Mount Greylock, 2010

When I asked Cris what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said camping. I was a good girlfriend and let him pick the hiking trail and camp sites (though he was a good boyfriend and scaled back when my persistent cold had me going slower than expected), so it was a challenging trip. :) We made it to the top of the highest mountain in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock, though we parked most of the way up and hiked up the long way, detouring to another mountain first.


Friday August 27, 2010

I rented a car for the weekend, getting the Watertown Enterprise office to come pick me up at 8am on Friday morning, and driving myself back amidst the morning craziness to park the car in our driveway. I rode my bike to work, and then home again for 3pm or so, and then threw our packs in the trunk and headed out. I hadn't put him down as the second driver, so I drove us out to exit 2 on the Mass. Pike and then up to the north west corner of the state. We stopped at the visitor centre at the bottom of Greylock, grabbing maps from the kiosk outside, but not able to to in and use the washrooms because the building was locked up when we got there at around 7pm.

I drove slowly up the two lane winding road toward the summit, and parked at one of the overnight lots. We put on our packs, opened up the hiking poles and set off for a mile hike into the woods to the Sperry Road camp site for the first night. It was a fairly flat walk, but I still felt really weighted down by my pack. We walked along a trail in the woods and then turned left along a dirt road. The ranger was loading up his pickup truck to head out for the night as we came up to the entrance to the campground, but he checked us in and sold us a $5 bundle of firewood and gave us a map to our camp site. The sun was starting to go down now, so we threw up the tent quickly, our head lamps resting around our necks for when we needed them. I had to go to the bathroom, so I went back out the lane to the main dirt road leading between the camp sites and tried to find the outhouse marked a bit furhter along. I tried going into the woods at a gap between the sites where it was marked, and no luck, so I backed out before I got turned around and went back past our site to the privies we'd passed on our way in, almost walking through a huge spider web across the road. Coming back to site 10, it was a bit eerie when I saw the pair of trees catching the light, I guess they were silver birches, but I'd never seen them in person before. We tried to light a fire with the firewood that we'd purchased, but we couldn't get it going even with the little fire starter balls I'd brought, and we ended up boiling water on my tiny spirit lamp stove to put into the camper's food packets we'd brought. It was a bit chilly in the tent, but I had wool long underwear on, as well as fleece socks and a wool hoodie, and I ended up being a bit warm with my down sleeping bag, keeping it open during the night.

Saturday August 28, 2010

In the morning, Cris let me sleep in until close to 10am. We had a quick breakfast of oatmeal, broke camp and set out at around noon. We took the Hopper Trail to the Money Brook trail to the Wilbur Clearing camp site. Cris had hoped to go further, but I was flagging, barely making a mile an hour on the steep Money Brook trail. At one point a father and son passed us going down the trail and said it wasn't far now. I was a bit snarky when I asked, "far to what?" but they said the falls. Turns out that they were up off the trail at a turn, and I rested there while Cris went up to look at them. Not too impressive, things were fairly dry. The mosquitoes were easily dissuaded by bug spray, thank goodness. The weather was nice, sun coming down through the trees. We ended the day at around 3pm, even though we "only" went 4 miles or so, it was a steep climb with fully laden packs. We set up camp on a platform at Wilbur's clearing, the ranger and maybe three hikers the only other inhabitants (though two of the hikers were big talkers, settling in the lean to to rest and eat and disrupt the peace of the woods). Cris ran up to the ridge to see the view point while I lay down in the tent for a while, trying to get my energy back. We made supper when he got back, boil in the bag rice and packets of seasoned tuna. He convinced me to go up to the view point with him to see the sunset, and we found the ranger up there watching it as well. A hawk wheeled above us briefly, and we could see the lights coming on in Williamstown below us. We came back down in the dusk as the sun went behind the Taconic range. We had a warmer second night out in the woods, I think I just slept on top of the sleeping bag this time. Unfortunately we weren't that far from the road to the summit, and I could hear motorcycles powering up the mountain.

Sunday August 29, 2010

In the morning, I woke up to a loud chorus of bird sounds. Cris started breakfast, but the spirit lamp ran dry before it finished boiling the water for oatmeal. He tried using the candle lamp, but as the kettle was about to boil, it slid off the support and spilled most of the water in the dirt. :/ Enough lukewarm water was left to damp down the oatmeal + cranberries + almond slivers and I added a bit of filtered creek water.

We struck camp, packed up, and climbed up to the Old Summit Road trail. We ran across a free standing chimney, surrounded by glass telling the tale of nights spent drinking beer in the woods. We did a short section of the Appalachian Trail from just past the peak of Mt. Williams, over Mt. Fitch (skirting the summit, walking along a ridge with obscured views over the valley) to Mt. Greylock. We connected with a bit of the Thunderbolt ski run, hauling ourselves up the steep meadow that people would ski down in the winter until we got to the parking lots and lodge and war memorial at the summit of Greylock. I was a bit overwhelmed by the crowds at the peak, a lot of people and motorcycles were up there, and cigarette smoke polluted the air. We had lunch at the Bascom lodge, substantial fair in the enclosed porch with a nice view over the valley, and we took advantage of the bathrooms and the water spigot. Then we hiked down another section of the Hopper trail to the road that went to our first campground and then back to the car on the fairly flat Campground trail, for a total of about 6 miles the second day (it was a lot less steep). We stopped for gas and tea on the way back, with me driving the whole way again. We got home just as the sun was going down, so I had time to unpack and do laundry before collapsing into bed in time to get up early to return the car on Monday morning.

My legs were a bit sore the day after (all muscular pain, my knees were fine (yay!)), and I learned that 25lbs is a good pack weight for me. 30+ kinda sucks, even if it includes extra water so that I don't dehydrate. The nice thing about camping out for two nights is that you keep eating more and more of the food and have to haul less and less up the mountain as time goes on. :)

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