Thursday, July 22, 2010

High Points and Northern Hospitality

I'm in Massachusetts. Not sure how that happened, but the miles are flying by.  As of today I have less than 600 miles left! This morning I honestly considered taking a hike on the Long Trail, which runs over 200 miles from the AT in Vermont to Canada, to make this last longer.  That's on my list of future trails though, and for now I have to live in the present and savor this as much as possible because I know it will be over soon.

Connecticut was quick and awesome. It was my last state in the Mid-Atlantic portion of the AT, which meant the last state with wimpy mountains.  The highest point in Connecticut is Bear Mountain, which Day Tripper and I just happened to be on top of during the scariest thunderstorm of my life.

The trail passes through or near some very quaint cities in Connecticut, and it seemed like we were on a travelling tour of Connecticut neighborhoods for a while.  We are definitely in New England!  One thing was very noticable about mountain towns here- rich people live in the mountains in the North, while poorer people live in the mountains in the south.  Interesting observation.

We also did something that I vowed to never do but I couldn't resist- an aqua blaze! Aqua blazing is floating down a section of the trail instead of walking, and in Connecticut near the Housatonic River the AT parallels the river for ~6 miles.  At first I felt guilty about not walking those miles, but we could see the white blazes as we floated, and I promise I won't do it again! It was amazingly fun though and a great break from our normal routine. So we rented tubes from a local outfitter and aqua blazed thanks to our new friends Dave and Nate.  They are a father and son duo that we met at a grocery store in Kent, CT and they helped shuttle us for the tubing trip.  They seemed eager to help, probably because they needed a break from their cross-country trip, the purpose of which was to research hot dog stands because they are opening one called Little Chubby's Weiners.  If you are ever in Wichita, Kansas I suppose you should go.  They even gave Day Tripper a shirt because he lost his in the river- great trail magic!

Massachusetts has been amazing for a few reasons.  First, we finally met up with Conan and Backwards, some of our favorite hiking partners.   We had been chasing them since Virginia, and Backwards got giardia so we actually passed them without realizing it.  We met up at Benedict Pond in a state forest in MA, where we were celebrities for the day.  Somehow word got out among families swimming at the beach there that we were walking from Georgia to Maine, and we spent the afternoon chatting about our trip in exchange for lots of delicious food and drinks.  The best part of the day was when Andrew, a five-year-old kid from New Jersey looked at us with big blue eyes and said very matter-of-factly "Hopefully you won't starve on your way all the way to the corner of the United States".  Hopefully we won't, but with the obscene amount of money I have been spending on food lately I think I'll be ok.

This state has offered some amazing views and scenery, something that was missing in the Mid-Atlantic.  A hightlight was Upper Goose Pond, where the Appalachian Mountain Club maintains a cabin next to a pond for swimming complete with canoes and kayaks and topped off with a pancake breakfast.  Yesterday we summited the highest point in the state, Mt Greylock, and had a sneak peak at the White Mountains, theinfamous mountain range that awaits us in New Hampshire. It's hard to believe that we're getting so close to the Whites, and so close to the end.

People in Massachusetts are much, much more friendly than I had expected.  I had heard rumors of "Massholes" which basically are snobby, arogant New Englanders.  I have yet to meet them.  Maybe it is because we are friendly and kind, and we know the importance of respect to local residents in town and on the trail.  Take-home point of Massachusetts- kindness encourages kindness. 

Now I'm going with Backwards to visit the Crane Museum, a museum at a famous paper factory where all the money in the US was once made.  Random, maybe, but it's free and who knows when I'll be back in Massachusetts?  Vermont tomorrow will be the first state on the AT that I have not yet visited, so it will definitely feel far from home. Farther from home every day, but closer to Katahdin.



  1. I look forward to the day that I call your house and your mom tells me that you are sleeping IN YOUR OWN BED - covers over your head and snoring........ good luck, love following you on my map!

  2. Yay for no Massholes! And I LOVE the Upper Goose Pond cabin...been there a few times. (Did you love walking over the Mass Pike on the AT? I always think of you now when I drive by it). As a native CT resident, I can also say that you're also totally spot on about CT's wealthy hiding up in the hills. I'm planning to see you guys either in VT or NH. Hang in there and have fun! xoxox

  3. Hey Erin! My high school friend lives in Rutland and has extended an invite for a shower, meal, bed, washing machine when you are in town. I posted her cell number on your facebook (messaged you).

    Love to read your blog. Massholes is a new vocabulary word for me. Love it.

    Continued success on your adventure.

    Aunt Anne, Uncle Chris and cousins

  4. Erin - Your adventure is amazing!!! Trust you're taking pics or video. Maybe you'll write a book! Aunt Susie (Kresse)

  5. Great to hear your doing well. Massholes that's great! Keep it up!

  6. Yayy! A new state and brand new mountains :) Continue to be amazed at your progress and happy to hear of your "lessons learned." Continued positive vibes your way!

  7. oh come on, I'm a Masshole (this is Elissa). Didn't I set a good example? I'm glad my home state treated you well. :)