Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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Start: Blotz Rd./Pittsfield, MA                               
End:  Mt. Greylock summit, MA
Today's Miles:                      23.4
Cumulative Miles:          1,572.3
Miles to go:                       602.6
Tired young mother hiking up to The Cobbles with her two sons:
"Are we near the top?"
Me, running down the long mountain: "Yes. Am I near the bottom?"
"No, it's a very long way down," she replied.

War Memorial on Mt. Greylock

Abandoned cabin on little pond near Greylock summit.     8-11-05

What's interesting here is that the woman and her elementary-school kids really were close to their destination. But she was so tired, she probably thought I was lying. Two hundred more yards uphill may have seemed like an eternity to her.

On the other hand, I had a nice downhill run of about a mile ahead of me, which seemed really short in the overall picture, like the blink of an eye.

It's all a matter of perspective.

Today's 23+ mile section was the antidote I needed after yesterday's lackluster course. I couldn't believe how different it was, much more like the forests I loved through Connecticut. There were lots of lush green ferns, thick moss on rocks and the forest floor, white birches glowing in the sunshine, and occasional ponds and wetland areas up on top of the mountains.

It was unusual in that today I started fairly high (~ 2000 feet) and stayed there for three miles before beginning a 900-foot descent to the town of Dalton. This section was mostly runnable, as was the one-plus mile through town.

The second third of the day's section began with a fairly gradual 1,000-foot ascent to Crystal Mountain, past Gore Pond and the Cobbles, and down, down, down to the town of Cheshire. Most of this is also runnable.

The last third looked more difficult on the elevation profile than it was in reality. Last night I was wondering about the wisdom of scheduling a 2,500-foot climb to Greylock Mountain for the middle of a hot August afternoon, considering I haven't done an ascent like that since Virginia. But it was mostly gradual to moderate climbs with a couple plateaus interspersed with the ascents, so I could run the "flats" and use different muscles. The worst pitch was the last half mile before the summit.

About three miles from the top the terrain totally changed from deciduous forest to spruce trees - I haven't seen those since Mt. Rogers (or the Shenandoahs?). The change was sudden and complete. Even the ferns were different. And the pine fragrance - oh, my, how I love that smell! Unfortunately, the Trail also became very rocky and rooty here, making for slower progress - not great for running but fine for a hike.

I was so happy to be back in higher mountains with a real "Far North" feel. The summit of Mt. Greylock is the only sub-alpine environment in Massachusetts. It is the highest point in the state at 3,491 feet - and the highest I've been since Virginia.

I wanted to finish there so Jim could enjoy the views over to NY, up to VT, down to CT, and to eastern MA. This is one of the few mountains on the AT with road access to the top. The best views are from the top of the War Memorial on the summit. I didn't have the energy to go up 100 stairs to the top of the monument but Jim did and he said the 360-degree views were great.

This is part of the view toward the south:

We were hoping to get some food at Bascom Lodge at the summit but we had to order dinner by noon to get anything so we were out of luck. Hikers can stay there overnight for a fee. I saw some folks there but didn't recognize any of them as thru-hikers I've met.

The only thru-hiker I saw all day was a young man heading south, "Wicket." We talked about the Trail both directions and I asked him some questions about Maine. Besides this fella, and the woman and two boys, I saw no other hikers all day. There were about eight Berkshire Appalachian Mountain Club volunteers installing new cypress puncheon at about 3,000 feet on Greylock. I thanked them and continued upward.

There were several unusual rock formations in today's section, including The Cobbles on Crystal Mountain:

I appreciated the fact that the Trail didn't always have to go over the rock formations today!

Jim ran around a scenic lake in Pittsfield this morning, then moved the camper to one of the nicest places we've found on this trek, a city park in N. Adams, MA called Historic Valley Campground. We highly recommend it. Wish we were staying more than one day but we have to move north again tomorrow.

This is my last full day in Massachusetts. Tomorrow I end in Vermont!

Moving right along,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil