Gondola ski lift at Pico mtn. summit
This morning Jon and I had intended to get up with the sun, but it was grey and windy outside so we decided against it. After we packed up and had another pop-tart packaged breakfast, we began the .4mi climb to Pico summit. More scraggly, rugged terrain and some drizzle to deal with, but nothing to serious. At the summit, we had a hard time finding the LT blue-blazed directionals, and spent nearly 20 minutes trying to locate where to go, lest we have to go back down the summit trail. The view was amazing, the winds were insane. Loud, strong and unnerving. I felt it was a great opportunity to fly a kite I brought with me in a tiny compact nylon sack, but the winds were too strong for it. :P
We went pack down towards Pico camp to pick up the trail that way, because the more time we spent up there, the colder and more wary we were getting about the incoming storm system.
We continued our hike along the ridgeline and descended into a valley after a few miles. At the trail head we flagged down a bus, titled, 'the bus,' on its way by and got on for a limited-time fare of 10cents apiece in honor of national transportation week. It was just in the nick of time, too, as we left the trail head on the bus, it began to pour. We rode up and down the ski resort route and eventually were deposited at the bus station in downtown Rutland.
Jon and I found the recommended 'Gill's Delicatessen' in town and invested in some delicious grinders and zippy pasta salad. YUM. Afterwards, Jon and I revised our itinerary to include a bit more trail coverage, a night at the Tucker Johnson shelter, and most of Friday to be spent in Rutland to run errands and relax in a hotel with a shower for the final night.
If we kept moving at our average rate, we were already behind schedule in mileage and wouldn't be able to arrive at a location sensible enough to meet up with Jon's next trail mate and our friend Mike, who had a bunch of stuff Jon needed from his home. So, we stopped by Walmart to purchase some new oatmeal for breakfast, hopped back on the bus and made it back to the trailhead in the rain. We hiked 2+ miles in the rain before we reached the shelter, thoroughly soaked.
We were soon joined by Russell
and Ali, who had come from the other direction and were South bound. Our first shelter buddies all week! We shared some stories and jokes, and they played cards and aired out their gear while Jon and I prepared our dinner (spicy peanut Thai- we were in the mood for it again).
I brought a little kite to fly on a mountain peak...
As we unpacked our sleeping gear, Jon noticed something was wrong with his inflatable ground mat. It had experienced a structural failure near the valve along the seam of the mat, due to the malfunction of a sharp piece of plastic involved in the valve design. We hadn't punctured it, the mat had punctured itself. Jon was ticked. He attempted to repair it with whatever we had, which was bandaids and candle wax, to no avail. Jon and I had to combine sleeping arrangements over my mat for the evening (which I had no complaints about, it was warmer!).