Day 38: Berkshires

Mark Noepel Shelter to October Mountain Shelter – 26 miles

The Massachusetts section of the Appalachian Trail traverses the Berkshires, which are the southern end of Vermont’s Green Mountains.

The highest point is Mount Greylock, where I viewed a spectacular sunset last night. A plaque at the summit declares the area the only subalpine ecosystem in Massachusetts, yet it is paved with a parking lot and a giant war memorial. Though odd, the glowing orb atop the tower provided a dramatic contrast to the vibrant sunset.

The trail through this section is very pleasant, with an easy walking surface and fast miles. I even saw a porcupine! Several marble outcroppings provide views of the green valleys below. Today’s trail passed through two quaint towns, where a man on his porch gave me a cold beer, a boy sold me a cup of lemonade, and a woman gave me six fresh eggs. I plan to boil the eggs for breakfast and then make coffee out of the hot water.

Since the northbounders are starting to dwindle, it is nice that so many day hikers and weekenders are out on the trail. Selfishly, I love seeing the first hiker in the morning because they’ve cleared out all the spider webs ahead. I enjoy camping with weekenders because they stay up later than thru hikers so I don’t have to worry as much about making noise after dark. I’m glad there are hikers of any type out on the trail because they are a necessary mood booster to get me through the duller patches of this green tunnel.

I’m trying to put in bigger days while the trail is easy, the weather is nice, the days are somewhat long, and my body still feels good. I’d rather hike more miles now than save them for November, when I risk walking in snow. Many of the NOBOs I’ve seen have the thousand mile stare by the end of their hike, and I want to get a move on before that feeling sets in.

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