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!!

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