Last week I had the pleasure of being the first thru-hiker to stay at the recently renovated Bascom Lodge on top of Mt Greylock, MA. After a ‘soft opening’ July 4th weekend, the lodge is sort of accepting guests while they complete the new wood floors and install the restaurant kitchen. By sort of accepting guests, I mean I entered through the side door and asked the construction manager if the bunk rooms were open for hikers. He said yes and quickly introduced me to John, the new caretaker of the lodge. After beating out 12 other company proposals, John and his partners were selected to take on the 25 year lease of the rustic lodge from the State of Massachusetts. I was quickly shown the freshly painted bunk room that had by far the best mountain views I’ve seen since Virginia. Mt. Greylock is the first sub-alpine terrain on the trail since North Carolina and it really feels like I’m getting back into true wilderness after trekking through the lowlands of the mid-atlantic. John and his partners treated me to a wonderful dinner of leftovers from their opening weekend and we shared a bottle of wine after my day of hiking and their day of renovation work. It was quite a fun experience, being the only guest surrounded by the four new caretakers of this historic lodge. I enjoyed hearing ab0ut their vision for the lodge and their excitement for the new business venture rubbed on to me. I wish them great success!
After Mt. Greylock, I walked to Williamstown, MA and toured Williams College. A very quaint and fancy town, my vagabond-hiker look stood out like a sore thumb. Speaking of sticking out, I’ve had a couple funny experiences lately where I felt like I was some sort of exhibit for the locals. The first happened at Williams College when a group of three typical suburban mothers on a school tour with their high school sons called out to me “hey, are you a Journey Man!?” I responded “uhh…not sure what you mean by Journey Man, but I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail.” The normal questions ensued. Yes, I walked here from Georgia. No, I don’t hunt for food, I buy it in grocery stores, etc. The second funny encounter was actually in the woods when a father and his three children spotted me walking towards them. The father exclaimed “hey look kids, it’s a thru-hiker coming down the trail! Did you walk here from Georgia!?” Same normal questions followed and this time the father insisted I take a picture with his kids. I felt like I was some sort of wildlife they had stumbled across and needed to document on their camera.
After finishing out Massachusetts (one of my favorite states thus far), I have now entered Vermont. Or as many hikers like to call it ‘Ver-mud.’ Vermont is really beautiful but also incredibly muddy. Especially with all the rain the East Coast endured in June. I’ve been able to tip-toe my way through the state without getting too muddy, but many a story has been told about the knee-deep mud puddles I will inevitably step into. One cool think about the trail in Vermont is that it criss-crosses lots of ski resorts. Yesterday I was on top of Stratton Mountain and was able to ride the Gondola down to the village for lunch and resupply.
I’m now in Manchester, Vermont enjoying a town break with hikers Chris and Lulu. Chris is a chemist from Philadelphia and Lulu is a recent college grad from Maine. Back on the trail tomorrow; New Hampshire in 90 miles!