Two big dogs leapt up and came running down the road at us

Cohos Trail, Day Twelve: Mountain View Cabins to Tillotson Hut

I woke up before 7am, sans alarm. Even though we had tried our darnedest to stay up late eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching old tv shows like Perry Mason (a banger) and the Andy Griffith Show (not as banging), we still were asleep in bed before 10pm.

I pottered around the giant cabin, gathering all the gear I had laid out to dry the night before. This was the same cabin Diesel and Summit had described—it had half a dozen beds, at least, and could have slept 10, probably. Most vacationers probably don’t need that much space, so it seems like they give this one out for cheap (about $100/night) to hikers passing through.

We crossed the road to eat breakfast at the Full Send Bar & Grill. Our omelettes were just okay, although we ate every last bite, but the real star was the homemade cinnamon raisin bread. I’d go back just for that.

So we got a late start, not leaving our cabin until after 10am, but we had an easier day ahead of us than usual so we weren’t worried.

We were soon walking down a rural road with just a handful of homes on either side when two big dogs leapt up and came running down the road at us, barking loudly and rather threateningly. I handed E one of my poles just in case and we backed up slowly, not turning our backs on the dogs. When they judged us sufficiently far away, they stopped barking, sniffed around the ditch and the road a bit, and then trotted back home.

E and I discussed our options. It looked like there was a deep ditch, maybe even a stream bed, between us and the turn we needed to take, so we couldn’t just…trespass into a neighboring yard and bushwhack our way to the trail, avoiding the dogs. We could proceed, and risk the dogs’ attention and maybe even an attack. Or we could backtrack to a different country road and try to bushwhack to the trail somewhere else.

We did try to walk toward the dogs again, but they immediately jumped up and began barking threateningly. There was clearly a vehicle in the driveway, and I kept expecting the homeowner or resident to pop out and control their dogs, but no such luck. It felt, to me, intentional, like an act of aggression toward hikers. A big fuck you.

We backtracked. We followed a wide trail through someone’s yard (we called out, but nobody was home) but it just landed us in a different yard, so we beat a hasty retreat to a road.

I was pissed—it was so irresponsible to leave your dogs out like that and not control them. I grew up on country roads even more rural than this and would sometimes walk by dogs that barked or followed us down the road, but if someone was home they always came out to call off their animal. They also weren’t generally as large as those two had been, one medium-sized and lean but energetic, the other big and thick like a bulldog.

We followed the road, which ran roughly parallel to the one we had been on before, to its end, where there was a sign for a tree farm. Fortunately, someone was home, and he seemed friendly. We told him we were out hiking (although, that was probably obvious) and about the dogs and said we were hoping to cross his property to find the trail. He said he had only just bought the place and hadn’t poked around much, but there was a snowmobile path in the back that connected to a network of snowmobile trails, and we were welcome to poke around.

This was incredibly kind and generous and we were terribly relieved.

I bet we could have eventually found our way to the trail with only our map, but E fortunately had service and pulled up a satellite image of the area on his phone, and we followed a series of increasingly faint snowmobile paths and eventually bushwhacked through the trees to a trail wide enough to be visible in the satellite images, and behold! the yellow blazes of the Cohos Trail marked the rocks beneath our feet.

Back on track, we climbed Prospect Mountain, which has a fabulous view for such a modest peak.

We hadn’t carried out enough water from the cabin because we didn’t love the taste, but good water sources were thin on the ground and I was parched and crabby climbing Covell Mountain, where we shared the last swallows of water between us.

Thirsty and hot, it felt like a long way to Round Pond, and I was feeling particularly sour about private property. It would have been a perfect day for a swim, and Round Pond, glimpsed at a distance, looked like the ideal setting, but of course, the shore is lined with private camps (some of the nicest we’d seen).

So I reluctantly turned off Round Pond Road, away from the pond. We filled our bottles at a little nook of a waterfall. The next few miles were supposed to be popular with black bears, and we sat a lot of seed-studded scat, but no bears.

We got into Tillotson1 on the earlier side. We had come prepared this time, picking up a set of cards at Young’s Store, and we relearned how to play rummy while we waited for dinner o’clock.

We had already eaten and cleaned up and started another round of cards when we heard a sound in the woods. Another hiker, coming from the Canadian border. He was young and fast, and thru-hiking with his dad, who was obviously older but also fast. We consolidated all our stuff on one side of the shelter when we heard them approaching, but they ended up setting their one-person tents up just to the side of the shelter. We could hear them talking back and forth between themselves as they settled into their sleeping bags, although we never saw or heard them eat.

1

I’ve since learned that the man who built and donated the Tillotson shelter, John Nininger, is the uncle of my friend—and Pinch of Dirt reader—Sarah Clark-Hamel. His wife and son also thru-hiked the Cohos Trail in July, and I’m 95% sure I read their entry in the shelter register! What an extremely small world.