Saturday, September 26, 2015

Massachusetts...CT border to Dalton, MA so far.

Massachusetts has treated us pretty well and we should be out of it on Tuesday 29 Sept 2015.  We entered Massachusetts on Tuesday 8 Sept, it was another hot and humid day.  The border between Connecticut and Massachusetts is rather anti-climactic and not even properly marked, with the AWOL guide stating that the actual border is unmarked 50 yards north of another trail junction and the the border signs which are marked are incorrect.  Mom and I paced off 50 yards north from the Paradise Lane trail junction, found a tree with a blaze and called it the Massachusetts border.

Tuesday 8 September 2015
Riga Shelter, CT to Mt Race Summit, MA, 1900.1 miles

Hendo's Mom and Hendo at the Massachusetts border, celebrating like we always do with a swig of Jack Daniels.

Immediately upon entering Massachusetts we were greeted by the amazingly beautiful Sages Ravine.  The coolness and plentiful water of the ravine where quite the respite from the hot, humid and no water conditions we had been facing the last several weeks.
One of the many waterfalls in Sages Ravine

Looking down into Sages Ravine

Another view along Sages Ravine

One of the supposedly inaccurate state line signs at the CT/MA border

Wherever the border was we were apparently in Massachusetts now and were quite excited to have completed another state and be one state closer to completion.

Since we had gotten back on trail in Salisbury, CT we had been running into Freshman Orientation groups from Princeton University's Outdoor Adventure.  There were several different groups out for the week which we found to be very loud and inconsiderate of others.  We had even been warned by other southbound hikers who passed us of groups they had encountered which were loud and disruptive as well.  These orientation groups were all staying at the campground and shelter sites, so in order to get a quiet nights sleep we were forced to hike on past such locations and stealth camp along the trail.  This actually ended up being a blessing in disguise as we had two beautiful evenings of stealth camping on Mt Race  and Mt Bushnell.  We had amazingly clear skies Tuesday night on top of Mt Race and were able to enjoy the stary sky, to include the Milky Way!!!

Hendo's Mom hiking her way up Mt. Race.

Hendo on her way up Mt. Race

Our beautiful and quiet campsite on top of Mt. Race.

Wednesday 9 Sept 2015
Mt Race Summit to Mt Bushnell Summit, 1905 miles
We started out day off with a beautiful sunrise on top of Mt Race and then a nice hike down to Race Brook Falls Campsite, where we stopped to water up.  Water has been scarce due to the dry conditions, so we eneded up having to go 1/2 miles off the AT to finally find water at the Race Brook Falls campsite.  We watered up and enjoyed a lunch break and then began our trek up Mt Everett.  We had been warned that the hike up Mt Everett was rather steep and treacherous, but we didn't find it all that bad and we made our way up and down the other side without any issues.
The amazing sunrise Wednesday morning on top of Mt. Race.  

Hendo's Mom and Hendo at the summit of Mt Everett.

We made out way down Mt Everett and past The Hemlocks Shelter and the Glen Brook Shelter to a summit on Mt Bushnell, because one of the Princeton University groups were at the shelters making a racket and we didn't want to have to deal with their noise and craziness.  Thunderstorms moved through overnight, but as always out tent kept us safe and dry and we got a great nights sleep.
Our tentsite on top of Mt Bushnell.

Another view of our tentsite on top of Mt Bushnell.

Thursday 10 Sept 2015
Mt Bushnell Summit to US 7 Great Barrington, MA, 1911 miles
Sometime yesterday or today, Hendo was bit by a bug of some sort on her right calf.  The bite swelled up, was bright red and hot to touch.  Hendo also progressively started feeling sicker and sicker as we hiked into Great Barrington, so when we got to Great Barrington we decided to get a hotel room for the night.  Hendo iced her right calf Thursday evening, but felt even sicker Friday, so we took a zero in Great Barrington, on Friday 11 Sept.

Orange fungi growing in the woods

A monument marking the last battle of Shays Rebellion.

False Soloman Seal that had gone to seed/berry.

A gorgeous black squirrel greeted us along the trail today.

Friday 11 Sept - Friday 18 Sept 2015
Zero, Ilene Sick
Hendo was still feeling sick and her right calf was still swollen and sore Saturday 12 Sept, so Hendo Hendo decided to go get checked out at the Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington.  Hendo had checked with the VA regarding treatment and payment and was informed that she could file the bill from Fairview with the VA for payment.  The doctor at Fairview took 6 viles of blood to be sent away for testing for Lyme Disease and various other tick and mosquito borne illnesses.  The doctor also prescribed 14 days of Doxycycline as treatment of the cellulitis at the site of the bug bite and any possible tick or mosquito borne illnesses.  Often the illnesses do not immediately show up in blood tests, but early treatment is essential for the overall cure.  Hendo got in touch with her Massachusetts CVMA brothers and sisters and Laura and Al in Agawam, MA graciously took in Hendo and Mom for a week of rest and recuperation.  Friday 18 Sept was the first night of The Big E/Eastern States Exposition, so Al, Laura, Hendo and Hendo's Mom enjoyed a night at the fair, to include a Charlie Daniels' concert.  All of the blood tests came back negative and after a week of rest and antibiotics, Hendo and Hendo's Mom were ready to hit the trail again.   

Saturday 19 Sept 2015
US 7 Great Barrington, MA to Tom Leonard Shelter, 1917.4 miles
Laura drove us back to Great Barrington and put us back on trail this morning. We spent most of the day hiking our way up June Mountain and then East Mountain.  Just south of the summit of East Mountain we found this underground hornets nest along the side of the trail.  Luckily Mom and and I did NOT stick our hiking poles in it.  Neither one of us had ever seen such a site.  The nest was as big as a basketball.
Underground hornets nest along the edge of the trail.

Close-up of underground hornets nest

Sunday 20 Sept 2015
Tom Leonard Shelter to Shaker Campsite, 1928.6 miles
Looking down into Ice Gulch just north of Tom Leonard Shelter.  It is very reminiscent of Mahoosuc Notch and we were very happy that we didn't have to hike through it.

We came upon this absolutely amazing pond north of Mt Wilcox South Shelters.  It was a three tiered pond which showcased the amazing engineering capabilities of beavers.  While beavers are often seen as pests, their ponds help to reduce run-off and are an essential element of the eco-system.

Signs of busy beavers in the area.

Monday 21 Sept 2015
Shaker Campsite to Upper Goose Pond Cabin, 1938.5 miles
Last night at Shaker Campsite was downright cold, autumn is upon us and we will definitely be getting some warmer sleeping clothes at the Goodwill Store in Lee, MA.  Tonight we got to sleep inside the Upper Goose Pond Shelter out of the cold and on comfy mattresses.

Massachusetts fence stiles are rather rudimentary.

Hendo hiking by a local cow enjoying a late morning rest in the sunny pasture.
The cow didn't pay Hendo's Mom any attention either.

A cute Garter snake was basking in the sun next to the trail after enjoying it's lunch, which was most likely a frog.

Hendo's Mom and fellow hiker Pirate making their way north towards Upper Goose Pond Cabin through a rather swampy area of Massachusetts.  Massachusetts does a great job of providing wooden walkways and planks, so we can stay up and out of the mud.

Tuesday 22 Sept 2015
Upper Goose Pond Cabin to US 20/Lee, MA, 1940.1 miles
We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of homemade pancakes at the Upper Goose Pond Cabin and then made our way into Lee, MA to resupply and purchase some warmer sleep clothes.

Hendo's Mom crossing MA Turnpike I-90...if you look to the right you can see that they gave us our own cloverleaf exit ramp!!

At the bottom of our cloverleaf exit ramp, looking back up at the AT bridge over I-90.

The most amazing part of our AT thru-hike has been the people we have met along the way, and David, Jackie and her daughter Ester are three more amazing people we have added to our list.  We met them in Lee, MA while walking to Joe's Diner for dinner and will be sure to keep in touch with them for years to come.
Hendo's Mom, Ester, David and Hendo

Hendo's Mom, Jackie and Hendo

Wednesday 23 Sept 2015
US 20/Lee, MA to October Mountain Shelter, 1947.3 miles
We enjoyed our afternoon and evening in Lee, MA, resupplied and bought some warm sleeping clothes, so we are now ready to enjoy the cooler fall days and nights.  We were serenaded by Great Horned Owls at October Mountain Shelter tonight.  We have heard Barred Owls all along the trail, but we haven't heard any Great Horned Owls since Georgia.

Our lunch spot overlooking Finerty Pond.  The trees are just beginning to turn colors.

Thursday 24 Sept 2015
October Mountain Shelter to Kay Wood Selter, 1956.1 miles
We were sitting at Kay Wood Shelter tonight when a guy walks up with his touring bicycle loaded down with gear.  Just when you think you have seen it all.  He is out on a bicycle trip along the east coast and walked his bike 0.3 mile to the shelter from Grange Hall Rd to spend the night.  We explained that bicycles are not allowed on the Appalachian trail and he replied he didn't know that.  The next morning we found this sign at the trailhead at Grange Hall Rd.......   I was/am at a loss.

Friday 25 Sept 2015
Kay Wood Shelter to MA 8/Dalton, MA, 1959.1 miles
This morning on our hike into Dalton we had to stop and let the train pass by.

People talk about aqua-blazing the Shenandoah River instead of hiking through the Shenandoah National Park, but you can't even see the Shenandoah River from the park.  We have been hiking along and criss-crossing the Housatonic River since Connecticut, and apparently we aren't done with it yet, as we crossed it again as we hiked into Dalton, MA.  If someone is going to aqua-blaze a river while hiking the Appalachian Trail, it should be the Housatonic River and not the Shenandoah River.

Saturday 26 Sept 2015
Zero, Dalton, MA

Hickory Tussock Caterpillar, poisonous, don't touch or play with these!!

Friday, September 18, 2015


We were 15 miles into Massachusetts when I was bit by some insect on my right calf sometime Wednesday 9 Sept or Thursday 10 Sept.  As we made our way to the Great Barrington, MA road crossing on Thursday 10 Sept, I was feeling worse and worse.  We had planned to go into Great Barrington to resupply but decided to get a room at the Days Inn and stay the night.  I wasn't feeling better on Friday so we decided to take a zero and stay another night at the Days Inn.  Saturday morning I was feeling worse, so after consulting with some fellow veterans I decided to go get checked out at the Fairview Hospital ER in Great Barrington.  I was hesitant to go as I do not have any health insurance, I just receive all of my medical treatment at the VA.  But after speaking with the VA tele-nurse and fellow veterans I learned I could go to a civilian hospital and file the bill with the VA.  The staff at Fairview hospital was awesome.  They took 6 viles of blood to be sent off for testing and the doctor started me on Doxycycline as my symptoms were inline with several tick and mosquito borne illnesses common in this area.  I got in touch with my CVMA brother, Lunchbox, and he was able to find a CVMA brother and sister/husband & wife in Agawam, MA, to take mom and me in for the past 7 days so I could rest and recuperate.  My CVMA brother and sister, Al and Laura, have been amazing and I feel much better and ready to hit the trail again.  On Friday evening, Sept. 18 Al and Laura took us to opening night of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass.  This is a regional six state yearly fair for Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.  Each state has a building in which they display products and places within their state.  We purchased a variety of foods and drinks as we wandered around.  The evening ended royally with a free concert from the Charlie Daniels Band!  Wow!  Van Gogh last week, Charlie Daniels this week, we have found all sorts of culture along the AT.  Laura dropped us off at the AT trailhead near Great Barrington, Mass on Sat., Sept 19 so we can continue northward.

I have checked with the hospital, but the results of the blood test are not in yet, As soon as I hear something I will let everyone know.  Another setback, but we are rolling with the punches and trudging onward.  Here are all of our pictures and stories for Connecticut.  Thanks again to everyone's help and support!!!

We were quite excited to get into Connecticut and began with a zero day at the home of Craig and Jennifer.  Craig is a trail maintainer with the CT Chapter of the AMC and he and his fellow maintainers efforts were much appreciated.  Connecticut had a few challenging parts, but for the most part was enjoyable hiking with some great views. After a refreshing zero at Craig's we got back on trail on Saturday 29 August and headed northward.

Saturday 29 August 2015
CT 55 to Mt Algo Shelter, 1856.8 miles
We got a nice early start today and enjoyed the cool morning temps.  As it is with most of the AT, one is always hiking up.  We started this morning hiking up and over Ten Mile Hill and enjoyed a break at Ten Mile River Shelter where we saw a group of Merganser ducks floating down the Ten Mile River.  We enjoyed lunch and a nap up on the ridge above Bulls Bridge Rd.
Mom napping after lunch

Sunday 30 August 2015
Mt Algo Shelter to Kent, CT, 1857.1 miles
We hiked 1/2 mile along CT Hwy 341 to a restaurant in Kent, CT for lunch. Everyone stared at us carrying our packs on our backs. Kent is known for being anti-hiker friendly, but they did accept our money.  Many fancy motorcyclists were in town for Sunday lunch. This area is known for its "hoity-toity" rich residents. The two of us are hiker/bikers so we thought we fit right in.  Rain began falling and Mom was not feeling well so we called our hiker friend, Plantman, who we had met on the trail last year in the 100-mile wilderness,  Plantman had stated he lived near Kent, CT and would be happy to help us out if we needed anything while in the area. He picked us up in Kent and we stayed two nights while Mom drank Pepto-Bismol.  Plantman and his wife Pat were amazing trail angels taking us in for a zero day while mom recuperated from a stomach bug of some sort.

Monday 31 August
Zero at Plantman and Pat's house

Tuesday 1 Sept 2015
CT341/Kent, CT to Stewart Hollow Brook Shelter, 1864.1 miles
Plantman dropped us back off on the trail today and we continued north.

Hendo hiking down St Johns Ledges

Hendo's Mom making her way down St Johns Ledges

Wednesday 2 Sept 2015
Stewart Hollow Brook Shelter to Ceasar Brook Campsite, 1870.8 miles

Thursday 3 Sept 2015
Ceasar Brook Campsite to Sharon Mountain Campsite, 1876.5 miles
Our trail friend Forty-four, who we met last year while he was hiking a section of the AT, had accepted some mail drops for us and met us at CT 4, bringing us our mail drop of new shoes and awesome deli sandwiches...whoohoo!!!  We also made plans for Forty-four to pick us up in Salisbury, CT in a few days for shower, laundry and zero.

Hendo's old and new Brooks Cascadias

Hendo's Mom's old and new Brooks Cascadias

Hendo's Mom squeezing her way on up the trail

Friday 4 Sept 2015
Sharon Mtn Campsite to Mt Prospect stealth site, 1884.8
The weather had been insanely hot the last few days, so we were quite excited to find trail magic at the US 7 road crossing.  We were even lucky enough to meet the amazing trail angel responsible for the magic, Christine. She was out day-hiking a section of the AT.  Christine graciously gave us a ride to a restaurant outside Falls Village, so we were rolling in the trail magic today!!

Due to the Iron Mountain Bridge being closed for repairs there is currently a detour around Falls Village.  The detour was very nicely marked and signed.

Special temporary white blazes have been erected all along the detour route.

Hendo standing by a detour blaze.

Massive waterfall north or Falls Village, CT

Hendo's Mom making her way up Mt Prospect, with the last of the day's rays of sun glowing through the woods.

Saturday 5 Sept 2015
Mt Prospect Stealth Site to Cobble Rd/Salisbury, CT, 1889.2 miles
A huge hornet nest along the trail just north of Limestone Shelter side trail.

Close-up of the hornet nest.

Rands View, Beautiful Connecticut countryside on our way into Salisbury, CT

It was pretty steep going down into Salisbury.  Hendo's Mom making her way down into town.

We appreciate the log stairs!!

Thanks to fellow hiker, Bob Snell, we had some delicious chocolates waiting for us in Salisbury. He had put out a facebook message saying that the first hiker to respond with an address along the trail would get a box of chocolates from him.  Hendo responded with the address to the post office in Salisbury, CT.  I guess we won!  He contacted Hendo by phone and said we would be getting the delivery. The chocolates were delicious.  Trail Magic at its best!

Sunday 6 September 2015
Zero at Forty-four and Betsy's house
Our trail friend Forty-four picked us up in Salisbury on Saturday, took us home for a zero on Sunday and dropped us back off on the trail on Monday.  On Sunday Forty-four took us to a local outfitter so I could get a new backpack as my GoLite had fallen apart beyond repair, I ended up getting a Granite Gear Leopard AC 58.  I really love it so far.  After getting my new pack, Forty-four treated us to a visit to The Clark Art Museum.  We were lucky enough to get to view the Van Gogh and Nature exhibit, which was absolutely breathtaking.  We had a great time with Forty-four and Betsy!!
Hendo, Betsy, Forty-four and Hendo's Mom

Hendo and Hendo's Mom with Winslow Homer's "The Bridle Path", a painting of the Bridle Path on Mt Lafayette in the White Moutnains, NH. We hiked the Bridle Path when we had to come down off of Mt. Lafayette due to a storm last fall.

Monday 7 September 2015
Cobble Rd to Riga Shelter, 1892.4 miles
Forty-four dropped us back off on the trail Monday afternoon and we made our way just a few miles up the trail to the Riga Shelter for the night.  Hendo helped out SOBO hiker Opportunistic Dreamer by sewing the soles of his boots back onto the uppers using the guts of paracord as thread. We carry a heavy duty curved needle just in case such repairs are needed.  The soles of Opportunistic Dreamer's boots were halfway off and he still had to make it to Kent, CT, another 40 miles south of Riga Shelter to pick up his new boots in a mail drop.  He was quite appreciative and I didn't mind helping him out, I told him, it's what we do!!!

We also had our first unfortunate encounter with the Princeton University, Outdoor Adventure Freshman Orientation Club.  Needless to say, they were loud and inconsiderate and we spent the next two days being warned about other Princeton groups and purposely hiking on past shelters and campsites so that we would not have to camp with any of their groups again.  We will be notifying Princeton University of their poor behavior.

Tuesday 8 Sept 2015
Riga Shelter to CT-MA border, 1896.2 miles
Today at the base of Bear Mountain, CT we finished Connecticut and entered Massachusetts...Whoohoo!!!!

Hendo's Mom and Hendo on the summit of Bear Mountain, CT, the highest point in CT.

The plaque on Bear Mountain, CT

The south side of Bear Mountain was nice and graded, but the north side was not nearly as nice.  The steep and rocky trail down the north side of Bear Mountain.