September 29, 2019 Second Section Hike on the Appalachian Trail by Terri Stubits
Our Massachusetts summer section hike.
Last year, we (Neil and I, Tom, Patti, and their son Trip) did our first section hike on the Appalachian Trial in Virginia and decided to do another section hike this year. Tom and Trip have completed the AT in VA, WV, MD, PA, NJ, NY, and CT. They have completed about half of MA, and this is where we decided to section hike. Patti plans all the logistics, and I made reservations at the Berkshire Lakeside Lodge in Becket, MA for our first night after driving up. This lodge is 0.1 distance from the trail. The lodge also let us leave our vehicle there while we hiked. Our plan was to hike (Tues – Fri) from the lodge to Cheshire, MA, a distance of 28.3 miles. Shuttle back from Cheshire.
Left to Right – Terri, Neil, Tom, Trip and Patti
Tuesday morning we started out with a 780 foot climb up Becket Mountain, and continued to the October Mountain Shelter (7.2 miles). Because there was not a reliable water source near the shelter, we stopped 2 miles prior and filtered water and carried extra water to the shelter. The water looked like weak tea even after going through the filter, so I added tablets just in case. This tea tinted water tasted great! Really, it was delicious. Carrying the extra water weight for 2 miles was killer and Neil carried most of it for me. We arrived about 3 pm, and picked out a campsite. It immediately started pouring rain as soon as we got our tents up! Pounding rain for about 1 ½ hours, with water pooling around our tents. As the rain was stopping, we heard a loud thunk! A thick dead branch came down right between our tents. We made dinner (had mini bottles of wine a neighbor had given me, which Tom carried), wiped some of the mud off our tents, and got our bear bags ready for storing. This shelter has a bear box which is really nice. Downside was the mosquitos. Patti and I got bit the most, even after using bug repellent.
It didn’t rain any more that night so our tents had a chance to dry out. Wednesday morning, while eating breakfast, we checked the weather for the Kay Wood Shelter (8.8 miles) and the forecast was for severe thunderstorms and heavy rain that day and into the night. We made a quick decision to hike 12 miles into Dalton, MA. Called for availability at the Econo Lodge in Dalton and made reservations. Now we just hoped we’d get to town before getting caught in the downpour. All day there was thunder but no rain. We stopped for lunch as well as several quick breaks. Tom brought Pellegrino which is very refreshing on the trail. Trip was out front setting a good pace, but I was struggling with all the ups and downs on the trail. Tom turned on his Bluetooth and started playing music. First song was “99 Luftballons” and it really helped me to keep going. I drank most of my 2 ½ liters of water and we stopped before getting to town to filter more water.
We walked to Angelina’s Submarine Shop with cheesesteak bombs on our minds. It was about 5 pm and again just as we got there it started to rain. We left our packs out front under the picnic table umbrellas and went inside to order. These cheesesteaks are loaded with meat, nice and hot, so good. I took out my phone and ordered an Uber to take Neil and I back to Becket to pick up our truck. By the time the Uber delivered us to the Berkshire Lakeside Lodge, the rain had turned torrential with white bright lightening and booming thunder. Neil and I drove back to Angelina’s to pick up Tom, Patti and Trip and drove to the Econo Lodge. Yah! We get to shower and sleep in a bed. Next morning all of us limped into breakfast (except Trip, he was good to go). It was still raining, and we decided to pack it in. We drove home a little short of our goal, but undeterred. We’re already planning next year’s section hike! Terri Stubits P.S. I caught a cold.