The trail snakes around like a game of Chutes and Ladders, so that sometimes I wonder if we’re going backwards or forwards!
September 1, 2017
Whimsical rock sculptures along the trail near White Rocks viewpoint causes us to pause in appreciation. Someone had a lot of time on their hands! It makes me think of building with blocks when our son was very young. What fun!
September 4, 2017
Yesterday Jay and I hiked to the town of Manchester Center, and enjoyed sitting out a day of pouring rain in the comfort of an old-fashioned guest house called Sutton’s Place. Today we had planned to take a day of rest, but the weather forecast called for sun today and more rain tomorrow. So we decided to slack pack 17 miles, from the other side of Stratton Mountain back to Manchester Center.
We were picked up by a shuttle at 6:00 a.m., driven on small back roads for 45 minutes around Stratton Mountain, and let off at the AT trailhead. The sun rose while we were in the car, a huge orange ball of golden fire, glowing through the trees!
The top of Stratton Mountain was still in the clouds when we reached it, three miles later. Wind gusted above the tree tops, blowing foggy shreds past the lookout tower. The view from that tower is famous for inspiring the creation of both the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail. But today, no inspiration was to be had from the view!
There is also a caretaker’s cabin on top of Stratton Mountain. Jay and I met the caretakers, Jeanne and Hugh, in 2011 when Jay first thru-hiked the AT. We were delighted to meet them again. Jay told Jeanne how she had educated him about the Bicknell Thrush. I think she was charmed that he remembered so vividly, for she invited us into their tiny cabin, “just to see what it is like.” It was a cozy space, an original “tiny house”. I felt honored to get to see it! Jeanne and Hugh have been caretakers on top of the mountain since the 1960s. They feel that their job is to protect the mountain and educate hikers. They do a great job!
September 6, 2017
After taking a zero day in the town of Manchester Center, VT, and watching the rain pour down, we begin hiking today in a ‘hard mist’, the kind of rain that soaks in sooner than one would think! It is now that I truly appreciate the shelters along the Appalachian Trail. We take an early lunch at Story Spring Shelter, then an early dinner at Kid Gore Shelter. After feeling the rain hitting our hoods all day, it is a relief to sit inside a dry shelter, and watch the rain soak the ground outside! Also, it’s nice to be able to eat without fat water drops splashing upon ones raisins or chocolate bar!
September 7, 2017
Tonight we chose a very scenic campsite, overlooking the town of Bennington, VT. Evening-tinged blue sky arched directly over us, while out in the valley, we could see a thunderstorm raging over the town. About the time we were settled inside our tent, the edge of the storm caught our airy perch. Lightning flashed just a few miles away. Wind battered our tent in a frenzy, tearing out one tent stake! Tent fabric whipped around my head as the tent pole fell across my body.
I cowered beneath the pelting raindrops until Jay shouted in my ear, “I’ll hold the tent pole while you go outside and pound the stake back in.”
I wasn’t sure how I got elected to plunge into the rain, except that the stake was on my side of the tent. Too shell-shocked to argue, I obediently unzipped the tent, submitted the upper half of my body to a bombardment of dagger-like precipitation, and grabbed the tent stake as the wind tried to whip it into the bushes. I used the panicked force of adrenaline to shove that stake deep into the grass and dirt, then wriggled backwards into the dry ‘safety’ of our abode. Whew!
We lay and listened as the rain and wind slowly moved down the valley, and I finally fell asleep to the gentle patter of water drops as the storm subsided.
September 8, 2017
We’ve been hiking in mixed rain and sun for three days now. Lots and lots of mud!
Great salamander and toad weather!
Three days of wet feet are beginning to cause problems. Though our feet have many calluses, soggy socks rub the tops of our toes, causing oozing sores and blisters. I think of the soldiers in the jungles of Vietnam, and wonder how they coped. Perhaps wet feet were not a priority on their list of problems. The sores on our feet, however, are getting to be too extensive to ignore. Tonight we use antiseptic wipes to clean our feet, and tomorrow we’ll wrap our toes in duct tape and band-aids! The true solution, however, will be some days of sunshine!
September 9-10, 2017
The weather begins to dry out today, hooray!
We climb to the top of Greylock Mtn, tallest mountain in Massachusetts. The sky is dramatic, clouds playing hide and seek with the sun. A war memorial, a beautiful tower with a spiral staircase, graces the top of Greylock. I must admit, more than half the fun of the memorial is climbing the stairs, around and around and around!
We stay on top of Greylock, at the Bascom Lodge, for the night, enjoying a hot shower, fresh clean sheets, and a chance to dry the mud off our shoes!
Breakfast is fun, discussing hiking and diet with two other hikers, Mary and Jane. When it is time to leave, Jay discovers that he is missing his hat. We look everywhere, but with no result. This is serious, as the wind is cold outside, and a hat is essential. Thankfully, Mary and her son, Kevin, come to our rescue, giving Jay an extra hat they had packed. Once again, trail angels work their magic on the AT! (Please see our Trail Angels page in the menu for a little more on this part of the story.)
The climb down Greylock is beautiful, with blue sky and sunshine! I can see the mud drying as we walk upon it!
We cross a corn field, then find wild apple trees littering the trail with ripe apples. We can’t resist, and collect about a dozen. Massachusetts wild apples taste much more delicious than Nevada wild apples! With fresh fruit in the back of my pack, we climb Cheshire Cobbles, a lovely, gently graded, loop trail which shares the AT. We stop and sit on the granite boulders, eating apples and enjoying a beautiful view!
September 11, 2016
The incredibly gorgeous weather continues with a beautiful sunrise through the trees.
It’s too cold to eat breakfast when we first get up. We decide to walk for a while. After about two miles, we are rewarded with the most beautiful breakfast spot, a quiet view on Gore Pond, still waters reflecting azure sky and fall trees.
September 12, 2017
Once again it is too cold to eat breakfast when we wake. We hike about an hour, and come to a trail angel’s house, The Cookie Lady. She sells boiled eggs from her farm, as well as sodas and candy bars to passing hikers. She also gives away fresh-made cookies. We eat boiled eggs and oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies for breakfast this morning. But the best part of the meal is the beautiful setting – food for our soul!
September 14, 2017
Salamanders and frogs begin to be seen on the trail again. We know this heralds a change from sunshine to wet weather ahead. Fortunately, we’re a day away from the town of Great Barrington, MA. Perhaps we’ll get lucky, and have our resupply and rest day as it rains!
4 thoughts on “Southbound Moments”
Hi Sarah and Jay. So nice to meet you guys at Bascom lodge and I am enjoying reading your blog. Kevin got a kick out of getting mentioned in the blog for gifting his Staples Wreckers baseball beanie. I hope that it is helping to keep you warm. Stay safe and enjoy your last few weeks on the trail!
Mary Ann & Kevin (mother and son hikers!)
I’m delighted to hear that you are reading the blog! Now that I know Kevin’s name, I will add it to the blog, if that’s ok. Jay is still very grateful for the hat! We mentioned y’all on the Trail Angels page also. Since I didn’t have a picture of y’all, I put a picture of Jay wearing the hat!
Your grateful friend, Sarah
Always enjoy reading your posts and worry about you when you haven’t posted for awhile. Glad to hear that the terrain has smoothed out a little but 2000 foot climbs don’t sound pleasant to me, neither does the soggy weather. Loved the pictures of the beauty spots and wish you good weather.
Thank you! The posting of blogs was delayed this past month due to a shortage of good internet connection. I’m glad you liked the beauty spots! We did also. And the uncomfortable weather just made the beautiful times even more precious. Thank you for the encouragement.