Saturday, June 30, 2012

R is for R.I.P.

This sad news really hit me hard.  This is Paul Bernhardt, aka 'Parkside', the very first person I had met down south (near Max Patch) as I was working my way southward toward Springer, and then met a second time up north, on my way to Katahdin.  He was just the eleventh thru-hiker to check in at Harpers Ferry:

Paul passed away on the trail in Maine on the evening of Friday, June 15th while swimming in Pierce Pond after doing a 20 mile day.

Because Paul was the first such encounter during my hike, I diligently followed his entries in the trail registers, and took photos of most of them.  Here's a sampling - a super-intelligent, inquisitive kid! :

As you see from the last entry, Parkside hooked up with 'Iceman and Viking', whom I met along with 'Achilles' in far NE Pennsylvania on the evening of April 29th and again on the morning of April 30th, just before Delaware Water Gap.  I know for a fact that Achilles was there at Pierce Pond the day Parkside met his end, and dove in to try to save him.  I don't know yet where Iceman and Viking were that day.

And then there's this, in which the punch line at the top of the next page is edited for family rating -- from the Morgan Stewart Shelter:

Nah, I'm just f***in with you.  - Parkside"

Finally, and stunning to me in its timing, is the entry I read on the last hike before I heard the news.  A little insight into Paul's motivation, perhaps.  This was a super intelligent, inquisitive kid.  The world will miss him and the productive life he would have embarked on after his thru-hike.

But what brings me closest to tears is the simple fact that Paul will never make it to Katahdin - that his thru-hike was the last thing he knew.  I can only hope that it made him happy.  And judging from our meeting on May 6th, I believe it did.

Rest in Peace, my friend.  It truly is the journey, not the destination.  Enjoy your thru-hike to Forever ...



This is the 'Parkside Fellowship'. They all summited Katahdin together on June 29th carrying Paul's ashes. I met so many of these people ...

Left to right: Drop Out (met him at a Cable Gap Shelter just south of Fontana Dam on March 13th and again the next day on the trail). Next is Catwoman (who I don’t believe I ever met), Swivel, Spiral (met and photographed this couple on Bear Mountain, NY, coming down the granite steps to Hessian Lake on May 18th), Germanator (face looks familiar but if we passed we just exchanged pleasantries) and Achilles (met April 29 in the evening and the next morning either side of Leroy Smith Shelter near Wind Gap, PA when he was hiking with Iceman and Viking – who also hiked with Parkside for a while in late May)

Tragedy brings people closer. The AT does the same. I feel part of this family ... and family is forever.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Q is for Quiddity

Tuesday, June 19, 2012:

The Appalachian Trail has a simple quiddity (a seldom used but elegant term for 'essence', or literally 'what-ness'.  It is a walkway best negotiated by foot.  It tests and tries the feet that venture upon it.  And in turn nature is forever testing it - trying to take it back.  Here, the beavers have undone a bit of it.  But the feet - at least the ones that prefer to stay dry - have found a way around.

But I hiked with 'Corky' for a while today.  Hiking in Crocs, she rambled right through the water here, never losing stride.  She's finishing the trail this year after starting it in June of last year.

And I stopped and chatted with 'TK' (Twisted Knickers) and 'Match Box' for probably the tenth time.  They have been doing a twelve-day section, and I believe I've met them almost every one of those days.  Sadly, today was the last.  I'll miss them, because they'll always be a part of the quiddity of the trail for me.

Only here can you expect to meet someone ten times in twelve days, many miles apart.  It's that quiddity. The trail is a strange one-dimensional world, where you are either in front of, behind, or with someone, but you can be certain you are on the same course. The quiddity of the trail is such that what's ahead can be discussed with precision and certainty, and yet where the delight is in discovering exactly what that is, when you'll get there, and how you'll react to it.

Today Baker Peak was the highlight.  It is a classic exposed bedrock ridge, complete with bad weather bypass trail and wonderful views.

Other highlights included Griffith Lake, where the flooding occurred.  The rest of the long puncheon-walk beside the lake was well-behaved.

The boards on the brand-new suspension over Big Branch still look fresh out of the lumberyard.  And I had the chance to visit four shelters in just 7.7 miles of AT.

Yes, today's hike is a good prototype for the quiddity of my day-hiking adventure - some people stories, some rocky high points and some bogged-down lows, and always walking ... always onward along that strange single strand of well-trampled real estate: 2184.2 miles long and just a few feet wide.


Here's today's map with a link to more photos:

AT Day 157 - Baker Peak at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Thursday, June 28, 2012

P is for Peak-bagging

Monday, June 18, 2012:

Bromley (3260'), Styles (3394'), and of course (P is for) Peru (3429') ... the three Peaks I bagged today in ten miles of Appalachian Trail.  Some hikers keep extensive lists of peaks they've 'bagged'.  There are web sites devoted to it.  Whether it's the Colorado 14'ers, the 50 state high points, the Southern Sixers, etc., climbers love to 'collect' (i.e. 'bag') summits and check them off their personal lists.

Me? ... nahhh.  I wanted to bag a 20,000' peak - didn't much care which one - and that was about it.  Now I'm just bagging miles - extending what I call my 'Personal Continuous Footpath'.  Then there are my friends the Troverts (X and N), who have bagged all 397 units of the US National Park System (including some really remote ones up in Alaska) and are currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (they're somewhere near Harper's Ferry as I write this).  Whatever the list, it seems to be a common thread among travelers and adventurers - defining goals, checking them off, moving on to the next one.  It provides motivation and focus.

For me, as I said, the 10.1 miles of AT were more significant than the three peaks.  I surpassed the 2600 mile mark today - 59.61% of the way to the finish line!  But the peaks were darn pretty.  The landscape here in Vermont above 3000 feet is virtually identical in character, climate and ecology to the landscape above 6000 feet down in SW Virginia, western NC, and eastern TN.   It felt like old times revisited.  And the views were wonderful.  The shot shown up top is from Bromley Peak, where the AT descends the south side of the summit on a ski trail.  Looking down the ski-lift the view was equally splendid:

Styles Mountain had a viewpoint at its summit too.

Peru Peak supposedly did too, according to my guidebook - on a short spur trail.  But I never did find it, not going northbound, not on the way back southbound.  And I was really scouring the trail.  I guess you 'can't win 'em all', as they say.  But I won't complain.  Today felt like a *short* but hard day (some steep climbing), when it was actually a *long* hard day.  I think I'm getting my second wind!


Map and link to photos:

AT Day 156 - Bromley Peak at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find trail maps for California and beyond

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

O is for Overlook

Sunday, June 17, 2012:

Overlooks dominated today's 7.2 miles of trail.  There were three of them, and they all looked over the same general area - the village of Manchester Center.  The first one I encountered was from a power line clearing after walking just a mile and a half south from VT 11 and 30.  That's not the one shown above.  Here's that power line view, looking across the (O is for) Otter Creek valley to THE Green Mountain (Green Peak, at left):

The most panoramic of the three overlooks was from Prospect Rock, accessible by the rough but passable Old Rootsville Road.  That's not the one shown above.  Here's that one for comparison:

The AT actually takes a nearly one-mile road walk on Old Rootsville Road.  That was the easiest mile, but the entirety of today's walk was easy, with very little elevation gain and very little rocky or swampy footing.  I was done early and had a chance to stop in at Eastern Mountain Sports in Manchester and buy a small waist pack/belt pack to carry food and water within easy access.  It's something I should have had all along.  I've been using pockets - either the huge pouch-like ones in my rain jacket or, when it is too warm for the jacket, the multiple ones in my cargo shorts (making them sag and droop from the weight).  Now I've got a solution for all conditions.

So where did I take the introductory photo?  It's from Spruce Peak, and the trail to this viewpoint is easy to miss.  I didn't even notice the small sign (facing south) as I hiked south - whizzed right past it.  The trail to the overlook is hardly blazed - you have to follow the beaten treadway, and even then, you have to scramble steeply up the south face of the rocky peak (where the course of the trail is not clear).  Finally, when you get to the summit of this little rugged peak, you have to keep going - don't give up.  The summit is all wooded.  The viewpoint is down and around a corner on the northwest side.  I imagine a lot of people miss it.  It's no big deal, I guess, since the other two overlooks have the subject matter well covered.  But there's something special about an overlook when it takes a little work to get to it - when it's an Overlook that's ... well ... easy to overlook.


Here's the map of today's hike and a link to more photos:

AT Day 155 - Prospect Rock at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find trail maps for California and beyond

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

N is for Nagging

 ... those Naughty Nagging Nincompoop Ne'er-do-well gNats!

Saturday, June 16, 2012:

I found out today, from the caretaker at the summit of Stratton Mountain, who came out of his little hut at 8AM all decked out in tight fitting clothing, long sleeves and pants drawn tight at the cuffs, gloves and a hat with a face net tucked into his collar, that these ubiquitous little flying pests that I call 'gnats' are, in fact, the Notorious ... yea, Nefarious ... Nemesis of the North: the black flies.

To which I responded: "Do they bite?"

He was flabbergasted.  They eat him alive.  They've been  known to kill livestock.  But on me all they do is buzz me.  A few land on my skin and crawl around aimlessly until I smack them.  Most don't land on me at all, or land and take off again.

Yes, they were so thick at high altitudes yesterday and today that they drove me crazy just with the buzzing and swarming, but for some reason they don't bite me - at least not yet.  I'm undeservedly blessed.

Blessed also with perfect weather for the third day in a row ... Nearly Nirvana is the N phrase!

The views from the Stratton Mountain Fire Tower were spectacular.  Let me give you a quick 360 degree tour.  First (of course, N is for) North to the adjacent summit where the Stratton Ski area Gondola runs on weekends all summer and is free for AT hikers.  Also in the shot is the Bromley Ski Area:

East - a seemingly endless line-up of ridges.  Can't give you names:

South to Somerset Reservoir and the closer, smaller Grout Pond:

and West to Stratton Pond:

The AT takes you past Stratton Pond:

Then you wander along mostly level easy trail for two miles until you come to the Winhall River.

I turned around 1.3 miles past that river and headed back up over Stratton Mountain and 'home'.  All surprisingly easy trail today, so I made great time.

I passed and chatted with thru-hiking couple 'Alien' and 'Swiss Miss' from ... (where else?) Switzerland, here on a six month visa.  And for the second day in a row I chatted with 'Whistler' and 'Two Cents'.  'Two Cents' plans to not only thru-hike the AT but also do the entire Long Trail.  And though I haven't mentioned them so far, I once again met and chatted with section hikers 'Match Box' and 'Twisted Knickers', two wonderful spirited ladies whom I first met coming out of Dalton about a week ago and have passed nearly every day since.  They're out for twelve days, and I have little doubt I'll see them again.


Here's a map of today's hike and a link (the title line) to more photos:

AT Day 154 - Stratton Mountain at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best hikes in California and beyond

Monday, June 25, 2012

M is for Mission Statement

Friday, June 15, 2012:

It's time I put a mission statement down in print, all nice and official-like, the way businesses do.  What is my intended purpose for hiking the Appalachian Trail?

It is three-fold:

First, to become the first person to hike the Appalachian Trail both ways end-to-end in one calendar year without spending a single night on the trail - 'home' every night before midnight (home being my two-ton motorized steel tent, or some other accommodation such as a motel or friend's house) and back to the trail the following morning for a new 'out-n-back' or 'yo-yo' day hike.

Second, to visit and photograph every official AT shelter and to make the side trip to most scenic attractions such as waterfalls and views located within a half mile of the AT on blue-blazed trails.  To take extensive photographs of these attractions as well as of side trail junctions, road crossings (and associated parking areas) and some notable camp sites, oddities, monuments, trees, wildlife, flowers, footbridges, streams, ponds, and lakes, etc., etc.  In other words, to 'smell the roses', not just to log the miles.

Third. and last, to report what I experience, particularly the nature of the trail, by publishing a daily blog entry with the best of the photographs included, and with a complete GPS track to 'prove' that I did what I say I did.


Today was the 153rd day that I successfully completed that mission.   It was another long day hiking the north half of the wilderness section between VT 9 near Bennington and Stratton-Arlington Road (Kelley Stand Road).

There wasn’t nearly as much elevation change to deal with today, but the trail itself was a bit more difficult – more rocky in places and with more small scale ups and downs. Still I found that I had gone well beyond the half-way point yesterday, so I reached my turn-around point in good time.

I passed more than 20 hikers on the way out and talked with several of them, including thru-hikers ‘Whistler’ and ‘Two Cents’, with whom I had the most in-depth conversation. Almost everybody I passed on this southbound leg I had passed on my evening southbound leg yesterday.

The total official trail distance I covered today was just over ten miles, the first of which was level to the crossing of Black Brook, then a gradual climb for the next mile, passing a nice beaver pond (photo at left), to the road crossing of FS 71, then a mile of more steep climbing followed immediately by about a mile of descending on which the Story Spring Shelter was located. Then for half a mile I passed several more beaver ponds before beginning a gradual ascent that reached an unnamed summit with a viewpoint with a name: Lydia’s Rest. Then there was a steep descent to a valley with some uncomfortable and slow, rocky ups and downs in it. There I passed Kid Gore Shelter and then began a fairly steep climb back up to a summit called ‘Big Rock’ which had a fairly modest boulder, about ten feet high, sitting on otherwise rock-free ground. From there it was only about ¾ mile to my turn-around point.

The weather was, for the second day in a row, completely perfect for hiking and for viewing long-distance vistas.  It quite literally could not have been better.  That was such a gift.  It made the long day of hiking on long stretches of trail without landmarks a wonderful experience.  If only every day could be this way!


Here's a map and link to more photos:

AT Day 153 - Southern Vermont at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Sunday, June 24, 2012

L is for Leptocosmosis

Thursday, June 14, 2012:

Leptocosmosis is a cancer-like decay of the universe in which quarks spontaneously decay into Leptons, leaving atoms with no nuclei, and thus causing them to disintegrate.  It is a process that physicists specializing in Apocalyptic Woo Theory predict will begin very soon.  And when it does, the universe will quickly dissipate into a useless, virtually weightless cloud of electrons and neutrinos (the two most stable forms of leptons).

When is this predicted to begin?  Physicists are very clear on this.  It will begin when ... well ... when pigs fly.

You see, one of the earliest symptoms of Leptocosmosis is the decay of fatty organic molecules into a weightless Leptonic state.  Thus pigs and other Lard Laden Land mammals will Literally begin to Levitate.

So L is really for Levitating Lard Laden Land mammals.

Conspiracy theorists have discovered that the epidemic of obesity among humans around the world is being caused by a carefully orchestrated and deliberate campaign of subliminal brainwashing masterminded by a secret religious cult.  The conspirators believe that Leptocosmosis is the physical manifestation of the Rapture.  When the Levitation begins, the most Lard-Laden believers will be the first who will be Lifted up to Heaven to join the Lord.

Are you buying any of this?  I didn't think so.  Actually, I'm ashamed to admit that today L is for 'Long'.  Plain, dull, ordinary 'Long', as in Long Trail, Long day.  But that's just too boring.  It's Lame.  It's Lack-Luster. There's no Lure to attract you readers.  So I had to contrive one:  ergo Leptocosmosis!!!

Okay, so now that I've Lassoed you with my super-clever but completely bogus Lead-Line, I can get on with describing today's hike.

Here in Southern Vermont, the Appalachian Trail follows the older Long Trail for upwards of one hundred miles.  The Long Trail was built between 1910 and 1930, whereas the Appalachian Trail wasn't conceived until 1921 and was officially completed in August 1937 (making this year its 75th Anniversary year).

And today, I had to do a Long stretch of the Long Trail through the Glastenbury Wilderness because there is nearly 23 miles of trail between road access points.  I have to park at either end and hike to the middle.  So I have another Long hike to look forward to tomorrow.

I did a little more than half today - 12.4 miles of trail, out and back, making my hike 24.8 miles.  That's the longest hike I've done since April 12th when I was traversing the flat Cumberland Valley in PA.  Today's hike was anything but flat.  It began in the notch carved by City Stream east of Bennington Vermont, at about 1400 feet, and climbed to the fire tower at Glastenbury Mountain at over 3700 feet - a couple hundred feet higher than Mount Greylock, and thus the highest point I've reached in many months.

The weather was ideal for viewing the panorama of New England mountains from the fire tower.  Here's a sampling:

Yes, it was a beautiful day to be Levitated to such heights.  Too bad I had to do all the Levitating with my Legs.  No help from Leptocosmosis at all.  I guess I'm just too skinny.


Here's a map of today's hike with a link to more photos:

AT Day 152 - Glastenbury Mountain at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Friday, June 22, 2012

K is for Knocks

The trail abuses you.  You take your knocks every day.  I painfully stub my toes, usually on protruding rocks, at least once or twice every day.  I get slapped in a face by an unseen overhead branch while I'm concentrating on my footing - many times every day.  I struggle through obstacle courses where the only dry footing is on scattered rocks and roots above standing water in swampy muck.  I fall about once every two or three days.  Flat-on-my-face fall.  There are three common causes for falls.  One: you're not watching your footing carefully enough and step on a slippery slanted rock.  Two:  you're not watching your footing carefully enough and step on a slippery slanted root.  Three: STICKS!  Who would imagine that a simple 18 inch long loose stick on the trail could be such a serious major hazard.  It is.  The stick is oriented roughly length-wise along the trail.  You step on the front of it with your forward foot.  This subtly lifts the back end of it while holding the front end firmly in place.  Your trailing toe catches on the lifted back end of the stick while the front foot prevents it from moving, causing the back foot to trip just as your body weight has shifted in preparation for that foot to move ahead and land.  Fail.  Fall.

If you haven't done a lot of hiking you might think this is a ludicrous joke.  Loose sticks are ubiquitous, and when you are taking ten million steps, a tiny statistical minority of them are going to set up this bizarre hazard.  You need to trust me on this one.  The long distance hikers are merely nodding their knowing agreement.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012:  The trail here in the northlands is finding a new way to dish out its knocks.  Beavers.  They have a habit of flooding the trail, forcing ad-hoc reroutes to avoid wet feet.  I did just seven miles of trail today (fourteen miles of walking) and ran into two beaver issues: a totally  flooded section that the guidebook warned me about, calling it 'beaver challenged puncheon'.  The boards were floating in a foot of water.  There was a walk-around - rough and hard to find, but it was there.  The other  was much more fun - a long section of puncheon installed right below a beaver dam, such that you were walking along with the beaver pond surface at waist-level.

It rained all night and drizzled until 11AM.  But the forecast was for steadily clearing weather.  So I delayed the start of my hike and reaped the benefits late in the day.  Harmon Hill was socked in with fog on my way outbound.  On the way back, it presented me with all the splendor of its magnificent view - a great place to watch the sunset.

But I couldn't linger.  Places to go.  Things to do.  Tomorrow promises to be a long trail day.  Time to get some rest and prepare.


Below is a map showing today's route with link to more photos:

AT Day 151 - Harmon Hill at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

J is for Just about

Tuesday, June 12, 2012:

"Just about" is an interesting phrase.  In British English "he just about succeeded" means he succeeded, but barely.  In American English it means he almost succeeded, but didn't - virtually opposite definitions.

So by British standards I just about beat the rain, ending my day's hike as sprinkles turned to a steady rain, forecast to last through the night.

And by American standards I just about reached the 2500 mile mark today -- will surpass it tomorrow.

Mostly easy trail today, crossing the MA-VT border and bidding a fond farewell to MA.  I'll just about miss it.

The Long Trail looms ahead for the next hundred miles.  Today it took me past the tiny Seth Warner Shelter, over an unnamed 3100' peak with a 'just about' view, down across Roaring Branch, which was just plain not roaring at all, and finally to the top of Consultation Mountain where, lacking anybody but the trees to consult with, I turned around and headed back.

Roaring Branch valley may have lacked its roar, but it had a nice Beaver Pond where the frogs were holding sway.  The Beavers, however, seem to have just about given up, as water levels had dropped 3 feet from the rim of their dam.  This is the only photo just about worthy of highlighting today.


Here's a map and link to additional photos:

AT Day 150 - Into Vermont at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find trail maps for California and beyond

Monday, June 18, 2012

I is for I

... got a good workout today, Monday, June 11, 2012 on some seriously steep sections of trail. First climbing from the MA low point by the Hoosic River in N Adams to its high point (Mt Greylock) and back down then back up the north side of the valley to 2100 feet at Pine Cobble Trail, where the pink Mountain Laurel were in their full glory.


There are more than two dozen photos from today's hike available for viewing at the link below (the title line above the map):

AT Day 149 - North Adams at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Massachusetts

Sunday, June 17, 2012

H is for Highpoint

Sunday, June 10, 2012:

And H is for Hot.  Height or Heat - that was my choice today.  The summit of Mount Greylock is at over 3600 feet.  It's the Highest point in Massachusetts.  And it was about twelve degrees F cooler than the towns of Cheshire, Adams and North Adams down below.  It was already hot down in Cheshire as I walked the streets at 9AM after climbing up to the Cobbles again to see how Mt. Greylock would look from that perspective:

You know ... when you look at that photo, you wonder how a person could hike from where it's taken to the top of that distant looking mountain in one day.  But it's only 9.2 miles away via the AT.

There were some pretty field walks in the Cheshire environs before I began the serious business of climbing up to the Massachusetts Highpoint.

But it was good to leave the heat behind.  There wasn't much wind today, so it was purely the effect of elevation (the 'dry adiabatic lapse rate' to us meteorologists) that caused the cooling effect.  Mt. Greylock had a secret surprise for me - a cute and entirely unexpected little pond within just a hundred yards of the summit.  You had to hike the AT to get there - no other access to this little gem.

And the summit was the place to be on this Sunday, so the crowds were there ... the parking lots were full to overflowing.  Motorcyclists were out in force.  The hang glider pilots were waiting for some wind - don't think they ever got it.  This view is of their launch point overlooking Adams, MA, taken from the top of the tower.  The inside of the tower was not ventilated, and the crowds were there too - glad to be back out of there and in the fresh air again ...

... but not glad to have to make the descent back to sweltering Cheshire where I was parked at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail with another 'AT' - the Ashuwillticook rail Trail - just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

The real High point of today - Mt. Greylock - was my turn-around point.  So I get to go up there again tomorrow from the north side and experience it on a much more sedate Monday.  Weather looks to be much the same.  It will be good to be back up there, High above the Heat.


Here's a link to many more photos, and a map of the route of today's hike:

AT Day 148 - Mt. Greylock at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Massachusetts

Saturday, June 16, 2012

G is for the Gray Grumblies

Saturday, June 9, 2012:

It's amazing how much the weather affects my mood.  Today I got going early, full of energy.  It was Gray, dreary, a bit foggy.  No problem.  I hiked through Dalton, MA from the north and then up to the top of Day Mountain, my turn-around-point for this short morning leg.

As I crossed the railroad tracks coming back into Dalton, I noticed that it was raining a little.  Well, Okay, I guess.  It rained for the rest of the road walk back to the parking lot on the north end of High Street where it becomes Gulf Road - not a heavy rain, just enough to get the roads wet.  But I was getting chilled because of the easy walking.  The coming climb out of Dalton would have cured that.  And by the time I got to the parking lot the rain had ended.

But the temptation of having that warm vehicle combined with the dreary weather to bring my energy level to zero.  All I wanted to do was curl up in the comfort of my 'Two Ton Steel Tent' and warm up and sleep.

And with all my momentum dissipated - the Gray Grumblies took over.  A down mood knows no time frame.  It envelops you as if it has always been and always will be.  So today's mid-morning loss of momentum easily translated from today's hike to the entire adventure.  Why am I putting up with all this discomfort?  It's not necessary.  I'm voluntarily torturing myself.  What's the point?  Is it really worth it?

This isn't the first time this has happened.  And it's always on cloudy, foggy, chilly days that it happens.  I question why I'm doing this.  I seriously consider giving up and going home and strolling the beach, writing, watching TV, being able to take a shower, use a flush toilet, cook a hot meal on demand.

There have been way too many of these Gray Grumbly sorts of days since I crossed over the Delaware River into New Jersey.  So there have been way too many days when I've lost my motivation.

But then something happens.  After a couple hours of break I'm warm again, I've had a meal, I've had some sleep.  And I'm getting bored ...

... suddenly going out and hiking sounds like a great idea again!  Get the blood circulating - stop stagnating!

So after a two hour bout of the Gray Grumblies, I was back on the trail, headed north up into the mountains again.  The climb was gradual and on easy trail - very few rocky spots and not even many swampy mucky spots.  There wasn't much to see until I got to Gore Pond.  Beavers there have almost flooded the stepping stones where the trail crosses at the pond's outlet.

I had planned to turn around at the summit of North Mountain just beyond Gore Pond, but got there so quickly, because the trail was so easy, that I decided to push on.  I turned around at The Cobbles, a spot above Cheshire with a great view of the reservoir and of the wind turbines on the distant ridge flanking Mt. Greylock.   Ahhhh ... G is for Greylock.  I was hoping I could work that in.

A good vista point like The Cobbles is a great place to turn around because I get to come back to that spot tomorrow.

And tomorrow promises more sunshine.  The Gray Grumblies can crawl back in their hole and stay there, thank you very much.


Here's a map of today's hike and a link to more photos:

AT Day 147 - Dalton, MA at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Massachusetts

Friday, June 15, 2012

F is for Flat

Friday, June 8th, 2012:

I called Pennsylvania 'Flatsylvania' because of how little overall elevation change there is in the state.  Well, there's a stretch of trail that I hiked yesterday and today, from a half mile south of Grange Hall Road to Finerty Pond, that I could call 'Flatsachusetts'.  It was remarkably flat, easy trail, despite maintaining elevations around 2000 feet.

There were only two exceptions to this flatness, and they were minor exceptions.  First and Foremost among these is Warner Hill.  Note that it is not called a mountain.  That's because there's just a hundred feet of 'climbing' required to get to it from either side.  And yet Warner Hill offers some Fabulous views - Fantastic, dare I say, on this clear day.  That's Mt. Greylock on the horizon.

You can see how Flat the closer-in landscape looks in the shot above - that's where the northbound trail goes.  And its first order of business is to descend Warner Hill on this gentle and beautiful Fern-covered hillside with a scattering of blackberry plants in Full Flower.

The only other exception to the "Friday Flatness" rule is this bizarre thirty-foot rock scramble up what is practically a cliff.  Flat for miles on either side of it!  I guess that's what glaciers can to to a place.

Flat trail means Fast trail.  I hiked nineteen miles and was done by 4PM.  Haven't had a day like this since ... well, since Flatsylvania!


Here's today's map and link to additional photos:

AT Day 146 - Warner Hill at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Massachusetts