Three mountains had to be climbed on Wednesday, May 17th: Bear, Race and Everett. Mt Bear (technically in Connecticut) had a rather brutal descent. Knowing this would be a trying day, I was on the Trail at 0600. It was my earliest start. Coming down Mt Race, I could see how big Everett was, and it was very intimidating. I only covered 13 miles that day, but it was a very tough 13 miles.
Rounding a bend in the Trail, this suddenly appeared in front of me. This is Benedict Pond in Monterey, MA.
Thursday night it rained for about an hour while I was at Mt Wilcox Shelter. A major-league lightning and thunder show took place. Seeing and hearing it was very impressive. I have never before had such an experience; it was an amazing display.
After coming down a mountain today, Friday, the 19th, I happened to come across this stand. It was not manned but it had a refrigerator with drinks and eggs, candy bars etc. There was a price list and it was run on the honor system. Very nice! Chicken eggs were 25 cents and duck eggs were 50 cents.
It wasn’t actually Trail Magic, but it was certainly nice to have after a steep descent on a very warm day. The stand was in Tyringham, MA, as was this beautiful view:
That night I stayed at Upper Goose Pond Cabin, run by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). This cabin is unusual because in addition to being run by the AMC, it is manned 24/7. An older husband and wife volunteered to stay there for a week, and other folks relieve them each week all summer and into the fall. There is no electricity or running water, but they managed to cook for us: pancakes in the morning and bread during the evening. It sleeps about 10 hikers in a bunk room on the second floor. Interestingly, the older couple is Jewish, and before they ate they began their Sabbath by singing several hymns. Although not familiar to me, it made me aware of the different customs and beliefs of people, and how they live by them. I enjoyed it.
Saturday and Sunday were reasonable hiking days with a few challenges but nothing worth noting. Sunday night, I slept on the floor of the St. Mary of the Assumption church hall. Several churches along the Trail cater to hikers, but this was the first that coincided with my schedule and needs. This church allows you to sleep in one of their side rooms and use their bathrooms. Four walls, temperature control and a normal bathroom is far better than three walls, unpredictable weather and a moldering privy. I was also able to charge both my phone and spare charger.
On Monday the 22nd I climbed Mount Greylock, the highest elevation in the state of Massachusetts. Unfortunately, there was a bit of rain, so there was a lot of mud, and footing was dodgy. I started out in Cheshire, Mass, at an elevation of 970 feet, and the summit of Greylock was 3500 feet. Ascent was manageable, but the descent was much steeper and extremely slippery. I fell twice, but thankfully was uninjured. The summit was very cold, with strong winds and no visibility. Locals told me it snowed here last week. Because of the weather, there were no pictures to be taken. I found a ski lodge that I thought was abandoned, but when I walked in to get out of the cold, I met a young couple on a 4-day backpacking trip. They immediately asked me if I would like to share their clementines. Trail Magic.
I haven’t mentioned it before, but for at least the last three weeks I’ve heard woodpeckers in the trees, but the sounds they make are so different. I guess it depends on the density of the wood. The sounds are like different types of drums. Pretty cool. Each night, too, there seems to be an owl who will hoot a series of four or five different types of hoots, then repeat the the same sound and sequence until I finally doze off to sleep.
Today, within the first hour of hiking, I lost my balance while rock-hopping across a stream. I didn’t fall, but ended up calf-deep in cold water. Ten hours later, my hiking shoes were by a fire but still very wet. Later in the day, I crossed from Massachusetts into Vermont.