Friday–October 22, 2021
Location–VT-9 (579.2) to County Road (590.4), then to home of Whitman & Anne (Peale) Groves, Williamstown, Massachusetts
Another fine night (and great breakfast) at Best Western. A cloudy, cool morning as Barry gets Kitchen Sink & Nomad back on trail. Slim Jim will be moving his car on south to Dalton, Massachusetts, so he’ll not be hiking today, but will be back on trail with us tomorrow as we leave Vermont and enter Massachusetts.
I’m fortunate not to be suffering from my broken left hand (fractured 5th metacarpal), as today is going to be another tough go. In addition to the mud-clogged trail, the ever-present rocks and roots, we’ve nearly 5,000 feet of elevation change to deal with–2,900 ascent, 2,000 descent. The initial thousand of up we get behind us in the first two miles as we climb up and out of Woodford Hollow (VT-9) to Harmon Hill. We had debated whether to hike this section northbound or southbound because of this treacherous bit of trail. We chose to continue southbound. The absolute right decision. Hundreds of steps have been built here, most placed ideally (level). But many, over time I suppose, have settled in an off-camber position (sloping downward), which would have presented us much trouble had we been trying to hike down them. So, yes, our decision to tackle them southbound (going up) was unquestionably the right choice.
We’d hoped to average somewhere around 1.5 mph today, but it’s soon evident that ain’t gonna happen, what with the trail obstacles and the extreme elevation changes.
The remainder of the day proves mostly a mud-bogging go of it, the climbing, steady, either up or down but not so steep. The muddy sections, most could be avoided by rock-hopping or detouring around. But some could not, requiring straight-through wading, many six to ten inches deep. My shoes, socks, and gaiters are saturated–as usual.
But the woods are especially magical here this time of year, being mostly hardwood. There’s a pleasant jolt to the visual sense for sure. But the pungency of the fall woods is also most pleasant to our sense of smell, not sweet, not sour–just pleasant.
Late afternoon, a welcome sight, Barry hiking in to greet us!
Evening now, we head for Williamstown where we’ve been invited to stay as guests at the home of Anne Peale and Whitman Groves. Whitman is the son of my dear friend Tim Groves from Rome, Georgia…
It was a beautiful, bright autumn day,
with air like cider…