I did a little investigation but really didn't find much Winter info on Mount Greylock. I asked in a Mass. hiking group I am in with out much response so I watched the weather reports for the Summit, picked up a new jacket and packed extra clothes and hot food. Shit, I'm just doing it.
The weather looked great but there seemed to be a possibility for wind at the Summit. Also as you can see there was a decent cloud cover at the Summit. The parking lots on West Mountain Road were open and plowed clear. I was the only car at the Cheshire lot when I arrived. There was snow on the ground but not much so just past this sign at almost 9am I put on my micro spikes and headed into the woods.
I soon will admit I should have stayed with what I had because the shoes now feel clumsy and at one point I have a little grade to take maybe 3 steps up and my left shoe pops right off. Just as I call out Shit! I stop to fix it and a man comes silently up behind.
"Oh Hi, I didn't think I would see anyone else on this Mountain today." He came up the Money Brook Trail as he is from Albany. We share some chat and he is on his way.
I curse and get my snowshoe back on. Can I add I am getting tired, need to pee and thinking about lunch at this point.
There is another road crossing letting me know I only have .4 miles to Summit. This little 3/4 mile on the AT is almost the best part as it is closed in and the trees are heavy with snow. The sun is still bright but you can see the grey up ahead. The next photo is the road to the Summit and I swear it just looked like you could drive to Heaven. I don't think the picture does it justice as usual.
This was the money shot for sure. It is now about 11:25 so I have been hiking for about 2.5 hours and I am pretty cold.
I wasn't exactly happy to open the door and be hit with the strong odor of beer. One of the stoves had empty beer cans and the floor had some random nips. Sadly, I am not surprised assholes are everywhere now a days. This shelter had windows all the way around but most were covered with ice so you couldn't see out. There were 4 wood stoves and 4 benches coming from a center chimney. The sign explained it was an emergency shelter but I was thinking a fire would have been nice at this point. There were pieces of firewood and large branches strewn about as if someone had shared my idea.
I decided to make a hot meal as I needed to warm up and I figured I could use the energy to get back down. The stove fired up fine and had water boiling in no time. While my Beef Stroganoff re-hydrated I heated up some coffee. I was soon joined by a couple who were skiing the area and they told me I was the only hiker they had seen all day. Then a group of 3 with 2 of the coolest and most energetic dogs came in for a rest and some water.
I changed socks. Believe it or not I think my socks were too thick and my feet were sweating then in turn freezing. I love this new North Face hat but again all the work on the way up I was sweating so I hung it on my water bottle holder thinking it would dry out. Now I found it frozen. Same with the gloves I was wearing. Luckily I had thinner wool socks, 2 more options for gloves and a lighter hat.
And away we go.
The sky wasn't looking friendly either so I decided to get going. I came to the entrance to the Gould trail and after consulting my map I decided this would work. I could see a different route then cut back over to Cheshire to reach my car. Gould as it turns out ends down the road a ways from where I parked.
I look ahead for the blazes which seem to go along the brook and cross it. Seems easy enough right?
Well the rest of this story you will have to use your imagination because I did not take an photos.
The below photo is the trail. It basically goes straight up the middle. The grade doesn't look like much all I can say is every time I got about 4-5 feet up I would slide back down. This occurred twice until I got behind that tree that you see on the right. Like behind as in it held me from sliding back down to the brook. So after 3 or 4 more attempts I needed a different route and I wasn't really wanting to go back the way I came because that was so steep I slide down.
To the right out of this photo was a large tree laying down. I literally crawled up using that tree as an anchor. Once to the top I crawled and used small trees until I got to some patches without snow and just leaves. Guess what that was? A brook. So yes I had a little more traction but I was sinking in the leaves until the water/mud was over toes of my boots. As a side note, this whole time my feet were dry and warm.
So I am balancing and dragging my ass up this hill and you want to know the 3 things on my mind?
1. I really just want to go home now.....that one was repeated a few times.
2. I am sorry for the damage I might be causing to plants and baby trees. I reminded myself the branches that didn't hold me and snapped were pretty dead already but that is not what hiking is supposed to be. You are supposed to leave no trace.
3. I never like to be off trail! I am not sure I will ever be a "bushwhacker" and if you are lost you really are never supposed to be off trail-LIKE NEVER!
Finally I make it to the top and I stop and drink, eat something and catch my breathe. I'm tired and just as an add I did all of this with a 25lb pack on.
So I knew that the blazes had run a diagonal to my left and I essentially went straight up so I started to make my way left. Eyes searching for that bright blue blaze and after about 2-4 minutes I was back on the trail. Surprisingly I was back to the Cheshire junction shortly after as well.
Live and learn right?
I will be back in the Summer to see you in all your glory, drink from your brook and listen to the birds chirp while I eat my lunch because in fact I believe it will be one of the more beautiful places at Greylock.
So be safe, learn and be better next time and always have fun.