Saturday, July 21, 2012

Appalachian Trail - Massachusetts

(By Steve) I was excited to learn that the the Appalachian Trail was only a few miles from where we planned to stay in Lee, Massachusetts.  After researching, I found a section of trail that was the length I wanted to hike that also crossed the road, for easy access.  I started on Rt 23 just east of the town of Great Barrington.      The local trail club had left free water that was labeled for thru-hikers.   I had only brought two water bottles because I thought there would be places to refill my bottles, just like my first hike.  In hindsight, I wished I had picked up one of those bottles, or listened to Linda's advice and brought more water with me!  I guess she is a pretty smart woman; she chose me, after all! ;).[She is also an excellent editor]

It was a peaceful morning for a hike. I started the trail at 8:30, heading North towards the hamlet of Tyringham 12.3 miles away.   The trail immediately went uphill.  Unlike my first experience with the trail, I pretty much had the whole thing to myself.   I thought that I might see more people on a Saturday, but I only saw one other hiker on the trail over the course of the whole day!  I did see a group camping at the one of the shelters that I checked out, however. The thru hiker I met was a 39 yr old who was hiking while between jobs.   He said he left Georgia in April and will complete the whole thing in 4.5 months.   He said he often hikes 25 miles a day.   I was very impressed!

Great to hit the trail again.
I loved the way the early morning sun shone through the trees.
The trail crossed the road a few times, but then headed deep into a state forest.   Unlike the first time, I didn't see hardly any wildlife besides one snake and plenty of birds.   There was one large hill that I climbed, but after I started heading downhill, it was clear that the downhill was much longer and steeper.   The entire stretch was clearly a negative elevation hike.   

Much of the trail was protected by boards
This lake clearly was much bigger at one point in time.
For lunch, I took a break along a small natural lake that ran along the trail.  I passed the time listening to sermons from my Texas church, in addition to educational podcasts relating to my career. After lunch, I started getting thirsty and finished all of my water with about 4 miles to go.   I had hoped to find water at campsites, but the only sources I found required a water filter, which I hadn't brought with me.    

I ate my lunch on this rock.
This is the only view that could be had from the top of the highest point.  
It was about 3PM when I reached the end in the pretty little village of Tyringham.   Linda and the kids were waiting for me at the playground.  I was so thirsty that I drank a whole Nalgene bottle of water straight away!   It was a great hike, even prettier than the section I hiked in Shenandoah National Park.     

The trail broke through the forest into open fields which was a nice change.  
The countryside here in the Berkshires of Massachusetts reminds me of when we visited Slovenia in Europe.
Just 1.1 miles to go.   The post and board are used for hikers to step over the barbed wire fence.  

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