Day Hike Notes – On Guilder Pond

Looking into Massachusetts from Jug End

Looking N and NE into Massachusetts from Jug End—9:20am

I had been at Guilder Pond once before, a few years before I began this blog. That time, I came from the south, over Mount Everett. I don’t recall lingering at the pond, and I certainly didn’t circumnavigate it. Today, I made the pond my objective and focus. I reached it from the north, hiking in the process a few miles of Massachusetts Appalachian Trail (AT) which I hadn’t trodden before. This section begins at Jug End, the abrupt end of a ridge running north from Everett. I’m intrigued by the name. I’ve seen it said that it comes from German jugend (youth), but I’m highly skeptical of this.

DATE: Saturday, December 28th.
START & FINISH: Where the AT crosses Jug End Road, Egremont, MA (GPS 42.144443, -73.431467).
ROUTE: AT south to Guilder Pond, loop around pond, retrace steps.
DISTANCE: 8.4 miles.
TIME: 6 hours from 8:45am.
TERRAIN: A steep climb to Jug End to get the heart pumping. The ridge then ascends (via ups and downs) to reach Guilder Pond at about 2,000 feet. Today, stretches of the trail required caution on account of wet leaves, slick rock, and ice patches. The trail around the pond was tricky here and there also, particularly on the west side. Guilder Pond lies 1,200 feet above Start.
MAP: National Geographic AT Topographic Map Guide 1509.

WEATHER: The forecast was for some sunshine, but hardly any materialized until the end of the hike. Temperatures were in the upper 30s, but it felt colder in the overcast and when exposed to the stiff breeze.
WILDLIFE: I saw what seemed to be an aerial dogfight between two species of bird—two larger birds, one smaller. It wasn’t clear which species was the aggressor.

BREAKFAST: Coffee and half a bagel at JP Gifford, Kent.
LUNCH: I really just snacked when I felt like it, but the second half of the bagel was consumed at Guilder Pond.
UPS: The views from Jug End were good and Guilder Pond was atmospheric.
DOWNS: Spending a lot of mental energy on boot placement and still ending up on my butt on one awkward descent.
KIT: I brought traction cleats and used them on the mile or two where the ice was most abundant.
COMPANY: Two solo hikers and a pair on the return leg. The first single, a lady, said “You’re the first person I’ve seen in four miles”. “You’re the first person I’ve seen all morning,” I replied. She planned to summit Everett and descend to Route 41 on the Race Brook Falls Trail.



GPS Track

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.


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.


Day Hike Notes – Alander Mountain

DATE: Tuesday, July 4th.
START & FINISH: Mt Washington State Forest HQ, Mt Washington MA.
ROUTE: Counterclockwise loop using these trails: Alander Mtn, South Taconic, unnamed connector, Ashley Hill, and Charcoal Pit.
DISTANCE: In the 9-mile range.
TIME: Nearly 5 hours (8:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
TERRAIN: Alander summit (2,250’) is a mostly gradual climb from the starting point (already 1,700’ up). The descent off Alander was in places steep and on loose trail surface. Thereafter, trail quality was good and grades moderate, though the South Taconic-Ashley Hill connector trail was a little overgrown here and there.
MAP: NYNJTC South Taconic Trails

On Alander Mtn; summits from the right, Brace, Frissell, and maybe Bear

Looking south from Alander Mountain

WEATHER: Cool and sunny, then warm and sunny (70s).
WILDLIFE (sort of): The mountain laurel was still blooming, and there were blueberries.

BREAKFAST: McDonald’s, New Milford.
LUNCH: Manchego cheese and chorizo sandwich.
UPS: Finally seeing Alander Mountain after intending to for so long.
DOWNS: None.
KIT: No DEET required.
COMPANY: A couple of joggers on Alander Mtn Trail; a couple of campers on Alander summit; a group of hikers in need of a map on the Ashley Hill Trail.

The Catskills from Alander Mountain

The Catskills from Alander Mountain

Day Hike Notes – Mount Frissell


The highest point in Connecticut

As far as I know, Connecticut is unique among US states in having a high point that isn’t the top of anything (Nebraska might share the distinction). Even Florida’s Britton Hill – at 345 feet the lowest highest point of the 50 states – is higher than all the land immediately around it. Connecticut’s high point is 2,379 feet above sea level, a respectable 36th out of 50. Trouble is, it ain’t a mount, a peak, a butte, or a hill. It’s just a point on a slope. Take a step north from it, and you’re on higher ground in Massachusetts. Never mind; our high point on the south slope of Massachusetts’ Mount Frissell sits amid fine, remote hiking country. Here’s one route to take it in.

DATE: Friday, November 18th
START & FINISH: Undermountain trailhead, CT Route 41, 3mi north Salisbury
ROUTE: Undermountain Trail, Paradise Lane Trail, Northwest Road, and Mount Frissell Trail to lookout on South Taconic Trail just north of Brace Mountain. Return by same route.
DISTANCE: About 12.5 miles
TIME: 8 hours (7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)
TERRAIN: Everything from flat and even to steep and rough. Starting trailhead 800 feet above sea level; Mount Frissell summit at 2,453; turnaround lookout at 2,100.
MAP: NYNJTC South Taconic Trails

WEATHER: Perfect; high close to 60 degrees
WILDLIFE: Nothing of note

BREAKFAST: Coffee, croissant, muffin from Cornwall Country Market
LUNCH: At the lookout, my turnaround point. Great view over the Hudson Valley to the Catskill Mountains (40 miles west as the crow would fly).

UPS: The big-sky views from Round Mountain, Mount Frissell, and my turnaround lookout.
DOWNS: None.
KIT: I took a wooly hat, a fleece, a jacket, and gloves, and did not need any of them.
COMPANY: None on the outward trek. While I was eating lunch overlooking the Catskills, voices – or rather one voice in particular – approached from the north. It seemed to want to fill the entire landscape, and did not sound like great company. The voice  turned out to belong to James, half of a backpacking duo. James and his buddy, young guys, sat down next to me. They proved excellent company, and we had a right good natter.


Looking into Massachusetts from Round Mountain (Mount Greylock – MA’s highest summit – in the far distance)

Taking a Hike – Giving a Day to the A.T.

Imagine what it would be like if your favorite hiking place did not exist (never had or, worse, it was taken away). Life would be the poorer, as if a good friend were not there. Like good friends, we can take trails for granted, especially famous, established trails like the A.T. We don’t expect the A.T. to wither and vanish any more than Interstate 80.

Connecticut Appalachian Trail - Spring comes to Schaghticoke Mountain, Kent

CT A.T. — Spring comes to Schaghticoke Mountain

I have enjoyed my local, Connecticut A.T. for 17 years. This blog has recorded some great outings along its 51 miles:

Bulls Bridge to Conn. 55
Kent to Bulls Bridge
Bear Mountain via Lions Head
Bear Mountain via Paradise Lane

There have been A.T. hikes in our neighboring NY and MA sections too:

Fahnestock State Park
Mount Everett

This is all a longwinded introduction to the point that my May “Taking a Hike” column (first published 5/14, so this is a belated post) is about a day spent giving something back to the A.T., trying not take it for granted, helping to keep it in good shape.

Apart from some flying rocks, I didn’t have space to get across that “Giving a Day” was a lot of fun – meeting friends, meeting new people, some great wisecracks, and drinks and snacks by the Housatonic afterward.

A nearby treasure

“Taking a Hike” in The Hour

The column has resumed publication in The Hour after a month’s hiatus following the change of ownership. This month, the column appeared in print only. Hopefully next month it will be online again. I am delighted to be published by Hearst.

And of course by Hersam Acorn: GIVING A DAY TO CONNECTICUT’S AT.

Happy Trails!

The Hour – The Joy of Four Seasons

Mt Everett hikeI’ve seen Race Brook Falls twice, first in April and now in February. They looked radically different on each occasion – spring falls versus winter falls (see photos below). My February column for The Hour, published today, is based on a day hike that passes beneath the falls on its way up Mount Everett. The column celebrates the blessings of four seasons, even as most of us around here can’t wait for spring (good news, there is the sound of ice falling off my house today).

If you have Google Earth, this link should take you to the tour of Mount Everett. You can see some of the landscape features mentioned in the article – Guilder Pond, the steep north face, the bowl between mounts Everett and Race where Race Brook is born and then tumbles off the escarpment.

November’s column – Breakneck Ridge and Sugarloaf Mountain – is now available in full via the Taking a Hike tab (“Hudson Highlands”), or by clicking here. There are notes and photos for this hike on Facebook.

Race Brook Falls - April

Race Brook Falls Trail

Day Hike Notes – Mount Everett

Race Brook Falls TrailIt might have been better to take this hike today, with the sun out on fresh snowfall, and no doubt wonderful views across the winter Taconics. Well, I took it yesterday. It was my second time on Mt Everett (2,602 ft), the first being in spring four years ago. That time I continued down the north side of the mountain, completing a loop via the Elbow Trail and Route 41. But the AT Guide says the north side is “rocky and steep” and advises caution “especially in wet weather”. Even more would be advisable in snow and ice, so yesterday I returned the way I had come.

Start & Finish: Race Brook Falls Trail parking, MA Route 41 three miles north of CT line.
Route: Race Brook Falls Trail to Appalachian Trail, then AT north to Everett summit. Return by same route.
Distance: 5.4 mi.
Time: 5 hrs (9:00am – 2:00pm).
Terrain: A 1,800 foot climb, so steep in places. Care needed for snow-covered ice.
Maps: Official AT Guide map (Four – Jug End to Cornwall Bridge)

Weather: Gray skies, continual light snow, calm.
Wildlife: Two bursts of birdsong, that’s it.

Mt Everett, AT, MasschusettsPhotos: A disaster. Using flash in falling snow has decorated the world with baubles (as right, the summit with remains of fire tower)
Breakfast: McDonald’s in New Milford – Sausage McMuffin, hash browns, coffee.
Lunch: Two installments: (1) on the summit – Manchego cheese and prosciutto sandwich, apple; (2) sitting on a tent platform at Race Brook Falls campsite on the way down – remaining half of sandwich, nuts.
– Frozen Race Brook Falls (top photo, no baubles).
– Coming down ice as if on a kids slide.
– Knowing the views I was missing.
– Cold fingertips on the summit – warmer gloves next time!
– Poles and boot chains essential.
– Snowshoes left in car (on purpose), and not missed.
Company: A jogger 15 minutes from the start; some footprints on the home stretch.

AT in winter, beneath Mount Everett