Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 94: Glastenbury

7/22: base of Harmon hill - IP road
Mile: 1608.5 - 1634.6 (26.1 miles)

When I wake up I think it's much earlier than it is, the forest is dark and the sky gray. I take extra care to waterproof things which pays off when I starts raining about two minutes after I finish packing. But it's short lived and by the time I make it to the top of Harmon Hill it's already stopped. The trees have filled in and while I'm sure the views are nice it would mean wading through wet grass which sounds very unappealing.

Looking back at the rocks, this shouldn't be steep but it sure felt that way coming down.

The forest is lovely and it's a great morning. I'm moving glacially slow the first few miles. It's a very steep rocky descent to the highway and I'm in no rush.

Then it's the giant ridge line and a long climb back up to the top. I chat with an over eager Long Trail hiker and sheepishly admit I speed up a bit because I'm just not up to the overwhelmingly excited chatter.

These are a lot of the views so far, I'm really excited to see the fire towers that are coming up.

There's beautiful spring water at a shelter and somewhat calmer Long Trail hikers near the top of Glastenbury Mountain and then a very cool fire tower. It's windy and old up high but fantastic views.

The rest of the day is just rock and root filled enough to make me always watch my feet but very enjoyable. It's not bad you just can't zone out. I've heard Vermont is nicknamed Vermud and I am constantly sidestepping large mud holes but they're fairly dry and at least for today my feet manage to stay dry as well.

The rain never comes back and a cool breeze makes most of the day pretty great. I push to the base of Stratton Mountain with the vague idea of waking up early enough to hike the 2.4 miles to summit and see sunrise. But once I lay down I'm not so sure. 3:30 sounds awfully early.

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Day 93: town day?

7/21: Thunderbolt shelter - base of Harmon hill
Mile: 1586 - 1608.5 (22.5 + 1 miles)

I've gotten so used to soft ground the shelters hard wood is strange. But it's protected from the wind and free of mice. My plan was to get going early but I'm stiff and slow and don't get out until 7. Not exactly late but for a stealth spot not ideal, I can see the workers in bright orange up on the tower and figure it's time to get moving.

It's a long and mostly incredibly steep drop down to the highway but other than going slow it's a lovely morning. It's still cool and instead of tiny newts today the trail is covered in tiny tiny frogs. I even scare a bear on the hillside, I'm so busy taking pictures of frogs it takes a moment to register the crashing and then it's already gone.

After 6 miles and a few blocks in town I walk a half mile off trail to a grocery store to resupply for the next stretch. It's a giant grocery store and I wander aimlessly for ages. They kindly let me charge my phone while I buy far too much food. Then to the pizza place next store for lunch, thruhikers get half off which is pretty exciting and I start to stall. The heat has kicked back up and the humidity make my 2000 ft climb out of town sound pretty unpleasant. The pizza guys are great and it's not hard to dawdle even longer.

My pack feels heavy and the half mile out of town feels ridiculously long because I suddenly desperately need to use the bathroom. I somehow make it until the forest and once I'm safely in the woods it's all ok and I can start the long climb. It's actually not bad under the canopy and I get to follow along a beautiful creek for awhile. The southbounders are getting more plentiful but I find myself at the Vermont border alone. Woohoo Vermont and I get to share the Long Trail for a bit. It goes all the way to Canada but we part ways in about 105 miles, so I guess I'll be a Long Trail section hiker.

More big climbs and rolling ridge lines. Its quiet and peaceful taking breaks and slowly moving today. One of those days I'm just happy I get to be out here. Passing beaver swamps and walking on wooden planks I pass by the shelter, it's crowded and loud and it's not much farther before I find a nice quiet spot. For not doing many miles I find my eyes closing as I eat dinner. An early night it is.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Day 92: Greylock

7/20: Barton Brook - Thunderbolt Shelter
Miles: 1566.2 - 1586

It actually gets cold overnight, enough that I have to fumble around finding my warm shirt which I haven't needed in ages. I sleep in a little and after one short climb and 2.5 miles have made it to Dalton. It's a small town that the trail cuts straight through, across railroad tracks, the Housatonic River, and towards a few businesses. I end up at a little cafe with a solid a trickle of thruhikers and a lot of locals. Somehow I kill a few hours not leaving until 10. Wifi, coffee and frozen yogurt are a wonderful morning start.

Leaving Dalton the trail heads into
neighborhoods and it's a funny little line of hikers heading out of town. Maybe ten or so people are all spaced out 20-50 yards. I mess up the pretty pattern stopping to pet a friendly cat and have the streets to myself again.

He's a smarty, he knows more are coming

The rocky lookout to Chesire.

It's a lovely pine needle filled climb up to the ridge and then rolling forests and ponds all the way to Chesire. A little store on trail and the same faces from this morning make for another long break.

To round out the day it's 8 miles of climbing up to Mt Greylock, the highest mountain in Massachusetts. It ends up going pretty quickly, I hike with 2 guys for awhile then after a break Sacagawea and Foxtrot catch up.

We make it to the top to find the tower covered in scaffolding. Oh well it looks cool either way. There's a lodge here with hostel bunks and a group of us hover forever trying to decide whether or not to stay. It's getting really cold and the group pushes on 0.1 to an emergency ski hit nearby.

The ski hut is really cool and seems to be mice free! I can't believe how cold it was outside, certainly a change from the last few weeks. What a gorgeous and fun food filled day.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Day 91: Magic

7/19: Tyringham Cobble - Barton Brook
Miles: 1539.5 - 1566.2 (26.7 miles)

The whining of the mosquitos are so bad overnight I actually have to put in earplugs to cut the sound. I sleep terribly, I'm thinking to much about miles, resupply and what I'll be doing come September. I've slowed down a bit the last few stretches trying to respect what my body has been telling me. Feet, joints and shins aren't quiet when they're unhappy. I think I'm awake almost every hour and when 5am rolls around I stubbornly close my eyes trying to get even 15 more minutes. I feel exhausted when I pack up. Immediately bit by more mosquitos I'm not thrilled by my morning.

I make it the 0.5 miles to Jerusalem Rd praying the spring there is still flowing. Tired I walk the 100 yards down the road twice before realizing the water is staring me in the face. There's also a little farm stand with drinks and snacks on the honor system. I take the time to sit, drink something cold and try to reset my morning.

It helps, I climb back to the trail then head into meadows, swamp and the long climb up and away from Tyringham much happier than an hour before. The day is full of forests, ponds and surprisingly southbounders. At least I'm assuming most of them are southbounders, I barely even get a hello but overall it's a crowded day on the trail.

Ponds out here remind me more of lakes and are a nice change in scenery. I think I pass at least 3, plus a number of marshy swamps. The bugs should be terrible but while definitely still around they aren't awful and with the wind it's actually almost cool out. Granted it's still over 70, but that's becoming cool to me when looking at 90 plus on a regular basis.

With the great weather I feel like I should be cruising but the whole day feels slow. The lack of sleep is killer and tonight camped by a brook after a long day of rolling climbs, intermittent rocks and tired feet I'm honestly not sure about my plan tomorrow. There's a town in 2.5 miles, 11.5 miles and a place to stay in 20. Sleep and the body will help me decide, either way I need to resupply and I get to eat town breakfast which is pretty exciting.

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Day 90: Cranky Days

7/18: Glen Brook Shelter - Tyringham Cobble
Miles: 1512.7 - 1539.5 (26.7 miles)

It's a slow rocky start but not too bad just a long descent as usual.

Down and across fields which is a little different. It's another hot one out here. I'm getting slower as the heat increases. Another hiker starts walking with me which helps pass the time. The ridge line looked flat but somehow is full of miniature ups and downs, rocks and dry water sources.

It's hard to stay cheerful when water sources are dry or beaver pond runoff. I stop by a sad little puddle that's at least flowing, the springs are just as seasonal as the creeks. I'm attacked by a cloud of mosquitos, gnats and flies which make it a short break and in a funk I head on.

It's nice pine forest but I'm not loving the evening with the endless mosquitos and muggy dampness. Water is still unreliable and I'm doing shorter days to time Dalton better so I stop earlier than usual which is a nice break.

I make it up to Tyringham Cobble hoping for a good sunset but even though I was planning a short day it didn't quite happen and I lay in my tent thoroughly beat.

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