The original plan was for Randy’s longtime friend and frequent hiking companion Bob Hayes to lead the hike, but a sprained ankle on Sep. 3 forced him to bow out at the last minute. Leading the trip was then left in the capable hands of his wife, Geri. The other people in the hiking group were Darlene, Liza, Melissa, Cathy, Mike, and of course Randy, his wife Tracy, and the Mighty Quinn.
The group started out before 9:00 a.m. at the head of the 19 Mile Brook trail. Sadly, the group found lengthy and deep washouts in the middle of the trail… this on the supposedly ‘easy’ section. They kept a good pace nonetheless.
The whole team took turns leading along the way. Mike led up to the junction with Wildcat Ridge Trail. Darlene coordinated the steeps from there up to A. This section, although only .7 of a mile long, is very steep with some fairly narrow trail sections. The team spread out here, although they were in site of each other to the top. They spent a few minutes on the summit of A. Sadly the weather was not clearing and the view towards the northeast was only fog. Quick bites to eat, and time to head out again.
Shortly thereafter, Geri received a call from Bob to advise them about a band of clouds/rain heading their way — he warned that the group should expect rain in another half hour, lasting 20 minutes or so. All prepared with jackets in easy reach, but fortunately the team only experienced a few drops.
The A-C sections along the ridge are rolling ups and downs. Tracy led Randy here. Liza took her turn and found herself leading the final climb to C and down the steep rocky section beyond. She managed the tricky sections and helpfully advised us that we were crossing bog bridge number 574 of the day. It started sprinkling, but with the extensive tree coverage it felt more like heavy mist.
Geri led again as they headed up the final approach to D summit, the top of Wildcat Mountain. This approach is fairly steep and rocky, Randy navigated several areas free climbing, using both his hands on the rocks with some verbal advice in the transition areas. They knew they were getting close to the summit and finally heard cheering from some of the team in front of them.
A few minutes later, Randy is climbing the stairs to the platform on the peak. It was still a rather dismal day weather-wise, but accomplishment abounded on the faces of the entire team. After taking some time to rest, their last summit activity was to be entertained by Randy, Quinn, and Delilah (Melissa’s black lab) as they play a bit of tug of war with one of Quinn’s favorite toys. Randy finished with a few minutes of special time with Quinn, and it was time to head out to finish the hike.
The walk down 2 miles down Pole Cat Trail rather easy and comfortable. The group was quite tired, but they finished in the daylight and got views of the peaks across the way, including Adams and Madison. They reached the parking lot shortly after 7pm, finishing the hike in just over 10 hours.