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AT 2017: Day 120, Cheshire to Sherman Brook Campsite

It's hard to run with the weight of gold

Hike with Gravity

A saying is sometimes repeated when hikers talk about their gear: “It can be cheap, light, or durable. Pick any two."

Of those three criteria, light gear is the most desirable in a long distance hike because it makes hiking is easier. That’s why most hikers try to find the lightest gear they can afford.

Durability can’t be ignored, though. You don’t want your gear to fail in the middle of your hike.

Weather Cloudy and cool in the morning, clearing in the afternoon with temperatures climbing to the mid 70s
Trail Conditions Long elevation changes, with rocks, roots and mud on the descent of Mt. Greylock.
Today's Miles 11.8 miles
Trip Miles 1,577.5 miles

I’ve been preparing for this hike for several years. Every prior hike I made was viewed as an opportunity to research and test the gear I would eventually carry.

People have sometimes asked me how much I paid for my gear, and the honest truth is I don’t know. That’s because some of the gear was bought years ago and some gear I bought with intentions of using on this hike was excluded when I found a better option.

When I left Springer Mountain I was convinced I had my gear list completely dialed in.

Now, four months later, I’m learning there is no such thing as a completely dialed-in gear list. This point was especially known to me today.

After tearing down my tent and packing quietly so I wouldn't to disturb other hikers, I began hiking out of Cheshire. The trail went down a road for three-tenths of a mile, then turned to go through a corn field and a meadow.

About a mile later I turned at a road crossing and walked a tenth-of-a-mile or so to a convenience store. Attached to it was a Dunkin Donuts, which is where I stopped for some breakfast.

The clerk gave me a medium coffee for the price of a small. When I tried to point that out to him he waved me off, which I took to mean this was his way of giving me a little trail magic.

I was surprised to discover that I was the only hiker who thought of stopping here this morning, or at least I was the only one who was there at that time.

Once I returned to the trail I began a long but gradual climb. This was the beginning of the approach to Mt. Greylock.

After a couple hours of walking I was high enough in elevation to see a change in the forest. It was now filled with spruce and fir trees. This was the first time I had been at an elevation high enough to see these trees since Mt. Rogers.

Closer to the top, there was a section of the trail that went up steeply. Overall, though, it was not a difficult climb.

The trail flattened out momentarily to go around a pond. There was a small, aging building at the edge that appeared to be an old cabin, but it was really just a shed that was once used as a pump house. It is now rotting, but from across the pond from the trail, it was picturesque.

Once I reached the 3,491-foot summit, I saw a tall, granite monument, capped with a glass beacon. The Veterans War Memorial Tower is 93 feet tall and just recently re-opened after a $2.8 million refurbishment. It had been closed for four years after severe water damage was discovered.

The beacon provides a perpetual light to honor the state's war dead.

I didn’t go directly to the tower, though. Instead, I walked over to Bascom Lodge. It was built in the 1930s, mostly by the Civilian Conservation Corps after the original building on the summit burned down in 1929. It contains a restaurant, bunk rooms and private rooms.

I went inside to look around, but decided to eat my own lunch outside instead of eating in the dining room. It was chilly here, but sunshine kept the temperature from being too cold to enjoy the spot.

I then walked over to the tower and climbed a circular staircase inside, which led to an observation deck. This provided a 360-degree view of the mountain and surrounding countryside.

In the Harry Potter book series, Mt. Greylock is the site of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but I didn’t see any evidence of houses of magic. That would be expected, though, because it is said that enchantments conceal the school from the non-magic world.

The descent from Mt. Greylock was much more difficult than the ascent. It was rocky, muddy and slippery. Along the way I fell three times, once landing hard on my knee.

Another fall came while walking on a deceptively slippery puncheon plank.

I didn’t discover until much later that during one of these falls I did more damage to my pack, and in the process undid the repairs I had made nearly two weeks ago.

On the north end of a ridge that extends from Mt. Greylock, the trail went over Mt. Williams and then crested a ridge on Mt. Prospect. On the latter was a rocky ledge, and when I reached it several hikers were gathered there to enjoy the view.

Some of the mountains we could see were in Vermont, which is where we will be headed to tomorrow. We could also see the town of Williamstown, which is where we would be in a couple hours once the trail reached the bottom of the mountain.

Because we were walking on Stick’s schedule to meet his daughter, we didn’t take time to stay in Williamstown. We only walked through the part of the town the trail took us, which wasn’t especially interesting except for a steel footbridge over the Hoosic River.

The bridge was covered in handprints painted in many colors.

Just as the trail was about to leave the town and return to the forest, it took a confusing turn. Instead of a trail, it seemed we were walking up someone's driveway. It was marked well, though, so we were convinced we were going in the right direction.

Closer to the property owner’s house there was a garden hose with a sign offering water for hikers. We filled up our water bottles for the final climb of the day.

We had another 1.4 miles to go to reach Sherman Brook Campsite and didn’t arrive there until sunset.

The sky soon turned dark and we had to use headlamps to see as we prepared dinner.

Now I don't know but I been told
it's hard to run with the weight of gold
Other hand I heard it said
it's just as hard with the weight of lead


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine." ref.