Dedicated to Mara's travel and hiking adventure journals as well as her words of wisdom and suggested resources for hikers and travelers.
Metacomet-Monadnock Trail Section Hike
Once again, I teamed up with Mark "Skeeter" Hudson to hike the Metacomet-Monadnock trail, a 114-mile cross-Massachusetts trail. In this case, we were section hiking and while I did hike most of the trail with him, I also hiked sections alone and with other hikers.
All distances are approximated based on the ninth edition of the guide book in which the trail was 117 miles long so I know there's a mistake in my estimates there. Plus, when the tenth edition came out during the summer of 2005, the trail is listed as 114 miles.
Note the dates for each section as you read ahead:
Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - Route 2, Farley to Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike, Warwick, 11.1 miles.
I met up with Skeeter at Monadnock State Park. We left my car there and drove his to the southern portion of the 45 miles stretch we hoped to cover in the next four days. We parked just off Route 2, also known as the Mohawk Trail.
It was about 10:30 when we started walking north. We immediately got a taste of just one of the nice aspects of this trail. It was well marked. Not only was it well blazed, but at this point, where it meandered through a small neighborhood, the neighbors had put up some of their own pretty and creative signs urging hikers along the marked path. While I'm sure this was in self-defense to keep the hikers off their property, at least they accomplished the task in the friendliest of ways.
Even away from the neighborhood, we would find the rest of the trail well blazed. When we missed a turn by less than 100 feet, we realized it because the absence of blazes was conspicuous. As soon as we turned around and found where the trail had turned off the dirt road we were walking on, we realized we had missed it because we hadn't been looking for blazes, not that the blazes weren't there. The turn was well marked.
The trail followed lots of old woods roads, many so overgrown that it had been years since they had been used by any four wheeled vehicles. There were also some fine sections of good trail.
The weather in Massachusetts had been frustratingly variable with bouts of snow followed by bouts of warm weather. We had delayed our start by one day due to a snowstorm. But, the weather reports had painted it as a coastal storm. Sure enough, there was only a couple of inches of snow on the ground where we were hiking whereas I had left Boston that morning having shoveled nine inches on snow the day before. Unfortunately, the forecasted sun with temps in the 30s didn't happen and we walked all day with primarily cloudy skies and temps dropping from the high 20s into the teens our first night.
I am in need of some mid-season boots. There wasn't enough snow for my winter hiking boots so I was hoping to make the best of it with my trail shoes. Even though the snow was dry and powdery, my feet melted the snow and I spent most of the day with wet feet. As long as we kept moving, my feet stayed warm enough.
Given our late start, it seemed we would only have time for short miles on our first day. But, given how well the trail was blazed, we decided on a night hike. We ended up stopping for dinner just after 4:00pm. About a half an hour later, we had packed up and were hiking again, anticipating a couple of hours hiking along the well-marked trail. Not far into our night hike, the wonderful trail we had been hiking on all day gave way to sidehill trail. Unfortunately, while this sidehill would have likely been OK with no snow, it was rather steeply sloped down the hill. With the snow, the going was somewhat treacherous. Having to pay so much attention to our feet to keep from slipping, we started missing some blazes. This ended up slowing down our progress quite a bit and frustrating us once again.
Finally, I pulled out my headlamp and a really strong little clip-on spotlight I have and we could start seeing the blazes better and from further away. At about the same time, the trail conditions started getting better and for a period we were able to bring our pace up again and just walk along the trail. Eventually, the trail turned onto another woods road, the Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike. It was here that we started experiencing some ice under the snow.
It was nearing 7:00 and we had already started keeping an eye out for a campsite when my feet hit a patch of ice and went flying out from under me and I landed flat on my backpack. It was one of those times I was glad to have a pack on. While I got a bit of whiplash from the landing, the pack kept me from hitting my head on the hard ground. Surprisingly, I was fine when I managed to get back on my feet though I figured I might be a bit sore the next day due to the flop. We continued on, perhaps a bit more cautiously.
Within another 15 minutes or so, we found a good spot to set up camp. We brushed away some of the snow from our tent sites and started setting up our tents. Surprisingly, the ground was not completely frozen and we were able to push stakes into the ground quite easily. It occured to me, that had the ground not been partially frozen, it might not have even held the stakes.
Realizing that I really hadn't eaten all that much during the day, I tried to eat some more high energy food knowing I would need the calories to keep me warm overnight, but I just had no appetite.
I also realized that I had very limited space in my bag to keep things from freezing. My water bladder fit and my camera fit, but not my shoes. It was well below freezing and they were wet. It was a recipe for frozen bricks but there was little I could do about it.
Thursday, December 30, 2004 - Fifth Massachusetts Turnpike to Route 78. 4.1 miles, 15.2 total.
It had taken half an hour to make a midnight run to a nearby tree. The process involved pulling out some chemical heaters to help thaw my shoes enough to get my feet in them. Unfortunately, the first set I tried were duds. The second set worked just fine. Then, I put on my newspaper bags (aka vapor-barrier liners) to keep my dry socks from getting wet as my feet started thawing the frozen shoes. Then, I had to extricate myself from my sleeping bag liner, sleeping bag, and tent.
I did my business and took a bit of time to enjoy the scenery, the moon, just a day or two past full, we high in the sky casting marvelous light on the snow blanketed forest. I could make out a few familiar constellations in the sky.
The chemical heaters still had plenty of warmth to them so I used them as additional heat when I crawled back into my bag. I ate another snack or two before going back to sleep.
Finally, in the morning, I had to repeat the process of warming my shoes. Unfortunately, the chemical packs weren't working so well but since I just needed to soften one small area, I was soon able to get my shoes on.
As we were packing up in the morning, we took stock of our situation: I still wasn't eating enough for the amount of energy we were expending; I had been cold at night and hadn't slept well; the temperature was colder than expected which meant the snow wasn't melting as expected; cold temps also meant my shoes would continue to freeze at night; and I was running out of chemical packs to warm my shoes and wasn't looking forward to trying to thaw them over my stove. We decided to cut our hike short and get off the trail today. We would be able to do half a day's hike and come to a road where we figured we could hitch back to Skeeter's car.
Today's hike took us up and over Mount Grace. Part of the hike up the mountain was on a horribly washed out old road that was the worst hiking we had seen on the trail yet. Thankfully, it didn't last all that long and we soon found ourselves climbing the fire tower on the summit. We had good views of Monadnock to the north with the clouds just skirting the summit. Reminding us of what we had done just six months earlier in the heat of the summer, we could also see Wachusett to the east, and Watatic and the Pack Monadnocks further to the northeast. These mountains are situated along the Mid-state and Wapack Trails. Oh what a difference six months can make. We could also see what looked like it might have been a ski area in southern Vermont.
It was Skeeter's turn to wipe-out on the road turned trail going down the mountain. There were a couple of steep sections that were kind of hairy with the snow cover. Once past those sections, the walk down was nice and we passed a very nice shelter. It was fairly large, had a register which we signed, and a picnic table out front. We were in snow machine territory so I speculated that the shelter might even see some day use during the winter.
The shelter wasn't far from the road and we were soon thumbing back to Skeeter's car. We had just enough time to get our poles collapsed and strapped to my pack when the first car passed us - and didn't stop. Just a couple of minutes later, another car came along - and stopped. Woohoo!!! We didn't even have time to start getting cold and pile on our layers. Just as well. Our benefactor blasted the heat and we were soon more than toasty.
It was out of her way, but she was really nice and drove us back to Skeeter's car. Our 4 day and 45 mile hike turned into a 1.5 day 15.2 mile hike.
After New Year's, Skeeter and I managed a day hike along a contiguous section of trail.
Sunday, January 2, 2005: North Leverett Road to Route 2, Farley. 9.8 miles, 25 total.
We left Skeeter's car at the same spot we had left it before, along the Mohawk Trail, and drove my car south ten miles to the Leverett Coop, a wonderful little health food store, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
It was a ten-mile hike back to Skeeter's car.
After a bit of a road walk, we found ourselves climbing a hill under some power lines. We laughed as we thought how oppressive the power line walking had been during our mid-summer hike. Soon enough, we were off the power lines and onto old woods roads and trails. Here and there, we hit slick spots, but we also had clear trail at times. We followed some trail bike tracks for a couple/few miles. The weather was in the 20s. It was a wonderful day for a hike.
Midway through our day's hike, we would be going through Wendell State Forest and knew there were facilities that would make for a good break spot. Sure enough, when we got there, we stopped for lunch near a pavilion at a picnic table.
After lunch, we continued past another of the three shelters along the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail. For much of the rest of the hike, we would be near water. Here, the shelter was in a ravine of sorts. It was beautiful.
Unfortunately, the water meant crossings, too. Thankfully, most of the stream crossings were small and the ice had melted off the rocks making them reasonably easy to cross.
It was during the afternoon that it started to drizzle on and off. At one point it got to be enough that I decided to put my gaitors on knowing that if it really started to rain, I wouldn't want to fuss.
We eventually found ourselves at a very large stream or river crossing. In the summer, it would be a ford. In the winter, there was no way to cross the cold water where we were. But, we could see a difficult to get to log crossing the stream some feet down so we eventually made our way there. I mentioned something about looking further downstream to make sure the trail didn't just cross right back.
Skeeter was sure footed enough to walk across. Me? Crossings like this scare me. But, I know I can do them so I just find ways to manage. This time, I shimmied across sitting sideways. Two minutes later, we found where the trail crossed right back. Once again with no way to cross. ARGH!!!!!
Back to the log to reverse the process.
It was only after we continued down and saw a sign at the other end, did we remember that we had, in fact, seen a "high water route" sign before we got to the crossing. For anyone who hikes this trail in cold weather or doesn't want to ford a stream, just take the high water route. So, we figure we spent at least an extra 20 minutes navigating that section.
We were soon to come to yet another high water route. This time, to just go over a railroad trestle. From the trestle, we could see where the trail would soon come to the Miller River. Given that we had parked the car by the bridge over the river, we knew we were getting close. The trail meandered near the river for a while, then went along the (ACTIVE!) railroad tracks for a while. The blazes were painted right on the railroad ties. We were very glad that no trains came by while we were there. The trail soon descended back into the woods between the tracks and the river's edge. There were some interesting old foundations along the river leading up to the trailhead.
We climbed into Skeeter's car and within five minutes, it was raining. Not drizzling, but raining. Then end of our hike could not have been timed better.
Back at the coop, we dumped my stuff into my car and went inside for a bite to eat. Some soup would have been perfect but we settled for sandwiches and chips.
Friday, June 24, 2005: Route 78 to within hearing distance of Richmond Road. 3 miles, 28 total. Low 70s and sunny.
I met Skeeter at Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. We left his car there and grabbed dinner in Jaffrey before finishing our shuttle to the trailhead on route 78 in Massachusetts. The parking lot there looked considerably different than last time we were there. Last time was after a snowstorm in late December and everything was covered with ice-coated snow. Now, thereís no snow and itís 60 degrees warmer.
As was the case over New Years, the trail was well blazed, even through an area of recent selective logging (thankfully not clear cut) operations. Once again, the trail was a combination of trail, a short dirt road walk, old, long-abandoned, woods road, and this time, a long stretch of newly laid trail. Even the blazes were so new that I could see places where drips had fallen on leaves not yet disturbed by wind, rain, or other hikers. The new trail was easy to follow but still a bit rough ender foot. Having started at 7:20, we walked over an hour but as it was getting dark, when we spotted a perfect campsite, we decided to call it a day. It was only after we crawled in and got settled that I realized we could hear vehicles passing by on a nearby road. I pulled out the guidebook to look at the map and now think the new trail shortens this section a bit. Weíll find out tomorrow if it eliminates the road walk.
In the meantime, itís incredibly buggy out here. Why I keep hiking with Skeeter in June, Iíll never know. I really should know better. For that matter, so should Skeeter. At least I now have a mosquito head net to use. Itís wonderfully effective though it is a bit warmer wearing it than not. On relatively cool days, itís not a problem. With temps expected in the 90s this weekend, Iím not so sure how much Iíll be able to use it.
Weíre dreading the heat forecasted for tomorrow and planning an early start to beat the heat. Not only is it supposed to be in the upper 90s, but the air quality is expected to be unhealthful for the area. Weíll probably get up at 5:00 and hike until noon. Hopefully weíll be able to find a swimming hole for an afternoon siesta.
Saturday, June 25, 2005: South of Richmond Road to the north side of Little Monadnock Mountain. 13 miles, 41 total. Sunny with temps in the 80s in the shade.
As we had hoped, we got up early and were hiking by 5:45. Almost immediately, we hit a road walk that we wished we had done the night before. But, itís really hard to turn down a perfect campsite when dusk is waning.
With all the new trail, it was obvious we were on a new trail but the blazing was good and we had no problems following the route. After this morningís road walk, we went over a hill that took us by surprise. The blazing continued to be good but the trail tread seemed like it had never been built. The side hill looked like little more than the forest duff having been disturbed and some of the trail went straight up and down steep sections that would have benefited from a couple of switchbacks.
Getting to the Royalston Falls area, we visited the Newton Cemetery, didnít go up to the shelter, and missed the falls entirely (we thought we went the 200 yards off the trail). Shortly thereafter, we passed a pond that was entirely ringed by Mountain Laurel in full bloom. It was beautiful.
It was about noon when we got to a wonderful stream, perfect for cooling our heels Ė literally. I washed up, doused my head in the cold water, took a nap, ate lunch, and wrote in my journal. We stayed long enough to eat dinner here as well and at 6:00, when the temperature in the shade finally dipped below 80, we started the climb over Little Monadnock Mountain.
Earlier in the day, when we were cooling off in the stream, a large group of Boy Scouts passed us. Now, hours later, I think we surprised them when we passed them at such a late hour.
Shortly after 7:00, we took a break on top of the mountain. It was so hazy we could see the outline of Grand Monadnock ahead but no details. We enjoyed our break and once we had cooled off again, made our way another mile or so until we found a couple of trailside campsites, a couple of miles shy of Troy. Weíre hoping the restaurant or bakery is open for breakfast.
Sunday, June 26, 2005: north side of Little Monadnock Mountain to Monadnock State Park. 12.5 miles, 53.5 total. Haze, sun, and building thunderheads. 90s.
What a night! After finishing a book and lights out at 9: 30pm, I was startled awake at 10:30. Unlike the snorting we had heard the night before which resolved itself to an idling truck belching exhaust, tonight, the snorting was an upset moose. We had set up camp adjacent to the trail and I can only imagine it must have been the usual stomping ground for this moose. I heard it circle around our campsite before melting into the woods.
A few hours later at 2:30am, I was once again awakened. This time, I thought I heard the moose moving along the trail in the vicinity of Skeeterís tent. It wasnít snorting or upset. It sounded like it was just meandering towards my tent. It must have veered off the trail or I fell asleep because I never saw it come by.
An hour later came the closest call with the moose. Only this time, it wasnít just one moose. At first, I could hear them making a racket in the woods behind my tent. But, they kept coming closer to the point where the ground was shaking under my tent. The moon had risen and peering out from my tent, I could see the silhouette from the passersby. Quietly leaning over to peer out, I first saw the silhouette of a moose with a rack. Following behind, I saw one with no rack. Itís hard to say, but there were at least two more, one of which traveling adjacent to another was forced to walk or jump over the corner of my tent. It became clearer in the morning why they had traveled so close to my tent. My hiking pole, leaning against a tent a few feet from my tent, was positioned such that they couldnít pass close to the tree and were forced to the small area between my tent and the tip of the hiking pole.
This makes twice that Iíve had moose step over my tent while I was in it. The first, on the AT in Maine, was nerve wracking but made a good story. But now again? Itís still a good story but itís scary. I wondered why they didnít just go around the area. But, Iíve learned that they are creatures of habit and donít like varying from their routines.
Looking around in the morning, there was no sign of their passing in the leaf litter. Just like neither Skeeter nor I were leaving footprints.
Meanwhile, Skeeter was in his tent packing for the day when he called out insisting I must be hallucinating. I, catching only part of his muffled explanation, heard ha-ďmooseĒ-inating. It was a funny concept and one that applies to many other times when Iíve been hiking, but even he had heard the snorting of the first encounter. That said, he did sleep through the rest of the brouhaha.
It was after 6:00 when we started walking today and already significantly warmer that the previous day. We walked through Troy too early to take advantage of the restaurant of bakery. On the way out of town, we found a suitable place to stash most of our stuff including one of the backpacks. That meant we only had to carry one backpack with food, water, and raingear for the day. Good thing! My calves were killing me (shin splints?) and the heat was getting to me. I slowed way down. I think I carried the pack for all of a mile before Skeeter took it after we had a break. He knew I was willing to carry it but because of my pace, it made sense for him to carry it. It would force him to go a bit slower and allow me to speed up a bit.
The climb up and over Gap Mountain was nice with nicely maintained trails. Monadnock was a hazy blob from the summit. By the time we climbed Monadnock, we were hiking in the heat of the day. We were climbing the south side of the mountain with the sun beating down on us. We took more breaks on the way up the mountain than I think Iíve ever taken on Monadnock before. (Iíve been up there many more times than I can count.) We didnít stay on the summit long and headed down. We took a refreshing break at the spring and then headed back to the car. The rumbles of thunder came after we left the spring. The first drops of rain as we got back to the parking area. Once again, our timing was perfect.
Friday, July 1, 2005: Rising Corner to Westfield River to Sportsmenís Club. 7 miles, 60.5 total. Partly sunny, 80s.
With two major rivers providing barriers to thruhiking the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, itís convenient to have two cars to self-shuttle. Today, Skeeter and I parked my car at the Westfield River, drove another to Rising Corner at the Massachusetts/Connecticut border, and walked the seven miles back to my car. It was a nice easy walk through tick and mosquito country as well as some old woods roads. As we walked north, we passed one gun club below us as we walked along a cliff area. It was obvious they cliff face provided the safe barrier at which the shooters were pointing their guns. At one point, however, a shot went off and the leaves in the trees above and behind us were disturbed. We made haste and left the area.
Afterwards, we were shuttling one car to the other side of the river in preparations for our next section when we realized that the lot previously used for overnight parking was no posted ďNo Overnight Parking.Ē A quick look at our guide book had us hatching another plan. There was another parking option just one mile up the trail. So, we moved all of our overnight stuff to Skeeterís car and drove mine up to the Sportsmenís Club.
The Sportsmenís Club is the second of three gun clubs we would be passing this weekend. We figured with all the people with guns hanging around, it was a pretty safe place to leave a car. And in talking with the people hanging around, they were very nice and gave us permission to leave the car. They also gave us a few tips about where to find the trail after a local relocation.
With a short road walk and one mile of trail, we were back at Skeeterís car within an hour.
Saturday, July 2, 2005: Route 141 to Sportsmenís Club. 14 miles, 74.5 total. Sunny and 80s.
Well, the slackpackers in us prevailed today and we decided to do a 12 mile stretch of trail without our backpacks. When we couldnít easily get to our proposed trailhead, we started around to get to the trailhead the hard way. When we realized we were crossing the trail at another road crossing, we checked the map and decided to park there. It would add two miles to our slackpack but it would get us on the trail immediately.
It was a nice walk with quite a stretch of new trail. We hit the old trail when we passed the third gun club. Then, it was a ridge walk with frequent views to the west. During one break, we watched planes taking off from a nearby airfield.
Near the end of the day, we lost the trail just in time to find the ATV tracks we had been told were near the Sportsmanís Club. We asked an ATVer where the club was and when he gave us a strange look as he pointed down the trail, we realized we only had to walk a few more feet before we could actually see the car.
Sunday, July 3, 2005: Connecticut River to Route #141. 8 miles, 82.5 total. Sunny and 80s.
We parked at the boat ramp as indicated in our guidebook and started our hike south back to Skeeterís car. Much of todayís hike was along more west facing cliff in Mt. Tom State Reservation. An hour out, I mentioned to Skeeter that we should stop at the next view for a break. Not a minute later, I heard ďWill this do?Ē come from Skeeter. I was about 100í back and laughed when I caught up with him. Not only had we come across a great view, but this one was complete with park benches. It was a great place for a break. We were also slowed down by blueberries today.
Eventually we got to an area that seemed familiar. I had hiked Mt. Tom a couple of times while I was in college. It was strange to be back doing it as part of a long-distance hike, albeit a section hike.
Once again, we lost the trail coming off the mountain but the topography was pretty clear once we got to the road. We went left and got back to Skeeterís car in no time.
For Skeeter, it was the end of his MMT section hike. For me, it left just one 35 mile stretch to go. Itíll have to wait until at least this fall when I get back from WV.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005: Harris Road to Holland Glen. 5.5 miles, 88 total. Sunny and 80s.
Benson and I got a much later start than I had anticipated. As such, we decided to shorten our hike and start further north leaving us with just 25 miles to hike. It turned out to be a good call.
We started our hike in the late afternoon at Harris Road and had a nice hike through low hills and forests. After crossing route 9, we walked through the beautiful Hemlock stands of Holland Glen and found a good place to camp. Given the season (no bugs) and the forecast (clear and dry), I took the rare opportunity (here in the northeast) to sleep out under the stars.
Thursday, September 22, 2005: Holland Glen to the new shelter north of Shutesbury-Leverett Rd. 16 miles, 104 total. Sunny and 80s.
Three birds interrupted our sleep. The first two were a pair of barred owls calling to each other. I have no idea what the second was other than loud.
Today was a long day on mostly good trail or old woods roads. We were careful to follow the blazes as Skeeter had warned us he had lost the blazes and gone in a big circle at one point.
The tower on Mt. Lincoln is marked with No Trespassing signs. With three men from the utility company there making adjustments to the electronics on the towers, there was no way to climb the towers even if we were to ignore the signs.
Arriving at one road by passing through a gate, there were no blazes indicating a turn but straight ahead were no trespassing signs and an area that was newly cleared. After checking the road in both directions and not finding any blazes, we ventured past the no trespassing signs (while there were bulldozers parked there, there werenít any workers on sight). On the back side of a huge pile of bulldozed dirt, I found the continuation of the trail. I wouldnít be surprised if all that construction was new since Skeeter had gone through.
Then, when we reached the reservoir, we had another confusing moment. There was a chain gate across the access road. Behind the gate was a post with a blaze on it. The only way past the blaze was to go past the gate. But, that was the last blaze we saw. It was obviously the trail at one point but with public safety at reservoirs being heightened, I guessed the trail bypassed the reservoir. I backtracked to the road and finally found more blazes now leading the way around the reservoir. The post with that blaze should be removed.
Harris Brook, just past the reservoir, made a nice place to stop for a break and cool our feet in the stream.
Knowing that Skeeterís mistake happened somewhere in the vicinity of the Atkins Reservoir, we were very careful to follow blazes in that vicinity and pay close attention to our direction in the area of the power lines. Perhaps because we were extra cognizant of the potential problem area, we didnít have any problems here.
We did encounter a number of other areas with problematic or missing blazes. Some may have been obscured by recent blowdowns but for the most part, the areas where we had any confusion was purely from bad blazing. One turn indicated to take a right and go uphill. No blazes found there, we realized we had needed to left and go down.
At the end of the day, we cooled off, cleaned off, and got water at Roaring Brook, just before Shutesbury-Leverett Road.
After crossing the road, I knew there was a new trail leading to a new shelter about a mile from the road. I just hoped it would be well marked. It was.
We found the blue blaze without any problems and were happy to make ourselves at home in the brand new, barely used shelter.
Our timing was a bit offÖ had we come a couple of days later, we would have been able to help with a work trip. Instead, all I can do is pass along my thanks to everyone involved with maintaining the trail and building the shelters. You do great work regardless of the few hiccups found along the way.
Friday, September 23, 2005: The new shelter north of Shutesbury-Leverett Rd. to Leverett Village Co-op and Route 47 (Connecticut River) to Route 116 3.7 and 7 miles, 114.7 total. Sunny and 80s.
Blazing was inconsistent. In the area immediately after the shelter, I could see six blazes at once with some barely imperceptible bends in the trail marked with double blazes. Then, after the trail turned a corner onto a ledgy trail that was once old road, there were no blazes for over a hundred paces. But once we found the next blaze, the morning's walk was uneventful. We were walking primarily on old road and went very quickly. We passed all sorts of old stone fences that seemed to delineate old homestead sites. There were a number of cellar holes and a couple of signs telling us who had once lived in these areas.
Back at the Co-op, it was nice to stop in and have a snack.
At this point, Benson was done hiking but I decided to try to finish that last stretch over the Mt. Holyoke Range. I emptied all of my overnight gear into Bensonís car and just kept what I would need for the day.
Benson dropped me off at Route 47, south of where we had started a few days earlier. I had over 11 miles to go to get back to my car. By the time I got to the summit house, I wasnít feeling so great. I made use of the bathrooms up there hoping that would solve my problems but even as I continued along the trail, I almost turned back to make use of the bathrooms again. But, I kept going. Eventually, I had to stop and dig a hole. Iím glad I had kept my trowel and t.p. with me.
The trail was extremely rough and the section of trail over the area called the Seven Sisters was surprisingly steep, both in its ups and downs. Hiking this section, I was glad Benson and I had started north of here. I wouldnít have wanted to do this stretch with a full backpack.
Between the rough trail and my unsettled stomach, I was going too slowly to make it back to my car. Plus, I just wasnít enjoying myself as much as I would have like to. So, by the time I got to route 116, I had decided to hitch a ride back to my car and leave the last 5 miles or so for another time.
As I have learned from previous hikes, itís easiest to ask in parking lots if anyone is going your way rather than stick out a thumb. Once again, that worked for me and I was soon delivered back to my car.
Thursday, October 6, 2005: Route 116 to Harris Road. 5 miles, 119.7. Fog, then sun. In the 70s.
Weathercarrot had flown in the day before from the west coast. Together, we drove out to route 116 and met up with Vic Hoyt, another member of the AT-L, an Appalachian Trail mailing list I belong to. Vic would be joining us for the dayís hike and helping to shuttle us as well. For as long as Iíve known Weathercarrot, this was the first time I had been on a hike with him. With Vic, though I knew his name from both the list and his 20th anniversary hike with David Brill (I had met the rest of his group when I arrived at Daicey Pond during my thruhike), I had never met him before.
We left Vicís car at the Visitorís Center and drove mine around to Harris Road.
Todayís trail was mostly trail with a bit of woods road walking. By the time we got to height, the fog had burned off and we had great views. We took a few breaks along the way when we got to viewpoints. Some of the climbs were steep and some of the trails in need of maintenance. One, in particular, had a ladder that was falling apart.
There was quite a network of trails up there so though we had to be diligent to stay on the right trail, it wasn't too hard to follow the blazes. The one place we lost them for a few minutes was in the area near the horse caves, a cool rock formation that we didn't take extra time to explore.
We came down off the mountain next to the gravel pit. Surprisingly, it's only loud when you're above it. Once at the Visitor's Center, though the pit is close by, you can barely hear it at all.
The three of us had a great time on the hike and I finally finished my section hike of the Metacomet Monadnock Trail.
Last updated, November 12, 2005.
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