Sleeping in Yards in Massachusetts

Author’s Note: I have gotten about a month behind on writing and posting updates. We’ve started hiking more with less down time as we’ve headed north. I’m tired, but still writing notes daily. I’ll continue updating as I have time. Until then we’re still hiking north, currently somewhere in southern Maine.

Day 143: 2,430 ft ascent, 14.1 miles

Our campsite the night before was accessed by crossing a stream. It was our first campsite with a tent platform, which we were appreciative of in the morning when a thunderstorm rolled through around 7am. It was gone by 9am, so we packed up and headed out.

Unfortunately, the stream from the night before had risen with the storm and rocks I could hop over the night before were now covered. Erik went for it in his waterproof shoes and made it across. I took my time and changed into my crocs to make the crossing. It was nerve wracking but I made it. Socks and shoes back on, we headed down the trail.

It wasn’t a mile later before I knew it was going to be a long, wet day. The stream we had crossed this morning? Now we had to cross it again on the trail but this time it was wider. I gave up on staying dry and marched right into the stream in my shoes. It was cold, but not worth the time to take my shoes off and on all day.

Waterfall right before the second stream crossing of the morning.

Ready, set, wet feet.

I was happy I had decided to get my feet wet early on in the day. As we hiked, the trail itself eventually turned into a stream that we couldn’t avoid. What should’ve been an easy day into town ended up taking all day as we slushed through rushing water for most of the day. When it wasn’t rushing, the water was standing in places sometimes 6 inches deep. Talk about miserable. At least it was sunny skies if there was something good to be said about the day.

We got down off of the last mountain and had a pretty flat section before the road into town. We had left the rocky stream trail on the mountain and exchanged it for easy dirt walking. I later learned this section is nicknamed “the mosquito mile”. I understand why.

As we neared town, we kept hitting very boggy, low-lying sections in the forest. I was getting swarmed by the mosquitos when we hit these areas. The first time we got to one of these areas, I got overwhelmed and started running until I got to higher ground and less mosquitos. The second time we got to one, I didn’t stop running. I was over the mosquitoes. I don’t know where I got my energy from, but I ran for probably half a mile until I got to the next road crossing. Erik calmly showed up 10 minutes later laughing at me.

History at the road crossing where I stopped to catch my breath.

We finally made it to the road crossing into town, but needed to find a way to get the 3 miles into town. We put out a thumb and within one minute had a car pull over for us! Two nice older ladies were just driving around and were happy to give us a ride to the community center where we planned to camp. They gave us a tour of town as we drove through. I was exhausted by the time we finally made it to the open field where we planned to tent that night. I was ready for a day off the next day.

Day 144: Zero in Great Barrington

We had a lot of chores to accomplish on our day off. First thing in the morning Erik took our laundry to the Holiday Inn across the street. He was able to walk in and use the machines as if he were a guest. Nobody ever asked and he paid the machines so we didn’t feel too bad about it.

The community center where we camped allowed hikers access to their showers for a nominal fee. They provided a towel, soap, and shampoo! It was a great service for the hikers in a town that was otherwise pretty expensive.

We had made plans earlier in the week to meet up with some family I have in the area! My cousin, his wife, and their three kids drove over from Boston to visit. They picked up my brother, who lives in Southeast Connecticut, in a parking lot on the way. My cousin is five weeks younger than me and we were close growing up, but now we only get to see each other once a year at Christmas. It only took me walking there to be able to visit them near their home.

Visit from family!

We spent the day running around town being tourists, starting with a tour of the Norman Rockwell Museum. We had lunch at a local farmers market, and then headed downtown to walk the streets and browse the shops that got our attention.

The day ended at an ice cream shop, where I was strong and got sorbet instead of ice cream. (I’m still trying to stay away from dairy when I can.) It was a great day away from the trail and a welcome distraction to how we typically spend our days in town.

Day 145: 3,770 ft ascent, 17.7 miles

We got a shuttle back to the trail the next morning from Hank, a local shuttle driver I had read about in my Farout app. The reviews about him were raving, and we soon found out why. Hank was early for our pickup at McDonald’s (had to get our morning not instant coffee) and was a character as he drove us back to the trail.

Just after lunchtime we made it to a road crossing with a sign about trail magic 600 feet up the road. We took off to investigate and found trail magic at a little chapel that wasn’t associated with any religious organization. There were chairs set up outside the doors and an electronics charging station set up inside.

I was quickly served a warm sandwich, and Erik was able to get some hot eggs not on bread. We ate and headed back to the trail with a hop in our step after the extra unexpected warm meal.

Don’t mind me, I am just somebody who eats loaves of bread in the middle of gravel roads.

Day 146: 3,500 ft ascent, 16.0 miles

When we had met up with my family a few days prior, my brother had brought most of our cold weather gear. We had shipped it to him from my mom in Ohio earlier in the summer so it would be closer to us when we were ready for it. With some lows dipping into the 50’s in the upcoming days we thought it was time to get it.

The climbs of the day wore on us, and the weight of our extra gear felt much heavier than it was. I had gotten all of my winter gear except for my 10° sleeping quilt. It was 11 ounces heavier than my 40° sleeping quilt, so I wanted to hold out as long as I could before making the switch on my sleeping system. As we got towards the end of the day and found a stealth site for the night I was happy to get my heavy pack off of my back.

Day 147: 1,710 ft ascent, 14.4 miles

I was motivated all morning knowing the cookie lady was ahead that morning. We followed the sign about 600 feet to the cookie lady’s house at the road crossing. I got a fresh chocolate chip cookie and some hibiscus lemonade and then we got back on the trail.

We made it to Tom’s Yard in Dalton to sleep that night. Tom has been hosting hikers in his yard in the middle of town for over 40 years! We walked further into town from his house and got some sandwiches for a late lunch/early dinner. There were probably at least 15 other tents in the yard the night we were there. We made plans the next morning to stay in town for a bit and get some laundry done and take a shower before leaving.

Day 148: 1,520 ft ascent, 9.0 miles

The laundromat was not located in a convenient part of town from where the trail went, but I had made a mess on my clothes and really needed to wash them. We walked the mile out of our way and spent the morning in the laundromat.

Dalton has a community center that offers free showers to hikers. We headed there after we got our clothes clean. It always feels good to put on clean clothes after a shower. We got lunch at a local burrito place across the street from the community center before heading out of town.

That evening we made it to Cheshire and Father Tom’s Yard. Father Tom was a local clergyman who used to welcome hikers into his church for years. After he retired, the new church leadership didn’t think it was safe to open the church to hikers anymore. In response, parishioners worked with the town to establish a campsite for hikers to use in town. This campsite is now called Father Tom’s Yard.

There we found two women who bring trail magic dinner once a week to hikers. We happened to be there on that night! I feasted on fresh fruit and fresh baked goods that evening, things I always crave on the trail.

Day 149: 3,450 ft ascent, 14.3 miles

We had two goals for the day: conquer Mt. Greylock and get to town for town food. The climb from Cheshire to Mt. Greylock promised to be long and tiring, so I convinced Erik that we needed morning Dunkin Donuts as motivation. The local Dunkin was less than a quarter mile off of the trail. Fresh donuts and anything but instant coffee are very motivating.

We made it to the Mt. Greylock summit around lunchtime. The grey clouds and blustery wind made us want to minimize our time on the summit. We quickly ran to the top of the observation tower to see what we could before taking a quick lunch. I had to pull out my puffy coat while we ate for the first time in awhile.

We raced down the trail after lunch towards North Adams, the last town before Vermont. There was a threat of rain in the area we didn’t want to encounter. We had made contact with a local trail angel, Renee, earlier in the day that allows thru hikers to camp in her yard right off of the trail. We were able to make it there and get the tent set up before the rain set in.

Another milestone right before town!

Renee’s boyfriend, KDog, had thru hiked the Appalachian Trail this year and was already finished and back home. He offered to drive us to a restaurant so we could get dinner and then make our way back to Renee’s house a couple of miles walking. We stopped by the grocery store on our way back and the rain finally caught up to us while we were inside. A quick text to Renee and KDog was there to the rescue! We made it back to the tent without getting too wet with all of our supplies.

Day 150: Zero in North Adams

The forecast called for the rain from the night before to last most of the day, so we decided to take a day off and stay put where we were for the day. It was maybe 10am by the time we realized the forecast was wrong and it was turning into a beautiful sunny day. By this point we had gotten comfy in the tent for the day and were mentally ready not to hike, so we stayed put.

We knew Vermont would be harder hiking terrain than we had been hiking lately. The day off was needed mentally as well as physically before continuing our push north.

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Comments 1

  • thetentman : Sep 29th

    Great post. When I hiked that area the mosquitos were there too. We ran also.



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