We woke up to coffee and Dunkin Donuts courtesy of Uncle Mike today! It was also nice to get a second shower and clean up before driving back to the trail in Dalton. We also stopped and visited with Nokey’s cousin Peter who recently broke his kneecap. I commiserated with him and reassured him that I broke my knee in 2010 and now I’m thru hiking!
We got back to town and ate leftovers of last night’s dinner before heading out back on the trail. We had a one-mile road walk through town before climbing up and out of Dalton. The hiking today was super easy after our initial 800-foot climb out and we walked past Gore Pond before coming to The Cobbles, which had beautiful views of the Hoosic River and the town of Cheshire below. We also had been walking on lots of marble today, which made for slick descents down the hills! After 9 miles, we came down into Cheshire and did some more road walking. All the locals on their porches warned of big storms headed our way. We checked the radar when we got to main street and saw that yet again there was a storm with large hail and tornado threats headed our way. We headed to St. Mary’s church to get a place to stay indoors and waited out the storm. It never materialized and we just got some heavy rains, but we were glad to be inside with dry gear. Well, almost. My Camelbak leaked today and soaked my down sleeping bag! At least it will have time to dry out before hiking tomorrow! Tomorrow we hit Vermont! The photo is from The Cobbles of the Hoosic River.
Days 117 & 118
Once again it rained all night, but we were indoors tonight! No wet gear! We got to eat blueberry buckwheat pancakes that were so filling even thru hikers felt full! All the hot coffee we wanted was also a plus! Our goal for the day was to head to the cookie lady’s house and go from there. I packed up and headed out at 8 am alone since Nokey and Testament were a little slower this morning. I walked with Shaggy for a little while this morning before meeting up with Cheddah and walking with him for a while. We crossed over I-90 and them climbed Beckett Mountain. We were making great time when the sky suddenly turned dark and there once again appeared to be a threat of rain. Shaggy, Cheddah, and I flip-flopped all morning before finally going our separate ways at October Mountain Shelter. I headed on to the cookie lady’s house and got there around 12:15 to wait on the boys. I had lunch and free homemade cookies while chatting with all the hikers coming through. By 2 pm Nokey and Testament still had not shown up and all the other hikers were going in to Dalton 9 miles away. Since I’d had a 2-hour lunch, I was ready to head on. A SOBO hiker told me he saw the boys on his way in, so I took off. I found them coming north and told them I wanted to go to Dalton. They agreed to go if they could have a good lunch break, so I took another hour waiting before we all headed out. The forecast called for 0% chance of rain the rest of the day. At 3:15 we had a torrential downpour of cold rain with cold wind. It lasted about half an hour while we climbed up Warner Hill. We met up with Skinny Rambo and Float, Yoko, Chunder, and Grundlehammer who were all heading to a ‘secret hostel’ called The Birdcage. Rumor had it you got a free ride to Old Country Buffet too! We all booked it to town and got there at 6:30. Rob, the owner, picked us up in his van and took us to his house where we got showers, laundry (with clothes to wear so we could wash all of our clothes!) mattresses to sleep on, and the ride to the buffet! He didn’t want any money from us and gave us free pop to drink too! We all ate entirely too much and got a great nights’ sleep on a full stomach, which we haven’t had in a long time!
We woke up in the morning and I got a ride in to town to the Verizon store since my phone was shorted out. Verizon told me to go to the Apple store, a 40-minute car ride away, in Springfield. Lucky for us, Nokey’s uncle Mike lives less than 10 minutes from the store and was willing to take us in for the night making for an unexpected zero! I got to the store and replaced my phone (200 dollars and a 2-hour backup later!) and we got to stay in a house with showers, real beds, pizza, and rotisserie chicken! We were very lucky to have the hospitality from him! Tomorrow, we get back on the trail and need to start making big miles again to get further north. No photos again since I lost them all in my backup 😦
We woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain yet again. We tossed on our rainflies and waited out the rain. Thankfully, it stopped raining about 8 am, so we were able to pack up and have breakfast while it was still dry. My phone battery is half-dead this morning since my phone won’t shut off, but I turned down the screen pretty low so it wouldn’t completely kill it. The plan this morning is now to head to Upper Goose Pond, a short 11 miles away, to avoid and impeding hail storm at 3 pm. Manboy was cowboy camping last night, so he got up and hiked out since he didn’t want to sleep in the rain. It was just me, Nokey, and Testament today. We had a short section of flat terrain and field walking before we climbed up and over Cobble Hill. From here, we walked through more private farm land before coming to the road to Tyringham. Now we had a steep climb up and over Baldy Mountain to Knee Deep Pond. Nokey and I met a guy here who did a thru hike in 1993 and wished us luck on ours. We met up again with Testament at Goose Pond Road and the three of us walked together to the trail junction to UGP cabin. We stopped for a minute at a swimming hole near the site of some old chimney ruins, but moved on quickly after hearing the rumble of thunder. We made it to the cabin at around 2:30 and were greeted by a large group of people we knew. We picked out our bunks (with mattresses!) and settled in for the night. I was pretty tired, so I ended up napping through the afternoon storm which thankfully never produced any hail. The caretaker of the cabin went to Big Y, a grocery store, and picked up pizza and beer for those who wanted it. I skipped out since my pack was still heavy from my resupply and napped some more! After getting up and eating dinner, we all hung out on the porch of the cabin until we could take the mosquitos no longer. We got to sleep on comfy bunks tonight and, in the morning, we’ll get hot coffee and blueberry pancakes! No photos today either due to my phone issues 😦
We woke up to hot coffee at Button’s and Bearwalker’s house this morning. They were also going to give us a ride back up to the trail as well! I had a box with a new shirt waiting for me at the East Mountain Retreat Center so Nokey and I made the 1-mile round trip to get it since no cars are allowed up the hill. From here, we had to walk up to the trail about 1 mile away as well. After getting back on the trail, we immediately began a climb up to yet another formation called The Ledges. From here, we went up a steeper hill to the South Mount Wilcox Shelter for lunch. We sat there for nearly an hour before deciding to head on to the North Mount Wilcox Shelter to see if there was water. Manboy volunteered to go check an see since it was 0.3 miles away. Turns out there was none to be had, so we continued onward in search. We found a stream still running about a mile north, so we all stopped and filled up there before making the final 3 miles to our camp for the night. The next three miles weren’t as hard as the map lead us to believe. We had a beautiful descent down a fern-covered and well-groomed hill before coming to the Shaker Campsite, which was actually the site of a former Shaker community. There wasn’t any water here (so we thought) so we were happy to have packed so much here. A section hiker, Sunshine, checked her map and it indicated there was supposed to be a spring. We checked around and found a side trail straight to the source! It was so cold and pure, so we were happy to have clean water finally! We ended up having to get into the tent early because the mosquitos here we’re relentless! Manboy was ‘cowboy camping’ so I felt pretty bad for him. Tomorrow we hope to get in some big miles, but might not due to a storm coming. No photos today due to my phone shorting out. I can’t get my phone to shut off and it is killing my battery.
Days 113 & 114
We woke up at 1 am to a downpour! Every time we woke up until 8 am it was pouring rain and it didn’t seem like it was going to stop, so we began packing up all our soaking wet gear to head up Race Mountain. The ascent was steep and rocky with rain and cold wind. For 0.6 miles, we walked along a slick knife edge that would probably be nice with gorgeous views on a sunny day, but today it was terrifying. After doing a lot of slow walking uphill and nearly no walking and only sitting and scooting downhill, we were exhausted! We walked further and found the Racebrook Falls Trail and decided it was 1) Time for a side trail adventure; 2) Time to get off the mountain. We were shivering and could see our breath. Our hands were locked around our trekking poles. We walked downhill steeply and then saw a wonderful waterfall before getting to the road. We walked the road for about 2 miles before coming upon a sporting goods store. I walked in and asked if there was a cab company since we walked 2 miles without a successful hitch and the woman working there offered to close up and drive us back to Great Barrington. We got dropped off and grabbed up a hotel room. The whole crew made it in eventually over the course of the day. We had Indian food and ice cream for dinner and then crashed in a comfy hotel bed for the night.
We zero’d in GB to get some chores done. The boys went to see batman and I did DIY surgery on my toe. My toe feels better now and the swelling is gone, so we’re in great shape. Tonight we get to stay at Button and Bearwalker’s house. They’re former hikers and run an ‘out of the book’ hostel for us. They’re super great people and we had a wonderful time hanging out.
After a great breakfast last night, waking up in the yard to a cafe was the most epic feeling. We wandered in to fresh muffins out of the oven and three types of coffee. It was tasty, but we had to hike on. We headed out and climbed Mt Prospect and did some undulation before coming to a strange rock formation called Giant’s Thumb. We then walked downhill and did a road walk through Salisbury. We passed a large cemetery and then turned back into the woods for a lunch break. The crew from last night all caught up and we met a new hiker, Pacecar. We all had lunch and then moved on to another ascent to the lions’s head. After coming down from the rocks, we had a pretty flat section to walk through with several shelters and streams before we climbed our second Bear Mountain. At the top, there was a giant stone pile with views in to both MA and CT. We took photos before heading down. The steepness was reminiscent of the ledges a few days ago. We had to sit and scoot in some of them! At the bottom, in Sages Ravine, we were finally across another border and in to MA! We climbed an old roadbed up to Laurel Brook camp. We found an awesome spring up top with cold and clear water and filled up. We set up tents and decided to sleep with rainflies off since it was a 20% chance and finally cool enough to sleep. The photo today is Manboy on the rock tower on Bear Mountain.
After getting nearly 12 hours of sleep, we were ready to tackle the day and get at least to the next shelter 10 miles out before the big storm they were calling for came through. We began the day with a flat walk next to the Housatonic River through fields and sandy paths followed by a climb up to the Silver Hill campsite. From here, I walked with VOR, Peach, and Overdrive down the steep backside to Guinea Brook before continuing on alone. When I got up and over the hill to Hatch Brook, I met Headin’ Out and Tag-a-long, an older couple from MI who have hiked the AT before and nearly every other long distance trail in the country. While talking with TAL, Nokey showed up and had a mini reunion with them, having not seen them since the NOC nearly 4 months ago. We climbed another hill and had lunch at the top and listened to the thunder for a while before heading out to the shelter. We climbed yet again and passed through some boulders before the clouds turned super dark and the thunder ominous. We made it down the hill and rocks and stepped into Pine Swamp Brook Shelter just as the rain started to fall. The storm quickly turned nasty with hail and lightening accompanying the downpour. We sat there with two SOBOs while our group showed up in the rain one-by-one. After two hours, we decided to head out another 3 miles to the Belters View campsite. When I got there, it was barely 6 pm and the small spring was running so the boys were filling up. I flipped to the next page in our guidebook to see what terrain awaited us in the morning to see we only had 3.1 flat miles to Falls Village, where we could camp in the yard behind a restaurant that opened for breakfast at 7 am! Needless to say, we booked it down to town and made it there by 7:30. Manboy, VOR, Peach, Overdrive, Testament, Nokey, and me all set up there and headed to the B&B, the only other place in town, to eat dinner. We feasted on gourmet burgers before staggering back to our camp in a food coma. The photo today is of a silo in one of the fields early in the day.
I woke up at 1 am unable to bend my bad knee. After getting no sleep from the pain, I woke up at 7 am and got up, trying to walk unsuccessfully. We finally set out from the shelter around 8:30 and it took me 3 hours to go 2.9 miles. Nokey and Testament took turns carrying my pack for me and when we made it down to the first shelter, I finally got the knee to pop and the pressure relieved. We decided to go ahead and have lunch, skipping going into Kent, and then move on. we now had the hot midday sun to us and had some big climbs ahead of us, Caleb’s Peak and St. John’s Ledge. The ledges were steep and I actually fell down off them at one point, but no one was around to see me. I finally got some help from a southbounder and hopped back up to find Nokey and Testament waiting for me. It was pretty hot and we were all worn out. We decided to just stop at the next shelter making for the longest 10-mile day ever. The video posted sums it up. We went to bed at 7:30.
We had time to kill this morning so we sat at the pavilion when a familiar face showed up – Trail Momma! She gave us the ride the 1 mile to town to get to the post office and also gave us Gatorade and candy. We sorted through our drops at the library and then hopped back out on the road for a quick hitch to the trail. We immediately began climbing Hammersly Ridge. The ridge was a bit tough, but the scenery was beautiful and I saw a fawn and doe on the ridge. We descended to a point only 1 mile from the CT border and got some trail magic from Mac and Cheese, who welcomed us to the state with ice water and cookies! We got to the first CT border quickly and crossed into and out of the state 3 times. We climbed Ten Mile Hill and then back down to Ten Mile River. We sat down there for a break before our big ascent into camp. Testament decided his shoes were too wet to walk in, so he took them off and continued barefoot! We climbed a huge mountain up to Indian Rocks and then slowly walked on an undulating ridge to our campsite. We got there totally out of water after passing several dry streams to find there was a small, muddy, mosquito-filled pool of water. Overdrive and Peach were also there! I haven’t seen Overdrive since Damascus, Va over 1000 miles ago! We pumped water and hung out for a few hours after eating all the junk food we had in our drop boxes. The photo is me at the CT border.
We woke up at 6:45 and got ready for breakfast – homemade waffles and bacon with juice and coffee! We also got another surprise – showers! After the shower and some phone calls, we headed out to get into Pawling as we all three needed to get to the post office Monday morning. We headed up the first of a few ascents and the trail was beautifully maintained. There were switchbacks and even the rocks sticking out of the ground were painted white so you could see them. Lots of Hikers came past us this morning and were lunching at the shelter, but we pushed on to sit down by the railroad tracks. After lunch, we ran in to trail magic from Mom, an orange soda and a ride in to Pawling! We got to town just as it started to rain and ran into Chiba at the laundromat. We did laundry and sat at the pub eating wings and drinking beer while waiting for Testament. We ended up camping at the pavilion in the park about a mile from town and were able to tent out of the rain. The photo is me at a large oak tree on trail this day.