I got started today a little after 7, in fairly nice weather, and began what turned out to be the easiest day of hiking on the Long Trail so far, with no major climbs and a lot of relatively flat or downhill sections.
The day started with an easy hike from Peru Peak Shelter to Lost Pond Shelter. It was mostly a very easy downhill, and a scenic walk past Griffith Lake, punctuated by an exposed rock scramble up Baker Peak. This might have been the fastest section I'd hiked so far since starting the Long Trail, doing it at over 2 mph. At Lost Pond Shelter, I took a quick snack break, and admired some artwork drawn on the back of a piece of bark, tacked to the shelter wall.
A few miles ahead, at a road crossing in a local park, I was very happy to see some trail magic: a hiker feed organized by 2016 AT NOBOs Two Socks and My Friend. They were always slightly head of me, so I never met them in person — I only knew of them through the shelter log books. They had yet completed their Long Trail thru-hike, and had a few days to kill before heading home, so they put on some trail magic. Although I got there after their hamburgers ran out, I was able to get a couple of hot dogs, a PBR and a soda, and some chips. They also had some hiker essentials available: rolls of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and more.
After the park, the trail passed Little Rock Pond, and then climbed up White Rock Mountain. While most of it was relatively easy, the part around White Rock Mountain were harder than I remembered. Sadly, many of the rock cairns that graced the trail at the intersection of the Long Trail and a side trail to a cliff overlook had been knocked down since last year. Since I wasn't able to last year, I took the side trail to a cliff overlook. Shamwow was there, waiting for his friends (Spider and Warrior; while we were at the cliff, they passed the trail intersection, deciding to head straight for the shelter instead of meeting up as planned).
A sign at the trailhead for the spur trail to the Greenwall Shelter had a note that while there was water available at the shelter, in drier weather, it might be necessary to follow the stream bed downstream looking for pools, or alternatively, get water from the cascades almost a mile further ahead on the Long Trail. I considered my options: I could stop here (Greenwall Shelter was 0.3 miles down the spur trail), but if water turned out bad, I'd have to retrace my steps and forge on ahead to the next shelter, which while doable, was really further than I wanted to hike today. At least, not without a food and rest break.
But, I went ahead and took the chance there'd be water at the shelter; after all, Vermont was currently having an unseasonably wet season, so there should almost certainly be water available. My tentative plan was to head to the shelter, make dinner, and re-evaluate how I felt, and if my feet approved, and I had enough time left before sunset, push on to the next shelter, Minerva Hinchey, about five miles ahead.
As I hiked to the shelter, the trail crossed no small number of dry stream beds, and the wettest place I saw was pools of water under an uprooted tree. I began to doubt the wisdom of coming to this shelter, though, I quickly arrived, and saw a small stream flowing just before the trail reached the shelter.
Greenwall Shelter's water source was easily the least plentiful of shelter water sources so far. It was barely a trickle of water that flowed down a stream bed; the only reason there was even any viable water was because someone had done some rock work to fashion a funnel of sorts for the stream to collect in so that when it poured down the cascade formed by the last rock, there was something concentrated enough to actually collect. Even then, it took what seemed like forever (but was at least five minutes) to fill my 4 liter water bag.
The mosquitoes were annoyingly persistent all day, but maddeningly so at the shelter, where we were constantly swatting at them while attempting to eat. One hiker even went so far as to retreat to the shelter after his dinner, laying inside his tent's body (using it as a crude, but effective, bug net), and attempted to use the shelter's broom to keep the (otherwise unsupported) tent from collapsing on him.
At camp were Gas, Shamwow, Spider, and Warrior, as well as AT SOBOs Nine, Butt Tape, and Packaged Meat.
The weather forecast for tomorrow looks dismal: rain is supposed to start at 1 am, and continue all day.