made one bad step on a rock and went flying off trail. At first he wasn't sure if he had broken or at least fractured something, as he felt pain immediately begin burning on the outside top of this foot. Nervous and scared that he said there evaluating what had just happened, checking the damage and suddenly thinking about the big picture. Had he just taken the step that would jeopardize the hike? No. It couldn't be. We decided it best to keep going, slowly but moving forward towards camp.
On the rest of our descent toward a gravel road, trail wove in and out of tree line. Walking over sections of rock from a rock slide, we could see out in the valley below as well as the ridge we had come down on. We ran into a day hiker checking off 4000 foot peaks. We chatted with him all the way down to the road. He offered to take our trash off of us, but just lazy enough to want to keep pushing to camp, he politely declined, thanking him for offering the most helpful thing a thru-hiker could be offered.
We arrived at the campsite and choose to set up behind some wooden platforms. The night got cold by the stream. Garbelly’s foot was still throbbing with pain and turning black and blue.
There were noodles poured in the stream and remains of where someone did not properly bury their ...um... lack of using the privy. It was gross and upset us, but once we crawled into our tent we felt safe.