How was I to foresee that a campsite at the bottom of a slope might flood?
Cohos Trail, Day Eleven: Rudy's Cabins and Campgrounds to Mountain View Cabins
When we fell asleep at Rudy’s Campground, we knew there was a good chance of thunderstorms forecast for the next day, from sun up to sun down, although we had also heard that weather apps were notoriously bad at predicting the weather around those parts.
We were considering taking a zero day at Rudy’s, just posting up in the bathhouse all day reading back issues of Backpacker and playing card games. Frankly, we were both feeling a bit rough and raw about the edges. My feet and knees were in a sorry state, and I was eager to give them a rest, and to avoid hiking in a torrential downpour if I could help it. But, this would mean one or two longer days to finish our hike on time. We decided we would make a call in the morning.
We slept in a bit, finally crawling out of the tent around 7am. The sky was gray and moody but it hadn’t rained yet. We went into the bathhouse to make breakfast, and to make up our minds. The internet was a little spotty but I kept checking the forecast every few minutes to see whether it had updated, but we didn’t learn much. Still a chance of rain and thunderstorms most of the day, and almost certainly in the afternoon.
Then the sky opened up. I told E there was no way I was hiking in this weather, and we had basically agreed on that. Then it kept raining, and water began streaming down the driveway towards our tent, set up in the grass near the pond at the bottom of an incline. E went to check on our things and get my shoes—because for some reason I had walked to the bathhouse in my socks—and reported that the inside of the tent was dry, for now, but my backpack, which I left in the vestibule, was wet, and there was standing water below the tent floor.
Well, there was no point in staying if our tent was going to flood later that afternoon.
So we broke camp and I packed our now sodden tent away in its stuff sack, wishing I had done so hours earlier when it was still dry! Ah well, how was I to foresee that a campsite at the bottom of a slope might flood?
The other two SOBO thru-hikers were also off to a slow start—they were doing an easy day to Coleman State Park, and could afford to take their time. They had also shed a few fractions of a pound by giving away some of their extra food: a baggie of sriracha chickpea puffs, a baggie of Combos, and a cherry toaster pastry. I pocketed the first two and E and I devoured the pastry for breakfast.
(This couple also said they thought they didn’t eat more than 2,000 calories a day on trail, which, yikes. I’ve heard of people who don’t have much of an appetite on backpacking trips, especially during the first few days on trail, but I was also still a little concerned/guilty about taking their snacks because who knows when that hiker hunger is going to kick in!)
We shared a ride back to the trail with Mary—or to the gate, at least, almost all the way back to the trail—and collectively chipped in a $20 donation for her beer-and-soda “hiker fund.”
Then we started walking north and they headed south. According to my schedule we were to stay at Lake Francis State Park that evening, but neither of us were looking forward to setting up a tent in the rain. E called a cabin rental place we had heard about from Diesel and Summit, where they had taken a cabin to dry out after getting caught in a torrential rain storm, and reserved a place for that night. We had someplace dry to sleep, we just had to get there first.
We had to stop again and again to shed layers. Unless it is actively sleeting, or you’re at elevation, it’s almost never smart to start hiking in rain gear. I felt slow, weak, tired. I hadn’t really wanted to hike today, but I didn’t want to hang out in a flooded tent either. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining at that moment.
The first few hours on trail were dull walking, even once we turned to walk parallel to Lake Francis, because a row of summer camps stand between the road and most of the good lake views.
We took a break down on the rocky shore. A loon was diving for lunch just in front of us. I was too tired to even pull out my camera. The break ended all too soon.
We had just finished the road walk and stopped on a bridge so I could doctor my feet with Ibuleve gel (a topical ibuprofen) and ointments for muscle aches when the first drops fell.
The next miles flew by under our feet. In the rain, there were no views to speak of and no reason to stop moving. I was disappointed we hadn’t gotten to “Six-Mile View” before the storm caught us.
The trail here was a little-used (in summer) snowmobile trail that quickly filled with puddles. We sloshed through indiscriminately—our shoes were already soaked through so what did it matter?
Finally, the rain eased off a bit. We popped out of the woods, and crossed the Connecticut River. Over the next few days we would continue to roughly follow the Connecticut all the back to its source at 4th Connecticut Lake—but I get ahead of myself.
We turned onto our last roadwalk for the day, and then again onto an ATV/snowmobile trail that took us right up to the bastion of civilization, Young’s Store.
It was, remarkably, still too early for dinner, so we picked up an $18 four-pack of local beer named after the trail—absolutely worth it—and went to check into our cabin.
I took a can with me into the hot shower and stood under the stream until the water began to cool.