Journal 247-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Sunday–October 24, 2021
Trail Day–247
Trail Mile–13.2/2471.7
Remaining Miles–146.1
Location–MA-2, North Adams  (597.6) to Outlook Ave., Cheshire (610.8), then to home of Whitman & Anne (Peale) Groves, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Barry is up before daylight as usual, headlamp on, brewing coffee. Then comes the customary fried egg and cheese breakfast sandwich–never tire of that combination!

I’ve a climb in excess of 2,500 feet to reach the summit of Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. Slim Jim is hiking with me, helping me pick the right line. A couple of lesser summits on the way, Mount Williams and Mount Fitch. It’s a long, hard pull. We finally gain the summit a little after one. There’s an auto road to Greylock, and with this being a delightful Sunday, the place is packed. A long wait to climb the memorial tower. Instead, we take a break for lunch with Barry, get a few photos–and move on.

The trail follows the ridge, up and over Saddle Ball Mountain before finally dropping down to Outlook Road, our destination for today.

The medication prescribed by Tracy has blunted the pain in my left foot. It’s not entirely gone, but enough so to let me concentrate on the trail, the tread of which has also improved significantly. Fewer rocks and roots, little mud. So, I’m actually able to stride normally, making good time. I’ve tripped some but have not fallen during this somewhat extended 13-mile day. Ahh, but do the blessings of this journey continue…

 

Any unforeseen challenges that crop up
are only there to test your resolve
on your way to ultimate success in reaching your goal.
(Byron Pulsifer)

Journal 246-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Saturday–October 23, 2021
Trail Day–246
Trail Mile–7.2/2458.5
Remaining Miles–159.3
Location–County Road (590.4) to MA-2, North Adams (597.6), then to home of Whitman & Anne (Peale) Groves, Williamstown, Massachusetts

I’m looking to this day with much anticipation, for today I’ll put one more of the 15 states that comprise Odyssey 2021 behind me–Vermont.

Barry has us back on trail early (Slim Jim, Kitchen Sink and me). We pass from Vermont into Massachusetts at ten–hopefully, to continue along a bit more friendly trail. And the trail does continue to improve, but by the time we’ve descended to North Adams, I’m suffering such intense pain in my left foot that I’m unable to continue. Decision, reluctantly, is for Barry to take me to North Adams Regional Hospital Emergency. There, I’m taken right in, to be seen by Tracy Martin, CRNP. X-rays and tests are taken. Come to find, the pain I’m suffering now, above the level I’ve been enduring for the past several months, is due to infection in the affected toe. I’m put back on doxycycline (for the third time) and given a prescription for pain–and released. I fill the prescriptions and start the pain meds immediately. What a relief; thank you dear Lord!

Evening, we’re the guests of Whitman and Anne for supper.

I’ll return to the trail in the morning, good Lord willing…

 

The real man smiles in trouble,
gathers strength from distress,
and grows brave by reflection.
(Thomas Paine)

 

Journal 245-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Friday–October 22, 2021
Trail Day–245
Trail Mile–11.2/2451.3
Remaining Miles–166.5
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…
(Diana Gabaldon)

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