August 1, 2016 - Water Snobs
Dragon Head and I headed out at about 9am. We stopped at a Cafe for coffee and croissants and then got on trail. We had three big climbs today. Bear Mt, Mt Race and Everett Mt. 2 peaks over 2300 and one over 2600. These were the biggest climbs since Shanendoah in Virginia.
The day started out cloudy but dry. It was still humid but not oppressive. We started up Bear Mt and the climb up was not terrible. It was steep but easy footing. Coming down Bear Mt was another story. We had heard rumors that it was extremely dangerous even when dry. We were a bit worried. It wasn't the extreme dangerous we were anticipating but it was tough as all the rocks were wet which made for a slow going. There were two points of the descent that I got nervous as we had to drop down between rock ledges and with the wet rocks I was worried of slipping. We made it down safely and then descended into Sages Ravine which was simply wonderful. It was a very pretty walk with the creek flowing through the ravine. It would of been nicer if the sun was out and everything wasn't damp. We continued on and at the end of the ravine we crossed into Massachusetts.
Only 4 states left at this point and this is when dragon head and I started discussing water. We both commented that there had been many streams so far today and lots of water. Why did the south bounder say there was no water. I know it had been very dry but in the last 3 days we had received a good soaking of rain so things should be flowing. Why would we be told there was no water when today there is. We both have noticed people are stingy about their water. It tastes funny, it looks funny. I find it amazing that after 1500 miles people are still expecting Evian quality water from a stream. I mean I can understand in Georgia your initial resistance to water from a stream, creek, pond, but after this drought there are still water snobs out here. I feel info that is passed of "there is no water" is in reference to their own perception. That water is this that or the other thing so I'm not drinking it so there is no water out here. I know for myself I avoid stagnant water, water with strange colors to it, water that is coming out of a dump or chemical plant or from a superfund site. But a creek that is flowing albeit not at a marathon rate is still good water. Your hiking in the woods why are you being a water snob. We laughed at the absurdity of this. But it's happened since New Jersey people telling us there is no water yet there is plenty. Or people complaining the water tastes funny even when it comes out of a sink, pump or well. I'm just thankful for the water and I'm not going to get dehydration. We have dubbed these people water snobs.
Ok moving on we began the climb up Mt Race which had an easy ascent. The top of Mt Race had .60 miles of open rock ledges with fantastic views. It started to rain at this point which made the descent down treacherous. There were a lot of smooth rocks most of the way down which made for some slow walking. Each step had to be methodically thought out so you didn't slip. We made it down and immediately headed up Mt Everett which had a steep smooth rock ascent which made it difficult with the rain. Slow going on the up but summited with no issues to not much of a view.
We headed down and the trail was a smooth and steady descent. Thank you trail gods. We arrived at a picnic area where there was 2 coolers of ice water. We were able to fill up and move on without having to filter water. We arrived at Glen Brook Shelter at about 5:30. We decided to stay in the shelter as thunderstorms were on their way. Two south bounders arrived, well one south bounder and his brother who was out section hiking. They were both from Georgia and it was nice to exchange stories of what's happened, what's coming and what's good places to stay visit ahead. It was nice to chat while we ate. We found out from the SOBO's that they passed Hazel three miles before the shelter so we knew she made it down the rocks safely. I knew she would be fine but we both fell today and two points I was pretty nervous coming down the descent so I was thinking of her. We only did 14 miles today but the climbing was tough after not having to do it for awhile and having wet rocks. Tomorrow we are shooting for a 21 mile day.
August 2, 2016 - Salted Caramel Pie
The day begin with a steady ascent down Mt Everett. It was steep and many open rock slabs that were very slippery from all the rain. It was super slow going and we caught up to Tetris who also was headed down slowly. You would reach a descent down open rock and look "ok which way has the least possibility of death." None of us got hurt and we made it down to the valley. Tetris, DH and I hiked together. We stopped at the ATC New England branch and I was a little disappointed. There was no log book to sign and we weren't even invited inside. We were able to fill up on water from the hose but it would of been nice to see their operations. In my book a missed opportunity to get thru hikers involved for after their hike.
We continued on and the trail was relatively flat at this point passing through fields and pine woods. We reached US 7 where you could hitch into Great Barrington. On the Guthook app for the AT it said there was an antique store that sold soda. We were sold and walked the .20 down the street. We relaxed ate snacks and drank our liquid gold.
The second part of the day would include the hike up East Mountain, walk through ice gulch, pass by Beartown State Forrest and Benedict Pond and finally up Mt Wilcox to the shelter. The climb up East Mt was a struggle. I'm definitely lacking something in my nutrition which is making me sluggish and weak at times. I'm gonna start taking a multivitamin when I can get some to me. I made it up East Mt and we followed the ridge line all the way to Ice Gulch Shelter. DH was ahead of me and I met back up with him at the shelter. We both ended up taking a nap at the shelter as we were beat after eating a late lunch.
We moved on and I started coordinating with a high school peer of Jeff who has been following me on Facebook as to where to meet. She wanted to bring me pie that she had and to actually get to meet me. I picked beartown mountain road as a good spot as the trail crosses it. I told her I would text her as I got closer. We descended down out of ice gulch and crossed Lake Buel Road to trail magic put on by y-wham. I think I got the organization right. A nice cold drink, bag of M+M's and some other goodies. DH and I sat and relaxed and ate. We moved on passing MA 23 and another smaller road. We climbed some more and reached beartown mt road and though it was paved it was moss covered and clearly not operational. I messaged Amanda and said new meeting point. Beartown road and Benedict Pond. After some finagling we finally met each other and had pie. We chatted and ate pie and I moved on hoping to get to the shelter before dark. I said goodbye and continued on.
The climb from the pond to the shelter wasn't too bad and I rolled in at just about dark. DH had gone ahead and had is dinner. Tetris was there as well as Old Spice, Axe and old timer. By the time I got there all the tent sites were taken. This spot had 2 shelters sleeping 6 and 12 and both were empty. The older shelter has no one in it. I would normally never do this but set my tent up in the shelter so I would not be eaten alive by the bugs. It was lights our for me by 9 with a full belly of pie.
August 3, 2016 - Upper Goose Pond Cabin
We got on trail at around 7:30 and the goal was to make it to Upper Goose Pond Cabin. I gave Tetris the remainder of the pie before I left and we kicked off. We had the rest of Mt Wilcox to climb over and then a steady descent. We continued on down before climbing up Cobble Hill with a vista to the valley below and the very small town of Tyringham. We crossed several foot bridges and came across fresh spring water and a cooler of sliced watermelon. We rested and had several snacks and ate with old spice, axe and old timer.
After our respite we had the big climb of the day which was baldy mountain. The trail was steep with loose pine duff and roots which made it slow going. I fell back to the end of the pack as I am still feeling sluggish and like I'm dragging. I really must be low on something and need to figure that out. Dragon head boogied on ahead and I was like the boy took speed as he zoomed off. Great energy burst!! I followed up the rear and hiked with old timer who is from Ohio and old spice and axe who are father and son. The three of them stopped to take a break and I moved on. Descending down into Goose Pond area. The land around the pound used to belong to an outing club who donated it to the AMC to keep it forever wild. The AMC built and operate a cabin by volunteers for Thru hikers to stay at free of charge. The upstairs have 16 bunks. The first floor has a common room with a big fireplace and a kitchen. There is a big front porch with rockers and a picnic table. Outback there is a space to cook, eat, do dishes, and wash up. There are places to camp as well. The cabin also has 2 docks a beach to swim and 2 canoes to take out on the lake. The trail came down to the lake and you walk most of the way around the lake to get to the cabin. It is .50 miles off trail but so worth it.
I arrived at 2:30 and dragon head was already there. I checked in with the caretaker and was able to get a top bunk. I made myself a late lunch and then took a nap. A few thru hikers were trying to figure a way out to order a pizza and asked if I wanted in. Heck yea! We ended up with 2 sheet pizzas as the pizzeria gave us a deal. 8 thru hikers ate a lot of pizza. After pizza I headed down to the dock and watched as the sun was getting low. Dragon head was sitting on the dock and I asked him if he wanted to take the canoe out. I got the key and we paddled around the lake. It was beautiful and amazing to see a lake in Massachusetts with no houses on it. We headed back to the cabin and had a snack and I headed to bed. I hear that in the morning we get pancakes.
August 4, 2016 - Doc and Claire Miller
We got packed up and the caretaker made all thru hikers coffee and pancakes. What a treat to have all of this done for us from the AMC. Dragon head and I got on trail at 7:30. The terrain for the day looked really good with no big climbs. Early on in the day we crossed over the Massachusetts turnpike. This was a HUGE milestone for me as I have been driving under this crossing for over 20 years and even more when Jeff and I lived apart. I always would daydream what it would be like to hike the AT and kicked myself for not attempting it after college. I stopped and did a small video to post on the web.
We then climbed up and over Beckett and Walling mountains as well as bald top. We stopped at October shelter for a snack before the trail leveled out and was relative flat for 10 miles. We stopped at the cookie ladies house which is a u-pick blueberry patch and the woman who runs it often times has fresh baked cookies on the porch and allows hikers to buy cold drinks and fill up on water. Unfortunately the cookie lady was in town and we had no cookies!! We did stop and refill up on water and chat with the other hikers who were there. Old spice, axe, old timer, monarch, Peter Pan were just a few.
DH and I moved on with only 9.5 miles to Dalton. The terrain continued to remain flat and we came to Blotz road where a trail angel was doing trail magic with cold sodas and snacks. We stopped and chatted with the trail angel and tumbleweed and foot long rolled in. We all sat and chatted for about 20 minutes before moving on. We quickly climbed up Warmer Hill where we got a view of Mt Greylock in the distance. I'm coming for ya I said to the air. Dragon head and I continued on with a slight descent down to Kay wood shelter where we stopped for a power nap and recharge. After leaving the shelter we had a short but steep climb before the descent down into Dalton. We crossed a set of railroad tracks and the trail then followed a residential street down to the downtown. We passed sweat peas and could not resist some ice cream.
We then moved further on into town making it to Angelina's where we called Doc. He showed up in minutes and brought us to his house where we met Claire his wife. They were so wonderful to us letting us do laundry, shower and made us the best meal ever. We had grapes, salad, homemade mac and cheese, cheeseburgers, sausage sandwiches and pudding for dessert. Amazing! It was so nice to relax and get to know them both. Such good people. We also were staying the night and sleeping on a mattress with sheets simply amazing. I look forward to meeting up with them again in the future. It was such a great day of hiking, great weather and great company to share a meal with.
August 5, 2016 - Mount Greylock
Had the best nights sleep at the Millers house. I called Bascom Lodge on the top of Mt Greylock to see if I could make a reservation at the bunkhouse. I was told everything was booked so we won't be staying on top of the mountain. DH and I got up and packed up. Claire made us sandwiches and sliced up banana bread for us to take. She made us breakfast and gave us tons of food to get back on trail. Doc gave us a ride back to where we left the trail and we were off. They were truly remarkable and I am most appreciative of them putting us up.
Our first climb was up and out of Dalton which was a gradual climb up Mt Crystal. We descended down off of Mt Crystal into the town of Chesire. We both had to stop at the post office for packages. Ompi had sent me a package from Florida. In his words he said I was to skinny and needed to eat more. My food bag was almost empty so it was a well needed addition and I was thankful. Thanks Ompi. Dragon Head had 4 packages and had lots of food. We packaged up our bags and started out. To see things were heavy was an understatement. On a positive we were going to meet Jeff's parents at a road crossing in a mile to slack pack up Mt Greylock.
We arrived at outlook ave and no sooner that we took off our packs they pulled in. What timing on that! We stripped down our packs to bare minimum and left it all in the trunk of the car. We had 7 miles to go to the summit. They were going to go into town to have lunch and then meet us on the summit. Thank god we didn't have to walk up the hill with our packs. It wasn't terribly steep but it would of taken most of my energy going up with the weight.
We made it to the summit around 4:30. We learned on the way up that there was a wedding all weekend on the summit and that was why everything was booked. Even the restaurant was going to be closed for dinner due to a rehearsal dinner. So Jeff's mom texted me to see if we wanted food from the cafeteria before it closed at 4. I said yes please. When we arrived on the summit we at least had burgers and beef brisket sandwiches waiting for us. We were able to take a shower at the lodge for 5 bucks. They at least had that option. We went back to the car and repacked our packs. I said goodbye to the family and we started our descent down to the shelter. We only had 3.4 miles to go which wasn't too bad. We arrived at Wilbur Clearing Shelter at about 7:30. Hazel was there and we were able to catch up on our hikes. I tried to eat more food from my food pack to lighten the load.
Tomorrow my mom and sister drive to meet up with me in North Adams. I might get to slack pack again. I haven't seen them since April.
August 6, 2016 - County Road
The descent down was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I caught up to Hazel and we walked into town. Dragon head was still at the shelter when I left. Hazel and slipped and fallen in a mud puddle and was headed to the YMCA and I wanted coffee and headed to a Getty gas station. After getting coffee I crossed the street to where the Chinese food buffet was. Next to the Chinese food was an empty price chopper grocery store. I spread out my gear to dry and hung my tent over the plant rod in front. Dragon Head arrived around 10:30 and Hazel had made it from showering to putting in her laundry. We got into the Chinese Food place as soon as it opened.
My mom and sister arrived at 11:30 and joined us and we all had a good time. We laughed at the stories of my mom and her new smart phone and trying to figure out how to use it. After we ate we looked at the maps and we're going to slack pack 7.2 miles to county road. I emptied my pack and put a few snacks, 2 Nalgene of water and my filter. Dragon head used my mini pack and Hazel went bag less and put waters in the mini pack. We got dropped off and headed back on trail. We had a 1000 ft climb and reached the Vermont/Massachusetts border. Only 3 states left and what a fantastic feeling.
3 miles in I get a message from my sister that attempting to drive county road she almost got stuck and a local said you can't get to the trail this way. So she decides to attempt from the other side. We trek on and go another 3 miles. Now I get a panicked message. The road from the other direction has a bridge out and she can't get there. So we now have to push on another 10 miles. Not the original plan but us thru hikers can handle anything. So instead of 7.2 it will be 18.1. Luckily I have my filter and filter us more water and we push on.
We climb up Consultation Mt highest climb of the day at 2833. We keep boogieing to make it to Vermont 9 before dark. Our final climb up Harmon Hill gives us a nice view of the valley and then we have an extremely steep descent down to 9. It was dark at this point mostly in the thick woods and we took it slow and steady. We pop out of the woods and my mom and sister cheer. They had gotten two rooms at the Autumn Motel as they weren't planning on staying but didn't want to drive back this late. We were excited that we didn't have to try and set up tents in the dark or have to climb back up the other side. What a day.
August 7, 2016 - The Fire Tower
My mother and sister are the best. Waking up in a motel room in a bed after our 18.3 slack pack day and nighttime decent was wonderful. Hazel, dragon head and I slept until almost 8am. I got up and took another shower because I could and packed up. We all piled into the van after continental breakfast and coffee. My mom and sister dropped us off at the trailhead and collected the coolers of trail magic they did the day before. I said my goodbyes and it was back into the woods for us.
The climbing was slow and steady but nothing terrible after the initial climb. Once we were a mile from Goddard Shelter the trail became steep and climbed through a spruce and balsam forest. It smelled so good. Dragon head made it to the shelter first then me and turn Hazel. We took a break and loaded up on calories. We then had a .30 climb to the top of Glastenbury Mt which had a fire tower with a fantastic view. We took pictures and then began the descent to Kid Gore Shelter where we crammed three tents into space for two. We made dinner together and got into bed at 8:30. Tomorrow we do Stratton Mt which is almost 4000. Not sure if I mentioned this previously but we crossed the 1600 mile mark at the infamous county road. So exciting.
August 8, 2016 - Stratton Mountain
Woke up today around 5:30 am to running critters. Have no idea what they were but boy were they noisy. Shhhhhhh people are trying to sleep. I finally got up and packed up at around 6:30. I made coffee and had breakfast and the three of us got on trail at about 7:30.
I took my time climbing up Stratton Mt and reached the summit. Dragon Head was already up there and we climbed up the fire tower together. The visibility was fantastic and the view was amazing. I took a lot of pictures. We then came down and ate a lunch and snacks. Dragon head headed out while I was finding accommodations for tomorrow night. DH's sister is coming up to see him in Vermont and he's staying a night with her and then taking a zero a green mountain home. Hazel is going to Nero in Manchester center and is staying at green mountain home. When I called they were full so I'm staying at a bed and breakfast in town.
I finished booking and Hazel showed up. We hiked down the mountain and met dragon head who was at the spring getting water. We headed to Stratton Pond shelter. There is a 5 dollar fee to stay at this shelter and after looking at it we decided lets just hike 2 more miles and stay in our tents. The shelter is not enclosed and there is no bear pole or cables. Didn't seem to have much going for it. We passed the 3/4 way mark of the whole trail on our way down Stratton Mt and it was so exciting. We hiked to a footbridge crossing and there were great stealth sites to camp at and that's just what we did. We talked and figured out we only have 110 mile to New Hampshire and 235 miles to Maine. It's so crazy this journey is getting close to ending.
August 9, 2016 - Caution, Don't Become Roadkill!
We only had 8 miles to go and one climb over Spruce peak. We caught up to Hazel at about 2 miles from from the road and all hiked together. We descended down to the road and came across a sign that said "Caution do not become roadkill". Route 30 apparently has two sets of lanes with speeding traffic on a blind corner. They recommend looking both ways while crossing and run. It was a hair raising road crossing especially with speeding tractor trailers.
We made it safely across and Hazel went to chat with some hikers and their family. Soon enough we had a ride into town. We arrived into Manchester at about 12:30. The three of us all ate lunch at Cilantro. Hazel headed out to resupply and to go to Green Mountain house. Dragon heads sister picked him up around 2:30. I headed to Palmer House resort and motel. I checked in and got settled and headed into town to eat again and get coffee. I headed back to the motel and went to the pool. Afterwards I lounged in my room and fell asleep at around 8:30. So nice to relax.
August 10, 2016 - A Real Zero
I slept in this morning as I had nowhere to be and no hiking. Well sleeping in meant 8:30 but that's late for me. I got up took a shower and headed to the continental breakfast the motel offered. I wiped them out but luckily not to many other guests were even taking advantage of the breakfast. I headed back to the room to grab by small day bag and headed into town.
I stopped first at EMS to buy a new dry sack as a chipmunk or something like it chewed a hole in it while it was hanging in the tree. After I got my new sack I headed to Starbucks to get an iced coffee. It was delicious. I'm happy I decided to take a zero today not only is my body sore and needed a rest but it rained heavy all morning and it's raining again.
I stopped in McDonald's for lunch and then headed back. I thought of taking a swim in between rain showers but Dragon Head texted me. He said his sister dropped him off at the library in the morning and had been there for two hours. He wanted to stop at Cilantro for lunch and asked if I wanted to join him. I said sure let me walk down that way. I got there within a few minutes and ordered chips and salsa as I didn't want to eat another full meal. Lieutenant Dan was eating when I walked in and dragon head was talking to him. He finally caught up to us and DH had been hiking with him for awhile before we started hiking together. I finally got to meet him and we all ate and chatted catching everyone up on the happenings.
Jeff had texted me while I was at the restaurant that he was coming to do a surprise visit. He wanted to come on Sunday to slack pack us but there was no roads whatsoever. Seeing I'm heading further north and it will get harder to see one another he wanted to do a quick visit. Dragon head and I after eating walked down to the price chopper to do out resupply. We supplied for four days of food taking into account that we will be near two restaurants in those 4 days. We think that we actually have the right amount of food and not too much. We checked out and sat on a bench eating snacks we had bought ourselves. Dragon head called green mountain house to be picked up. This is the hostel I tried to get into but they were full. The guy was there shortly after and DH headed to the hostel.
I headed back to the motel and went in the pool. The sun finally had come out and it got hot and sticky quick. I dried off and changed and Jeff arrived. OMG I was so excited to see him. We went and got a pizza and spent a few hours talking about my trip and what's going on at home. Around 7 Jeff got ready to head back to the Catskills. It was a little over 2 hour drive. Which was still very long and I can't believe he drove all that way just to see me. After he left I got into bed and watched tv until I fell asleep.
Storm is posting regular updates from the AT on his Trail Journal
You can also follow him on his Facebook Page, Moe Hikes the Appalachian Trail
Storm is also working to raise money for charity as he hikes the Appalachian Trail. He currently has a GoFundMe campaign that is supporting the work of the Catskill Center to protect and preserve the Catskills and the Catskill Park, where Storm lives, enjoys the outdoors and volunteers!
Read all of Storm's posts on Adventures in the Outdoors.
For more information about the Appalachian Trail