Spring is here! It’s been raining all week and all most people do is complain about it. You can’t beat the weather, so sleeping bear and I decided to embrace it and go camping anyways.
We started out for the Ethan Pond Shelter around 8pm Friday night. Driving through the notch, we saw a huge group of backpackers at the Kedron Flume trailhead. Figuring they were also headed to the shelter, we moved quickly to beat them to it. The air was heavy with mist and drizzle, but the rain held off for us on this first leg of our journey. As daylight faded, we donned our headlamps and proceeded steadily to the shelter. The forest was quiet and serene. That made hauling heavy backpacks loaded with lots of extra beer… that much more pleasant. An hour and a half later we found the empty shelter and unloaded our junk.
After settling in, we had some beers and some laughs, came up with a few possible plans for the next day, and hit the sack. This was my first time staying in a shelter and it was rather comfortable. The temperature wasn’t too cold and it was nice listening to the rain but not being soaked by it.
Both of us had trouble getting motivated to move the next morning and it wasn’t until 10am that we finally hit the trails. There was a precarious stream crossing where water enters the pond that we’d had some trouble with the night before. Today, the water had risen a significant amount, making the crossing much more difficult. We tossed some fallen limbs over the water and used a branch like a hiking pole to maneuver across. We would not worry so much about dry feet in the next couple of hours.
The Ethan Pond trail was flooded, as was all of the surrounding land and water areas. Rivers pulsed loudly as the ground squished under our feet. Wooden planks covered a large portion of the trail; the ones that were not submerged came in quite handy.
Soon we heard the rumblings of Thoreau Falls. The trail deposits you at the top of the Falls, providing you with zero view. So, we bushwhacked down the steep side over spongy mats of needles and slippery rocks to the base. Tons of water were coursing over the edge of the Falls, sweeping around a curve in the rocks and racing to the ground below. It was one of the most awesome things I’d ever seen. Lindsay and I figured this was one very rare sight, and definitely worth braving some raindrops to go and see. I was instantly glad I hadn’t decided to stay home this weekend.
We hiked back up to the trail and decided to turn back to the shelter. Both us were having issues with rain gear and the weather wasn’t getting any better. Besides, we’d had a fantastic day already, there was no need to add any more miles or random destinations.
We splashed back through the rising water, miraculously avoiding major injuries. Footing was very slippery and I did my share of sliding around. At one point I realized I was totally soaked through. My arms and hands were freezing and they’d lost most of their range of motion. Opening a Ziploc bag and unclipping my waist belt became extremely taxing chores because my fingers refused to move. Meanwhile, Lindsay remarked that these are perfect hypothermia conditions. I couldn’t wait to get dry.
Upon returning to camp at 2pm, we changed clothes, jumped in the sleeping bags, heated a couple of water bottles (SO NICE!!) and made burritos. We decided to cut our trip short by a day and hike out. So, I packed up, put my wet pants, boots and gaiters back on, and we walked back to the lot. At least the rain had ceased, and although my feet were getting soaked, the rest of me was dry. Before reaching the lot, we took a side trip to Ripley Falls. Here, the water careens straight down in a perfect line before smashing into the rocks below. Spray from the waterfall filled the air. The raincoat hood went back up and we scrambled to find a photo-taking spot that was clear of the spray.
A few short minutes later we were back at the car, changing into dry clothes again.
I love hiking in the rain!! We saw two amazing waterfalls on the trails and two more on Rte. 302. There are few people out in weather like this and the forest has an entirely different character. Anyone can be a fair weather hiker. There is so much to see and explore when the conditions are less-than-perfect. If I limited my outdoor adventures to ?good? days, I would miss out on plenty of memorable things. And, it helps to have a brave hiking partner who also likes doing crazy hikes like this!! Thanks Lindsay!