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 Over the past two years I have introduced my wife to hiking. This summer
she purchased her first pair of hiking boots, Bean's all-leather Cresta
boots. She loves them. I had always hoped that she would be able to join me
on one of my backpacking trips, and she seemed ready and was excited to give
it a shot. She only has a daypack but I figured, what's one more down bag
and sleeping pad in my pack? Most of our non-local hikes had been in Vermont
and New Hampshire, but TEO recommended visiting Duck Hole for the missus's
first overnight trip. She and I looked at the topo and online photos, and
she said yes.

Days of rain postponed our departure, but on Tuesday morning the rain bid au
revoir. We arrived at the Upper Works trailhead shortly after noon-thirty,
and by 1 pm were on our way. The mile-and-a-half to the crossing of Indian
Pass Brook went quickly, and shortly thereafter we crossed a beaver dam that
offered a more felicitous water crossing than the trail's deep ford. After
several crossings of a brook draining the south side of Preston Pass, we
began the gentle climb into the pass itself. There we enjoyed the cliffs of
its western wall and the mossy boulders along the path.

At Upper Preston Pond, we refilled our water bottles where the dock used to
be. After ascending to Hunter Pond, were reached Piche's lumber camp and
took a few photos of rusting artifacts. The decaying corduroy road from the
camp provided a fun descent. Just about a mile shy of Duck Hole we crossed a
swamp that, with a little more water, could make for some wet work. Crossing
a submerged beaver dam just wide enough for one foot proved to be the crux
of the matter.

A half-handful of ups and downs on, we arrived at Roaring Brook. The ADK
guidebook explicitly warns that no bridge crosses the stream, but we found
one luxurious enough to offer a railing on one side. Another half-handful of
ups and downs later, we came upon the Duck Hole lean-tos and tent sites.

Having pitched our tent and hung our bear bag PCT-style, we went for a swim
above the dam--a refreshing way to get the mud off. A metal canoe and two
paddles tethered to a tree tempted us, but we opted to relax at camp
instead. We dined, took in the last hints of twilight over a cup of tea, and
then chatted with other hikers around a campfire, before heading to bed.

We awoke to the morning sun burning whisps of fog off Duck Hole and a loon
laughing and swimming. Upon packing up our bags, pads, and tent, we broke
our fast, filtered water at the foot of the damn, and set out for Upper
Works. As we snacked at Upper Preston Pond a gaggle of canoeists trudged in
from the pass, clambered in, and paddled off into the glinting distance.

Soon enough we arrived back at the trailhead and lamented the absence of
cold refreshing reeb. Nevertheless, Duck Hole offered a delightful
introduction to backpacking for my wife.

Photos at: https://picasaweb.google.com/bkulas/DuckHoleAugust2011

caveat lector

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