Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pamola's Quest - Push 20 - The Push to Williamstown, MA - Part 1

Push 20 - The Push to Williamstown, MA - Part 1

Push 20 covered the next 117.9 miles and would take me another nine days to complete.  There was a possibility that I could continue on from there, get a ride up to Monson or get off trail once again.  I wanted to leave my options open, but was pretty sure I would be ready to see my bride again and most likely complete this year's Quest miles, continuing on next season.  

Day 112 - 8.9 miles - W Cornwall Rd - Bearded Woods Hostel
Day 113 - 16.4 (slackpack) miles - US44 - Salisbury, CT
Day 114 - 13.1 miles - Glen Brook Shelter
Day 115 - 14.3 miles - Tom Leonard Shelter
Day 116 - 11.2 miles - Shaker Campsite
Day 117 - 9.9 miles - Upper Goose Pond Cabin
Day 118 - 17.6 miles - Kay Wood Shelter
Day 119 - 16.9 miles - Mark Noepel Shelter
Day 120 - 9.6 miles - Williamstown, MA - End of Phase II-b of Pamola's Quest

The Bearded Woods Hostel 

There was some rain early in the morning, but it had stopped by 06. I wasn't in much of a hurry today, having less than 9 miles to do, but my routine is fairly efficient now and I was ready to go by 0730.  Firefly was still fast asleep in the shelter, having taken some benadryl to treat a bee sting he had received at the CT border, so I didn't want to disturb him by talking to him.  I knew he wasn't interested in spending money at a Hostel, so I wasn't sure I would see him again.  I never would be able to catch up to him again, but heard that he was just ahead and had mentioned me to one or two other hikers.  I would miss his conversation during the rest of the Push.

I hit a road around four miles in and while I was resting there, a truck pulled up to drop off some Sobo hikers.  I recognized the driver as Hudson, the proprietor of the Hostel and mentioned that I would see him in a couple of hours after I walk over a few more mountains.  He said to text him when I hit a gap about 2 miles out and he would be there at the road crossing.  

I moved along well and sent my text as I moved through the gap, arriving at the road crossing at exactly Noon.  Hudson pulled up five minutes later and we were off to his place.  It is a few miles off trail, so getting a ride there was pretty important. 

We arrived at the place and I settled into my bunk in the basement.  I showered up and gathered my clothes for laundry, which they do.  They have loaner clothes that you can wear while your laundry was being done, but the were mostly medium sized.  I may have lost a lot of weight out here, but I will most likely never be a medium again.  I did find a pair of pants to wear and just put my rain jacket on up top until I had clean clothes again.

Heading down to the Hostel area

I enjoyed the short day and just hung out and relaxed.  Hudson offered me a nice smoked salmon salad sandwich which was so delicious and hit the spot perfectly.  It was turning into a nice day.

Hudson offers a free slack pack if you stay a second night.  He will drop you off at the same spot he picked me up and meet me in Salisbury to ride back to the Hostel for another night.  I decided it would be a fun thing to try and signed up for the next day.

Later in the day, that day's slackers came back for the night.  It was Babbit and Shower Queen, who I had first met at Fingerboard Shelter.  They said the slackpack was great and I was looking forward to trying it out in the morning.  There was also a father, son there who were sectioning CT, using the Hostel as home base.  We had some good conversation as I cooked a pizza for dinner.

Giving a Slackpack a Try

The next morning, we all arose and had a nice breakfast before being flung to our various starting places.  I was dropped off where I had been picked up the previous day, which I was happy to.  I am in no way a purist of any sort, but I have kind of liked to be continuously heading north during this Quest.  It just feels right.

The others were dropped off further up north where I would be ending my day today. I headed up the first hill of the day with my very light pack and it felt good.  The Hostel provides small day packs and I only had the day's needs.  Food, water, rain gear and that was about it.  It is such a special feeling to have a light load and showed me the value of keeping my regular load as light as possible.  

I seemed to just float along the trail.  Nothing really taxed me very much.  I did still sweat and huff and puff from time to time, but I also recovered pretty quickly and kept a pretty fast pace.  After several short ups and down, I headed down to the Housatonic River and walked by Falls Village.  I had brought a few pieces of pizza for lunch and would stop from time to time and eat one at my leisure.  


Another View

Soon I was climbing up Mt Prospect.  When I got to the top, I saw a couple resting and we talked a bit.  At first they asked me if I hiked around here often.  I guess they thought I was a day hiker.  I told them to not let the daypack fool them.  I smelled just as bad as they did.  We discussed slackpacking for a bit.  One thing I mentioned, that they agreed to was the slight feeling of a time crunch.  I had a daily goal and needed to get there before too long, so I felt an imagined urgency to get the day's hike done.  This was all frivolous of course and not a real concern, but I felt it nonetheless.

I arrived in Salisbury in 6.7 hours. Completing 16.4 miles at about a 2.5 mph pace.  This was the fastest I had travelled this distance the whole Quest.  A slackpacking success.

I texted Hudson to let him know I was finished and went into the local grocery store to get some drinks for the night and a very small resupply as I waited.  Scrambles and Grouch came by too and we talked a bit.  

Hudson showed up pretty quick and Kitchen Sink was in the truck with him.  She was coming in for the night too.  We went back to the Hostel and cleaned up once again.  I tell ya, having a shower two days in a row and also having your clothes cleaned again is a luxury that is pretty rare on the Trail.  It was nice.  Big Lu cooked us a nice steak dinner for a very reasonable price and we all enjoyed eating until we were full.

After another night in a bed it was time to get going again with my full pack.  I enjoyed the slackpacking experience and will probably do it again.  It is a good break from the normal 30 lb pack.  It gives you the boost you need when things are tough.

Tripping Out of Connecticut

The next morning was cool and calm.  After another great breakfast, we all once again went to our assigned vehicles and were transported back to the Trail.  Stays like these always put me in a weird mood.  I am both antsy to get going and reluctant to leave the comfort of the Matrix that I have been able to once again plug into at the Hostel.  

Getting that taste of the Other World, the world of TV and WiFi and home cooked meals and not having to prepare for rain or any other weather event, makes me rather homesick for a while.  But, there are miles to walk and walk I must do, so I shake it off and get to walking. 

I started moving well and made my way up the easy side of Bear Mountain.  I passed Kitchen Sink as she headed south for the day and soon I descending down the hard side of the mountain.  I carefully made my way down the damp scrambles and soon the terrain smoothed out and I started to pick up speed as I approached the border of MA.  The last state I would hike in this Phase of the Quest.

I was moving good through a grove of pines and as I walked over a rooty section, my foot came down off center and tried to turn on me.  My usual immediate response is to dig in my poles as I try to shift my weight off the turning ankle.  This seemed to help with the ankle, but my momentum kept me going forward and soon the weight on my back was unbalanced and I started to go down face first. 

Where I tripped over the border

I opened my hands and landed on my poles in what felt like slow motion.  I lay on the ground for a few seconds, taking an assessment of any injuries and waiting for any tell tale pain to tell me some bad news.  I was fine though, so I unbuckled, slip out of my pack and stood up.  All was well, with the exception of some sore hands and one knee that took the brunt of the fall.  I continued on, noticing that I had just crossed the border into MA.  I guess I tripped over the border somehow.  


The day's hike next took me through Sages Ravine. A very cool couple of miles with a lot of nice swimming holes that would have been a great relief on a hot day.  But the day was still cool and it was still early, so I continue on.  

I caught up to Scrambles and Grouch once again and slowed my pace to stay a decent distance behind them.  I didn't feel like passing and leading, so I kept myself slow enough to stay behind them.  Before I started up Mount Everett, which had some nice wooden steps drilled into the large rock faces we had to climb, I came upon a threesome who were taking a break.  Two of them were Q-Tip and Donkey who I had met on a mountain top the day before during my slack pack and with them was the notorious Sinatra.  I gave him a knowing smile when he introduced himself as "just Kris" and said "I know who you are", but in a friendly way.  I held no bias towards him.  

Wooden steps up the rockface

We all once again took a nice break at a picnic table near a pond where there was some awesome iced water in a cooler and plenty of jugs to replenish your bottles with.  There was also a Ridge Runner there hanging out.  My day was almost over, but the rest still had 8.5 miles to go to the next major road crossing that would take them into town, so we all eventually moved on.

I got to the shelter area and found a real nice spot in the pine grove, made some dinner and got ready to get back to hammock hanging after two nights in a bed.  Later, a trio of young kids came into camp and headed for the shelter.  I would spend the next couple of nights at the same places as them.

Nice campsite

Rainy Days of Walking

The rain started early in the morning, but it wasn't too heavy and didn't effect the camp breakdown.  I headed out, carefully making my way down slippery rocks as I descended Mt Bushnell.  Today was just going to be one of those days of walking.  It would rain a little, then stop, but it never cleared up.  There weren't too many good places to stop and rest today, so I just kept walking.

Took a break here

There was an antique store that sold sodas, so I bought one and ate my lunch in front of the store, looking like a homeless man as the rain started up again.  I just sat on the ground, shoved my pack under a table that was there and ate a quick tortilla of meat and cheese.  Then, it was time to walk some more.

My feet needed some drying out when I arrived at camp, so I set up quickly, got out of my wet clothes and relaxed in my warm, dry, hammock.  I had thought about maybe moving on another five miles on this day and maybe arriving in Williamstown a day early, but the later part of the day was challenging enough to deter that plan and I was happy to stop as planned and get ready for an easier day in the morning.

I was going to only hike 11.2 the next day, so I could hike another short day to arrive at Upper Goose Pond Cabin, which is a must stay place along the trail.

Trail Magic

The next morning, the rain was leaving the area and the forest still dripped with moisture.  I sat and talked for a bit with the three young kids.  They were all from Boston College and were out for a few days before classes started and Other World life continued.  

I needed some water since I didn't want to do the .25 walk to the spring the day before, so I planned on heading down to Beartown State Forest for a long break and to replenish.

I took the .6 trail to the picnic/camping area around a nice lake and rested while eating.  I had checked my food bag and it looked like I was at least a meal short, but I wasn't too worried.  I figured that I would be able to pick something up near the trail later on.

As I was heading out, I saw a ranger talking to a couple in a small Winnebago, so I went over to ask him if he knew of any close stores at the next road crossing.  He couldn't help, but he said this couple may be able to help.  I looked in and saw 8-Track, who I had met around DWG I think.  The trailer was theirs and his wife, Angel Princess was meeting him from time to time for support.  He had been sick, so had taken a couple zeros to feel better.  I stayed outside the trailer as I talked to them.  

Angel Princess and 8-Track. Awesome people!

They started offering me food and of course, I turned nothing down.  Before too long, Angel Princess had cooked me a nice breakfast of eggs and I now peaches for lunch and one of 8-Tracks homemade dried meals for later.  It was the trail providing in the most magical way.  They really made my day special.

I headed back to the trail and felt great as I completed the short day.  As I was approaching the day's campsite, I was behind two nice smelling day hikers.  I saw them stop and came up to see a beautiful owl sitting in a tree near the trail.  We all took some photos and moved on.

Who are you?

I arrived at the campsite and found a nice place away from the tent platforms.  The three kids came in and we had some nice conversation as I watched them improvise a small tent, a tarp and some netting into something to sleep under for the night.  It actually came out pretty nice.  

I ate dinner and settled in for the night.  Tomorrow was Upper Goose Pond.

Next: The last four days of the Push and the Phase.

EarthTone and LoGear

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