It was a much warmer night last night, with a low of about 50° this time. We woke up at 7:00 and made it out of camp at 8:30.
We came to the Rondeau Hermitage soon after, basically a collection of trash from hermit Noah John Rondeau who lived here from 1913 to 1950 and was the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Cold River City, Population 1.” It was neat to see.
After a few miles, we came to the Cold River Lean-to #2 and stopped for a snack, then continued on to Duck Hole, where we did not see any bridge out. Soon after there was what looked like a new-ish bridge over Roaring Brook, so maybe that’s what the sign we’d seen earlier had been referring to, or maybe it was just a really old sign.
It was cloudy and foggy most of the day, and drizzly here and there. The leaf colors were really popping in the mist though. It was good we had something to look at because the trail from Duck Hole to Moose Pond Lean-to was a rooty, muddy, PUDdy mess, with lots of blowdowns to clamber over. (PUD = pointless ups and downs.)
We did finally make it to the Moose Pond Lean-to, just as another large group of college kids was leaving. They had camped there last night and were just heading out. Meanwhile, we were there for a late lunch.
The trail got a little nicer shortly after the lean-to and we were able to make better time on the last several miles to the road. There wasn’t really anywhere to take a break since everything was wet, but we stopped for one final snack on a rock with a couple of miles left.
Of course, it started raining right as we got to the Averyville Road trailhead in Lake Placid. I was happy to finish my thru hike a day earlier than planned and get into the dry clothes I’d left in the car. Then we went out for pizza before the long drive home in the dark.
17.7 miles today to finish my trip of 138.6 miles.
Overall, I really enjoyed this trail. I was aiming for peak foliage, but I was a little early. It got better as I got farther north and later into October. Trail maintenance seemed lacking in a lot of areas with regard to mud pits and blowdowns, but there were plenty of flat, dry stretches too. The trail is generally not very rugged at all, but has easy grades as it meanders between lakes and ponds. I planned to hike it in 10 days and did it in 9, but it could be stretched longer for a more leisurely pace. I had a 15.4 mile/day average even with one very short day (16.6-mile median).
The only complaints I have are regarding the lean-tos and privies. There was trash at every single lean-to I stopped at, sometimes just a few wrappers in the fire pit, sometimes giant piles of plastic. A lot of shelters also had straight-up food in them, like someone thought the next hiker would be interested in their can of Spaghetti-O’s or bag of granola. All that does is create rodent and bear problems. And leaving a roll of toiler paper behind? No one wants your damp, mouse-chewed, unknown-original tp. Take it with you. I had to sweep chewed up tp out of multiple lean-tos. And the privies were even worse. Built with only a tiny window for light to get in, if any window at all, half of the privies seemed to have rotting floors and a few were approaching full. Not the most pleasant things to use.
Despite that, I think the Northville Placid Trail is a great intro thru hike for beginner backpackers or a nice vacation for more experienced hikers. It’s a gentle trail with easy resupplies, but the wilderness and wild forest areas make it seem like you’re much farther from civilization than you really are. The Adirondack Park is the largest public park in the lower 48 and it was preserved a long time ago, 1892, so it has a different feel from the newer preserved forests. In addition to seeing old growth forest, there’s just a general feeling of walking through something “forever wild,” a rarity in the US.