Rain and Boob Prisons

Morning 8/25 – Silver Lake Lean-to

Aside from the rain, last night was silent. A barred owl called out only once or twice just before I drifted to sleep. I woke up really having to pee since I refused to leave the shelter the minute we arrived! The morning was gray and a little misty after all the rain the night before. Everyone was still sleeping so I decided to quietly go check out the lake that I quickly avoided yesterday.

Moose & Mist

As I snuck away, Tarzan woke from his slumber and quickly followed me down. As we approached the shore, carefully stepping over a blowdown and onto a rock just offshore, we heard a huge crash just across to the left where the trail first approaches the lake from the south. Immediately we mouthed “moose” at one another. Obviously, Tarzan decided to take off running to investigate while I opted to continue standing on the rock.

Silver Lake in the Fog after a night of heavy rain

Silver Lake in the Fog after a night of heavy rain

Alone now, I watched the fog swirl around the pines on the other side of the lake and the loons swim silently in the middle of it all. The loons only called out a few times last night. Nothing like the night before at Woods Lake. The water was really still and the last of the “tree pee”* fell from the leaves at the edge of the water. It was so peaceful. I snapped a few photos for a calendar I make at the end of each thru-hike and noticed a salamander or mud puppy staring back at me from just under the water in front of me. Curious what he might do, I lingered a little longer.

When Tarzan made his way back from Moose hunting we made our way back up the steep grade to the lean-to. Tarzan reported he saw moose prints and hoof marks on the many blowdowns in the trail and might have heard it run deeper into the woods. As we approached the lean-to we found Baby Legs starting her breakfast. She let us know the privy was really full and digging a cat hole is far superior. Our clothes were still soaked from the downpours so we didn’t plan on moving anywhere fast. Plenty of time to dig a good cat hole and start a fire to raise moral.

Banter & Boob Prisons

Begrudgingly, I stuffed my sleeping stuff into their respective sacks and went to pull my clothes off the line. Gross! Tarzan had just gotten a fire going and I had a plan. I pulled my bear line out and ran it from the eaves of the shelter to a tree across the fire and back. I was not going to carry soaked synthetic athletic wear or worse, put it on! One by one I hung each sock, shirt, headband, underwear, and pant I owned and invited everyone to hang their “bits”*. Baby Legs jumped on the opportunity to hang her socks while singing her new hit single “Wet Socks” which will be out later this year.

two hiker in silver lake lean-to with clothes hanging on a line over a fire

drying out our bits soaked from the torrential rain the day before

While we waited for the fire to evaporate our problems our beloved banter began. Barbie Movie jokes had followed us into the woods even though Tarzan and I still haven’t seen it yet! Baby Legs informed us one of Ken’s lines is “My job is Beach.” and that was all it took to create 12 days of Barbie Banter. I declared my job is “Sit.” Let me explain, it was only day 3 and already Tarzan was doing most of my camp chores. He was getting and filtering all our water and making dinners and cleaning pots… the tramily agreed, I’m only good for sitting jobs at camp!

Tarzan broke the silence on a plan for the day suggesting we pull a 40. All jokes aside, we decided that we needed to make it 12 miles to the next lean-to in case the rain continued. The next lean-to, Hamilton Lake Stream Lean-to, is past Whitehouse Junction a few miles from Piseco. Good thing my appetite was present this hike because I was going to need a lot of calories to keep pushing these 10+ mile days!

Another important decision was made that morning too. After watching me struggle to get into my half dry sports bras, that I always buy super tight to help keep my large bosom in place, Baby Legs spoke up;

“I think you need to ditch the sports bras, you’d be a lot more comfortable. I don’t think they’re doing you any favors, Panic.”

She was right. And so it was spoken. No more boob prisons. I stuffed both into my kangaroo pouch on my pack and never went back. They did hurt me more than help, especially in all the wet. I already had two huge sores from the band rubbing on my ribs. I slipped into my blue Adidas tank and a fresh pair of shorts feeling freer than ever. Pulled on my over the calf socks and wiggled into my Topos. The crew was ready to move!


Journey to Mud Lake Lean-to

Leaving camp we noticed a huge moose track. Bingo, we definitely heard a moose down by the lake, he probably walked through camp last night, his visit disguised by the darkness and the rain… it was something to think about for a little while as we got our first mile under our belt for the day. The trail is mostly downhill in this section so that was something we looked forward to!

Rain Makes Mushrooms

Before we even stopped for second breakfast it started to rain again. At least second breakfast’s location was absolutely beautiful! We took a seat in the campsite situated on the edge of Canary Pond where the canopy kept a lot of the rain from hitting us.

Next we passed through another muddy beaver area and numerous bog boards that were near disintegrating. The further we hiked the deeper the forest became and the bigger the trees became. There were some really impressive maples and even more impressive mushrooms all the way to Mud Lake lean-to before Whitehouse. We found more Chanterelles and I found my first hydnum species (hedgehog mushrooms). Which was super exciting for me. They are mushrooms that have teeth for their pore surface under their cap and just are super unique. Not only are they super cute but they’re also considered choice edibles! I didn’t have the guts to try them though since I’d never found them before.

Hedgehog Mushroom fertile surface showcasing the toothlike spines.

Mud Lake Lean-to

Up ahead we noticed we were approaching a large body of water. The rain let up and before we reached Mud Lake lean-to we met a couple hiking SOBO from “The City.” Although we knew what city they were referring to, it was pretty funny how they assumed we would know which city they were referring to! They were pretty experienced backpackers and told us about a diner that had delicious pizza just ahead. We assumed Whitehouse and though we were confused we became quite excited since we spent the morning getting rained on our spirits were a little low. That was just the news we needed to rally our spirits just a bit!

The shelter has a pretty nice view of the lake over some tall grasses between two stands of trees and there might even be a john boat out there but, is not accessible for swimming unfortunately. We stopped for lunch here and took off our bog soaked shoes and socks to let our wrinkled feet dry up and tend to the blisters we were getting inevitably from the wet conditions. While eating our Thai Chicken salad wraps and sour patch kids we really got a show! The local loons decided it was time to start splashing violently all across the lake. Maybe they were trying to stir up some fish? It was so bizarre Tarzan originally thought the loons were being harassed by a bald eagle. This was not the case.


To Whitehouse & Pizza

After a long lunch and the potential promise of pizza we pulled our rain soaked socks back and trudged on. Baby Legs powered ahead of us with hopes of getting to pizza while Tarzan and I continued on our own steady pace. The trail was all downhill from there which was great for me!

Just a Pipedream

About halfway down we encountered a few more hikers heading in to Mud Lake. We asked about the supposed diner with pizza in Whitehouse and they were quick to tell us that was nothing but a pipedream and that they must have been referring to the Oxbow Inn in Piseco. I guess it made sense since they were moving really fast and pulling 20 mile days—they must have been confused on the name of the town. The hiker did make sure to tell us about the huge fresh pile of bear scat they passed on the way up and to be on the lookout! Sure enough, about a mile down there was one of the biggest piles of bear diarrhea I have ever seen—Tarzan almost stepped in it!!!

Fresh Bear Scat in the Adirondacks near Whitehouse Junction on the Northville Placid Trail

As we approached Whitehouse Junction, the trail started to even out and we suspected we’d likely see a “Leg of the Baby variety.” (an alternate way we started referring to Baby Legs, because that is how trail goes…) We suspected correctly and got to the trail register and signage somewhere between 3 and 4pm and shortly convened with Baby Legs and exchanged some high fives for making it nearly 10 miles by early afternoon! On the Long Trail we’d be hiking in at hiker midnight to pull 10-14 miles. Even though there wasn’t any pizza, we were happy the rain still hadn’t returned. With just a few short miles to Hamilton Lake Stream camp we didn’t waste much time.

Bear’s Head Tooth & Bridges

Baby Legs took the lead again and just fell out of sight when Tarzan and I came upon a gorgeous Bear’s Head Tooth specimen on a downed beech tree. We quickly pulled off trail and snagged that for dinner! The rest of the trail to home featured gorgeous old growth forest, a few bear tracks, and two beautiful suspension bridges that scared the crap out of me. There just wasn’t sufficient safety netting to meet my standards. I held my breath on the rusty bridges both times!

Tarzan going eye to eye with the Bear's Head Tooth just outside of Whitehouse Junction on the NPT

After crossing the last bridge Tarzan stopped to fill our water bladders and I pushed for home. According to the map we were no more than .3 from the lean-to. I was booking it. My soaked feet were begging to get out of my trail runners and I was pretty ready to get horizontal.

Suspension Bridge on the Northville Placid Trail

Rain soaked suspension bridge with potentially slippery planks and minimal safety netting!


We’ve Got Company & No Rain

When I finally reached the shelter, there were people already there! Three New York natives who were definitely hikers and their delightful dog, Daisy. As soon as they saw us, they quickly and willingly made space in the shelter. It was exciting and felt good to meet nice people at camp especially bearing the latest weather report. No rain until tomorrow afternoon.  Plus, to Tarzan’s delight, they already had a huge fire going! He was off the hook for fire duty for the night! Note: The firepit at this lean-to is huge. It kept us warm and dry all night since it’s so close to the shelter.

We stayed up well past hiker midnight snacking and swapping hiking stories. The New York Natives were on their last section to complete their SOBO NPT. Naturally we took full advantage of their knowledge of the northern sections! They made sure to tell us about the South Lake Bridge and Waneka Falls at the very end. These were places not to miss!

As the fire died down an orb spider was incorporating my pack hanging on the shelter’s eave into her web. I struggled to get my bear bag into the tallest tree in camp but eventually succeeded, as always! One by one we snuggled into our sleeping bags and dreamt of pizza and beer in Piseco tomorrow.


Hiker Trash Glossary*

tree pee – The leftover rain collected in the canopy of trees that drizzles down on wayward hikers sometimes mistaken for actual active rainfall but just falling off leaves in the breeze instead.

boob prison – Sports Bra, especially a wet one.

bits – Word to describe personal belonging, more often than not, underwear. Sometimes references one’s private parts. Orgin: Panic’s Step Mom’s banter.

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