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Lion’s Head, Riga Shelter, and Bear Mountain.

Wow, what an amazing day today was! Call me crazy, but I just spent the day hiking nine miles in below freezing temperatures (no joke – my water bottle froze), and I honestly couldn’t feel any more exhilarated!

It’s only been a few weeks since I finished reading AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, but I’m already itching to get started with this massive undertaking that starts in Georgia and ends in Maine – over 2,100 miles of hiking – incredible! I just love the thought of waking up every morning to the smell of pine trees and to the sound of birds chirping. For now, I’ll pretend that the other nuances that come along with hiking that many miles (ie: blisters, swollen ankles, lack of electricity, bugs…etc.) don’t exist. OF course, I know that they do, and I understand that I’ll have to be prepared, but I’m more excited about the experience than worried about these inconveniences.

Thankfully, my dad also shares a love for the great outdoors. He’s always been an avid hiker, but after I gave him a copy of AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, he became even more interested in hiking the AT. So, when he suggested we start hiking the CT portion of the trail, I was definitely on board!

We started off in Salisbury and made our way to Lion’s Head, which offers a gorgeous view of western Connecticut. After, we headed over to Riga Shelter. I wanted to imagine what it would be like to stay the night on a through hike. I sat for a while in the shelter reading through the shelter’s register. It was definitely interesting to read the entries of past residents. While the structure is primitive, you can’t beat the view from here – sweeping views of the valleys below. As gorgeous as it is this time of year, I bet it’s even more beautiful during the Fall when all of the trees have leaves that are golden yellow, orange and red!

After visiting Riga Shelter, we headed over to Bear Mountain, passing a few streams along the way. At the top of Bear Mountain, the terrain changes from woodlands to shorter, high altitude growth. Like Lion’s Head and Riga Shelter, the top of Bear Mountain offers a stunning view of the valley below. Here we met up with another day hiker and the three of us sat for a while chatting about the latest hiking gear and various trails in the surrounding area. Even though the temperature was in the low 20’s, I surprisingly never felt that cold. In fact, at times I even took off a few layers in order to keep from sweating – crazy!

After Bear Mountain, we had to turn around, or face being caught on the trail after the sun set. We wanted to make sure we made it back to the car in time to avoid needing a flashlight to finish the hike. Thankfully, we were out of the woods in time and as the temperature began to drop to even lower numbers, we were grateful that rather than setting up camp for the night, we would be returning to a warm house and ordering a much anticipated pizza!

Me to my dad: What do you like hiking better – inclines or declines?

My dad: They both have their ups and downs.

Classic.

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