Coco and Magnus — Days 127 through 136 — Loitering, Loons, and Lots of Peaks
7/12 Sunday — Day 127
* Hiked into Dalton, MA and a guy in an SUV pulled up to chat with us.
Local guy: Goin’ all the way to Maine?
Magnus y Coco: YEAH!
Local guy: That’s great! You better pick up the mustard! It’s gonna get cold.
Magnus y Coco: …yeah.
And then he drove off. I don’t know what he was talking about.
* We also hiked into Cheshire, MA. We passed at least seven buildings that were former post offices. This is not an exaggeration. Why?? My theory is that every time there is a new post office a budget for renovations is provided so the whole town is in on it and they like to update their houses. Can anyone verify this or provide an actual explanation? Anyone former post master generals from Cheshire out there?
* Sadness in Cheshire. Our guidebook showed a pizzeria. On dreams of pizza and a pitcher of beer, Magnus and I danced the mile in. It was out of business and it was so sad. We consoled ourselves by loitering in front of a gas station and drinking milkshakes.
7/13 Monday — Day 128
* Summitted Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. It was also the first time we entered an alpine zone.
* Walked through North Adams, MA. From town we could see Mt. Greylock from a different perspective.
* The good people of North Adams support hikers in a way I haven’t seen anywhere else on yhe the trail. They offer bikes for borrow so hikers can explore the town and have easier access. Magnus was intent on moving forward, so we left the bikes for upcoming hikers.
* A spider bit me on my hand and drew blood. It was weird and I am glad nothing more came of it. I was pretty certain I’d be waking up in the middle of the night with my throat swelling shut or some such other awful nightmare of an issue. But no! My body was very good to me.
* It was hot. Sweat creating rivulets down your face kind of hot. Right before entering the woods again a home offered their garden hose, so we were able to (temporarily) hose off our filth. “Fabulous” doesn’t even come close.
* We walked into Vermont! VERMONT! Green Mountain! The home of Ben & Jerry’s! I don’t know what else! It’s all new and exciting!
* We began meeting new hikers just beginning The Long Trail. TLT (haha regarding the initials if you know Magnus and me in our non-trail lives) is concurrent with the Appalachian Trail for 105 miles then continues north to Canada.
* We stepped over a man napping in the middle of the trail. Alcohol-induced napping. This man has been an item of conversation in trail gossip and none of it good. He did stay at our campsite but, thankfully for us, did not live up to his reputation. The worst of it was only annoying. Bad Johnny Cash impressions, loud everything, and burning benches. That was unfortunate.
7/14 Tuesday — Day 129
* Dear friend Varsity picked Magnus and me up in Bennington, VT and whisked us away for two solid days in the lovely town of Essex in northern Vermont hosted by his fantastic parents.
7/15 Wednesday — 130
* Saw Vermonters playing hacky sack in Phish t-shirts in Burlington.
* I leaned that Burlington, VT is not the home of Burlington Coat Factory.
* Had a lovely time with the Varsity clan (team?).
7/16 Thursday — Day 131
* Saw Jurassic World and ate a metric ton of popcorn.
* More fine times with the Varsitys.
* Lots of maple syrup was consumed.
7/17 Friday — Day 132
* Papa Varsity drove us all back to the trail. It was sad parting.
* Once again climbed a fire tower despite my fears. The view was outstanding. We also saw the remains of what was once a fire warden’s cabin — pieces of a bed frame, furnace, and foundation.
* Moss and other plant life growing on every fallen log. The trees are primarily evergreens now and there are very few wildflowers open at this time.
* Started seeing SoBo’s!
7/18 Saturday — Day 133
* No matter how many or few people, no matter gender, age, or size — someone in the shelter will snore. Always bring earplugs.
* We saw a grouse perfom her stay-away-from-my-nest dance. Out of the woods came a grouse flapping maniacally. She jumped on the trail directly in front of us, got very close to the ground, and began scurrying away from us. It was like she was riding on top of a matchbox car. She was going northbound. Get her! We chased after her with our full packs and she always managed to stay ahead of us. She got beyond us around a bend in the trail. She actually turnes back toward us to make sure we were still following her, then continued on once again. Then she silently jumped into the woods and disappeared. Vanished without a trace. Well done, Mama Grouse! Thanks for the thrill.
7/19 Sunday — Day 134
* Twice Magnus and I woke up to the sounds of loons calling on Stratton Pond.
* So much mud.
* We stopped early anticipating thunderstorms. Originally, we thought we were going to stay in a ski warming hut a mile further away. There were strong thunderstorms that began in the early evening, so we thought we had made a good decision…
7/20 Monday — Day 135
* … We were wrong! The ski hut would have been a perfect escape from the storm and we would have been treated to an outstanding mountaintop sunrise atop Bromley. Ah well. Future hikers: stay at the ski warming hut!
* The ski slopes and gondolas were great and seemed so foreign in the snow-free morning.
* We summitted four distinct peaks — Bromley, Styles, Peru, and Baker. Baker was a surprise rock scramble. All of the peaks were amazing. We finished strong.
* Though not mentioned in our guidebook, Big Branch River flows right alongside Big Branch Shelter. Though the shelter is not impressive, the river is ideal for swimming and basking in the sun.
* We decided to treat ourselves to a bed and breakfast stay — the Silas Griffith Inn in Danby, VT. The town was tiny and adorable and, for awhile, home to Pearl S. Buck.
7/21 Tuesday — Day 136
* Silas Griffith Inn is haunted! Just kidding. No paranormal experiences during our stay but plenty mentioned on the interwebs. The inn is receiving some much needed care and renovations. It’s certainly not perfect, but it is charming. I loved spending the sunrise moments sitting on my balcony sipping coffee surrounded by mountains.
* Though it was still too cool when we passed it, Little Rock Pond looked like the perfect place to swim.
* Twice we passed monumental collections of cairns.
* We saw people panning for gold.
* All day we did not see a single NoBo thru-hiker and only one SoBo.
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Wait, what? So where is the home of the Burlington Coat Factory? Great post! Loved reading about the loons and fire tower.
Where all great things come from…New Jersey!