Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Riga Shelter Salisbury, CT

On April 11th my sweetheart & I drove down to Salisbury, CT for an overnight stay on the Appalachian Trail. Most of the drive there it rained, but as we approached Connecticut, the skies were growing more & more clearer. The forecast called for rain early Saturday, clearing in the afternoon and night, then sunny and 55 degrees for Sunday. We were looking forward to a good weekend hike.

We arrived at the parking lot on Rte 41 which leads to the Undermountain Trail around 4:30 pm. We headed up the trail to the point where it forks to the left with the junction of the Paradise Lane Trail. This lead another half a mile or so until we reached the AT. Turning south on the AT, we stopped a half mile up the trail at the Brassie Brook Shelter for a few minutes, grabbed a snack before heading on to the Riga Shelter, another 1.8 miles away.

100_0299_00 It was overcast & cool on our way to Riga, the trail clear & pretty easy going. The trail crossed over a stream a number of times and we enjoyed rock-hopping & crossing the small bridges when available. The cool breeze and lateness of the day told us we were in for a cold night.

Another hiker was already in the Riga Shelter when we finally reached it; we think his name was Larry, after looking through the shelter register the next morning. He told us he'd been there since Friday night around 9 pm, and that it had rained Saturday until about 1 in the afternoon. So he waited out the rain, reading, and stayed through until Sunday morning.

Riga Shelter sleeps 6 like Brassie Brook, but for some reason, appeared a little smaller than the other shelter. But one of the first things I noticed was the new steps leading up to the shelter, built by the trail maintainers. Larry said they had dropped in 8 loads of lumber by helicopter, enough to build the steps, a new privy & two new tent platforms. They did a great job! My hat's off to all who give of their time & energy in helping to maintain what so many of us take for granted. In the near future, I want to start doing my part in volunteering when I can.

We decided to set up100_0305_00 our tent on the platform directly behind the shelter, about 30 yards away. Beth is a cold sleeper, so I figured it'd be warmer in the tent rather than the shelter. Larry probably enjoyed his privacy, too. Beth cooked our meal of rice & beans with some white chicken while I set up the tent. Some hot tea helped keep us warm till we turned in for the night. There was a wash pit about 10 yards from our tent that we used to clean up. The stream running close by was a relaxing sound as we fell asleep.

100_0310_00 Easter Sunday greeted us with a nice sunrise! Though it was still chilly, we were looking forward to a 55 degree day, or so it was forecasted. Little did we know, it would turn out to be mid-40s at best. But it was sunny, so we still had an enjoyable hike. 100_0312_00

The shelter was empty when we woke, so Larry must've got an early start. We set up the stove near the shelter to warm up some tea & had a light breakfast. We eventually got back on the trail at 9:48 am.

Crisp, cool days always get me moving a bit quicker than hot days, and I enjoy hiking in this weather. The climb up the south side of Bear Mountain wasn't too strenuous, and a bit more taxing for the last 100 yards or so. We had a great view once we reached the summit, climbed up on the remaining rocks of the once standing tower. 

The wind was blowing pretty well, so we didn't stay on top of the tower for long, just long en100_0318_00ough to say  we did & snapped a few pictures.   I was thinking of our trip down the north side of the mountain, as I'd read in an online forum a few days before that there were still many downed trees blocking parts of the trail. 100_0317 The trail maintainers have done a great job in clearing out most of the debris left behind from the ice storms this past winter. It's still pretty early in the season, and I'm sure they'll have the remainder of the stuff cleared away very soon.

Everything I'd read of hiking the north side of Bear Mountain was pretty accurate. It was real steep in some spots and going was slow, but lots of fun. I can only imagine how tough it was with snow & ice covering the rocks. In some spots we saw marks left from crampons on the rocks, long scraping lines. 100_0320_00


In several spots along the trail we needed to go around the fallen trees. Most of the damage was found along the north face of the mountain and the base. As we hiked further north, there didn't seem to be as much debris.



Hiking solo for me is very enjoyable, but I was happy that my sweetheart, Beth, wanted to do this overnight trip with me. We had a great time & enjoyed each other's company, at least most of the time. smile_regular Next trip we do we hope to have a few friends along and, of course, my little buddy Skippy Bones! We missed having him along, but felt it was best to leave him with Beth's dad & his Pug, Zoe.

As we descended Bear Mountain & headed north on the AT, we turned at the junction where it meets with Paradise Lane. From there, another couple miles or so back to the Rte 41 parking lot. We met 3 other hikers  & a dog named Simon who were on their way up to Bear Mountain, talked about our hike & unexpected cooler weather of the day. We reached our car just after 1:30 pm and headed home. Now we're looking forward to the next hike!

~Till next time, The Pilgrim.