Day Hike Notes – Mount Everett and Mount Race

Everett and Race

My Route Tracked by GPS

I enjoyed my Mount Race via Sages Ravine hike on Saturday so much that I decided to drive north again on Memorial Day to climb Race from the other direction, branching off to take in Mount Everett on the way. The last time I climbed Mount Everett was on a winter’s day five years ago. Then, the views had mostly been hidden by falling snow. Not so today!

DATE: Monday, May 27th—Memorial Day.
START & FINISH: Race Brook Falls trailhead, Route 41, Sheffield MA (42.089770, -73.411021).
ROUTE: Race Brook Falls Trail and Appalachian Trail (north) to Mount Everett; AT (south) to Mount Race; AT (north) and Race Brook Falls Trail back to Start.
DISTANCE: About 7.5 miles.
TIME: 5¼ hours (8:15am to 1:30pm).
TERRAIN: Steep ascent until above Race Brook Falls; gentler climb to AT in saddle between mounts Everett and Race at around 2,000 feet; steep again to Everett’s summit (2,602’). Climb to Race (2,365’) from saddle is gentler than that to Everett.
MAP: National Geographic AT Topographic Map Guide 1509.

WEATHER: Sunny and warm (about 70 by lunchtime).
WILDLIFE: Attractive blue birds flying low in the forest. Bluebirds? I don’t know.

BREAKFAST: Coffee and bagel at J.P. Gifford, Kent.
LUNCH: A sandwich on Mount Race.
UPS: Beautiful Race Brook Falls; more big views—Taconics, Berkshires, Catskills …
DOWNS: I learned on the drive up to the hike that a cousin had died suddenly in Scotland. Derek was a keen walker too and, as I hiked, I thought about him, his family, and the transience of our lives.
KIT: I sprayed the back of my shirt with Off before setting out.
COMPANY: There were plenty of hikers out.

THE HIKE IN PICTURES:

Day Hike Notes – Mount Race via Sages Ravine

Sages Ravine

Entering Sages Ravine

I have hiked Paradise Lane Trail many times. On reaching its junction with the Appalachian Trail, I have invariably turned left—up Bear Mountain or to follow the CT-MA line west to Mount Frissell and beyond. On Saturday, for the first time, I swung right, descending into Sages Ravine and Massachusetts. I am surprised that it took me 20 years to get around to this, especially given the beauty of the ravine that unfolded—shady stands of pine, a tumbling brook, waterfalls, rock walls. Then the Appalachian Trail climbed out of Sages and, over several miles, ascended Mount Race. The views from Race were as wide and open as the scene in Sages had been tight and sheltering.

DATE: Saturday, May 25th.
START & FINISH: Undermountain trailhead, CT Route 41, Salisbury (42.028738, -73.428815).
ROUTE: Undermountain, Paradise Lane, and Appalachian trails to Mount Race. Return by same route.
DISTANCE: About 13 miles.
TIME: 7 hours (7:45am to 2:45pm).
TERRAIN: Good trails, though rocky and rooty here and there (notably in Sages Ravine). 1,600-foot net elevation gain, more considering the descent into Sages that has to be made up.
MAP: National Geographic AT Topographic Map Guide 1509, rarely consulted.

WEATHER: Sunny and warm (high about 70).
WILDLIFE: Nothing that I recall.

BREAKFAST: Coffee and cappuccino muffin at J.P. Gifford, Kent.
LUNCH: A sandwich, sat on a log on the return leg just north of Bear Rock Stream.
UPS: Sages Ravine; big views from Mount Race; fine weather.
DOWNS: Bugs were a minor irritant when stationary and I did apply Off mid-morning.
KIT: I am enjoying having Gaia GPS on my phone, though the novelty will surely fade.
COMPANY: Sunny Memorial Day weekend = plenty of company. It was all friendly and considerate.

THE HIKE IN PICTURES:

Mohawk Trail-Appalachian Trail Loop

IMG_2595

Mohawk State Forest Lean-to #3

Last year, I section-hiked Connecticut’s Mohawk Trail. In my final “Day Hike Notes” post, I wrote:

One day, preferably in the fall, I would like to join Mohawk with a section of the Appalachian Trail for a 3-day backpacking trip.

Somebody picked up on that and e-mailed me: “If you are looking for company let me know. It is on my list to do some day as well.”

The somebody was Jim Liptack. I knew Jim from helping him a few times to put in rock steps on steep sections of the Connecticut AT. Jim is generous toward the AT with his time and trail maintenance expertise. Although we’d never hiked together, it struck me that Jim would be an excellent hiking companion—knowledgeable, organized, and not overly talkative. Over the winter, we gradually fixed on an April outing; not the fall, but the next best backpacking season.

I am not going to post at length about our trip; this blog already covers the Mohawk Trail and the relevant AT section. I will confine myself to some details, special memories, and a few photos.

DETAILS

DATES: Sunday, April 14th to Tuesday, April 16th.
START & FINISH: Route 7 just NW of Route 4, Cornwall Bridge CT (GPS  41.821489, -73.375709).
ROUTE: Mohawk Trail counterclockwise to AT near Falls Village, AT south back to Start.
SECTIONS:
SUNDAY: Cornwall Bridge to Mohawk Mountain (lean-to #3)—8.7 miles.
MONDAY: Mohawk Mountain to Belter’s campsite (AT)—17.3 miles.
TUESDAY: Belter’s campsite to Finish—11.6 miles.
NOTE: The lean-tos and campsites in Mohawk and Housatonic state forests require a permit, easily obtained from CT DEEP.

SPECIAL MEMORIES

  1. Jim and I hung out at lean-to #3 from 3 p.m. Sunday to after breakfast Monday. The lean-to is at about 1,400 feet and a very short walk from a grand westerly view. It was fun watching the weather change the scenes, near and far. Not long after we arrived, light rain filled the westerly view. We took a misty evening stroll into Black Spruce Bog. The night was wild—thunder and lighting, wind and rain. In the morning, the grand view was restored and refreshed (see photos).
  2. (Special for the wrong reasons.) On Monday afternoon, instead of camp in Deans Ravine, we decided to push on to Belter’s campsite on the AT. We were tired, but stopping in the ravine would make Tuesday a long day. The problem was that the additional miles to Belter’s pass over Lookout Point, strenuous enough in good weather, treacherous—up and down—on rain-slicked rocks. Except for a minute or two at the lookout itself, I did not enjoy this hill.
  3. I did enjoy Belter’s campsite. The rain had passed; we had enough daylight to set up our tents and eat dinner; and then came a long sleep as a chill wind blew through the trees outside.

PHOTOS

Scottish Hills (10) – Beinn Ime

Narnain boulders

The Narnain boulders

This will be my last “Scottish Hills” post, at least in this series. And not before time; five months have passed since I climbed Beinn Ime (pronounced ee-muh). It was not on the climb-list I made before leaving home. In fact, I had never heard of it until, with one hiking day left to me, I was looking online for a suitably located summit to target. At five months’ distance, putting together this post has been an exercise of memory. Photographs and maps got me started, then stuff flooded back. I can’t vouch for the exact time I was out, nor for where I ate breakfast. But, really, who cares?

DATE: Wednesday, October 10th, 2018.
START & FINISH: Walker parking beside the A83 just west of Arrochar, Argyll and Bute region (GPS 56.206040, -4.750913). At the time of my trip, there was anger and talk of boycott over a rise in parking fees steeper than the side of any ben. Even as a probably one-time visitor, I resented putting £6 plus into the meter. If Arrochar was my weekly outing to the hills, I’d go somewhere else in future.
ROUTE: Forest and moorland paths broadly NW into the glen between bens Narnain and Arthur. Then, leaving Narnain and Arthur behind, path north to summit of Ime. Return by same route.
DISTANCE: About 8½ miles.
TIME: Roughly 5½ hours (9:30am to 3:00pm).
TERRAIN: Start is at sea level, so you climb all of Ime’s 3,317 feet. The trails are good-to-excellent as far as 2,000 feet, then wet and rough on the ben’s south flank, drying out nearer the summit.
MAP: Ordnance Survey map downloaded to my tablet.

WEATHER: Dry; cloudy early, then partial clearing as the day progressed; summit in and out of mist. Summit wind, but nothing like Dumgoyne yesterday!
WILDLIFE: Nothing that I recall.

BREAKFAST: It may have been McDonald’s in Balloch.
LUNCH: Sheltering from the wind behind Ime’s summit rocks.
UPS: The incredible rock formations of Ben Arthur being gradually revealed as the afternoon cleared.
DOWNS: A light cold and chills.
KIT: It was a cap, not a wooly hat, day.
COMPANY: Not much until the last hour when hiking parties began to take advantage of the clearing skies to head for Arthur and Narnain.

THE HIKE IN PICTURES:

The Mattatuck Trail

Prospect Mountain Litchfield CT Cathole Road

On Cathole Road; the pack is mine, the discarded boot is not

For me, so far, Connecticut’s 42-mile Mattatuck Trail has been a winter thing. Two years ago, the day after Christmas, I hiked the Trail’s most northwesterly section until it ended at the Mohawk Trail. A layer of crunchy snow made for strenuous going. A year later, my eldest and I walked the next section down and saw bear tracks in the December snow. These two hikes added up to 14½ miles of Mattatuck.

Those 14½ miles form a detached section of the Trail in the towns of Cornwall, Goshen, and Warren. Last weekend, I drove up to Litchfield to pick the Trail up again. At home, there was little enough snow on the ground; in Litchfield—further inland and higher up—the Mattatuck Trail was as white as ever.

The contiguous Mattatuck Trail resumes in White Memorial Conservation Center, six road-miles from the Warren trailhead of the detached northwest section. From White Memorial, the Trail runs uninterrupted southeast to Wolcott, all unfamiliar territory to me. But before I went to White Memorial, I took country lanes north of Bantam to Prospect Mountain Preserve. Here, a 1.7-mile fragment of Mattatuck Trail winds over Prospect Mountain. The view from the North Summit is narrowly framed, but the South Summit offers a broader panorama toward—I think—Mount Tom.

After lunch in Bantam, I went to White Memorial and worked off my pulled pork by hiking the Mattatuck Trail from Bissell Road to Route 63 and back—a 6-mile level trek through forest, pond, and swamp.

Scottish Hills (9) – Dumgoyne

Dumgoyne and Campsie Fells

Distant Dumgoyne in September 2011

I first saw Dumgoyne on a late-September afternoon seven years ago:

“ … I saw the Campsie Fells to the southeast, half in faint sunshine, half in shadow. The hill called Dumgoyne stuck up from the sunny half, like an upturned, chinny face on the prostrate body of the other fells.”

For the next ten miles of my hike across Scotland, this distinctive hill kept me company, changing shape as I plodded toward Glasgow; first that distant chinny face, then—closer up—a lump, and finally a shapely hill among others.

Dumgoyne seemed to belie its modest stature, a mere 1,401 feet. It looked bigger and full of feature in the hazy sunshine. Returning to Scotland last autumn to climb hills, I of course had to put Dumgoyne on my climb-list—the lowest and most southerly hill to get the accolade. It turned out to be a tougher climb than many a bigger ben.

DATE: Tuesday, October 9th, 2018.
START & FINISH: Where the West Highland Way crosses the B821 west of Blanefield, Stirling (GPS 55.987395, -4.352850).
ROUTE: West Highland Way as far as side-trail to the A81 at Glengoyne Distillery. Trail beside distillery toward and up Dumgoyne. Return more or less by same route (see DOWNS).
DISTANCE: About 7½ miles.
TIME: Under 4 hours (9:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
TERRAIN: The West Highland Way was good track; the path up Dumgoyne was clear but steep and slick in places.
MAP: Ordnance Survey map downloaded to my tablet.

WEATHER: Bad to foul. Down below, merely wet. On the hill, a blow-you-down wind and a rain of stinging pellets.
WILDLIFE: Cowering somewhere, I expect.

BREAKFAST: Continental at Ardoch House B&B.
LUNCH: On the leeward side of the hilltop.
UPS: Despite the downs described below, just being outdoors and active after a couple of mostly indoor and sedentary days.
DOWNS: Where do I start? I was developing a cold; the wind on Dumgoyne was a torment; I slid six feet down the hill on my ass; and, finally, on the return leg, I decided to cut through a pinewood, where I scraped my head on a low-hanging branch and ended up climbing a deer fence to return to the obvious and tested route.
KIT: Full rain gear.
COMPANY: Two or three West Highland Way hikers; an underequipped school group giving up on Dumgoyne; an old guy in shorts on the summit (I decided he climbed Dumgoyne every day).

THE HIKE IN PICTURES:

Day Hike Notes – Bull Hill

Hudson River and Storm King Mountain from Bull Hill

Hudson River and Storm King Mountain

I first noticed Bull Hill two years ago. I was on a cold, gray March hike in Fahnestock State Park and Bull was a view—a distant snow-and-forest-covered hump off toward the Hudson River. I told myself I’d climb it some sunny day. Sunday was indeed sunny and though colder in fact than that 2017 Fahnestock hike, it did not feel so at all.

Bull Hill is a decent workout, but above all it is a hike of views—views of the Hudson Highlands, of the Hudson River north and south, and even of Manhattan skyscrapers 45 straight-line miles away. I think these are scenes I will keep coming back to in different seasons and at different times of day.

DATE: Sunday, February 10th.
START & FINISH: Fishkill Road (CR 10) NE of Cold Spring NY (41.433793, -73.936795).
ROUTE: Counterclockwise lollipop—Lone Star, Nelsonville, and Washburn trails to Bull Hill summit; Washburn, Undercliff, Nelsonville, and Lone Star back to Start.
DISTANCE: About 6.5 miles.
TIME: 3¼ hours (9:00am-12:15pm).
TERRAIN: Bull Hill summit (1,421’) is a nearly 1,200’ climb from the trailhead. Ascent and descent are sometimes moderately steep. The trails were good in the day’s dry conditions.
MAP: NY-NJ Trail Conference East Hudson Trails (#102).

WEATHER: Sunny and cold (20s).
WILDLIFE: Nothing of note.

BREAKFAST: Plain toasted bagel with butter and swiss (Connecticut Coffee & Grill) consumed in the car and at the trailhead.
LUNCH: Sandwich in the car after the hike and before heading to Manitou Point Preserve for a stroll down to the Hudson.
UPS: A bright day with big views.
DOWNS: A painful neck crick for a few moments toward the end of the hike.
KIT: I carried traction devices but did not need them. The few icy sections of trail were easily circumvented.
COMPANY: Some hikers, dog walkers, and joggers, mainly after the summit. One guy asked me to take a photograph of him and his dog, aptly named Hudson!

THE HIKE IN PICTURES: