06:11. Leaving Cheshire
I was more than ready to leave Father Tom’s campsite only because I was also more than ready to have a day off. It has been several weeks since I have not been hiking on the trail and we had plans to meet Hawkeye’s wife, her friend Tina and my cousin Kathy. All we had to do was to hike another 32.9 miles to Bennington, Vermont.
I was fatigued and I knew that I was physically in need of a day totally relaxing. My last day off the trail had been way back after Bear Mountain at Fort Montgomery on the Hudson River in New York State. That was an injury zero due to the foot injury. At that time I had just surpassed my 700th mile and I was now closing in on 900 miles.￼
07:23. The Easy Before the Hard to Greylock
The hike out of Cheshire was easy for a mile. I walked several streets and then it turned into a pasture which led out to the road circumventing the town. Landslide￼ and Hawkeye had moved out before me and I caught up with them at a Shell station where they were getting a sandwich at an attached Dunkin Donuts. From this point on it would be a 7.8 mile climb to the summit of Mount Greylock.
10:16. Forest Turning to Hemlock
The forest had become thick and inviting to me and they reminded me more and more of the forests where I had grown up as a child. The smells of it came back to me immediately and I could recall the hours by myself as I was walking through the woods around our original home. It was seldom on any day that I didn’t spend time by myself in those woods. There was an old pasture behind our original house on Christian Hill Road that was still terraced and surrounded by huge white pine trees. I spent many a day walking out there and laying against the terrace with my face toward the sun for warmth. Each early spring I can remember watching for sections of the terrace to clear of snow revealing the grass beneath it. When that happened I would go out there and lay in the grass area enjoying the sun even though I was totally surrounded by snow covered ground.￼￼￼
11:34. The Pond on the Way up Greylock
The hike up Greylock with solitary for about 6 miles. Landslide and Hawkeye were somewhere for ahead of me so I slowly worked my way up the mountain looking forward to the moment when I would see the peak. My parents had taken me here many years ago and I still remembered the monument at the top.￼￼
What I remember most however was the fear I felt in riding in the car coming back down the mountain. I remember that the car was big and that the road was a series of hairpin turns. The feeling that the car was going to drive over the edge with strong within me and I can remember scrunching ￼down in the big back seat so I wouldn’t be able to see over the edge. I guess I felt if I couldn’t see it…… it wouldn’t happen. Luckily my father expertly navigated the car to the bottom of the mountain. I was eternally grateful to him.
13:19. The Summit of Mount Greylock
Instead of a fear of heights on this day I found myself hiking up this morning and at one point hearing in the distance a family preparing to walk up the last mile to the summit. I could hear children laughing… At least until their laughter was interrupted by a loud male voice issuing orders. He barked out several commands demanding that they complete the task of preparing to go to the top of the mountain. A few hundred feet later they came into view. He was dressed for an African safari. “Why do you not have this. Now it will take us another 30 seconds before we hike!”￼￼
I sat on a rock where the AT crossed the parking lot. The vantage point gave me the perfect spot to watch the drama.
“Did you get the compass? After all of this how could you have forgotten the compass?!!!!”
His wife attempted to soothe the children. ” It’s ok. All we have to do is follow the white paint. There it is right there.”
He cut her off walking past the trail to the road intersection. “There are several roads here! We’ve got to take the correct one! I can’t believe that you left the compass!” He walked into the intersection, turned 360 degrees and pointed……” There! That’s the way!” pointing up the well painted white slash trail previously pointed out by his wife. I had begun the climb in order to get ahead of them. They followed and within a few hundred feet it was only the two children and their mom behind me. Team leader dad had fallen behind…. way behind. The further we climbed the happier the children and mom became. Laughter and conversation between them returned. The air became lighter. We summited together taking in the sight of the lodge. I took a break there (because there was food). Thirty minutes later dad showed up….. somewhat subdued and out of breath. They had made it without him and hadn’t even needed the compass!
The memorial at the top of Mount Greylock is dedicated to the veterans of World War I and was placed there in the 30s. The view from the western side was impressive and a map provided the names of towns that you could see in the distance. One of those towns was Worcester, Massachusetts… near my home. The tower has steps to the top where you can￼ get a better view. I’d had enough climbing……I passed on the climb. It was time to hike on….. down the mountain. I looked for my under duress family one more time. They were no where to be found. Perhaps dad had accidentally been mislocated!
14:12. The Summit of Mount Williams
The climb down was very rocky and unlike the tourist trail up had received much less usage. It was obvious that I was once again on a trail used mostly by just the Appalachian trail hikers. After several miles I reached the summit of Mount Williams. From here a few more turns and I would be able to work my way into Williamstown Massachusetts￼
15:19. Maui Super Dog Man and his dog Tugboat.
I found SAS up at the memorial and she once again caught up to me as we were working our way down the mountain. We teamed up for awhile and hiked together until we met this young man sitting on an overlook looking at the area around Williamstown below. He said that he had begun hiking yesterday and his intent was to hike to Maine. He said that previously he had hiked the rest of the Appalachian trail. With him was his trusty dog who had the name Tugboat. He said he had named him that because the dog was responsible for pulling him along the trail. That was a very large responsibility.￼￼
SAS and I moved on. As usual she was faster and I didn’t catch up with her until we were on the streets of Williamstown. Once there I called the motel owner who drove out and picked us up. Hawkeye, Landslide and Soma were already at the motel. The Williamstown Motel owned by Rocky and his family. It is now on my recommendation list.
Tomorrow we would make a break for it. Vermont was only 3.3 miles away. It would be a Von Trappe break for the border. What a great ‘hike on’.