Sunday, July 11, 2010

St Johns Ledges

Well, our hike today was different.  We did a loop with a partial road walk instead of a linear hike.  It all started with our discussion of St. Johns Ledges.

An active hornet's next hanging right next to the trail

Since we don’t have a guidebook for this section, we’re almost flying by the seat of our pants.  Gene subscribes to and was able to find a trail description and map for a few of the sections of AT in Connecticut.  When we read the description from about today’s section of the AT, we were apprehensive about the quarter mile section called St. Johns Ledges.  We each did Google searches, but everything we found only fueled our apprehension.  One hiker journal entry even showed a picture of a snake he saw.  By the time we went to bed last night we were almost afraid of crossing the “ledges”.  I certainly didn’t want to try it alone and, if I hiked south as usual, it would be uphill.

For Gene, I was concerned about crossing the “300 feet along the edge” just before the descent of the ledges.  Gene has a fear of vast open spaces with nothing below him but air.  I could envision a 300 foot long 8 inch wide stretch of trail at the edge of rock face.  We had already read how the Ledges are a very popular place for rock climbers.  I wasn’t too thrilled about getting across the edge myself.

For myself, I was more concerned about getting up the Ledges.  Several descriptions we read indicated hikers just scooted down on their butts.  One description said, “Gravity is your friend”.  I knew I couldn’t very well scoot up a rock.

In the end, after all the research, we decided to hike together.  Luckily, there was a gravel road at the base of the ledges which we could walk out on to our truck parked on CT 341 in Kent.  This would not have been our first choice, but we felt it was our best option to be safe in case either one of us had a problem.

As it turned out, the ledges were steep, but there wasn’t a place where I would not have been able to climb over.  There was no 300 foot long edge to cross.  So it was not nearly as bad as we had created in our minds.

We started our hike by crossing a stile into a cow pasture.  No cows were out today, so nothing to worry about there.  I’m not real fond of stiles, but this one was fine.  I didn’t have to put my hands on anything.  I hate those stiles in southern Virginia that are more like ladders.  I always think of the thousands of hikers who have walked through cow piles, then up and over the stile before me.  Makes me want to wear rubber gloves.

After the cow pasture, we had a steep climb up the mountain and then a pleasant walk across the ridge in open forest.  One place got close enough to the edge for a good view.  It was a little hazy, but not too bad.  The best views were at Caleb’s Peak.  This was the last good spot for a break before the dreaded “Ledges” so we sat on a rock, ate a snack, and enjoyed the view.

It took us a while to descend the Ledges, but we took our time and all went well.  We met another group going up as we were going down.  They graciously stepped to the side to let us come by.  I turned back to see where they were on the rock and to make a photo.  I was surprised to find them almost directly overhead.

We finally got down to the river and the gravel road.  We had a 3-mile walk back to the truck from there.  That went fast and was mostly shaded, so not so bad.

The truck is due for service, so we’ll not be hiking tomorrow.  The Ford dealership is in Litchfield.  We’ve driven through there several times on the way to the trail.  It looks like a very nice community.  I haven’t decided if I’ll tag along to do a tour of the town or just stay home and rest.

That’s it for today.

No comments:

Post a Comment