Monday, July 24, 2017

MA Appalachian Trail - Section 2 - Mount Greylock to Mark Noepel Lean-To

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
7/23/2017 6.6 miles

Parking: Rockwell Road (more southern parking lot)
Directions: Hike north to Mount Greylock summit. Return to parking area. Hike south to Mark Noepel Lean-To. Return to parking area.

July and August are always difficult for hiking. We lucked out today, with the forecast around 78. We drove up Rockwell Road, passing the visitor center. We tried to do this hike last winter, but the road was blocked off at the visitor center. This is a long road! It's around 7 miles from the visitor center to the parking area, and its slow driving. There are 2 parking areas off Rockwell Road, and we tried the upper lot first. There were 3 cars parked there, and it was really very tight. I didn't want to try to squeeze in, because I've had my car damaged before when trying to park in tight areas like this. We drove back down to the lower lot. It's still not big, but had more space than the upper lot. Parking is free in both of these lots. If you drive to the summit, there is also parking there, $5 I think.
We did the hike to the summit first, since it was the steeper portion of the hike, and we wanted to do it while we had fresh legs. We did fine. I remember doing this hike several years ago, and it felt hard. This time it felt moderate. So, despite hip problems, I still seem to be in better shape than I was a decade ago. I kept Trek on leash all day today, because there were just a lot of people. And dogs. The tower wasn't open at the summit, but it looks like will have a "re-opening" this Wednesday. Too bad. I think last time we weren't able to go up either. This is a state high point, though not our first time there. I didn't see a summit marker. We saw a couple of sky divers at the top, just talking with people. We walked around Bascom Lodge, but didn't go inside. We saw a lot of people eating snacks inside. One interesting point. It was around 79 degrees in town. When we started our hike from the parking lot, it was cool. 66 degrees! It was humid, but still, 66 degrees in July - I'll take it! The elevation makes a difference.
We headed back down towards our car. We saw a lot of people struggling with the climb up, and tried to encourage them. After we reached our parking area, we continued southbound. After that point, we saw far fewer people. The people we did see all looked like thru or section hikers. It's a very pretty area. We read that it is a sub-alpine region. There were some shorter evergreens, which I guess would be considered krummholz. It smelled lovely. We hiked to the shelter, and then turned around and headed back to our car. My hip was sore from the hike, so I guess we didn't go too fast. I'm heading back to the doctor this week, as my psoas injection doesn't seem to have cured me.
Looks like we have 1 more hike to finish MA. We're hoping to do this as a weekend backpacking trip sometime.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sterling Forest Fire Tower and Iron Mines, Sterling Forest State Park

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
7/15/2017 4.6 miles 2 hours 18 minutes

Map: Sterling Forest Trails Map (available from the NYNJTC)
Parking: See directions

Today was warm and humid, and we wanted to stay local, so we chose a shorter hike in Sterling Forest. It seems like we haven't been hiking in this area for a few years. This hike was easy/moderate. I was glad it wasn't more strenuous, because the humidity was sucking the energy out of me. It looks like Sterling Lake is a water supply, so we didn't let Trek swim in it, much to his disappointment. We hiked up to the fire tower and tried climbing up it. We got partway up, but the top half of the stairs was closed off due to rotting boards. It looks like they are working on repairing them.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

MA Appalachian Trail - Section 6 - Goose Pond Road to Baldy Mountain

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
7/9/2017 5.2 miles

Map and Guide: Appalachian Trail Guide to Massachusetts-Connecticut
Parking: Goose Pond Road
Directions: Hike Goose Pond Road southbound to Baldy Mountain, and return back to Goose Pond Road

We ended up with a small 2.6 mile section of the AT to do between sections we had already done. Glen doesn't like to do non-contiguous sections, because this is what can happen. He likes to close up gaps we have. 5.2 miles is a pretty short hike considering the amount of time it takes to drive to Massachusetts. We considered doing this and another short section further north in order to make the drive worthwhile sometime. But today, we didn't have time for a long hike, and it ended up being a good time to fill in this gap.
This was Trek's first hike since his surgery. His wound has finally healed. I still feel the end of a stitch at the wound site. I'm guessing its an internal dissolving stitch, because on the outside he just had staples. I decided not to have him carry a pack today though, because I'm thinking one of the pack straps is going to be right up next to his incision location. I'm kind of paranoid about it rubbing there. Like it's going to make the cancer return. I'll get over this, but until then he's hiking packless.
I'm always grateful when the weather is nice enough to hike in July. It was warm but not to hot, and the humidity was reasonable. Bugs were out, but not overly voracious. We had no big climbs today which I was happy for. It's been a couple of weeks since my psoas injection. My hip pain is back down to pre-injection level, which basically means no big change. I was in much worse pain the first 10 days after my injection, and now its just back to low level pain. Happy to be back to hiking once again. And happy that Trek is able to join us again. I did think about work way too much today while hiking. Usually my mind is pretty empty while hiking, but today's hike was not enough to reduce the stress of putting in so many hours at work.
No views today, but we did have some excitement. We were in the middle of a conversation about needing to look up in order to see bears (we have never seen a bear while hiking). Go figure - in the middle of our conversation we heard a noise in the trees. I figured it was just a squirrel or two trees rubbing together. Glen decided to take a look and find out what it was. We saw an animal climbing a tree! It took us a while to figure out what it was - a porcupine. We've only seen a porcupine once before and it was on the ground. It was much larger than I thought they were, and wow, it was really impressive to watch it climb (it hugs the tree).

Sunday, June 25, 2017

MA Appalachian Trail - Section 7 - Jerusalem/Fernside Road (limited parking) to South Mount Wilcox shelter

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
6/24/2017 11.2 miles

Map and Guide: Appalachian Trail Guide to Massachusetts-Connecticut
Parking: Fernside/Jerusalem Road
Directions: Hike southbound from Jerusalem/Fernside Road (a gravel road) to South Mount Wilcox Shelter. Return to parking area.

This time we started at the correct parking area on Jerusalem Road. We passed the parking area on the paved portion of Jerusalem Road and continued on past where the road became a gravel road to the other parking area on Jerusalem Road.

My hip had been quite sore the later part of this week. I don't know what triggered it to get worse this time. But the weather was nice, and its been a while since we went hiking, so I was eager to go anyways. I'm also getting a cortisone injection in my psoas on Monday, so it is actually preferable to have moderate pain when I go in (so I can more easily tell if the injection helps).
We left both dogs at home. Trek had his surgery, and it went well. He had a low grade fibrosarcoma. The vet was able to get clean margins, so the hope is that it won't return. It's taking some time for his incision to heal. They remove a bunch of skin in order to get clean margins, so the skin on his belly was taut. He's had his staples removed, but still has an open wound where one part didn't close up properly. The incision doesn't bother him in the least and he's as happy a dog as ever.
We had warm weather today and not too buggy. This was a pleasant hike. No real views other than a beaver pond, but it was a nice walk in the woods. There was around 1,000 feet elevation gain in the beginning of the hike, but the rest of the hike was much more level. We did see a handful of thru hikers, and there were a couple of folks who set up trail magic on Beartown Road. On the way back, I talked to a thru hiker for a couple miles. He was looking for some company, and I was enjoying learning about his journey.
We are closing in on finishing the MA section of the AT. We set a goal for ourselves of hiking 200 miles on the AT this year. At this point, I feel like our progress is slow. With crazy work hours, afternoon thunderstorms frequently in the forecast, and Trek's cancer, we just haven't been getting out as much as I like.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

MA Appalachian Trail - Sections 6-7 - Baldy Mountain to Jerusalem Road / Fernside Road

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
6/3/2017 9.8 miles

Map and Guide: Appalachian Trail Guide to Massachusetts-Connecticut

Parking: Jerusalem Road, 2-3 spaces roadside.

Directions: Hike southbound (same side of street as parking area) to Jerusalem/Fernside Road (a gravel road). Return to parking area. Hike northbound to Baldy Mountain summit. Return to parking area

We headed off to Massachusetts today, dogless. I'm paranoid about Trek's lump, so we left him at home. His surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. I didn't take the time to study our map before our trip. Glen finally downloaded the Guthook app on his phone, so he can always see where we are on the AT too. We were planning on doing a section from Jerusalem/Fernside Road to South Wilcox Shelter and back. This was a section of the AT we need to do, listed on our blog. That was the extent of my research. We ended up parking on Jerusalem Road, and headed into a meadow of cows. We were headed south (based on a compass check) but were actually going northbound on the AT. I figured out shortly after we started that we were going the wrong way. So we turned around and went the other way. After we were a couple miles in, we saw a sign which showed the mileage to the South Wilcox Shelter. What? It was much further away than expected. Oh dear. Where the hell were we? We checked the mileage, and knew we couldn't do a 17 mile hike based on our start time and the number of daylight hours we had remaining. It turns out the trail crosses Jerusalem Road twice. One time it is called Jerusalem Road, and another time on our map, it's call Jerusalem / Fernside Road. On our Guthook app, the second intersection is only called Fernside Road. So we started at the wrong parking area. Duh. No wonder things were not matching up. We were supposed to have a 1,000' elevation gain in the beginning, and the hill we climbed seemed too easy. It WAS. Because we were hiking up Tyringham Cobble. The good news, is that we were still hiking on a section of the MA AT that we haven't done. So it wasn't a big loss. We decided to continue to Fernside / Jerusalem Road and then turn around and head back to our car. It was still very early, so we headed northbound and climbed to the summit of Baldy Mountain. We were hoping for views (based on the mountain name), but there were none. We figured it was at least good to get the 1,000 foot climb up Baldy out of the way. We returned down back to our car.

We had beautiful sunny skies today, which is always nice. Not too hot yet. I really enjoy hiking in the Berkshires, and today didn't disappoint. Things we liked about today's hike....I saw pink lady slippers again. Our packs felt featherweight after backpacking last weekend. We had nice farm and mountain views. Hiking through meadows (I'm a closet meadow bagger). Ferns. Hiking with cows. Walking on pine needles (very gentle on your feet). Much less mud than Vermont. Things we didn't like...basically the only thing was the bugs. After our Vermont trip last weekend, Glen bought a head net. He was so excited to use it and he said it worked great. We also had ticks today. I guess that is the downside of the meadows. I flicked off a few ticks off my clothes.

I didn't bring enough food today, and I was having a queasy stomach for some reason. I need to remember to bring one more bar than needed, just in case. Today I decided to start out with only 1 liter of water, but also bring a filter and a 2 liter dirty water bag. This worked out well. It was great not to be carrying 2 liters of water, like I usually do. At some point I did stop and filled up my 2 liter bag (which was overkill, I didn't need 2 more liters). Then at the summit of Mt. Baldy we stopped and I worked on filtering some of my 2 liters. I'm trying to learn how to carry less weight, so this is something I'm going to start doing (filtering water on hikes rather than carrying everything I need). It does require additional planning to make sure I know where the water sources are.

Starting out going the wrong way.

Ugh...realizing that there are still 6.3 miles to our turnaround point, and we've started at the wrong parking area.

A wetlands area with pink flowers and many irises. More colorful in person.

This reminds me of NJ.

Blurry, but more pink lady slippers today. We've seen so many this year.

Rock wall just before the summit of Baldy Mountain.

A picnic table plus an AT farm stand next to the trail, on Jerusalem Road.