Day 7: Stephens Pond

Sunday February 21, 3.3mi/5.3km

Lake Durant Trailhead (51.9/1810ft) to Stephens Pond Leanto (55.2/1960ft) (NY)

We had another killer breakfast at Barrett’s house, and then packed up and left. We had some errands to do, buying a couple small items, and grabbing lunch at McDonald’s. I made a couple shamrock shakes and chicken sandwiches disappear, and then Barrett dropped us at the trailhead at 1pm. It was a relatively warm (20F/-7C) and sunny day, and the first half-mile of the trail follows a snowmobile path. It was easy, fast skiing.

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We crossed a bridge over the inlet of Durant Lake, which was completely frozen over. There were tons of snowmobile tracks on the frozen lake.

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The trail to Stephens Pond is apparently very popular, because the entire 3+ miles was very well compacted snow. We were averaging a speed of almost 2mph, almost unheard of for uphill travel in winter. Just before 3pm, we arrived at our destination for the night, Stephens Pond Leanto. I dropped my pack in the leanto and skiied a short distance down onto the frozen lake.

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I had stopped here during my summer thru-hike for a lunch break, and listened to the loons calling. Of course, there were no such birds hanging around now. Looking north, towards Blue Ridge:

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Looking south, towards Round Top mountain:

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Our skis only sunk a couple inches into the snow on the frozen lake. We dug a hole, near where the yellow shovel is located in the photo. After extracting a bucket of water, we returned to the leanto for a relaxing evening at camp. 

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This was my favorite campsite yet, and took advantage of the sunny weather to de-ice our skis (our clothes are already dry from being indoors last night).  I wasn’t that hungry for a freeze-dried dinner, but made myself eat it anyway. Tomorrow will be a big 9-mile day, climbing 500ft up and over a pass, to get to Wakely Dam. 

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