Thursday, August 29, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Great Barrington, MA To Bennington, VT

The past six days have felt better despite the trail not being any easier.  I was overrun by a north bound bubble just to be left behind a few days later.  I met people who motivated me and I saw awe inspiring views.  It also helped that another state was left in the rear view mirror and another milestone was crossed.

A meadow with a view.
Day 142 - A trail angel name Joe took me back to the Appalachian Trail (AT) and I headed northward once again.  The trail crosses roads occasionally and at some crossings there are parking lots for hikers.  At one crossing I came across a couple from Michigan who had driven out to give trail magic to her southbound daughter and other thru-hikers.  I sat for a while had a couple bananas, an apple, a pudding cup, a Gatorade, and a handful of Oreos.

I was joined by a northbounder from Alaska called Turtle.  When I left she left too and we hiked the rest of the day together.  She had had a rough time lately like I've had with thoughts of quitting.  We spent the next four or five hours talking about our AT experience, the Camino (she'd walked it a few years ago), and about the people we'd met on the trail.  Turns out we had a lot in common.  She was also very talkative and thoughts of quitting were soon crowded out.

We arrived at our campsite for the evening.  The place was packed with Yale orientation students and nine other north bound thru-hikers (Clemson, College, Dirty Dan, Swish, Papa Rojo, Bear, Teeter, Chickadee, and Pots n Pans).  I was tired and I climbed in my tent early.

We passed several ponds along the trail.
Day 143 - I was the first to leave the campsite.  Turtle, also an early riser, caught up with me soon after and we hiked together for the next eighteen miles.

My butt was dragging today while Turtle felt good.  When we arrived at the October Mountain Shelter I stopped for the day.  Turtle still felt good so we said our goodbyes and she moved on.

Grandma, Ramblin' Man, Choo Choo, and Chili came, ate, and went on.  I was in a bubble of new and old thru-hikers.  I would be in the bubble only a few days - a continuation of the pattern of my AT.

The flowers along the trail are constantly in flux.
Day 144 - I left the shelter alone and moved on.  The AT passes through he town of Dalton, MA.  It passes by a bar that was not open yet and an ice cream shop that was also not open yet.  *Sigh*. I found a sandwich shop that was open and had lunch.

I stopped at the Chrystal Mountain Campsite and chatted with a section hiker and Clemson before getting in my tent.  I was surprised by an overnight rain that had not been in the forecast.

Two days in a row I missed my chance for ice cream.
Day 145 - For the second day in a row the AT passed through a town.  Cheshire was a nice  town.  The AT passes another ice cream stand that, naturally, was not open yet.

On the way out of town I stopped at a convenient store and a Dollar General and resupplied for the next few days.

Leaving Cheshire meant scaling the highest mountain in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock.  I reached a shelter a part of the way up and took a nap.  Since the shelter was only ten miles from where I'd started the day I continued up the mountain.  At the top there is a lodge with a bunkhouse.  I rented a bunk and ate an early dinner in their dining room.

At the top of Mount Greylock stands a war Memorial tower you can climb.  From the top you can see for miles and it was a clear day.  Around the summit hang gliders flew around as tourists watched from below.

The lodge filled up with rich retirees and yuppies.  I was the only hiker who stayed here.  This gave me mixed feelings.  It was nice to have time to see the memorial and enjoy the views but I missed being around 'my people'.   I think I should have pushed on to the next shelter.

The War Memorial
on Mount Greylock.
Day 146 - The day before was a shorter day and today was also a shorter day.  I climbed down Mount Greylock.  At Mount Williams I looked at the trail register and saw: "Keep going Little Hill. You got this. - Turtle".  This made me smile as I hiked down the mountain.

Once again the trail went through the outskirts of a town.  Where the AT passes through North Adams, MA there are no restaurants or stores but it does pass by an elementary school.  There is a trail log so you can leave messages for the students.

You leave town and climb up another ridge.  Along the way you cross into Vermont.  At this border the trail shares the path of an older trail known as the Long Trail.  The Long Trail is the oldest long distance trail in the United States.  The two trails share about one hundred and five miles.  Not far down the way you also pass the one thousand six hundred mile mark on the AT.  Milestones were falling fast.

The sunrise from Mount Greylock.
Soon after entering Vermont I began running into large mud puddles.  Vermont is one of two states that have hiker nicknames.  I already mentioned Rocksylvania.  Vermont is the other with the nickname of Vermud.  I was surprised how quickly the mud appeared in the state.  I have to say I am not looking forward to dodging mud pits.

The mud of Vermud.
I ended up in the Seth Warner Shelter with some section hikers, northbounders, and some Long Trail hikers.

Days 147 & 148 - For the third day in a row I had a short day as I headed into Bennington, VT.  The hotel sent out a car to pick me and two other thru-hikers (Cyborg and Wahoo).    It was nice to get to a town with time to do something.  The past few towns I arrived late in the day making the town stay feel short.

It's been cold in the mornings lately so I picked up my cold weather clothing from the post office.  I'd received them from home back in Fort Montgomery, NY and have kept forwarding them down the trail.

Bennington has a bus system that makes it easy to get around to pick up resupply.  My next planned zero day, Killington, VT, has few amenities so I bought extra food and mailed it to myself in Killington.

The next five days are going to be tough.  The distances are long and there are few places along the way for resupply or to break up the monotony of the trail.  I'm not really looking forward to the next five days.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 1,612.8 Miles (2,595.6 km)
Section Distance: 92.4 Miles (148.7 km)
Section Elevation Up: 18,661 ft (5,688 m)
Section Elevation Down: 18,012 ft (5,490 m)


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