June 29, 1998

6/29/98 Mt Wilcox South Lean-to

18.3 miles (1509.9 total)

After all the sunshine, it was inevitable that the rain would intrude again. This morning was rainy and cool. Our plan was to hike to the road and hike into South Ergemont so EWOS could pick up his maildrop and maybe we could get some breakfast.

The one thing the rain didn’t stop was the mosquitoes. Because we were crossing a lot of swampy farmland, they seemed more active. Ended up walking the whole way into town and stopped off at Mom’s Cafe. Breakfast was wonderful but I don’t think they get many hikers in here. The waitress definitely seemed to avoid us (or maybe our aroma!).

On the way out of town, we ran into the ridgerunner for this section of trail. During the summer, many of the AT clubs hire ridgerunners to help any hikers on the trail, be it emergency care or just education about low impact camping or the Appalachian Trail. Today he was out with a couple of trail maintainers, cutting grass along the AT as it wound it’s way through farm fields. They gave us a ride back to the trail after talking about our trip. More walking through the rain and mud. At one point, we found a good size stream with no bridge and had to ford it up over our knees. I was definitely not having a good day.

We reached US7 around lunch and decided to chance the 0.6 of a mile to Shea’s Irish Pub. Had a good burger and a beer while EWOS savored his Guinness stout.

The trail followed the Housatonic River for a while before crossing more farm fields. The mosquitoes were so bad, we had to reapply the DEET after only an hour. The climb out of the valley was steep, made more difficult by the bugs and the rainy weather. Heard at Shea’s we were in a tornado watch. At one point, we decided to skip the bad weather route around one of the climbs because we thought the storm winds would keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Got to the Tom Leonard Lean-to, finding it full of a group out for a week southbound. We yogi’d some water before heading to the next shelter. Doing an extra 5 miles today would give us more time to relax at Upper Goose Pond Cabin tomorrow.

Found this mysterious paper on the trail.

REPORT to the Mosquito High Command
SUBJECT: Human Feed Stock on Planet Earth

Our long term project to perfect mosquito feed stock on the planet Earth has come with great success! Eradication of dominant large dinosaurs a complete success but took excessive time to stabilize planet’s climate. Gene modification of hairy ape to get a hairless mammal showed good results. Available target skin about 95%. Human feed stock does cover portions of body but usually does not pose any problem for normal mosquito feeding population.

Strange herding behavior of note. Once a planetary year, large group travels up the eastern mountain ranges, sometimes through some of our most dense mosquito population areas. Large attrition rate but the human feed stock to reach the northern terminus has blood of the finest quality.

Human feed stock somewhat intelligent. Has devised a product called DEET which has confused some of our population but the effect wears off quickly. Casualties are minor compared to the quality of the product.

  1) full scale colonization of planet Earth
  2) continued development of several other "gauntlets"
     over central and western mountain ranges
  3) gene modification to increase immunity of DEET.

We hoped to get to the South Mount Wilcox Lean-to by 7pm. But the weather decided to worsen with increasing downpours. After finally arriving at the lean-to, soaked to the bone, we remembered why people advised against this shelter - porcupines. The entire structure had teeth-marks on it, with most of the damage on the floor edge. We decided to set-up EWOS’s tent inside the shelter because of the continued annoying mosquitoes.