There comes a time when a person needs to explore new surroundings. The White Mountains are currently encased in ice and leaving me with little interest to hike them. No worries, the world is big and beautiful. I thought I'd stay low and head south for Mt. Greylock in North Adams Massachusetts. I parked at the side of the road where the AT crosses on Pattison RD. It's early, about 8:30am and it's cold which is perfect for the last day of winter. I wore my white puffy winter shell, hat, gloves, but had no long johns on today. This made my legs a little cold. The AT heads south over bog bridges taking you through some great sections of hardwood. It begins to climb gradual at first. So far it's been nice to explore this new section of the AT. There's very little snow down low and no ice. Looking out through the trees, you can see farm land forever and it's so beautiful. I'm only slightly distracted by road noise and a train whistle.
As we continue through the switchbacks, the snow begins to build just a little. There's ice on the rocks and the trail makes a sharp increase in elevation. I have my microspikes with me but there's not enough consistent ice for them. Once the trail levels off, Isis and myself enjoy a nice ridge walk. After another short bump up, We arrived at the outlook for Mt. Prospect. I take a moment to take in the view over North Adams and beyond into Vermont. There's something very peaceful about the cold air, the blue sky, and being on the AT. I'm at home here more so than when I am in my own home. Isis and I climb down from the outlook and continue on the AT heading south. A half a mile down is a significant drop and I'm not thrilled with the ups and downs but we keep moving. I would not call them PUDS but damn close. Once down, we could have gone to the Wilbur Clearing Shelter or on to Greylock... We pressed on. On a side note here, I realized the the mileage on the signs are off. When we left the outlook up top, we had 3.2 miles to go... Then we went down .5 to see we had 3.3 miles still to go... It did not add up to me.
We soon met with Notch Rd, which is the auto road to the summit when it is open in Spring/Summer. Crossed there and continued to climb. The ice was increasing on the rocks so, the spikes finally came on. From here, I'm following someone else footsteps too which would be the first sign of anyone else being on trail today. As far as I can tell from the map, this section has two significant gains before leveling off at the summit of Mt. William. Isis and I manage the ice well and enjoy the inch of snow on the trail too. This section looks and feels like winter. A nice change on this last day of winter. In-between the two gains is a nice flat walk as well. We arrived at the summit of Mt. William and look out at the wind farm in the distance. It remains a beautiful day with great views from this side as well. Isis gets her treats and I signed the register. I'm not sure what happened here but I did not take the southbound trail. I somehow continued back North. Effectively heading back to the car. When I realized it, I really didn't want to redue the up I had just gone down and I didn't want to retrace miles. In unfamiliar territory, it's best to just go with the flow and form a plan B. I head to the shelter for a good dose of AT life and then we'll go back to the outlook on Mt. Prospect and hang out if it's not too cold. Going back down the trail, the snow is balling in my spikes. Time to take those off again. We arrived at the Wilbur Clearing Shelter (down and .1 Spur trail) to the smell of a fire and a nice shelter for a break. I signed in here as well. The smell of the smoldering fire was like heaven and brought me right back to my days on the LT.
Back on the AT heading North to the Mt. Prospect outlook, I climb up the .5 again in different conditions due to the sun melting the snow and ice. It's still a consistent up for us and since I have added weight to my pack for my LT trip, it gives me a good idea of how I will react to the ups of the 4K's I will face this summer... It's going to be difficult to say the least. We stop briefly at the outlook as it is cold and I want to get down sooner than I thought. As we are walking the ridge, Isis stops dead and stares at the black lump up ahead... It's moving and suddenly changes direction away from us. It's a pretty healthy looking porcupine that I am glad Isis was curious about but also happy she new to keep her distance too. We head down into fall and eventually a touch of early spring. The trail is dry but the noise is greatly increased... This section of the AT goes close to a shooting range and poor Isis is not happy. Come to realize, neither am I. It's very jarring and distracting. We run into a nice couple heading up to the outlook as we head out. They would be the only ones we run into today.
Spring time is a transition time for me and it's never smooth. It's a time when I start to think of making changes and setting goals for the summer. Of course these goals have my LT trip in mind but now, I'll need a new goal to follow the LT. Being a little disenchanted with the White Mountains these days, I'll be exploring some different areas and more than likely doing some longer and flatter hikes... I'm thinking of the Monadnock/Sunapee Greenway and some more AT hikes too. I'll be back to the Whites from time to time as there are some valuable training grounds considering I'll be hiking the 4K's on the LT in Vermont... I just have to figure out what, and when... And how to avoid the warm weather madness that is the crowd. Forming these goals has been sluggish at best as the noise of the day gets me bogged down. Time to limit some of that noise and focus on the hikes... I didn't fail today but I still feel as though I could really use a win next weekend. Just have to see what I feel like hiking. The world is wide open for me.