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.
MORE PHOTOS: Here.

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

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
PHOTOS: Here

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

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.
Ups:
– Frozen Race Brook Falls (top photo, no baubles).
– Coming down ice as if on a kids slide.
Downs:
– Knowing the views I was missing.
– Cold fingertips on the summit – warmer gloves next time!
Kit:
– 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