July 5, 1998

7/5/98 Stratton Pond

19.5 miles (1617.6 total)

Before the evening was over, we’d crammed even more people into the shelter. Groovin’Moose was hiking with Researcher, plus those girls did finally make it. Add to this a couple more weekenders and you have a crowded shelter. Most of the people camping had hoped for a great view of the Bennington 4th of July fireworks from the firetower behind the shelter. But the rain kept coming down, sometimes as torrential downpours. I was very glad I didn’t have to tarp.

This morning, the rain continued but only lightly. We passed a lot of the weekenders even before the first shelter. But soon after leaving the next shelter, Stony Spring, the sun came out.

With Groovin’Moose hiking behind me, I always feel I’m holding him back, so I speed up. Just like with EWOS, I always lead by their choice. Stratton Mountain was a hard climb, so I was glad when we reached the top. Up in the firetower the wind was so fierce, the tower swayed. We didn’t stay up there long.

We passed a girl hiker on the way up that reminded me of a deer caught in your headlights - very scared - skittish. We speculated she was headed to Stratton Pond like us. She was cute, probably about Groovin’Moose’s age, so I kidded him about their budding romance.

Stratton Pond Shelter is the first we’ve had to pay just to stay there. The others at the shelter were a weekender who loved cigars and a couple headed for Katahdin. The skittish girl showed up but was expecting a hiking partner to be there (who had hooked up with Pokey and headed for the next shelter). The girl never looked at us or spoke and she tented even though we had room in the shelter. And I had gone to a lot of trouble to make sure the open space in the shelter was next to Groovin’Moose. The caretaker came by to collect his fees and talk with us. The view over the pond was wonderful. Tomorrow we head in to Manchester Center.