The morning arrived quickly after a near sleepless night in the hammock. The temps continued to drop and down to just above freezing and the evening quickly confirmed my suspicion that the hammock was not the bet choice for this trip and I should have brought my tent instead. If the weather continued like this then it was going to prove to be a long three days on the trail, as with out a good night sleep even a easy day of hiking and be draining.
The area around the shelter came to life shortly after the sun came up and it was not long before our instructor Seb, had water boiling and the smell of coffee was in the area. After enjoying some fresh coffee and a bit of breakfast we all headed back out on the trail just before 9am. Today would be our longer day of hiking covering just over 7.25 miles. For the majority of the day we traveled the ridge line resulting in a pretty easy day of hiking. With more ground to cover then any of the other days, the majority of the day was spent hiking and sharing riddles and games along the trail as we hiked.
The day of hiking was absolutely beautiful and an area that often only has a couple of views along the route was one great view of the valley after another due to the lack of leaf coverage on the trees. Traveling the ridge we were joined by some rain and hail a few times during our morning travels, after come down off the ridge line we enjoyed another group lunch in a small clearing off the trail.
About an hour or so after lunch we parted ways with the AT onto a side trail not found on the trail maps to an old abandoned boy scout camp located on the banks of Long Pine Pond. It made for an interesting visit as it was much like visiting a ghost town. Some portions of the camp had been flooded by the pond and what was likely once a beach was now underwater. As we exited the camp we stopped to refill a water, before proceeding what was claimed to be 0.7 miles to our campsite for the evening. The distance of 0.7 miles would become a running joke for the rest of trip as it seemed to be much more then 0.7 miles to the campsite, granted the difference was likely only a few tenths of a mile, but at the end of the day every 100′ counts.
Tonights campsite would be an impacted campsite, that being one which is a space that has not been setup for camping but due to the continued use by visitors is now easily recognizable as a camping area. We found an area off to the right of the trail which included a clearing for the tents and a large fire ring. As fires are not permitted in the area the group disassembled the fire ring and converted the space into a cooking / gathering area. Tents were setup and the area was established as our home for the evening. Due to the cold the night before I did not setup my hammock and instead would be joining the other guys in the group in there tent, it would be a cozy night with all four of us in the tent, but I was thankful that they were willing to the share the space with me.
It was not long before the stoves were out and dinner was being prepared. Dinner for the evening would be a filling meal of rice and beans. All the beans would certainly make for an interesting night in the tent. With our bellies filled we had a discussion on how to conduct a Leave No Trace Trainer course and turned in early for the night as everyone was looking forward to enjoying the warmth of the sleeping bags.
Although we had all retreated to the tents, it was far from being time for sleep. Like most evenings of camping on colder nights, even though we had all headed to our sleeping bags sleep was a long way off. We shared stories for the next couple of hours in the tents and one by one drifted off to sleep.