The saying goes on the AT that rumors are the lightest gear a hiker can carry, so everybody’s packing ’em. The word from the northbounders we’ve been passing is that we won’t hit another 3,000 ft mountain for another 600 miles! While in trade, the mosquitoes are supposed to be killer in Massachusetts and New Jersey.
After feeling like we were stuck in Maine and New Hampshire for weeks and weeks, we are picking off the New England states. With miles hiked per day up, elevation changes on the low, and the comparatively small length of these little states, it feels like we are cruising at a solid pace. We crossed into Massachusetts and it looks like it will take less than two weeks to get a good ways into Connecticut. Its extremely gratifying to watch these milestones fly by!
We climbed the highest mountain in Massachusetts this past week: Mt. Greylock. We haven’t had such a steep climb since Mount Mousilauke in the Whites! And apparently we won’t have one again for awhile. The top of the mountain was beautiful, with a wide bald area for people to picnic on while enjoying the view. Ironically, I see more mountains than people nowadays so it was more interesting to listen to some of the conversations coming from the diverse spread of tourists.
I wish I had pictures to show of Mt. Greylock, but its very hard to find a device that accepts the memory disk from Treasure Hunter’s camera.
Instead, here’s a story from some of the first days in Mass.
So, the day we enterred MA, it was raining. There was an immediate difference in the forest as we left the Green Mountains of Vermont. The trees were younger and the underbrush less dense, as if there had been a fire recently. It was also like hitting a wall of insects. Knats and mosquitoes galore! We made a muddy camp about 5 miles outside of Chesire, MA.
The next day, I started to feel ill. My head hurt and I felt drained. We hiked into town to get our food drop. Just talking to the post woman made me feel like I was going to fall over. Which is how I ended up here:
Just fullfilling my lifelong dream of becoming a vagabond, sleeping in the overgrown grass behind an abandoned pizza place.
Because I was feeling badly, and frankly thinking myself incapable of the 1,300 ft climb that would take us out of town and back into the woods, we thought we would sit in this pub and pizzeria so I might feel a bit better. A beer and a big piece of pizza seemed just the ticket to regain my strength.
According to the guys who run the local Shell station, the pizza place went out of business just last week. At this devastating news, I could walk no more. It was 72 degrees and relatively sunny outside, but I was freezing and exhausted. I went to lie down in the grass on my sleeping pad, bundled up in my jacket. Treasure Hunter pulled out his sleeping bag and draped it over me, placed a water bottle by my head, and gave me a bag of clothes to place my head on so that I could rest. (He’s a keeper.)
While he went to the gas station and washed his boots in the spigot off the building, I napped. But Chesire is a small town and it didnt take long before someone noticed us and called the owner of the building. She pulled up as Treasure Hunter was washing his boots and very kindly asked, “…Whatcha doing?”
She was very understanding about our situation and was not upset, but suggested that we try going to the local church which offers free accomodations for hikers. We probably could have stayed there longer, but after my nap I felt like we could get out of town.
Which is what brought us here:
These are “The Cobbles” above Chesire with a view into the valley, the tallest mountain in the first picture is Mt. Greylock, and a stunning lake in the second. It was so beautiful we decided to abandon the idea of going on to the campsite 2 miles away in favor of tenting on the side of the cliff. We got there by 3 PM so we were able to watch the weather move from rain over the mountains next to Greylock, to the light showers falling into the valley, and finally down and away from us.
The sunset was gorgeous and the stars above echoed the twinkling city lights below. But by that time, I was back in the throes of fever, shivering in my winter sleeping bag in August. I woke in the night absolutely drenched in sweat.
The best consolation I could possibly have asked for was that my family was meeting us 7.2 miles away in Dalton, MA. We hiked into town in the morning and experienced some wonderful trail magic when a couple bought our lunch. The woman had thru-hiked last year. Their kindness and Angelina’s daily special were immensely restorative and my parents picked us up later in the day for our two day sabbatical in Albany, NY.
Happy Trails from the concrete forest of NY’s state capital,