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Appalachian Trail: North Adams to Great Barrington Massachusetts

Date: July 14-21

Trip length: Four days of hiking along with three days of travel on a Greyhound Bus.

Conditions: 70-90 degrees during the day accompanied by slight breezes and plenty of shade. Rain storms during one day and two nights. Temperatures at night ranged from low 40s to mid 60s depending on elevation.

Distance: 63.6 miles.

Distance from Cincinnati: North Adams is an eleven and a half hour drive.mtgrey-summit

Directions: I71 N – I271 N – I90 E – NY 7 E – NY 2 E – Phelps Ave in North Adams Mass.
The trail head is on the left side of Phelps Ave. up the hill past the elementary school.

Water: Sources are plentiful along this stretch. I was able to fill up multiple times a day while only carrying one liter at a time. All sources must be filtered but water from town was often available. The AWOL AT Guide provides all specific locations for water sources.

Highlights: Mt. Greylock, The Cobbles, St. Mary of the Assumption Church Hostel, Upper Goose Pond Cabin, Great Barrington, Tom Levardi’s house in Dalton, and the North Bound Hikers.

Levardi House

 

 

 

 

 

Description: Lying in the heart of New England, the Massachusetts section of the Appalachian Trail is highly developed. Every day you cross multiple roads and walk through towns such as North Adams, Cheshire, and Dalton. Opportunities to hitch into towns just a few miles off trail are plentiful. The terrain varies from steep climbs to astonishingly flat.

Day One: (14.7 miles) Hiking this section south bound (SOBO) means your first day will spent climbing over Massachusetts highest peak, Mt. Greylock, which stands at 3,491 ft. The climb is about 6 miles to the peak from the trail head in North Adams. Over those 6 miles you ascend 2800 feet with the bulk of that elevation gain achieved in the first stmarythree miles. Once you summit the climb down leads you into the town of Cheshire. St. Mary of the Assumption church allows hikers to stay in two rooms at the rear of the building. AC is provided in the building as well as restrooms and water. The church accepts donations for the generous service they provide.

Day Two: (15.2 miles) Leaving Cheshire you face some pretty casual terrain. Although the elevation profile shows rolling hills and flat terrain, beware that the trail is full of rocks and roots to dodge as you plod along. The A.T. winds it’s ways straight through the town of Dalton where Tom Levardi lives. Tom has been allowing hikers to grab water and even camp at his house for years. Levardi House.jpg2Many hikers congregate at his house to relax and enjoy good conversation. Ask him about borrowing a bike so you can ride to Angelina’s Sub Shop for their Steak Bomb Overload. But watch out you might not want to move for the rest of the day if you eat the whole thing! If you can muster the energy though, Kay Wood shelter is three miles up hill outside of town. There are small stealth camp sites by the streams seven and a half miles south of Dalton.

Day Three: (14.7 miles) All the way to Upper Goose Pond Cabin the trail is incredibly flat. This is a very relaxed day that ends at one of the best shelters along the A.T. The Cabin is half of a mile off the trail but well worth the trek. The caretakers at Upper Goose serve pancakes and coffee for breakfast every morning. Canoes are also provided at the cabin to explore Upper Goose Pond which has a cool little island out in the middle of the pond. The cabin is a big attraction for hikers so if you choose to stay, the likelihood of you running into thru hikers is very high. The goosecabin provides another great place for conversation and a taste of thru hiking culture.

Day Four: (19.0 miles) Between Upper Goose Pond and MA 23 (the road you take to hitch into Great Barrington) the trail picks up in elevation gain. You climb over a few hills including Mt. Wilcox which has three shelter options. Views are sparse and the sounds of the woods will be your entertainment for the day. Apart from the beauty of the woods there isn’t much to see but Great Barrington is a fantastic town! Restaurants such as the Neighborhood Diner, Siam Square, and the Gypsy Joint are great places to have a meal while celebrating the end of your section.  Great Barrington has shuttle services that can take you to The Cookie Lady on Washington Mtn Rd. From there The Cookie Lady can shuttle you back to North Adams to grab your car and head home. Massachusetts

 

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Hiking in the Heat: 10 Tips for the Summer

Seasonal Safety Series #1

by Craig “Goatman” Buckley

                 The heat is coming! Or it’s already here for some (I don’t pretend to know the weather across time and space). Either way, as summer sets in with its long, hot and sometimes brutally humid days, getting out for a hike can become an obstacle for some…but not for the Goatman! All seasons come with their challenges and all challenges can be met with knowledge, preparation, and some good old-fashioned human willpower. We’ll go ahead and take care of the knowledge part here with ten tips for keeping safe in the heat. The rest is up to you. So read up and get out there!

  1. Hydrate

Nothing fancy about this one. Drink water. Drink extra water the day before you are going out. Drink water on the way to the trail. Drink water as you hike, when you eat, and before settling in for the night. On a hot day, you will sweat between 1/2 and 1 quart of water while moving. You also lose water breathing out when you sleep at night. With proper hydration, there’s no reason to feel thirsty. Keep in mind that water sources can be unreliable in the summer. Make sure to check with the rangers to see how the water is flowing and where.

  1. Refuel

So you’re drinking a lot of water, enough to replace what you’ve sweated out. summersunSweat, however, isn’t just water. Lick your arm. Does that taste like water? Nope. Tastes like sweat. Sweat is water, yes, but it is also salt, salt that needs to be replaced. Don’t believe me? Look up the term “hyponatremia”. Never thought you could drink too much water? Take time for proper nutrition and you won’t. Companies advertise electrolytes in their sports drinks. This is what they are talking about. The best way to replace these is to eat salty foods: trail mix, peanuts, pretzels, etc. You can also drink sports drinks, but if you do so, make sure that you aren’t only drinking sports drinks. Replace your salt and while you’re doing that, replace some of those calories that you’re burning out in the sun.

  1. Dress for the Heat

You may have heard about the 3 L’s of summertime clothing: lightweight, loose fitting, and light-colored. This is great advice, for obvious reasons. Depending on your destination, you should also remember to wear clothes that are wicking and quick dry. There’s nothing worse than sweating out your cotton undies and having your shirt stick and rub on you as you hike. Quick dry and wicking can prevent chaffing. That being said, if you are going to a dry and hot environment such as the Grand Canyon, the moisture that cotton retains won’t be sticking around for very long and can help cool you off as it evaporates in the dry climate. Keep in mind that light-colored clothing reflects the sun’s heat and loose fitting clothing will help with breathability and is less restrictive. I will go ahead and add sunscreen as a clothing item. Treat it as such and you’ll save yourself a nasty burn.

  1. Wet Your Clothing

But my clothes are all sweaty! Why would I wet them further? I don’t know about you, but my sweat on a hot summer day isn’t coming out as cool as a mountain stream.summerfalls The easiest way to benefit from this advice is to simply dip your Buff or bandana in a cool stream and wear it around your neck (the site of some major blood flow between your heart and brain. All of it, to be exact). This will cool you off for a bit. If you want a bigger dose, get on the quick dry clothing and jump right in (leave your socks and shoes off, naturally). Your cool, wet clothes will dissipate the heat you’re building up while hiking and the sun working with your own body heat will have you nice and dry by the time you reach camp.

 

  1. Go Swimming

You don’t have to tell me twice on this one. If it’s hot and there’s a pool big enough to dip my hooves in, I’m all over it. A nice, cool dip in the heat of the day can definitely put some bounce back in your gallop. I like to combine a few of these tips at the swimming hole: hydrating, eating a snack, swimming, and wetting my clothes all at the same time. That leads me to my next tip.

  1. Slow down

For some of you, this doesn’t seem like a tip at all. This one goes out to my laser-blazing GoBos, my long-distance hiking buddies who are out there to make miles, smiles or not. I’m not just suggesting this one because the Goatman likes to take it nice and easy (which is no secret). This is important. When the heat is blasting, slowing down your pace can be the difference between spending time on the trail and time in the hospital. Taking rest stops in the shade by water isn’t a decadent luxury in this case. If you are hiking through the heat of the day, you need these stops so that you don’t overheat. Hot days aren’t the time to push those big miles.

  1. Get Up Early, Finish Up Late

If you do plan on covering some ground, adjust accordingly. As much as we all adore the sun, in this case we are looking to avoid its beautiful face and the sun gets up pretty early in the summer and stays out a bit late. To beat the heat, avoid exerting yourself in the middle of the day. The danger zone is going to be between 12 pm and 2 pm. On really hot days or in desert climates, this extends to 10 am and 4 pm. So get up early and get hiking, but when you stop for lunch, do it somewhere with some shade and water and take a few hours off to catch up on some lounging time. Finish those last miles in the evening when the sun starts to dip back down. Remember your headlamp in case your hike takes you into the dark hours.

  1. Camp in the Shade

summerdesertThis one is pretty self-explanatory. Staying out of the direct sunlight is a good idea anytime of the day, even while on the move. I only mention this in relation to camping to remind you to plan out your site in relation not only to where the shade is when you stop, but where it will be in the morning. Try camping low, by water (but not too close in case of flash flooding), and in a good patch of shade that doesn’t move about all willy-nilly. This means not camping above tree line, or on ridges, or by overlooks. Boohoo. You shouldn’t be camping there anyway, but that’s a different article. Stay in the shade!

  1. Beat Bugs and Watch Your Step

Summer is the most active time for creepy crawlers and buzzing menaces. Make sure to pack out some bug spray, a bug net, and possibly light-weight long sleeves and long pants, if not to hike in, at least to sit around camp in. While you’re hiking, watch your step. This is a good idea in general, but this time of the year you need to watch for snakes out sun-bathing the morning away. They are sluggish when they’re in this state and might not get out of your way, so get out of theirs’ instead.

  1. Keep an Eye Out for Your Buddy

It’s never a good idea to hike alone. This goes double in times of extreme heat. Heat exhaustion is hard to diagnose on your own, seeing that the symptoms include becoming disoriented. Other signs include a pale face, clammy skin, nausea, headaches and cramps. If you see these signs in your buddy (or yourself) take a rest in the shade, put a cool cloth to the head, drink some water, and eat a little bit. If symptoms get worse, time to get off the trail and to some medical care. It takes a team to stay safe and have fun, so don’t forget that friend of yours!