Hiked September 3-5, and what an awesome trip. Started at the Willey House Station site parking lot, west along the Ethan Pond trail, south on Thoreau Falls trail, east on the Wilderness trail, then north on Shoal Pond trail which lead back to the Ethan Pond trail. Headed east on the Ethan Pond trail back to the car.
The parking lot had quite a few people parked there already. Someone was doing trail magic, but we decided to not partake in food since we were just starting. Hiking up the Ethan Pong tr. was a bit of work, and shortly after the train tracks there was a group of AT through hikers that found a little camping spot and they had a small fire going. We let them know about the trail magic.
First lunch break was along the Ethan Pond trail close to the Shoal pond trail intersection, right on the water. We went through a pretty nice camping spot, that would hold probably 2-3 tents. Good spot for thru hikers for sure, as it the Ethan Pond trail is part of the AT.
Spent a little time at the Thoreau Falls, then on the other side (south side) of the falls there is a trail that you don't see at first. We went there and proceeded south on the Thoreau Falls tr. It heads down almost right after you get back into the trees, pretty steep for a bit. It's clear it follows the falls down. Once you get to the bottom you're pretty much following the river.
We happened on a father camping with his son. He gave the excuse that he hadn't planned on staying there, but it's a nice spot and we figured he really did mean to stay there. But since it was right on the trail, I suspect he felt a little guilty. About 1.5-2 miles down the trail we found a really cool camping spot a little off the trail. It was leveled, had gravel laid down, and a little spot for a camp fire. While we didn't make a fire, we did enjoy our dinner which was followed by a BACKPACKER'S PANTRY Crème Brulee. That stuff is very tasty. While it's more of a pudding with a crispy sugar topping, its taste is very convincing.
The next day we continued south along the Thoreau Falls trail and happened upon a nice open area we thought would fit a few tents. Along the way we saw what we guessed to be some old mining gear, and the bottom of a huge glass jar. It was confirmed later when we were going east on the wilderness trail where we found an old stove. But before we get that far, the bridge over the Pemi river. Man that was rickety looking. We actually decided to cross the river rather then going across it. Of course as soon as we did that a couple with a dog came along and crossed it. Ah well, we ended up sitting and enjoying a snack before continuing along the Wilderness trail on the other side.
Somewhere around the Stillwater Junction we ran into a dog that was quite obnoxious until the owners came along. They were doing the loop in the other direction. Cool thing they had was a GPS tracking collar for their dog, so they could see where it had gone. Turns out it had gone 20 miles, in the time they did 8 or so. Pretty cool.
We headed north on the Shoal Pond trail, which I have to say is a beautiful trail, but had a lot of bog. Only a few camping spots close to the pemi river, then all bog till you get to Shoal Pond sites. Foliage environment changed like 3 times. We needed to cross the shoal pond river, and we had lunch there. That's where Pauline decided she wanted to take a quick sit down in the water. Funny as hell watching her! Water was very cold.
I was getting pretty tired, but we finally made it to the camp site. Two sites side by side actually. One had, I thing two spots, one behind the other. Then a little further north there was a nice large open area we camped. There was one good spot, but elsewhere was a lot of moose trails. We did hear the moose at night, but didn't see any, except the skull in camp that is. This annoying lady came over, and was wondering around looking for a spot, but went to the other site. Then proceeded to tell a couple groups that there was only one tent in the other area and it had lots of room.
Water source was the pond. Kinda sketchy considering that is where the moose enter the water.
Next morning we just about ran out of fuel. The stove actually went out, but I was able to pump and relight it. 11oz was just able to get us through a 3 day trip. I used it 2 times on day 1 for dinner and hot chocolate, 3 times on day 2. Grits for breakfast, ramen noodles at lunch, and a dehydrated meal for dinner. Day 3 we were making eggs then oatmeal. It ran out while I was doing my oatmeal.
I boiled an averaged about 2.5 cups of water each meal and did simmer/boil for a while each time to help with food rehydration. So I was not making any effort to preserve fuel. This gave us a total of 15 cups, or 3.6L. A far cry from the 14L that the manufacturers numbers show. If the temps were cold, a 20oz would have been required for sure.
Shortly after getting onto the Ehtan Pond trail from the Shoal Pond trail, we had our first wild moose sighting! It was totally cool. I cam around a bend and saw him wonder off the trail into the woods. I stopped and whispered to Pauline to come and look. She saw them too. I wondered over to where they had entered the forest and got a couple pictures. Turns out that I was standing pretty close to one of them while the other had wondered off into the woods, but I didn't even notice!
Brought: Zpacks Duplex, WhisperLite w/ 11oz bottle
Wish I brought: 20oz fuel bottle (11oz lasted, but ran out on last day)