On days like today when there aren't any fantastic views from a mountaintop,
or scintillating conversations with other hikers, or something amazing along the
Trail to report . . . I feel incredibly guilty for not appreciating the simple
fact that I am out in nature, enjoying the tranquility of the wilderness,
battling traffic on the way to work or being stuck somewhere inside.
Your letters help me realize how very lucky I am to be out here enjoying the
Trail every day. I don't want to get so jaded by the spectacular scenery, for
that I've seen on the AT that I can't appreciate the ordinary sights, too.
Today's section was in the "ordinary" category, except for several beautiful
glacial lakes. When I was disappointed by some of the scrubby woods and mucky
areas I was going through today, I thought about the comments like those above
from readers who would give their eye-teeth to be out here.
And you better believe I started appreciating those quiet woods and the
incredible opportunity I have to be out in them!
Sometimes you just have to talk to yourself like your Mom would - no matter
how old you are.
I'm glad so many folks are enjoying reading this journal. I love reading
about other people's adventures, too - including ones that are much more risky
and "exciting" than mine. Hearing what others have accomplished inspires me to
continue to pursue my various goals and dreams, and I'm glad this journal is
having the same effect on some of you.
I hope I don't disappoint!
KNEE DEEP POND
Isn't that a cute name for a lake? I had to laugh when I saw the sign for it.
This was the first of several very inviting glacial lakes in today's 21-mile
section of trail.
I passed Knee Deep Pond pretty early this morning. Two frogs were calling out
to each other from opposite sides of the pond. I stopped to listen for a couple
minutes. I wondered what they were saying to each other. Good morning? Come
on over, there are loads of mosquitoes over here to eat? Who's that silly woman
eavesdropping on our conversation?
Each "pond" (lake, really) had its frog chorus. So did the beaver ponds. I've
tried several times to get a good frog picture, but the little guys don't pose very well
for the camera.
DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE
Crescent-shaped Upper Goose Pond is probably the most popular lake in this
area with thru-hikers. In lieu of a three-sided shelter there is a nice
enclosed cabin there with a full-time caretaker in the summer, a kitchen, a
canoe to use on the lake, a beach, and - ta,da! - blueberry pancakes in the
What's not to love about that? I imagine it's a good place to get sucked off
the Trail for a couple days, lying around reading a book and paddling the canoe
around the lake.
Thru-hikers have it made!
The AT has been re-routed in recent years to go closer to the shore for a
little while but I wished it kept following the shore even longer (like Sunfish
Pond). Going north, the Trail climbs an unnamed mountain and curves around to
offer good views of the lake when the leaves are off the trees.
The placement of the Trail is good for another reason, too: it's
situated on the far side of the hill from the Massachusetts Turnpike and hikers
don't hear the cacophony until they begin the descent to the freeway. I
appreciated not having to listen to it for an hour.
There was a trail register at the top of that mountain that I read and
signed. Just as I started down a large group of about fifteen seniors
(definition = folks a bit older than me!) reached the top, on their way to Upper
Goose Pond for the day. Yesterday I saw three older folks nearing Ice Gulch.
It does my soul good to see retirees, especially women, on the Trail. Most of
the thru-hikers who are still on the Trail are younger folks (predominantly in
their twenties). I know there are some about my age and older still out here,
though (Santa, Little John, Charlie Brown, Steady Eddie, Buffet, Goat). I see
their comments in the registers.
I just gotta catch back up to them!
ARE THESE BLUE BERRIES, BLUEBERRIES?
There were more lakes to enjoy north of the turnpike: Greenwater Pond and
Finnerty Pond. The Trail winds around half of Finnerty but doesn't get right
next to the shore. I was impressed by the perfectly clear water in all the lakes
I passed today.
I saw a new kind of berry at Finnerty Pond and later at a beaver pond. It is
the same color as wet blueberries - dark blue and shiny. The berries aren't
round like blueberries, however; they are about the same size but have pointed
ends (more oblong than round). I don't know what they are called or if they are edible:
I had blueberries on my mind all day. Yesterday "Hawkeye" said she'd gone to
a pick-them-yourself blueberry farm halfway between Goose Pond and Dalton,
1/10th mile off the AT. I missed it at Pittsfield Road, three miles before I
ended today. I saw cars parked about that far up the road but thought it was an
AT parking lot.
And what a loss! Tonight, re-reading the notes I took from Jan Liteshoe's
2003 trail journal, I see I missed the Cookie Lady, who provides home-baked
cookies AND blueberries. I should've read those notes last night . . .
Jim saved the day for me, though. When I told him I goofed he pointed to the
fresh blueberries he purchased on the way to get me.
What a wonderful husband/crew!
Today's section was easier than yesterday's in terms of elevation gain (about
3,500 feet, with two fairly steep 1,000-foot climbs up Baldy and Becket
mountains) and loss (~ 2,600 feet) but was much less runnable because of all
the roots (a new problem!), rocks, muck around beaver ponds and other wet areas,
and numerous narrow bog bridges. I had to walk most of it.
I am so grateful for the good traction that my Montrail Hardrock shoes
provide. I wore a new pair today, right out of the box. I know that's not the
way you break in a new pair of shoes, but it's my sixth pair of HRs. I do the
same with the Vitesse with no problem. The only "problem" is that my brand new
pair of HRs are filthy already!
Andrew Thompson commented to the ultra list after finishing up his
record-breaking AT run recently that he went through nine pairs of Inov-8 shoes.
I'll go through about six pairs; I'm tossing them after 400 miles because of the
damage all the rocks do to the soles. I can get about 600 miles on them when I
train on the trails at home that are less rocky. I've seen quite a few hikers wearing Hardrocks. They are popular on the AT.
I can't recommend this section for a good run but the lakes are worth hiking to
POET, FEELIN' FREE, AND EAGLE FOOT
These are the only thru-hikers that I talked to today, all going north.
"Poet" and "Feelin' Free" were both chatty and upbeat. These young ladies can
walk fast, especially when their destination is still fifteen miles away at 1
PM! They were headed for Dalton today, eight miles past my end point. I think
they were doing nineteen miles today. Many of the younger hikers are putting in
20-25 mile days now, before the terrain gets tougher.
"Eagle Foot," a young man, was eating lunch at Finnerty Lake when I passed him.
He passed me when I took a break on Becket Mountain to make some phone calls
(best done on top of mountains!) to arrange appointments next week in Woodstock,
VT on my next day off. I saw him again when I was reading the register at the
October Mountain lean-to, his destination for the night.
He was friendly but not in very good spirits - he was bugged by insects and didn't like
the trail today. He said he was disappointed with Massachusetts; I think we all
got spoiled by the beauty of Connecticut. I wanted to tell him that I'd had the
same thoughts earlier today, too, but held my tongue. If I see him again, I'll
see if he's in better spirits. We all have our "down" days on the Trail, even
when we know we're darn lucky to be out here.
Now tomorrow should be plenty exciting. I get to climb Mt. Greylock, at
almost 3,500 feet the highest I've been since Virginia. And I've got a
2,500-foot ascent to get to the summit, where I'm meeting Jim at the Bascom
Lodge. Bring on the views!