We woke up to heavy rains at around 4 am and the rains stayed heavy most of the morning. The young guys headed south at about 6:30 while NoKey, Southpaw, and myself stayed in bed until around 7:15. We got up and cooked hot breakfasts and sat around talking until about 9 am, when the rain had slowed and we finally headed out. We had several climbs this morning over three small peaks before finally getting to Domey's Dome. It was around 11 and we were both out of energy and decided to stop for an early lunch break. Afterward we continued downhill steeply, slipping and sliding down wet rocks and roots only to land in mud puddles. Whatever dried out the past few days definitely was wet again thanks to the downpour last night and this morning. On our descent down into Jay Pass the sun and blue skies finally made an appearance we we thought we might actually get a view on Jay Peak after all!
When we got to the pass and then began climbing up Jay we weren't sure what to expect. We knew it would be a 2000-foot climb up to the top but we also knew this was a pretty popular mountain, so we were hoping for trail maintenance! The footing on this trail turned out to be pretty good. The grade wasn't nearly as steep as the shorter peaks we climbed this morning and there was good drainage built in to the trail. We headed up to a ski slope and hiked parallel to it for about a quarter mile before being deposited out onto a platform to cross the slope. We could have just taken the slope up, but instead our trail went up and over some steep rocks. I was motivated by hunger and ran up quickly, making it to the top by 1:30. We stopped and had lunch and talked to a few people before deciding to look for some water. It turns out there is a restaurant and bathrooms up there too for the people who ride up on the sky tram, so we went inside and charged our phones, had beer and ice cream, and filled our water.
We walked down a ski slope for a while before heading back Into the woods and being deposited back out onto the same ski slope. This time we saw a shirtless, shoeless man pulling a stroller behind him up the ski slope. With a French accent he asked us how much further to the top. He had apparently pulled the baby all the way up from the bottom! It was very strange. We then went back into the woods and headed to Laura Woodward shelter. We talked to the people there for a quick minute before heading up and over Doll Peak to Shooting Star shelter.
The 4.3 miles to this shelter went quickly, although the terrain was pretty nasty. The mud was so stagnant and thick over here that it was growing mold and moss. Some mud pits were so thick your trekking pole would sink nearly to the handle. Staying upright was pretty important! We reached our shelter only to find the water here was a stagnant puddle in a leaf pit. It was kind of a bummer for our final night on the trail. It was only NoKey, me, and a guy named Neo at the shelter and we all hit the bed by 8 pm. A pretty lame last night on trail. Tomorrow is only 4.4 miles to the border!