Oh well. I pick up a stick and use that. The trail on this end is mostly a muddy ATV track, and a few spots are slick with clay. The trail rises and just before the top it levels off a bit and there's a big gorge down below. Seems like a great place to leave the North Branford letterbox.
What's neat about the gorge is that you can see where the hard trap rock above meets the red shales and sandstones below. Looking down the gorge, the eroded parts are all red. You don't see any bedrock because the shale and sandstone is very soft and disintegrates the moment it's exposed to the weather.
At the top of the gorge, you can see the soils and rock outcrop are shades of brown, gray, and orange, but not red. You might have to click on the photos to really see it.
I'm making great time, and before long I'm back up to the cliffs of Bluff Head. And you know, that cemetery where I last saw my poles is right down at the bottom of the hill. Hmmm.
Hey, I can see Long Island Sound today!
And there's the poles!! Exactly where I left them a few days ago, visible from the trail if you're paying attention. What are the odds? Elated, I decide to climb back up the steeper mainline NET rather than the easier route. Although steep, it's not like you need to use your hands. There are a few steps and it just goes up pretty fast.
And I'm back up to the top. And tired. And at this point my camera battery mostly dies and I have to shut it down. But it is simply gorgeous up there. I hang out above the pond for a bit and watch a raven bringing in some sticks for a nest in the cliffs. I can hear the ravens clicking to each other. In the pond, there are silver flashes from fish.
And on we go. Down the North Slope Trail (blue/white) all the way to the bottom to pick up where I left off a few days ago on the Lone Pine Trail (blue/red), which heads into James Valley Preserve.
The preserve has the look of a young woods that were a pasture not too long ago. ATVs have really made a mess of parts of the trail, which were slippery from exposed clays.
I managed one more picture from the dead camera battery, some really happy moss.
Climbed Totoket 3 1/2 times this day. The first time was fun. The second time was tiring. The third time was grueling. The Lone Pine Trail actually climbs half way up the mountain, changes its mind and goes all the way back down, and then reverses and climbs all the way to the top. Are we there yet???
At the top, I planned on turning right onto the NET, but the junction is terribly confusing due to an ATV track and scant trail markings coming from that direction. I floundered about for half an hour before I finally figured it out. That's a good reason to turn the gps on at the start of the hike (I had not). The bread crumb feature of the gps is great when you're trying to retrace your steps.