7.11.2007

A damp experience of communal living, and my Bearvault(tm) does its thing

In my previous trips to the Adirondacks I have camped in my small one person tent. The tent provides shelter, privacy, is bug proof, etc., however it is (obviously) set up on the ground, if the ground is saturated, it would be very wet. So on my recent trip I planned to stay at the Boquet River Leanto (random image I found online, taken on a sunny day) due to the dismal weather forecast, this proved to be a wise choice as it rained all three days of the trip.

The leanto is a little more than 4 miles from Route 73 in Keene. When I arrived at about 6 pm on Friday night, having hiked in through a downpour, there were a couple of young guys already ensconced in the shelter, but as leantos have a capacity of 8 people, I staked out a corner for myself. I am far from an expert outdoorsman but I had more experience with being in the woods than my erstwhile companions and managed to bring less stuff, but generally lived better, than they did over the course of the weekend.

Friday night I discovered that the leanto was home to lots of mice which spent the night running to and fro... one got tangled up in my hair, which made think of plague or hanta virus... not the most pleasant experience in the dark. Saturday we went our separate ways but the other guys left a pack with food in it in the leanto. The weather deteriorated in the afternoon (see previous post) and when I finally made it back to camp this was the scene that awaited me:

Some animal (a large raccoon? -- I don't think it was a bear) had gotten into the pack and made a big mess... and they had no food left at all. The other guys in the leanto were quite disheartened when they returned from hiking to discover than their dinner was unceremoniously piled on the floor. Fortunately I had stored my food in a bear canister (required when camping in some parts of the Adirondacks, it is like a giant Nalgene pill bottle) and had brought a four serving package of instant mashed potatoes with me (light, cheap, filling and surprisingly passable, especially with some olive oil and Parmesan cheese tossed in). We shared this simple meal, and they were extremely grateful for the hot food.

As we were finishing our shared meal -- by this time it was past 8 pm -- two other guys showed up at the leanto, soaking wet and needing a place to stay for the night as they had been hiking with full packs all day. Five guys and lots of wet gear made for a crowded night in the shelter but by that time I was too tired to care and despite the cramped and sodden environment fell asleep early and slept through the night.

This was the scene at about 6:15 am on Sunday morning as I got up and started to get ready to hike out. I think this was my 4th overnight trip into the Adirondacks and it really was the first time that the weather was quite bad pretty much the whole time... no blue skies this trip. Also when I got home I discovered that there were some teeth marks on the bear can, whatever animal raided the pack in the leanto, tried unsuccessfully to get into my food cache as well.

A couple of other images from this trip can be seen here.

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