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

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