Ah backpacking. Each time I go, I question my sanity about the whole thing. This year was muggy, swampy and rainy, not exactly ideal weather. A constant stickiness on my skin, my sleeping bag nearly unbearable. And then when I make it to Sunfish pond, or something equally as breathtaking, I remember why I’ve gone every year for the past four or so.

Sunfish pond

Sunfish pond, one of my favorite places

J. and I chose August for what has become our annual hiking trip. A muggy morning, rain forecast for the weekend, a young dog and a tent that we weren’t quite sure was waterproof. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Kirkridge Shelter

at the Kirkridge Shelter

But a well placed shelter the first night kept us dry, as well as provided some nice interaction with other weekenders. I’m glad we went later this year, and avoided the through hikers. Over the years, I’ve gotten a little tired of how pretentious some of them can be, as if they own the trail, and we section hikers have no right to be in their way. Not everyone is like that, of course. But it was nice not to have our mileage for the day scoffed at. J.’s dog Dee Dee was rather protective of the camp site, and scared off some hikers in the middle of the night- her growl makes her sound like 6 times the dog she is. She was friendly to the other hikers at the shelter though, and I think everyone liked having her around as a bit of bear repellent.

This year we got dropped off at Wind Gap and left J.’s car at Water Gap. It was nice not to backtrack too much for once. Wind Gap is another major uphill right away, which is never fun. Apparently the section of trail we hike is one of the most difficult on the AT because of all the rocks. It really feels absurd at some points, as if all the rocks were put there just to turn your ankles. Major fog and cloud cover meant that most of our ‘scenic views’ were less than spectacular, and we hiked most of the second day under a constant drip from light rain and the tree leaves.

Campsite at Backpacker 2

Campsite at Backpacker 2

But by the time we got up to Backpacker 2 near Sunfish, the weather had cleared. Soaking our worn feet in the cool water was just perfect. It poured again that night, but turns out our little tent was quite waterproof and we emerged in the morning sticky from the humidity but otherwise unscathed. A quick hike down in the morning, and we completed close to 24 miles in a little over two days. Not bad for weekenders!

I’m already planning our next trip in my mind. Cooler weather, perhaps a September hike. I’ll have bought a good light two-man tent by then, and maybe we’ll venture onto a non-AT trail….. but if I haven’t found one when it comes down to time to head out, Sunfish pond is certainly a great fall back, as it is every year.

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