We woke up early again to have breakfast with our hosts before heading back to the trail. We ended up going to a diner with them before being dropped off back at Stone Quarry Hill Road, stuffing ourselves on eggs, potatoes, sausage and bacon. We cannot thank the two of them enough for all their hospitality! I really hope we can repay them one day.
We started our hike this morning with a field walk and then a beautiful walk in to a lean-to. It obviously gets a lot of traffic but was clean enough. We did some more walking that was mostly flat through pine forests before coming to a combination trail/snowmobile trail. The trail became steeper downhill and, just as we got to the open part of the road, we were hit with a downpour! We always seem to time our road walks with either heavy rain or blinding sun! Ha! We walked for about 1.5 miles on this open road before turning back to the woods just as the rain stopped.
We reached Bowman Lake State Park and had planned on taking a hot shower here, but we were already soaked so we just sat under the overhang at the shower house, drying out with the hot hand dryers. The state park was completely empty. The snack bar still wasn't open for the summer and the rainy skies probably didn't make for many people looking to go swimming! We began walking uphill through mushy ground and bogs. All the rain has really made for nasty trails - ankle deep mud and stream crossings where the bridges begin in the middle of the stream because the banks have been breached! At least we have water.
Toward the highest point of the day, an old fire tower, we began a road walk and the sun came out. When we reached a paved road we noticed it was only 1 mile from our trail junction down to a restaurant/bar so we headed down to the Balsam Inn for 1.50 beers, chicken wings, and a cheesesteak with fries! We even got a free bowl of popcorn so I consider it time well spent! We walked back up to the trail feeling full and happy.
When we made it back into the woods it wasn't far to the lean-to we planned on crashing in for the night. As we came around the bend and we're looking for the trail up we hear someone yelling "Sprinkles & NoKey?!" It was 46-er, the hiker who helped me out by sending me a spreadsheet with the real mileage and better landmarks for the FLT. He is near the end of his thru hike and we were happy to run into him. It was also very nice to camp with someone too! We talked trail conditions and gear, as well as other hikes we have done. We had a wonderful night getting to meet him!
I also want to take time to mention this AMAZING shelter. An open air privy (with "in use" traffic cone), rocking chair, benches, a picnic table, water feature, and memorial bench for Ed Sidote - Mr. Finger Lakes Trail. This shelter is obviously the pride and joy of the caretaker, who keeps it stocked with firewood and clean drinking water. He even provided a map with the nearest cell phone coverage. Thank you to the Bullthistle Hiking Club!