Mt. Greylock, Berkshires, MA
Hiking/Walk DATE: 05/21/2016 - 05/21/2016
Trip/Event Location: Williamstown, MA
Trip Leader(s): Robert.L
Max # People: 10
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: Yes, but only to cover shared expenses, and I too am paying
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
Saturday morning came bright and early. For this trip I had one house guest – Nate – we’ve hiked together before and I was looking forward to catching up. Nate arrived on Friday – I picked Nate up at the Riverside T-Stop on my way home from work and we made our way westbound. We had a light dinner, some wine, did lots of catching up and by 10pm we’d sacked out for the evening knowing we had to get up bright and early for Greylock.
The morning started bright blue and crisp…. and at 5:30am. I succeeded in programming the coffee maker so freshly brewed caffeine was waiting for us. We had a quick breakfast, pit stopped for more coffee and then headed west on the turnpike to Greylock. Along the way we were treated to two frolicking deer... they were well off the road in a clearing but easily visible… I so enjoy those brief moments of pure nature.
The further west we went, the less blue the sky became. The previous evenings forecast predicted a storm front moving in – a shift from just the day before – but the storm clouds were due to move north and south of Massachusetts but we were clipped with a light cloud cover. On arrival the skies were reasonably clear, bluish white, and temperatures hovering at around 70.
Karl was there first, followed by myself and Nate… soon thereafter came Tom, Frank and finally Richard and William. We were seven total. We did introductions and headed out onto the trail head but not without first being greeted by Bessie – a very loud and vocal cow – she seemed to want to be heard and so she was!
Greylock has a myriad of trails at the lower elevations that allow you to pick and choose how you will ascend. We headed up the Money Brook Trail intending to veer left onto Mt. Prospect Trail. Well… once again…. Rob was just a bit too social and we missed the Mt. Prospect Trail Head. Rather than turn around, we shifted our itinerary and continued along the Money Brook Trail to the Money Brook Falls, followed by visiting the Wilbur Clearing Shelter – an AT overnight stop. From there we connected on the AT, headed west for 1/2 mile to tag a lookout overseeing Williamstown, MA and touch the Mt. Prospect Trail. We may not have not reached the summit of Mt. Prospect, but now I know where the trail ends up and well, it will make for another great hike another time.
From the overlook we headed east to Mt. Williams. About this time it was roughly 1:30pm… and having a brilliant time. We took in the views, lunched and about 2:00pm made our south towards Greylock. Between Mt. Williams and Mt. Greylock we were treated to a spectacular array of wild flowers; Trout Lilly, Painted Trillium, Nodding Trillium, Spring Beauties, Violets, Wild Viburnum and much more. My favorite of the day was the Painted Trillium. Wood Thrush, Red Eyed Vereos and many species of Warblers serenaded us from the tree tops. As an avid winter hiker – I found myself reflecting, pleasantly surprised, at how much I had missed the sound of birds.
Mt. Greylock is an elusive summit… most of our hike we were unable to really catch a glimpse. About a half mile from the summit we finally caught view of the tower – what a sight to behold. At this point we’d hiked nearly 8 miles and we were ready for a break. To our dismay the tower was under repairs so we could not climb it, but the views were stunning just the same. We checked out the lodge, I had a coffee, William bought some gummy candy, Nate had a hot dog and Tom had a coke. The lodge was really cool and I really wanted to stay there.... check back… the “brain gears” were turning for a fall hike. I got a tour of some vacant rooms, the great room with fireplace and dining hall. The menu was very enticing. The lodge is heated so a late fall strenuous hike, with facilities for a hot shower at day’s end, was very attractive.
We hung out at the lodge a bit longer than I anticipated… it was nice… if for no other reason because we indulged in salted caramel chocolate chip cookies – yum – and some colorful conversation! Sometime around 3:45pm we made our way south along the AT to connect with the Hopper Trail. Once again we were in the maze of trail intersections where if we made the wrong turn, we’d find ourselves well away from our cars. Rob was less “social”, paid clear attention to trail markers and we turned Right, south, left, west and crossed the access road a handful of times. Sure enough… a few miles later we came upon Sperry Campground – a very sweet spot for camping. We carried on for another 2 miles down the Hopper Trail to emerge where started, the head of The Money Brook Trail. Aside from the ridge between Mt. Williams and Mt. Greylock, this was my other favorite part of the hike. The forest was thick with new leaves and new growth, I had not a care in the world and the trail was a steady descent with an easy foot path. I could hike and take in the surroundings and I savored every inch of it. When we emerged, the time was 5:40pm… we’d hiked somewhere between 11 and 13 miles. (Richard had a pedometer that clocked us in at 13+).
This was a busy day on the trails. We started off as almost the only group at the trail head but once on the path we met up with many a hiker. Some with dogs (woof woof), a gentleman who had crossed path with bear cubs, and a band of boy scouts that all were camping at Sperry but were clustered in different groups. The Hopper Trail was the busiest with many a hiker making their way up to camp overnight as we were heading out.
Nate and I returned home for a late dinner. We dined on blackened pepper swordfish with rosemary, baked baby potatoes and green beans glazed in butter and honey, and arugula with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. We paired this with a red wine and focaccia bread. It didn’t take us long… not long after clearing dishes we were out for the night!
Sunday was another day in the gardens. In case you’re wondering, the crazy garden project is still in motion, but I took a break to tackle the planting of annuals and mow the lawn (more honestly a field of weeds). Nate was here through Monday so he was a total trooper and pitched in. He’s quite brilliant and knows a thing or two about nature. He helped identify a Juniper Fungus (and how to treat it) in addition to an array of other important and newly learned factoids. Thanks Nate!!! My gardens are a touch healthier because of you!!
I had a brilliant time with a great group of generous, adventurous, fun and spirited souls – Thank You Gentlemen – we made this a great day and for that I am grateful. Nothing beats bringing together old and new friends. Until next time, Happy Trails!!
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