I had been dreaming about walking, surprise surprise
Cohos Trail, Day Seven: Percy Lodge to Percy Loop Tentsite
Finally, an easy day! Less than 9 miles, including the road walk back to the trail.
I woke at 6:45am, before our alarm, but stayed in bed—eyes open, mouth dry. I had been dreaming about walking, surprise surprise, like when you play too much of a puzzle game and start dreaming about blocks.
We took our time getting out of our comfy room, carefully packing away the clothes we hand washed in the sink and bathtub last night. I put on a pair of toe socks—still a little damp but smelling like feet and soap, instead of just feet. They left pale brown footprints on the bath mat from the leftover dirt and muck I hadn’t been able to wring out.
After the road, we had an easy, easy woods walk to start the day, on wide snowmobile trails. My stomach was upset—this happened a lot on this trip, unusually so, for me—and even though I used the toilet before leaving Percy Lodge, I had to dodge into the trees for not one but two poops that morning.
Even so, it was nice to not have to worry about making camp before dark. I had all the time in the world to squat by a tree, if I needed it.
There are lots of little spur trails on this section of trail, many of them unmarked, but we were supposed to be taking an easy day and giving our legs a rest, so we skipped all but one: North Percy.
By this point we had left the snowmobile trails behind and were on a narrow footpath. It was a Saturday, so there were quite a few dayhikers about. We thought very seriously about climbing South Percy, which wasn’t even on our maps but in fact has a very established trail to the top (although it may still be unmarked), but in the interest of conserving our strength and energy for the rest of the hike, we passed it by and went on to North Percy.
Unlike the Long Trail, which as I recall goes up and over virtually every mountain in its path, many or most of the summits on the Cohos Trail are on spur trails. You don’t have to do them, to finish the trail. You have to choose to hike them, sometimes on top of already long and tiring days. This was the main reason my somewhat modest itinerary for the start of our hike was less modest and more challenging than I intended: I hadn’t factored these spurs into our daily mileage estimates.
Anyway, we were both so glad to have climbed North Percy. Getting up requires scaling a rather steep, exposed rock slope, so it’s not for the faint of heart, but the views from the top were truly spectacular. It helped that it was a bluebird day, and although we passed a dozen people on their way back down, we had the top mostly to ourselves. We had carried up a jar of peanut butter and tortillas and dried fruit, and lunched looking out at our next few days of hiking.
And E found blueberries! Well past their peak but enough to sample.
North Percy was indisputably one of the highlights of the trail, although not a peak I’d want to tackle in the rain. The way back down was scary enough as is.
It was a short way to our destination that evening—a tent site on the trail a little ways away. And when I say on the trail, I mean, the tent platform is really just in the middle of the trail! It would have seemed exposed if literally a single other hiker had happened to come by—but they didn’t.
We set the tent up on the flat ground next to the tent platform, because we haven’t yet figured out how to set my freestanding Tarptent up on wooden tent platforms, and spread out our sleeping mat and bag on the platform. We arrived so early in the day we didn’t have a lot to do or to occupy ourselves with. We were beginning to regret not bringing a book, or cards.
There was a little patch of sky visible through the trees above, and after dark a few stars came out. If ever there was a time to cowboy camp, this might have been it. But it was getting cold, and who knows what creatures lurked in the dark, so eventually we moved our mat and bag into the tent to sleep.