Charles Fahnestock State Park – Dalton, MA


June 22 – I didn’t head out this morning until the rain stopped at near ten but I still planned on doing a 21 mile day. The sky was blue after the morning showers and I was motivated to get in some miles by the fact that the Connecticut border was only around 30 miles away. It was actually a pretty insignificant day, I found myself in autopilot for much of the time I was hiking. The forest looked the same as it has been and no views pulled me in for a break. It was probably for the best as I needed to make some good time due to my late start. I didn’t start to feel any pain until the last five miles when my feet became extremely sore. I planned to camp at a spot called Nuclear Lake, but the rain arrived just as I did causing me to make the split decision to push on to the next shelter three miles away, turning my 21 mile day into a 24. The rain persisted in varying strengths for the next hour until I made it to the Telephone Pioneer Shelter, where I was surprised to see Hot Pants for the first time since Delaware Water Gap. Thru hikers are getting scarce on the trail at this point, so I’m glad to have caught up to one tonight. Peter Pan never made it here so hopefully all is well with him. I have exactly ten miles to go until Connecticut and I couldn’t be more excited to finally take my first steps in New England! New York has been pretty challenging, especially at the beginning, but once again it seems like I got to the end of it really fast. It won’t be long until difficult terrain slows me way down but for now god speed!

June 23 – hiked into Connecticut and made it to the town of Kent for the night. Terrain is similar to New York so far at this point.

June 24 – I woke up early this morning to beat the rain that was predicted to happen all day. My plan was to do 10 miles to a campsite with a pavilion in order to stay dry, but as I walked my ambitions grew due to the beautiful day it seemed to be. I walked along the Housatonic River for a good six miles on completely flat trail. The forest was dominated by pine and hemlock trees, which are becoming more and more abundant the further north I get. It started raining just before I arrived to the pavilion but didn’t last long. By the time I got there, the sky was clear once again. It was a beautiful campsite surrounded by pine, it even had a swinging bench out front with a view. It was really tempting to stay, but after about an hour it seemed crazy to waste such a a nice day. I headed on with my sights set on a shelter 7 miles north, with hopes that I would stay dry the entire way. Connecticut is a beautiful state to hike in. For the first time since the the end of Virginia there are no roads within earshot and it’s nice to hear nothing but the wind and the birds again. It’s becoming more mountainous making the views more extravagant, and this is only the beginning of New England. Starting in and especially after Massachusetts, the mountains will start to become much larger as they were in the south. Tomorrow I’ll be climbing Bear Mountain at 2300 feet which is higher than the trail has taken me in a long time. 
It started raining only shortly before I arrived at the shelter but I stayed mostly dry. It’s blown over now and the next four days look sunny. Planning to start early tomorrow so I can get in and out of town to pick up a package but still make it to the MA border. 
June 25 – It was cold when I woke up early this morning. The temperatures are starting to get much cooler as I head north and it’s definitely a welcome change. Forests of pine surrounded me nearly all day as I made my way to Salisbury, where I had a package of food and my new pair of shoes. The mountains were gentle but definitely are starting to become bigger. It was extremely tranquil and eventually I made it to Rand’s View, a grassy field with a long chain of mountains branching out in the distance. Soon after, I got to Salisbury, quickly got a hitch into town, retrieved my package, and was eating donuts in the town square with Disco, Hawk, and Vanguard. It was only 12:30 so I had plenty of time to waste while I let my phone and camera charge. Once I got back on the trail I still had plans to make Massachusetts by tonight, but once I got to the Riga Shelter the view out front and primo hammock spot convinced me to cut my day short. I should have an amazing sunrise tomorrow morning to start what will be my first day in Mass!
June 25 – Today was my most amazing day on the trail in a long time. I woke up to an amazing sunset right from my hammock before packing up and heading out. The last little bit of my climb was relatively easy, and at the top views began to surround me in near all directions. The pine trees didn’t grow very tall up there, they were more like pine shrubs. After a steep and rocky descent I was down in an area known as Sages Ravine. The forest was all pine and the trail followed the ravine as it cascaded deep down into the valley. On one of the trees there was a sign that simply states “welcome to Massachusetts”. It was definitely the most beautiful of all the state lines so far and I was instantly inspired to keep walking and see what MA held in store. My first climb in the state was up Race Mountain, even taller than Bear Mountain. About half a mile from the summit the ridge opened completely up giving me great views for the remainder of my climb. Once at the top I sat down and enjoyed the complete silence and peacefulness of the mountaintop. It reminded me a lot of the beginning of my hike when I would sit on the tops of mountains just like this. Being back in the higher elevations may mean tougher climbs but it also means beautiful moments like this one and I’d say that’s a fair trade any day. My next obstacle was the even taller Mt Everett, at 2600 feet. The hike up was steep and grueling with no view at the top, but from here the hard stuff was down for the day. I quickly made my way down into the valley where I walked through pastures and along the Housatonic River once again. I stopped at The Hemlocks Shelter, a beautiful large shelter located in the middle of a hemlock forest. I was the only one there which made for a very peaceful lunch as I admired the beauty of this area. A stream trickled somewhere off in the distance and birds chirped their tunes while I chowed down on my ramen. The next ten miles went by quickly and I made it to the Tom Kennedy Shelter by 7 to make for a 24 mile day. I’ve run into a bubble of flip floppers here that I’ve never met before so it’s been a nice night meeting new people. Can’t wait to see what Mass has in store for me tomorrow.
June 26 – It was a cloudy morning that soon turned into another beautiful sunny day. The beginning of my day consisted of many swamps with lots of mud. At one point I measured it to be almost a foot deep! The boards that are meant to aide hikers in crossing these bogs only stayed above the mud for a second once weight was put on them so keeping my new shoes looking new was a near impossible task. It may have been annoying but it didn’t change the fact that even these swampy areas are beautiful. Many ponds lie scattered between the mountains and the color green is everywhere contrasting with the brown sludge making up the ground. 

Soon I was back in the woods, surrounded by firs and spruce trees. Steep ups and downs were the make up of the second half of my day but the forest was so beautiful that it went by all too fast. During one of my descents, the pines grew extremely close together, resembling my surroundings in the Roan Highlands back in Tennessee. I went about my day in complete silence, not listening to music and never once hearing the sound of a road. I soon made it to Upper Goose Pond, where there is a big cabin for hikers to stay in right on the shore. They’ve got canoes and I went for a swim which was much needed as it’s been a while since my last shower. There’s a rumor that the caretaker makes pancakes in the morning so looking forward to that. Rain is imminent tomorrow it seems but hoping for a last minute change in the forecast. Either way I’ll be going into the town of Dalton for the night so I’ll have a hot meal to look forward to. 
June 27 – I slept in a while this morning while waiting for pancakes made by the caretaker of Upper Goose Pond Shelter, a worthwhile delay on my 21 mile day into the town of Dalton. I held a steady pace all the way there in hopes of making it before 3 which was when some serious rain was predicted to start. I started my day going up and over many small mountains before reaching a flat section through some more swampy areas. The contrast of the brown mud is awesome against green foliage surrounding me. Beams of light sliced through the skies making it appear sunny while a cloud still protected me from some of the heat. As I started descending the forest turned into a dense pine forest once again. I reached the town of Dalton by three, where I met the town trail angel, Tom Levardi. He’s a retired man who now has basically devoted his whole life to hanging out with and helping hikers. He allows people to tent in his yard and sleep on his front porch. For the rest of the day other hikers and I hung out with him while watching the storm roll in. Tomorrow he’ll be driving me up ten miles to the town of Cheshire which the trail also runs through and I’ll slack pack back here for another night. I’m sure I’ll still get wet but at least my stuff will stay dry. Getting close to the Vermont border!


One thought on “Charles Fahnestock State Park – Dalton, MA

  1. Mom

    We just spent, dad and I our favorite part of the week. Sitting outside and me reading your blog to dad out loud. It’s always such a great time as we feel like we are right there with you. Our love for what you have been doing has grown with each word. We love you buddy . Mom


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