Sunday, September 29, 2013

Into Vermont

After a quick detour for breakfast in N. Adams, I marched up the long climb from Rt2 to the Vermont border. It was sunny and on the warm side so by the time I'd made the 2500' climb I was drenched. But it always feels good to check off another state. Entering Vermont, the AT follows the old Long Trail for over 100mi.
Vermont definitely offers some higher, more wild terrain than I've seen in a while. But before tackling the Green Mountain NF, I need one more pit stop in Bennington to regroup.
View of Bennington from Harmon Hill south of Rt 9.

Foiled Again

After all the anticipation on my part, the big climb up Mt Greylock yielded only a view of whiteout. The weather has been fantastic overall--sunny, mild, clear--but Saturday was overcast and grey. By the time I sumitted Greylock it was foggy, drizzling, and 42degrees.
Fortunately, the lodge was open and offered hot coffee and a space to warm up. It was tempting to stay overnight considering the conditions, but considering I'd just had a town day I was anxious to move on.

True to form, the next morning cleared and I got these great views looking north across the Hoosic River into Vermont.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Greylock in View

Alrighty. Finished my first little section today: 58mi in 4 days to Cheshire MA. Stopped in Dalton this morning for breakfast at "Juice and Java", an excellent coffee shop/deli. Both Dalton and Cheshire are sweet little trail towns. A lot more friendly and accommodating than a certain other Berkshire town I won't mention again.

Except for Mt Everett, I've been in low elevation since Shenandoah some 600 miles back (nothing over 2000'). But now Mt Greylock looms in the foreground, the highest point in MA. The climb doesn't look too bad, but it is 2200' of elevation gain so I'd better buckle down. The weather looks to be staying clear so looking forward to the view from the top.
View of Greylock from Warner Hill, about 20 mi south

Upper Goose Pond Cabin

Thanks to a hot tip from a couple trail maintainers, I decided to check out the ATC run and operated Upper Goose Pond Cabin. Being only my 2nd night in, I really wanted to acclimate to the outdoors but they said I shouldn't miss it. Boy, were they right!
When they said "cabin" I visualized something a lot simpler. While there was no electricity or running water, UGPC had a nice cooking area, a large stone fireplace inside, and an incredible view of the pond from the upstairs bunk house. Plus hot coffee and pancakes for breakfast--I sure am glad I didn't miss it.

And so it begins...again.

Finally got my feet on the Trail Monday (9/23) around 10. So much last-minute stuff to get squared away. It's always a relief for me to get the pack on and just start walking, leaving all that worldly stuff behind (temporarily at least).
 What a difference a year makes. Last year's hike ended so miserably in the rain coming down Mt Everett. This year the weather was sunny, breezy, and crisp. This view of Mt Everett doesn't even look like the same mountain I (never) saw. For me, hiking is ideal when daytime temps are in the mid-50s and nighttime in the 30s. Makes for relatively un-sweaty climbing and great sleeping at night. So far, looks like this whole week is gonna be awesome.  Just gotta get my trail legs and lungs.

And BTW, the Mass ATC does a fantastic job maintaining their section of AT (take note NY & PA).

Great Barrington

Back where I finished on Oct 4th last year, in Great Barrington MA. It's a pretty sweet little town--nice food Co-Op, some interesting restaurants and shops.
 Asia Barong--amazing selection of Buddhist and Hindu imported goods including GIANT statuary.
It's no Salsas, but some pretty hip Cont-Mex digs. But for all the amenities GB is pretty upscale and not all that hiker-friendly. Expensive, a distance from the Trail, and well, just not that helpful. Nonetheless, a nice place to land on that gentrified US7 corridor.

When I wrapped up my hike last year, I had been in the rain for a week and slipped twice--once coming down Bear Mt (CN border) bruising my tailbone, and again on top of Mt Everett breaking my camera. So, enough was enough. I just heard that a young hiker fell to his death on Race Mt. (between those two) just a few weeks ago. Wet rocks, AT perilously close to the edge of massive cliffs. I was scared and now I see it wasn't just over reaction. And for all that climbing I had not one view because of white out from the clouds. I was tired of wetness and falling and getting ground up, so that was the end of the 2012 hike. Even though I did 500mi in a little over a month, I was beat up. So things are looking better this go around. Some clear weather ahead and a fresh start.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back in The Berkshires

I made the long drive up to New England today from Asheville--12+hrs.--but totally worth it. The colors are starting to show as soon as I hit The Taconic State Pky. Looks like a beautiful week ahead for hiking: mostly sunny, highs in the upper 50s/low 60s. Quintessential Fall weather. I'm really excited to be getting back on the AT. Great Barrington MA is such a cool little town too. Hoping to find my trail legs within a few days as I make my way into some chilly Vermont hills.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Gearing Up For Another Section

Well, Fall is right around the corner and that means time for me to get out on the AT again. Even though I cranked out 500+ miles last year, I had to cut my hike short due to injury and persistently bad weather. I made it one day into Massachusettes and bailed at Great Barrington. I'm looking forward to going back to that most hip and lovely town in the Berkshires to resume my northward journey. Early Autumn should be an awesome time for hiking through the Berkshires and the Green Mountains. I can hardly wait.
Monday, September 23 is the day to have boots on the Trail, hoping to at least make Rutland VT if not a little further. I'll only be out for a couple weeks this year, but trying to get within striking distance of Kathadin.