Massachusetts is the first of two short states along the trail that will give me fits when I try to type them. From now on, I will call it MA.
Border to Great Barrington
Just across the border with Vermont, there is a road with two small towns on either side of the intersection with the trail. Williamstown had the larger store, so that is the one we went to. We got a small resupply at the store and a couple of cold sodas.
We went on, with the goal of getting to the top of Mt. Greylock by lunch time. For some reason, I had thought that Mt. Greylock would have a gondola at the top and we could take a ride as we ate our lunch. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case (though I think people do use it as a ski hill, so I was not so far off), and it had a couple of interesting structures on top instead.
The picture above is a war memorial, and there was also an old lodge that had some light refreshments as well. Since we had just been to the store, we didn't need the services of the lodge, so we sat outside and dried our shelters.
When we got to the bottom of the mountain, it was getting late, and we got to a town, so we decided to stay there. We heard that a local church would let hikers sleep inside, so we did that. The church did not have any shower facilities, and this led to a rather embarrassing situation at dinner. We went to a pub with some trail-related items on the menu, and after we sat down, the bartender came over and closed the window – saying that she had had complaints about the way we smelled! To be fair, it had been quite a while since we had showers, but there must have been a better way of handling the situation.
The next day, we hiked to the town of Dalton, where we got showers at the YMCA and hung out for a while. Dalton has a hostel or two, but since we had gotten there so early, we decided to go to the shelter a few miles out of town anyway. Since we were walking such a short distance from town, we packed out subs and enjoyed some fresh vegetables at dinner.
The next day was almost completely flat, and I don't really remember anything beyond the fact that it rained a bit. At the end of the day, however, we reached Upper Goose Pond Cabin. This is a quaint cabin on a lake, with a caretaker and bunks upstairs. Effectively, it is a cross between a hostel and a really good trail shelter. There was a mix of northbounders and southbounders that were staying there for the night, but they had plenty of room.
The next morning began with pancakes, and then we set off again. We came across a large group of university students on an orientation hike. I think this particular group was from Yale, but we met groups from other Ivy League schools as well over the next week or so. The really funny thing about these groups is that they would go about 5 miles per day. Considering that we were going 10 miles before lunch, we were in a constant state of bafflement over how they could go so slowly.
At the end of the day, we got to a road and went into the town of Great Barrington (the birthplace of W. E. B. Du Bois).
Great Barrington to the border
Leaving Great Barrington posed a rather thorny ethical question. There are two roads leaving town, and we had come in on the first (northernmost) one. Should we leave town on that road or on the second one, saving 8 miles of walking? Some hikers would have taken the second, but we all considered it cheating, so we took the first.
We got a ride just as we had taken out a camera to get a picture of ourselves hitchhiking, which we took as a sign. I think we tried to repeat that a few times, but it never worked quite as well again.
Our destination for the night was a pair shelters that between them had space for 16 people. We figured that this would be more than enough space, but we were wrong. More groups of Ivy Leaguers were on the trail, and a few had converged on the spot. We found some flattish ground nearby (another advantage of a hammock is that the ground doesn't need to be very flat at all) and set up for the night. The university kids were not too loud, but they did have trouble setting up their bear bag, and finally gave up at two in the morning with the bag suspended only a few feet off the ground.
We were out of camp the next morning before the university kids awoke (one way that they could move so slowly I guess), and headed over a small mountain to the Connecticut border. The border was in a beautiful little ravine with a brook next to it, but I only got a picture of the sign welcoming us to the next state.
Connecticut. Some crazies hike the whole thing in one day, but we took three.