This hike essentially concludes the backpacking trip I had planned for Labor Day weekend but had to cut it short due to weather. I headed back down to Mt. Everett and the Guilder Pond Picnic Area. This would be 13.2 miles round trip for us and from the map in my Guthooks ap, it looked a little steep in places. I set a turn around time for 2pm but I hoped to get out to Bear Mountain just over the Connecticut border. The morning was cool and I had a long sleeve layer on. Isis and I headed back up the trail to Mt. Everett. This took not a whole lot of effort for us and since we had been here before, we stuck around only briefly. From here on out, it's a new section of trail.
I will say that coming off of Mt. Everett on this side is a lot steeper. There's plenty of rocks to deal with and 7 sets of stairs bolted into the rocks. Very reminiscent of The White Mountains but keep in mind that Mt. Everett is about half of a 4K... And it still gave me a run for my money.
From here we headed back up a ways climbing to Mt. Race. This was an easier climb that I thought with the gain of trail being almost a flat and gradual climb until you pushed up to the summit on rocks. Poles on this trail are almost pointless except for the dirt sections between peaks. The threat of rain for the day looks to have passed given the view I was presented with but the chill was still in the air. After Mount Race, Isis and I walked some beautiful ledges. The kind that are open and the trail is pretty thin or just rock ledge to walk on. We lingered here to check out the views and chat with a few other hikers.
After Mount Race and the ledges, we pushed on to the border and Bear Mountain. I was making pretty good time and the trail being a lot less steep than I initially thought was on my side. Prior to crossing into Connecticut, the trail had these decent flat stretches. Or at least it felt flat. The gains was that gradual. Isis and I cranked out the miles here. More people were on the trail heading to various tent sites. It's going to be a cold night and I am kind of glad I am not staying out. We reached the border of MA/CT in what seemed like less than an hour form Mt. Race.
At this point, I had a choice, I could turn back now or push the final 1.5 to Bear Mountain. We pushed. The trail followed a stream here and it contained some decent cascades. At one turn, Isis and I began climbing. A little more than gradual here. I slowed down and continued up. With a half mile to go, Isis and I were presented with a jumble of rocks to scramble up. Careful steps and patience and we were able to get to flatter ground. It was not long after this that we came to the rocky outcrop at the summit. Several hikers were milling around with their dogs and Isis and I stayed long enough to snap a picture and chat with some section hikers form Virginia.
So, this makes High Points in 5 New England States for us, among the AT miles we've accumulated. After chatting with the other section hikers, We began our trek back to the car and I was unsure if we would make it by Golden Hour. Getting down from Bear Mountain was tedious and then I just put my head down and we went for it. Turns out we did a mile and a half in just under 45 minutes. Knowing that I had some steeper grades to deal with on tired feet, I opted to keep the pace moving. Some of what I thought felt flat on the way out now felt slightly taxing on the way back. Isis was great at keeping with me and occasionally leading the way. As predicted we slowed to a crawl going up to the ledges and Mt. Race and again at Mt. Everett. At that point, I figured we'd get back to the car well before we needed to be so, the slow down was welcome. It was about 5:45pm when we got back to the car.
Very pleased with the events of today. The hike itself was a risk for me having been keeping my mileage low these days on purpose. Perhaps I will keep going with this level. Just depends on day light I suppose. And even still, I'd like to see maybe one more weekend out in the tent. We'll see what can happen. After a positive visit with my Rheumatologist, I am more excited to hike now. I still have swelling and I'm developing Rynauld's Syndrome in my fingers and toes but I can wear socks and gloves to help that. The swelling is not nearly as bad as it use to be. I can remember where I was a year ago... In extreme pain, unable to grip anything with my hands and just crying for it all to stop. So, today, I have a little swelling but it's nothing I can't handle. A minor annoyance at best. My medications are working and I can keep hiking. My plan right now is to continue North to Mt. Greylock to finish Massachusetts, and then I'll figure out Connecticut. Maine is the state I'd rather not think about right now... I'm enjoying the easier terrain of the lower states.
Coming up on a milestone birthday.. Or at least on of those, "Wow, I made it here", kind of birthdays. I have days when I don't feel that old and of course, I have days I feel older. Heading into the down side of a decade seems kind of mind blowing to me. Yet, here I am still going. I am grateful that the issues that I do have still allow me to see this great world from a trail that seems to have welcomed me to hike it with open arms. This hike in Massachusetts felt like home and I am looking forward to more miles and views like today. Here's to another trip around the sun.