I received a message several days ago from longtime friends John and Sherri. They told me they were planning a trip east from their home in Indiana and hoped to meet me somewhere on the trail.
We’ve been trying to work out a plan since then, though that hasn’t been easy. It’s been hard for me to calculate more than a couple of days ahead where I will be at a given time.
We were eventually able to settle on meeting today near Great Barrington. That plan got a little complicated after we made an early stop yesterday because of a storm. Now I needed to make sure I kept a fast pace to arrive at our meeting spot on time.
|Date||Thursday, August 3, 2017|
|Weather||Mostly sunny, high temperature in the low-80s|
|Trail Conditions||A few steep climbs and descents, but also stretches of flat trail|
The morning air remained cool after yesterday’s storm.
After we left our campsite near Glen Brook Shelter, Stick and I headed up Mount Bushnell. A spot at the top of the 1,890-foot mountain provided a limited view. All that we could see between some trees was a sea of clouds.
I met a ridgerunner named Sarah on the descent from the summit. Like the ridgerunners I've met in the south, Sarah patrols a section of the trail. She looks for problems and helps out hikers in need. Sarah told me many like her work in the south in the spring, then move north to similar jobs as hikers move north.
She said the best part of her job was being able to spend weeks outdoors while getting paid for it. Still, ridgerunners also have to pick up trash and do other unpleasant tasks.
I thanked Sarah for her work before continuing down the trail.
At the end of the mountain was a spot called Jug End. The clouds that obscured our view earlier had burned off to reveal views looking north. We could see Mount Greylock from here through the haze that remained in the sky.
Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts and a peak we will climb in a few more days.
The trail continued its descent after leaving Jug End, though now it was much steeper. It dropped 640 feet in eight-tenths of a mile.
On the way down to a road, I began to cross paths with several SOBO (southbound) hikers. I talked to one who told me his trail name was Train. He was resting before starting the climb up to Jug End.
The trail flattened out at the bottom of the mountain. From there, the terrain became a series of pastures and swamps. This was the longest flat section of trail we've had in a long time, so it was a good spot to pick up my pace.
This part of Massachusetts was a hotbed of conflict following the War of Independence. Farmers claimed they hadn’t been paid what they were promised for helping fight the war.
A full-blown insurrection resulted. It was named Shays’ Rebellion after one of the leaders, Daniel Shays. The farmers launched several attacks on courthouses and other government properties.
A large stone marker in a field near the trail marked one of the spots where the rebellion was fought.
After crossing a stream called Hubbard Brook, the trail entered an area containing more homes and businesses than we often see. We were now just south of the city of Great Barrington.
My plan for meeting John and Sherri was to have them pick up Stick and me at U.S. Highway 7. As I neared the highway, however, I was able to text them to let them know my expected arrival time. They replied that they were running a little behind and wouldn't be able to get there by our planned time.
I suggested we revised our plan to meet instead at Homes Road. That would allow Stick and me to add about three more miles of walking and give them more time to arrive. We wouldn't need to sit around waiting for them.
The trail crossed the Housatonic River again on the way to Homes Road.
Thanks to the flat trail, we arrived at the road sooner than expected. Unfortunately, there were no more road crossings ahead where we could extend our walk and still find an easy meeting point, so we stopped there to wait for John and Sherri.
My friends had offered to put me up for a night in a hotel and generously extended the offer to Stick as well.
After they arrived to pick us up, we drove to a hotel in Lenox. That's when I saw why they were delayed. The traffic in the small towns we had to drive through was horrible.
Stick and I were given a large and comfortable room in a Hampton Inn. It was much nicer than what we have been used to on the trail.
While I was getting cleaned up, Stick offered to go down the hall to check out the guest laundry room. To his surprise, he discovered Dory was there. She explained that Splat was still hiking with her. They were several miles ahead of us on the trail, but in a wild coincidence, they happened to be staying tonight in the same hotel. They had also been visiting a friend.
Stick brought Dory down to our room to surprise me and we had a nice reunion. Later, when I talked to John to make arrangements for going to dinner, he said we should bring along Dory and Splat.
My stomach began to hurt on the drive to Olde Heritage Tavern, where we planned to eat. I figured I was just hungry after not eating for several hours. Or maybe I was just dehydrated, I thought.
It didn't take long during dinner before I began to feel worse. Then I began to feel nauseous, so I excused myself and left to look for a restroom.
I didn't see one right away, and now I needed it immediately. I did the only thing I could think of doing. I went outside, hoping a little fresh air would help. It didn't.
Instead, a sudden urge told me I was about to throw up. Fortunately, I was able to get around to an alley behind the restaurant, and that is where I spewed most of my dinner.
I felt much better by the time we returned to the hotel, but I remained concerned about what might have caused this sudden sickness. I began to wonder if it was wise to go back to the trail before I figured out what was wrong.
Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doing it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin' for a new friend
A man in the coonskin cap, in the pig pen
Wants eleven dollar bills, you only got ten
"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.