Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pamola's Quest - Push 20 - The Push to Williamstown, MA - Part 2

Push 20 - The Push to Williamstown, MA - Part 2

The last four days of Push 20 were a pleasant finish to the Phase.  I had a pond to swim in and Mt Greylock to climb, but all would come in good time.  

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

Upper Goose Pond Cabin Adventure

Only a couple other people showed up at the campsite for the night and the morning was dry, but cloudy and breezy.

I ate breakfast with the three students and said my goodbyes as I headed out early as usual.  I didn't have far to go today, but I wanted to arrive early, so I could enjoy the pond and what it had to offer.  

Early in the day, I came to a road crossing.  To the left there was a little shack that said AT Trail Stand.  Next to it, was a young cow, just munching on the grass in the front yard, next to the road.  It was an interesting sight.

Young cow, Mooowing the lawn

After climbing Baldy Mountain, the day was rather easy as I made my way towards the pond and circled around it.  I ate an early lunch and just before Noon, I came to the turnoff to the cabin.  

I arrived at the cabin and saw it was locked and no one was around.  I explored a little and found that the outside door to the upstairs bunk room was open.  I went in and explored the place a bit.  I found a bunk and stowed my gear.  It was time for a swim and some cowboy laundry.

As I was heading down, I met Harvester, a girl who had been doing some hiking on both the PCT and the AT this year, but had gotten off-trail for an injury.  She was from nearby and was there to meet her "hiking partner" who was a sobo, due to arrive soon.

I went down to the pond and went for a swim.  I rinsed the sweat out of my hiking clothes and enjoyed the fresh, cool water for awhile.  I guess I forgot to take the bugnet out of my back pocket and sometime during my swimming and cleaning, it came out and floated away.  Oh well, Karma was still screwing with me.

Calm morning on Upper Goose Pond

The rest of the day I just lounged on the porch of the cabin.  After a while, the incoming caretaker arrived with his wife and a friend.  Also, I few more hikers showed up.

One hiker, Simpleton Extraordinaire and his dog Jameson came in. He had a lot of goodies in his pack including the ingredients for S'mores, which I don't like.  He did give me a bar of chocolate which I really enjoyed as I tried to put a dent in my constant hunger. He also gave me a sip of his whiskey, which gave me a very pleasant glow for a while.  Jameson was pretty cool too.

I took another swim, later in the day and had a decent night's sleep up in the bunk room.  It wasn't my hammock, but it was comfortable enough.

In the morning, the promised pancakes and coffee were served and I left a decent donation to help them continue their service.   

Some Days Are Just Days of Walking

I was able to get on the trail pretty early still, even after the served breakfast.  I had over 17 miles to do today. Today's walk would be just that.  I pretty much just stayed in my head all day and put one foot in front of the other.  There weren't any long climbs or anything.  The one note of the day would be a stop at the Cookie Lady's house.  If she was there, the possibility of cookies and blueberries would be a nice break.

When I arrived at the Cookie Lady's house, there was no one around.  I filled my water, which had a strong sulfur smell and taste, ate a few blue berries that were in a container on the table and relaxed in some nice chairs as I ate a snack.  No cookies, but a good break nonetheless.  

I arrived at the empty shelter area and set up behind the shelter.  I needed water so I headed down the short trail to the source.  While I was down there, I heard lots of voices coming from the shelter.  When I went back up, the shelter was full past capacity.

A freshman orientation group from Yale had arrived.  I had encountered one of these groups, a couple years ago during a day hike in PA and thought it was a good way to get the kids out in the woods before they had to hunker down in their studies.  Now, I had a few other thoughts out here as we were sharing the same resources now.  

The group seemed a bit larger than the recommended 10 people, and they were noisy and clunky.  They put all of their cooking gear (and it was a lot) in the bear box, filling it up.  Luckily, my food bag was already in there, but I did have to dig through their heavy bags to find mine in the morning.  I would encounter other college orientation groups these last couple of days and they all seemed large and clunky.  But, it's all good out here.  We share the forest and there is plenty to go around.

I had some good conversation with the group as I ate my dinner then headed to my hammock for the night.  They had actually asked if there was a certain time that they should be quiet and I told them to just do what they wanted.  That is what ear plugs are for.

They did stay up into the night, with a fire, but it wasn't bad at all.  No one was loud or rowdy and I was able to fall asleep as usual.  

Town Stops are The Bomb

The next morning I had a spring in my step as I packed up and got ready to go.  Today, I was heading into Dalton, MA, which the trail went through and it was only about 2.5 miles away.  I was looking for food, a free shower, a library visit to print my bus ticket and my final resupply of the Phase.  

The town was still waking up as I strolled down its streets. The first stop was at a Cumberland Farms store for some coffee and chocolate.  As I walked through town, heading to the breakfast place on the other side, Mary Jane, a hiker I had met at Upper Goose, stuck his head out of a coffee shop to say hi.  I continued on and went into the Dalton Restaurant for a huge second breakfast.  While I was there, I made a reservation at the Williamstown Motel for my last night and bought a bus ticket home.  It was time to finish this Phase.

When I finished breakfast, I went out front to get my gear and out came Blaze.  The last time I saw him was in Erwin, TN at Uncle Johnny's Hostel.  It was good to see that he had made it all this way.  I crossed the street and entered the Community Center.  I signed in and received a towel.  I went down to the locker room and enjoyed a nice hot shower.

My next stop, was just down the road a bit to the Library.  I needed to print my bus ticket, so I went in and asked if I could use a computer.  I saw one that was a little out of the way, but there was one other guy on the computer next to me.  Now, after my shower I had just put my hiking clothes back on and not my town shirt for some reason, so even though my body was a little cleaner, I still had the smell of adventure all around me.  When I came up to my PC, they guy next to me, made a concerted effort to move all his stuff and himself as far away from me as he could.  I giggled at his Muggleness and went about my business.  He really seemed sensitive to my stench.  Oh well, there was nothing I could do except finish my business and move on.

I printed my ticket and left the library, imagining the huge sigh of relief the Muggle must have heaved when I left.  My next two stops were to pick up a nice sub for lunch/dinner and a couple of 24 oz cans of Genesee Cream Ale for the walk out of town.  Those items would add about 5 lbs to my pack, but were worth the weight in my opinion.  

I bought the last of my resupply and headed out of town, feeling happy and full.  After finishing town and heading back up into the wooded hills, I came upon Fairy Baby and Cave Bear who were taking a break and drinking their own beers.  I figured I had carried one of those beers long enough and joined them for a nice beer break.  

Looking down to the Cheshire reservoir 

With a slightly lighter load, I moved on towards Cheshire, MA.  I leaped frogged the couple once or twice and we rested again at an ice cream store on the edge of town.  After some ice cream, I moved on.  The trail goes through town again, but as I walked the streets, my attention wavered and I missed a turn of the trail.  I had no worries though, as I quickly used my phone to find my way back.  I did get to pass an interesting house on my "reroute" though.

Interesting house in Cheshire

The last part of the day was the start of the climb up Mt. Greylock.  It did get a little intense as I went along, but I just soldiered on and before too long, I was walking into camp.  There was rain in the forecast, which always makes the shelter areas crowded and there was another orientation group at this shelter.  The whole area is kind of on a slope, so I just walked around a bit, passing the tent spots already taken until I could find two trees that would work.  I went up above the shelter and saw an area with two tents set up and a fire going.  I said hello and asked if I could set up next to one of the tents, where two good trees waited.  Dave and his two sons, Collin and Connor welcomed me into their camp for the night.

The threesome were very nice and kept offering me stuff.  They were out for a few days, but were ready to head home as the mountain had been a little more than they could handle.  They were planning their exit of the mountain in the morning. I set up and hung out with them as I ate the last of my sub and drank that last beer.  The rain arrived as darkness fell and we all retired to our shelters.  

Completing the Push and the Phase

The next morning dawned windy and drippy as I packed up for the day.  It was time to finish the climb up Mt. Greylock.  I walked the 3.3 miles to the peak where a large war monument stands.  It was a little foggy as I reached the monument, but the wind was moving the clouds fast.  I climbed up to the top of the monument and looked out all around.  It was clear enough to see pretty far.  

First foggy view of the monument

I came down and started down the mountain.  It was a little slippery from time to time and I did another slip and fall, but it was into soft mud with my shoulder and I only got a little of the Greylock mud on me.  I came off the mountain with my ipod singing in my ear and came to MA Route 2.  The ending point of this Phase.

Williamstown from the sides of Mt Greylock

I walked a little bit more north to find one more treasure hunt item form AWOL's Guide and then started walking towards Williamstown.  It was early and I had only gone 9.6 miles so far, so the 1.5 to the Motel would be easy.  

I stopped at a pizza place and ate some lunch before crossing the highway and checking into the Motel right at the 1400 check in time.  

After a shower, I walked another 1.5 into town and had a beer and some fries at the Purple Pub then picked up a six pack for back at the Motel.  On the way back I also stopped and bought a sandwich for the next day and a stick of deodorant. 

The rest of the evening was spent converting my pack into bus mode and watching TV shows on my phone.  I decided to retire the old Half-Crocks at this time.  One of them had snagged on a tree and ripped off one side of the heel strap and I figured it was time to get something new.  They had served me well enough, but my cutting them had compromised their structural integrity without very much weight savings.  

Time to say ba-bye to the Half-Crocks

It had taken me 24 days to hike 334 miles and tomorrow I would travel that distance and then some in about 10 hours.  It was time to complete the Phase and re-enter the Matrix.  The Other World.

Back to the Matrix

I was up early the next day as usual and after a quick breakfast in the lobby, I started walking to the bus stop.  As I started walking down the road, I saw a group of four hikers heading the same way.  Eventually, I let them catch up to see who they were.  They had been out for a couple of days and were taking the same bus down to the first stop.

I arrived at the Hotel where the bus stop was and had some time until the bus arrived, so I sat in the lobby and caught up on some trail journal entries.  Before I knew it, the bus was here and I was on it as it started on its way to New York.

It was interesting watching the changing scenery outside the bus as we went from rural Massachusetts town to the busiest city in this hemisphere.  I had fun doing a lot of people watching from the bus as we worked our way down into Manhattan.  Of course, the bus arrived at the Port Authority Terminal, well after the time my second bus was due to leave.  I went up to the ticket counter to see what I had to do and was shown where to go to catch the next bus.  

I headed down to the proper gate and grabbed some food for dinner.  Before too long, there was a bus at the gate and I'm not sure if it was the right bus, but it was going to the right place, so I boarded and soon, we were out of the city and starting through New Jersey.  

Leaving New York

The ride back to Baltimore was uneventful.  I finished the last book of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that I had been listening to the whole Phase and not too long after dark, we were pulling into the bus station once again, like I had in June when I finished the first Phase of the Quest.

LoGear was in the parking lot waiting and 20 minutes later, I was back at home, where all the comforts of the Matrix are.  Within a few hours, I was already thinking about when I would complete the last two Phases of the Quest.  I will be a part of the Class of 2018 on the Trail.  I'm not done hiking this year just yet, but I won't be doing new train again until the winter snows have melted and a new spring has arrived.  

I'm torn between wanting to get my first traverse of the Trail complete and taking my time to be able to keep enjoying the journey.  But, if all goes as planned, next season will see me completing this Quest and then I will start looking for the answer to the question every Hiker has...  What's next?

I think my next article will be about the Hostels I stayed in during these journeys.  Stay tuned.

EarthTone and LoGear

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