Jim, you're partly right.
Most every day I'm ready to be done when I've reached that day's goal
mileage. It would usually be hard both physically and psychologically for me to
continue on, although some days I haven't wanted to stop.
The good thing is, the next morning I'm ready to go again! I look like a
cripple when I get out of bed or when I sit for too long without walking around
after I run/hike all day. But once I'm on the Trail it doesn't take me long to
warm up and start to run (if it's runnable).
I still look forward to being out on the Trail most days. It's been a long
time since it's been raining in the morning - that might make me want to get
back into bed! Some sections aren't as exciting as others (like today's), but
there are always surprises out there that make each day special. Sometimes it's
the people, sometimes the scenery, sometimes something as simple as spotting a
new kind of flower I haven't seen before.
I just have to keep my eyes, ears, mind, and heart open to the possibilities
of each new day.
WELCOME TO THE BERKSHIRES
The entire far western side of Massachusetts that borders on New York is
called "The Berkshires." I believe Berkshire County stretches all the way south
from Connecticut north to Vermont. It is known for its artistic, cultural, and
And the AT runs right up through it, over one mountain after another. I've
heard about the region before but have never visited it. I wish I had time to
enjoy some of the other attractions but for now I'll just be enjoying what I
can see from the Trail and to and from our campgrounds. Jim has picked up some
informational brochures and may be able to do a bit of sight-seeing. I imagine
it's one place we'll return to visit again when we can stay longer.
Today's section was easier than yesterday's, both in terms of the trail
surface (more runnable miles), terrain (less rocky), and elevation change (about
4,500 feet up, the same down). I recall only a couple steep climbs; most of the
ascents were gradual or moderate, the hardest being a gain of about 1,000 feet up
East Mountain. The descents weren't as difficult as some have been recently, and
one was the nicest long downhill run I've had since Virginia (down Mt. Wilcox to
Jerusalem Road and beyond).
I was a happy camper to be able to run more today. I actually felt like a
real runner, not just a hiker!
We woke up in the dark this morning because the sky was overcast. Even the
Trail was pretty dark in the deepest woods until about 9 AM. It never did rain
but I was wishing it would to cool things down. I didn't feel any cooling
breezes until about seventeen miles into the section, on top of Mt. Wilcox. The
rest of the day was hot and oppressively humid.
Jim hit the Trail with me at 6:25 AM, running the first five-plus miles to
the Housatonic River and back to the truck. This was a good section for him to
run because it included a monument on the site of Shay's Rebellion. This Western
Mass. uprising was led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays over high taxes
and post-war economic woes in late 1797 and early 1798. The final battle between
the rebelling farmers and the state militia took place near the marker on the
I was too full from breakfast to run much the first half hour but shuffled
along as best as my tummy would allow. It's hard NOT to run when the Trail is
Today's section included intermittent boggy sections with a variety of
bridging ranging from state-of-the-art to decrepit. All of it is hard to run on.
Since the ground was fairly dry, I sometimes ran on the "renegade" trails next
to the puncheon instead of up on them. That's safer.
There were also several lovely fields here and there, another "river walk" by the Housatonic, beautiful hemlock forests that looked like they belong in the rainy
Pacific Northwest with all their ferns and mossy rocks with water dripping over
them, and hardwood forests with laurels and other attractive under-story plants.
ICE GULCH IS COOL!
There were only a couple of the obligatory rock ledge excursions. The most
interesting section to me was a rocky one called "Ice Gulch," a ravine that is
cool even in summer. In winter, ice remains among the boulders here long after
it has melted on other parts of East Mountain.
The Trail passes several ponds in this section, including the large Benedict
Pond. The trail around it is jungle-like with all its ferns and bog bridges.
I saw no NOBO thru-hikers today but talked with three young south-bounders
hiking fairly close together: "Running Water," a young man; "Hawkeye," a young
woman from Iowa; and ""Paaga," a young woman from Maine. All had valuable
information about the Trail and services ahead - such as a nearby blueberry farm
I'll go by tomorrow!
Like I said, there are always nice surprises if I keep my eyes open.