Connecticut AMC’s Appalachian Trail Day – 10/15/16

CT AMC Appalachian Trail Day

Yesterday we got to do another section of the Massachusetts Appalachian Trail. It was a beautiful section with peak fall foliage, and that report is to come. But first I wanted to take an opportunity to talk about our wonderful Appalachian Trail Day last month.

This October was the 10th anniversary of this occasion. The foliage was just starting to hit peak in Kent a few weeks ago.

In the morning I stopped at the grocery in Kent and met a trail angel who one of my friends in the trails committee had met earlier in the week and posted a photo of. She had forgotten to invite him to our BBQ this afternoon, so I went over and introduced myself and chatted with him and a hiker he was with and then invited them both before picking up my groceries and heading to the trail head.

Trail Angel

Trail Angel

He travels up and down the trail in his awesome RV which he has adorned with the A.T. logo and some bear and human tracks. He does hiker feeds, shuttles and lets people stay in his R.V. when the weather is particularly bad or they just need some creature comforts to raise morale. I could not remember his complicated trail name; it was something very Lord of the Rings-like. But he did tell me his real name too. It was great to meet him and thank him for his taking such good care of the hikers. He had completely lost track of what day of the week it was. God I envy that.

Foliage on Pond Mountain

Foliage on Pond Mountain

Anyway, originally this day was called the A.T. ‘marathon day’. This is because members and maintainers would do a series of hikes to cover the whole Connecticut section in one day to find any issues. They even did it relay style at one time. At the end of the day they would gather to report all their findings and have dinner or a social hour. We still cover the whole trail each year as part of the day’s events and then celebrate after with a BBQ in Macedonia Brook State Park, where the A.T. once passed through. Learn lots more about this event’s long history on page 3 of our latest newsletter!

In addition to the A.T. hikes there are hikes in other parts of the state. There are also trail work parties, paddling trips and rock climbing lessons at St. Johns Ledges here in Kent.

Old Cabin near Pond Mtn

Old Cabin near Pond Mtn

In the past on A.T. day I have joined in work parties to re-paint the white blazes, and also assisted in trail patrol training. This time I joined members of our trails committee on an ‘A.T. history hike’ through another previous part of the trail through Pond Mountain natural area just east of Macedonia State Park.

We parked in the lot on Fuller Mountain road, having done a great deal of the climb on our drive up. From the lot the route we took dropped quickly back down to where the trail originally traveled, and then shortly but steeply along another road which the A.T. now crosses farther up and which we would cross once more from that direction on our way back. When we re-entered the woods, we were headed up the back side of Caleb’s Peak which has a favorite view in this area, with the Housatonic river valley stretched out below and the town of Kent in the center.

Trails Chair the Booneman!

Trails Chair the Booneman!

Years ago when we first finished Connecticut, we saw the purple blazes for this section and did not know what they were. In fact nobody knew who actually blazed them. But as of late, the AMC will be taking it over, maintaining it and making it an official blue-blaze trail.

On Caleb’s Peak we gathered for a snack to take in the views. Someone had made a very large fire ring and we saw a couple using a small wood stove in the fire ring. I asked them if they were responsible for the larger ring and fire and they said they were not but asked if it was ok to use their wood stove in there to contain any embers. Technically these are allowed. I reminded them that on their travels through the state that no campfires or fire rings allowed. We then went about the business of clearing the ring. It took several of us to lift the large rocks and some of the embers were still burning. Since I didn’t have my gloves I got a small burn on my finger. We decided it was best to leave them to cool as scattering them with everything so dry would have been dangerous.

The gorgeous view from Caleb's Peak

The gorgeous view from Caleb’s Peak

It seems people really like to challenge our rules here. This was a very large ring in a very visible spot, and they didn’t even make sure it was out before leaving. Just 1/4 mile south of here is the remains of a brush fire started by this exact type of behavior. You can see the scorched tree trunks and downed trees. How can you see that and then go and make a fire in an illegal spot right up the trail? People just don’t think about the consequences, even when they’ve just seen them.

Black racer snake

Black racer snake

After our snack we headed back down the A.T. towards Skiff Mountain road where we would then re-enter the Pond Mountain area. On the way down we spotted a very large black racer snake and all enjoyed watching him as he crossed the trail and headed back into the woods. He was at least 4 feet long!

We also passed that brush fire site which surprised many of the people on our hike. Seeing what happens from irresponsible behavior first hand is a very good way to learn why we have these rules in place. Luckily the forest seems to be recovering well.

We also went down the new stairs that our trails crews built over the last season and admired all their work. We talked about how they fly in and lower the rocks on cables to transport them. The stairs look great, thanks guys!

The BBQ at Macedonia Brook SP

The BBQ at Macedonia Brook SP

Once back in the Pond Mountain area, we followed an old carriage road trail until we re-connected with the trail up to the lot. It was steep, though wide and flat and a good last workout! Though our hike didn’t take us to the summit, there is a mountain trail which I will check out on another day.

We got to the barbecue and got the grills fired up. I ordered my usual ‘hockey puck’ burger and enjoyed a cold beverage. Our trail angel friend was there parked in the lot so I talked to him a bit more. We enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers and lots of other snacks including these wonderful A.T. cupcakes made by one of our members. I caught up with some other friends from the club who were on different hikes that day and then eventually had to get going back to real life.

A.T. cupcakes!

A.T. cupcakes!

But this event is always a fun one. Whether you’re a member or not you are welcome to join and we all pay just $6 for the food and drinks. Its a great way to introduce people to our organization and share our love for the outdoors and for protecting it.

I hope to see you next year at A.T. day! There are also many other work parties throughout the year where you can take part and give back to the trail. Visit our website here. Click on the ‘trails’ link in the navbar up top to find a list of all of our upcoming work parties and see how you can get involved.

Miles: 4.5

— Linus

A Day in the Life of a Trail Patroller: Old and New

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Last weekend I did another trail patrol hike, mainly to check in on a campsite and its water supply. I also added a little side jaunt on a section that was once the A.T. but is now known as the Mohawk trail.

I headed back up to Falls Village, where we did our family backpacking trip over labor day weekend (scroll down to the next entry). But from here I headed south instead. This section runs from the crossing of Rts 7 and 112 to Rt. 4 in Cornwall Bridge.

Top of the bump

Top of the bump

It also includes the famous “hang glider’s view” on Sharon Mountain to Lime Rock racetrack and beyond. There’s a campsite farther south of that view known as Sharon Mountain campsite, though I was not headed that far today. I was here to check out Belter’s campsites, just south of Belter’s bump, a small outcrop on a ridge only .75 miles south of the intersection on the northern end of the section. Then I would turn around, head north and pick up the blue-blazed Mohawk trail.

Eastern view, a bit overgrown

Eastern view, a bit overgrown

I parked in the hiker lot on Rt. 7 just south of the bridge over the Housatonic that the trail crosses. The trail loops around a cornfield as it skirts the river, then crosses the busy road. From here it’s pretty much right up to Belter’s bump. This spot is named after a local farmer whose land it used to be. It’s a few hundred feet up but rather quickly and so it definitely gets your heart going. At the top is a small rocky outcrop where you get a nice little view of the mountains to the east. In summer, the rattlesnakes like to sunbathe here. Luckily I didn’t meet any this time or when we were through here last as it was a downpour on that trip.

Belter's Campsites

Belter’s Campsites

The campsites are a little bit farther down the trail but one of them that is farther up the hill from the others is close to the outcropping. The spring for the campsite is still a tiny bit farther down the trail on the opposite side of the campsites. I went up the blue blazed campsite trail and inspected the three different camping areas and privy. These are nice sized campsites and had recently had some trees cut down and so there were many log seats around them. The campsites were mostly in a hemlock and pine grove so lots of soft needles covered the ground and it looked like a really nice place to camp. I’d say the primitive exposed privy might be the only deterrent for some, but it was clean, and it’s better than no privy. There are very few of these left on our section of trail.

Early autumn on the trail

Early autumn on the trail

I didn’t find any fire rings or issues at the campsites, so I then went to check out the spring. It was running just enough to be usable. I believe this one is fairly consistently reliable.

I then headed back up and over the bump and met a northbound section backpacker with his dog. This time of year really is a popular one for these folks as the weather has cooled down, the thrus are all long gone so the campsites are less crowded, and the leaves are changing.  It’s a much more individual experience which is what most of us are seeking when we backpack. Someone had left their coat up on the outcropping so I brought it down with me. I dropped it in the car as I passed right by it again before heading north over the bridge. The bridge has several official Appalachian trail logos in it and a few blazes painted on it. Last time we were here in that downpour and were crossing the road from the bridge, a large group of bikers at the light had a bit of a laugh at our expense. We were as miserable as we looked after 9.5 miles in the cold rain that day.

The Bridge is also the trail

The Bridge is also the trail

Ahead of me I had views of the shoulder of Barrack Mountain, my next exploration. It rises steeply over the river and the climb begins quickly after leaving the A.T. The A.T. follows Warren Turnpike for a short distance from route 7 and alongside the Housatonic Valley Regional High school before returning to the woods. I picked up a lot of trash here along the road, more likely from high school students than hikers. Just before the A.T. returns to the woods, the northern end of the Mohawk trail begins. Before a big re-route a few decades ago to the west of the river, this was the original A.T route. It includes many scenic spots including Breadloaf Mountain, Cathedral Pines, Mohawk Mountain ski resort, Deans Ravine, and Barrack Mountain. I have done about the southern 9 or so miles from its southern end on Breadloaf Mountain to the top of Mohawk ski resort with its incredible views all the way to the Catskills and beyond.

Trail along the road

Trail along the road

I had heard that Barrack Mountain was quite steep and challenging, and I wanted to see just how steep and challenging it was. I made the turn off at the blue-blazes and climbed up a railroad embankment. After crossing the railroad tracks, and passing to the south of the hiker — and biker-loved Mountainside cafe along route 7, the trail quickly climbs. After a brief but steep section it follows the edges of the mountain along narrow and pretty eroded dirt tracts. Rock piles and dry creek beds through them break up the dirt path and provide some breaks from watching your feet every step. As I rounded the next corner. the trail headed straight up through larger rock piles.These required a lot of careful negotiation with the path covered in piles of leaves. In several places I had to scramble and climb hand over hand and get my balance.

Barrack Mountain

Barrack Mountain

The trail here reminded me a bit of Agony Grind in New York, but steeper and less maintained.

The climb became steeper and the leaves more precarious. After a few more switchbacks I realized I was running out of time quickly and that the pace I was taking to do this safely would leave me short of the summit today. Looking up, the trail became even narrower and steeper and there was no way I’d be able to summit any more quickly than I was going. So I prepared myself for the slippery descent and turned back.

Turning onto the Mohawk

Turning onto the Mohawk

Its easy to feel defeated in these situations but I knew if I had more time I could have made it all the way.  And sometimes we have to make these decisions whether for time constraints or just for safety reasons. A slip on this part of the mountain meant severe injury, and without any other hikers around, help would be hard to come by. I made the judgement call that I think was best, and I know I will be back to complete it when I have more time. I’d like to backpack the rest of the Mohawk Trail since the original shelters are still there from when it was the A.T. I have about 18 miles or less of it now to complete and could do that over a weekend, perhaps next summer. The mountain certainly lived up to its reputation at least.

Slippery leaf-littered ledge

Slippery leaf-littered ledge

I got back down to the cafe and walked route 7 back to my car, already planning when I could get back to finish this challenge.  In the meantime, Fielden Stream and I are off to Warwick in 5 days to finish the last 6 miles of New York and celebrate her birthday on the trail and then at a beautiful B&B on Greenwood lake. I promised this year I wouldn’t make her sleep in a tent on her birthday. That section promises to be a tough climb up from the state line trail to the ridgeline, with rebar ladders and lots of steeps. But once we’re up there we will enjoy miles of lake views from the ridgelines and it will be a gorgeous finale to another state. That also means I can finish our New York video that I’ve been working on the last two years and share that with you in about 2 weeks or less. I can’t wait.

Steep and steeper

Steep and steeper

I also hope you will join our Connecticut Appalachian Mountain club for our 10th annual A.T. day on October 15th. We have hikes all along the CT section of the trail, as well as hiking in Macedonia Brook State Park along what was also once part of the A.T. There’s also paddling trips, a beginner’s rock climbing class at St. John’s Ledges, trail work volunteering projects, and family hikes. All followed by a BBQ.  I and many of the great caretakers of our trails in Connecticut will be there. Come hike, help out and have a burger afterwards!

Miles: 4

— Linus

 

Macedonia Ridge Trail

Park Entrance

Park Entrance

Last weekend, despite the mega blizzard (and only blizzard so far) of the year, I got to finally complete a trail I’ve been wanting to since reaching its prize summit on a few previous shorter hikes. Despite the record snowfall Winter Storm Jonas created in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as the 16″ of snow it left in my town, it did not make it much farther north in our state. So for once I was able to drive north and have better conditions. I like hiking in the winter, but this was not one for doing in the snow and ice.

The summit views are worth the climb up from any direction, yet this time the effort was substantially higher. And hence the remaining portion of this trail is one I’ve been putting off for just the right moment because of its quite steep scrambles in the Northwestern corner of the park. I wanted to do the remainder at once, as its not high mileage and is convenient to complete with 1 vehicle doing a loop. It was just a matter of when. The reverse weather being what it was, this day was perfect for it.

Cobble Mtn Trailhead

Cobble Mtn Trailhead

As it was the off-season, I had the woods almost entirely to myself since the campground was empty and the temperatures were too low for most day hikers and families. It also meant I wouldn’t have a bunch of people lining up behind me if I was taking my sweet time on the tough ascent. I attribute part of my original hesitation on my first attempt over Squaw Peak to crowds of people behind me on the hike that added just too much pressure and did not allow me to assess the challenge properly to where I felt it was safe to proceed. I also wanted to do this one solo for this reason so it wasn’t my own family adding that pressure.

Watch your step!

Watch your step!

But I was excited for the challenge as I enjoy pushing my comfort zone and I definitely needed some me time. All the research I had done suggested I tackle the climb upwards vs down, and the experience reinforced that. We came down the northern face of Bear Mountain on the A.T. in Connecticut last summer and it was as steep and long as this. While looking back up at that ascent from the bottom was daunting, gravity treats me better going up. In that case I didn’t have a choice really as NOBO and down was our route.

The only other uphill climb I’ve done that was this steep was the Major Welch trail on another Bear Mountain, that being the one in N.Y. We did it in 2013, just before we started hiking the A.T. together. The Major Welch trail was originally one of the earliest sections of the Appalachian Trail and was very similar to this one I was about to do. Also just as steep, just as long, and just as exhausting. The only difference on the Major Welch being I didn’t have to first climb up into a crevice with a 50+ foot drop on one side and then hand over hand out and up the first steep portion of the 650-foot rock face.

CCC road

CCC road

The whole Macedonia Ridge trail is a 6.7-mile loop over about six peaks that flank the steep eastern and western shores of Macedonia Brook, with Cobble Mountain being the highest and having the grandest views. When I mean grand, I mean grand. You can see 40 miles easy in any direction, including the high peaks of the Catskills to the west, the Taconic Range to the north, and more of the Appalachians to the east and south. At this point you are just shy of 1,400 ft up on the side of a ridge just a few hundred yards east of the New York border. I can’t help but think this and the mountain ridges north and south of here had something to do with where the state line was drawn — Natural features often dictate boundaries.

View south from Pine Hill

View south from Pine Hill

On our first overnight outing in 2013 to test our new backpacking tent we stayed here and climbed up an unmarked side trail to the western side of the trail and to the summit of Cobble Mountain along this ridge. To be fair we thought we were still on the white trail but were not. We were so enamored of the view from the summit, we took my son “Jiffy Pop” back on A.T. day a year later with our local AMC club but did take that steeper white-blazed trail to the summit. It’s much shorter but is definitely steeper. It was a dramatic hike as a thick fog blanketed the valley that October afternoon, so the mountainside seemed to disappear into the mist and a light rain began to fall. It was a family hike and there were lots of fearless and adventurous little ones along for the fun, practically running up the trail, my son included. He loved this hike and it was great to see he shared the enthusiasm with me. We completed the southwestern section of the Macedonia Ridge trail that day on our descent from the summit, crossing South Cobble as well, with its sweeping views south and east and some beautiful ridge walking.

Coming down Pine Hill

Coming down Pine Hill

If you are familiar with the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut you will recognize Macedonia brook as the one you cross just north of Mt Algo in Kent, CT. In fact, in earlier times, the western and northern parts of this loop were also part of the Appalachian Trail. It was later rerouted east to its current location.

As I mentioned above, there is also a campground here with many sites both wooded and on open fields as well as along the brook. There are many modern pit toilets with solar panels on the roofs – but there are no flushing toilets inside or shower facilities like at nearby Housatonic Meadows state park. So while it’s not a completely primitive campground, its not one for those that demand modern comforts when camping. Along those lines, there’s also next to zero cell phone coverage unless you are up on the ridges, as the peaks really box the park in. There’s a large open-to-the-elements stone pavilion with a fireplace you can rent out, and our local AMC club does exactly that for its annual A.T. Day events. There are RV sites too, if that’s your preferred method of camping.

Climbing up Cobble Mtn

Climbing up Cobble Mtn-looking down – steep!

Camping is allowed mid-April through October, and rangers are on duty that whole time. Trail maps and firewood are available at the Ranger station. Alcohol is not allowed. If you really need modern comforts and fine dining and drinking, downtown Kent is 10 minutes or less by car and can provide all of those amenities. There are many other side trails throughout the park that connect up with the loop trail and facilitate hikes of all levels and lengths. Check it out!

The Taconics to the North (on the right in distance)

The Taconics to the North (on the right in distance)

The area was once a hotbed of local iron activity for the area, and Kent Iron Company’s furnaces, forges and charcoal pits dotted the landscape, fueled by local trees. Remnants of the forges, pits and stone walls are visible in the southern end of the park.

There was also a CCC (Civil Conservation Corps) project here in the early 30’s which built roadways and buildings for park management. An old Dover, NY to Kent, CT. stagecoach road passes through the northern end as well. The brook and several other streams and ponds traverse and surround the park.

I was pleasantly surprised at the views on Pine Hill, the peak just north of Cobble. The southern side of the peak provided a beautiful vista south into the Housatonic River Valley, with Mt. Schaghticoke and Mt. Algo towering beyond. And the route down this face had some nice rock scrambles of its own, though not as tough as Cobble. A great lunch spot!

Catskills to the West (in distance)

Catskills to the West (in distance)

I headed counter clockwise from the beginning of the loop on the south side of the park and because there was no leaf cover, the first peak also provided some nice views south and also east to Pond Mountain (natural area) and Caleb’s Peak on the A.T. I really enjoy fall and late winter hikes when you can get views, sometimes 360 degrees from a ridge, that normally would be invisible in summer. Really gives you the sense you’re ridge walking and not just in the woods. A bit more payoff for all those climbs to get to that spot.

The green trail traverses the park from the notch between Cobble and Pine Hill on the western side to this eastern peak and then onwards to the Pond Mountain Area. I believe this is the original A.T. route, or part of the original route east to the river from Cobble’s summit. I’ve bought a book on the Connecticut section online from 1968 so I’m eager to find the original route.

Macedonia Brook

Macedonia Brook

I had hoped to try out my new MSR micro rocket and Toaks titanium cook pot set as it was definitely cold enough for some coffee, but the route did not bring me as close to any of the campsites with picnic tables as I had hoped and I didn’t really find any good spots on the trail where I felt it would be safe to do this. With some time restrictions and a good deal of anxiety about that scramble ahead as well, I did not make the extra detour to a picnic table. Also, it was cold enough that the water was freezing in my hydration tube, so I figured it best to keep moving for that reason as well. On the upside it also kept me drinking more often which was good! I tend to not drink as often as I should when I have the hydration bladder in the pack, and learned a hard lesson at Harriman last summer.

White trail on Cobble Mtn

White trail on Cobble Mtn

I needed my gloves for most of the hike, with the exception of that climb, where I took them off so I could really dig my fingers into the rock’s nooks and crannies for a good grip. I also had to repeatedly toss my collapsed trekking poles up the rock face ahead as they were useless on that climb and I didn’t have my new Exped folding poles that I got later that night for my birthday! Those would have fit in my pack. Not knowing how steep this truly was, I didn’t push the issue. In hindsight I wish I had. I’m looking forward to using them on the next hike – they are SO light and we got them at an absolute steal. The only downside to them is they have a set length, which makes them more compact, but not as adaptable when using to prop up a tarp or tent. I need to test them in both uses to see if its a problem at 115cm but I know that when we did the A-frame tarp setup I maxed out all our poles to 140cm. We shall see. Maybe just pitching the tarp differently is the solution. I really hope I didn’t freeze my sawyer filter again. I did wrap it in a shirt so it should be ok but I hope I don’t find out the hard way on an overnight in the spring.

Trail snack!

Trail snack!

I did however get to try a trail snack I’ve read a million stories about on the various hiking forums which is to wrap just about anything in a tortilla! I had one left over from our ‘Mexican night’ dinner at home and instantly the idea popped into my head to make a wrap. Thru-hikers love them and will stuff just about anything in one for a quick and easy meal – cheese, sausage, other cold cuts, peanut butter, honey, granola, banana; you name it. They don’t squish like bread or get stale as easily. And, no crumbs!

One thing that concerns me is my back is still wetting out in my down coat when using this pack. Perhaps my day pack is too snug to my back. It certainly feels that way sometimes. I will try to loosen it and see if it helps. It wasn’t as severe this time as it was much colder out. But I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off with a synthetic, if I sweat too much and render the down’s insulation unusable. At 11oz, I can get a synthetic at the same weight or close.

I love this coat and its great around town but I want to insure I’m getting the most out of every piece of gear. I haven’t tried it with my bigger pack yet but until I do more cold weather overnights, I can’t imagine I will use it much backpacking. Maybe just on cold shoulder-season nights where I can’t make a fire. Experienced anything similar? Any suggestions are welcome.

I could have stayed on the ridge after summiting Cobble but decided to take the white trail down and give my legs a wind-down with a road walk on the beautiful old CCC road. Mileage-wise, it came out pretty much the same however. I definitely recommend checking out this hike and this park. It’s so beautiful. Where to next?

Total Miles: 6.5

– Linus

A day of volunteering with my local AMC club

 

Painting white blazes

Painting white blazes

Every year my local Connecticut AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) chapter puts together their “A.T. Day.” This day consists of multiple activities. There are of course hikes of various lengths and difficulty along all 53 miles of our section of trail, as well as some in Macedonia Brook State park, including family hikes for small children and beginner hikers. We did one of these last year up Cobble Mountain in the State Park, a peak formerly on the A.T. with sweeping views west to the Taconic and Catskill Mountains. There are also boundary and trail maintenance workshops, rock-climbing lessons on St. John’s Ledges, training for trail patrollers, and road bike rides close to the trail. The Connecticut AMC is responsible for maintaining the portion of the Appalachian Trail in our state.

Birch forest

Birch forest

At the end of all of these activities, there’s a grand chapter BBQ at the main pavilion at the park. Camping season ends there September 30, as do the crowds generally, so its a great time to take over that space, and connect with other members and management. Group and chapter leaders work the grill, meet and greet longtime and new members, welcome non-members, and spread the word about volunteering. And with temperatures dipping into the 30s at this time of year, there is always a much-appreciated roaring fire. The cost is only $6 and that includes the food and drinks.

This club, and the Appalachian Trail, are what they are because of volunteers. I’ve always wanted to give back to the trail and the club but I am usually using whatever time I have off exploring new trails and sections of the A.T., as these adventures also provide much-needed therapy and balance in my hectic life.

Working on a blowdown

Working on a blowdown

This year I gave in, because I truly feel the need to give back to the trail is something I and everyone should do whenever possible to keep it the way it is. I’ve avoided more laborious maintenance job opportunities because my back is just barely strong enough for a lightweight multi-day backpack, with new gear thankfully as advanced and light as it is. But lifting of heavy rocks and tree limbs is not something I can do.

This work party however, included something I could, and something I think every A.T. hiker would love to do — re-paint the white blazes! It was so much fun, and the day hikers and backpackers we met along the way thought it was just as exciting, and thanked us for our work. There was also a blue bucket of paint, so we could touch up the campsite side trail blue-blazes along the way. There were some in our group addressing and clearing large blowdowns with heavy saws and chainsaws, and some with ‘loppers’ to help trim back overgrowth where needed. And I will be doing some ‘lopping’ I am sure, as I spent most of my childhood helping in the family gardening chores.

Liner's Farm, Silver Hill beyond

Liner’s Farm

Our group also created some new posts for campsite markers because some of those were formerly on unhealthy trees that were cut down so no one would be injured by a widowmaker. Another part of our group, some Yale environmental studies students, also cleared some water bars that had been congested with leaf cover and were getting jammed. The leaders also educated us on the new mouldering privies, why they have the rules they do in our section of trail, and a bit about the overall needs and characteristics of this particular part of the pathway.

Colors on parade

Colors on parade

While very likely the easiest section of the whole A.T., the famous 5-mile river walk along the Housatonic is also stunningly beautiful. With leaves nearing peak here, the foliage was practically glowing orange and red. This is also the first section Fielden Stream and I backpacked together, as it provided time to get the feel for our packs and make adjustments before we made our first climb up to our first overnight campsite on Silver Hill last year. Our maintenance crew finished at the end of the river walk just before the climb so there wasn’t any elevation change on this hike. But that is not why I was out there this time and it was good to just be out there and still get some scenic hiking done while giving my time to the trail.

Housatonic RiverI posted a picture of me painting a white blaze on one of my Facebook A.T. groups and got a barrage of thank you’s and likes. It’s great to see how many people appreciate volunteer work. I highly recommend getting out there a few times a year to give back to your local trails with a maintaining club.

My chapter are also short trail patrollers so I am going to take their training to be a volunteer trail patroller in the coming weeks. I am really excited about this because I can continue to give back doing what I love — hiking and backpacking! I’ve been seeking something in my life where I can contribute to preservation and conservation, and I think this is the perfect opportunity for me at this time.