Monroe-Dunbar Brook Trail, Ma Sept 2018

Saturday, September 8 we decided to do a 10 mile lollipop hike in the Monroe State Forest, located in Monroe, Massachusetts.  Actually the proverbial “we” was Mike who found the hike, as a trail run race and decided it would be a great hike to do, to get some miles in.

We haven’t hike 10 miles in years and to be honest I wasn’t sure my legs would make it.  I looked at the map and realized there were ways to cut it short, if “we” or rather I had to bail out due to legs giving out.  We followed this map to plot our course. It was really helpful to us to identify the wood roads and landmarks to look for.

We parked at River Road and followed the Dunbar Brook Trail that went down the stairs and followed the brook for about .5 miles.

To be honest I was fearful of those steps after descending them, knowing I would have to go back up them at the end of the hike and my tired legs would hate me for them.  We turned onto the Smith Hollow Trail with a sharp incline until the shelter.

At the shelter the incline was less and we followed the trail to the Raycroft Lookout Trail.

We followed the Raycroft Outlook to check out the views. It  was well worth it to add-on the extra mile and so out and back.

After we reached the junction of trails, coming out of the lookout, we followed Spruce HIll Trail to the summit of Spruce Mountain.

We descended Spruce Mountain via the Spruce Hill Trail. Some of the hike required rambling on old roads to reach the next trail junction.  Those road walks, increased our speed and allowed us to eat our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the go.

We then turned on the Dunbar Brook Trail, following the Brook and had a few water crossings, sometimes with the assist of bridges. This section of trail was beautiful, following the river.

The last section before we closed the loop and joined the stick of the lollipop hike required a walk across the brook.  My feet rejoiced as they hit the cooling water.  After 10.5 miles they were about done and overheating in my shoes.

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We closed the loop and headed out. Remember those stairs I was dreading? Well somehow I took a different path out and came out above them, avoiding them and let me tell you I rejoiced at having skipped them.

Throughout this hike I repeated two mantras “rock what ya got and those are those chubby legs, that are powerful” and “I can do hard things”.  Honestly I wasn’t sure if I would come off the trail smiling, when we began.  Guess what? I was smiling because I survived not a 10 mile hike, but an 11 mile one!

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Stats: 11 miles, 2400 elevation gain, 5.5 hours.

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Yokun Ridge Trails – August 2018

I needed something new to hike, I needed to return to New England hiking and I needed to get my hiking legs back.  Off to the Berkshires we went to complete to easy loop hikes.

We arrived in Sheffield around 9:30 and while we loaded our packs on our back, a couple shared some trail advice and suggested we do the Yokun Ridge South Loop trail counterclockwise

.  The loop trail started on the Charcoal Trail to the Walsh Trail with an offshoot to the Ridge Trail and back to the Walsh Trail.  Our loop hike was around 2 miles and took us 45 minutes to complete.

We returned from the trail, crossed the road and did the Burbank Trail Loop. It was a little over 3 miles and took us about an hour and 23 minutes of mostly flat terrain.

Once we finished our trek, we sat on the wall in the parking lot overlooking a lovely lake.  This spot is known as Olivia’s Overlook.

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This hike fit all my needs and it was great to get back into hiking in New England.

Section 7 of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail-So Many Titles Come to Mind (Sept. 1, 2012)

View from M-M Trail Section 7

Well this post could be titled a few ways:

1. I never got my hiking legs

2. Hiking and Humidity are not the perfect couple

3. So many ups and downs

4.  Poor planning on our part

5.  I should have read Section Hiker’s report on this first
You get it don’t you? This wasn’t the best hike for us.  Our plan was an out and back of this section, going from the Notch parking across the Seven Sisters to the Tip Top House perhaps a little beyond that and then return the way we came.  Our plan didn’t happen, we made it 2.5 miles and then turned around.

The weatherman stated the humidity would break in the morning.  We have to drive an hour north from our house, so we believed it would be a touch cooler in Hadley, Ma.  We arrived at the Granby Notch Visitor Center Parking and quickly realized the weather was still hot and sticky.

parking

This trail attacks at the beginning with an elevation gain of 650 feet in .5 miles. No warm the legs up on this hike, you start the climb at the beginning.

start of trail

Along the way you cross over a shale field.

Shale Field

At the .5 mile mark you reach a rocky outcrop, with your first views out. The haze was just sitting out over the valley and there was no breeze to push it away.

looking through the haze at the valley

After a brief picture-taking session, we continued on.  The trail was a typical Southern New England hike, ups and downs, ups and downs. No nice little switchbacks to make it a little easier on the legs.

can you find me going up?
And down I go

This section was just a series of steep ups and downs. We did reach another area that provided a lookout, again the haze was hugging the valley.

bird soaring

What followed this view was another series of ups and downs, followed by a welcomed flat section.

 

ahhhh a bit of flat

Of course, this flat section was short-lived and we had to go up again….

more ups

We decided to go to 2.5 miles and turn around.  It was to hot and humid. I never gained my hiking legs on this hike and the smart thing to do for us was to turn around and head out.  We found a little spot to sit down and eat lunch, gather strength to return to the ups and downs.  After a 15 minute break, we gave ourselves a pep talk to tackle the ups and downs.

My strategy to tackle the ups was to pick a tree, hike to it, rest, pick another tree, get to it, rest.  This actually worked out mentally well for me.

We followed our path back.  We did stop one last time at the second outlook, the haze cleared a little.

Wearing Dirty Girl Gaiters

After the brief rest, we continued on, making good time, even in the heat and with tired worn legs.  The last downhill push went fairly quickly and we were very happy to end this hike and get in an air-conditioned car.

Somewhere on the trail, we realized we should have had another plan for this hike.  We should have not attacked this as an out and back, but rather a point to point.  We could have asked my sister, who lives in the area, to help us with a car spot.  Next time attempted section 7, that is what we will do.

This is a great hike for a workout and we did see one trail runner.  I would like to do it in the fall in cool crisp air with the leaves turning, so maybe we will return one fall day.  I would say this wasn’t my favorite hike and I know I need to give it another chance with favorable conditions.

The Details:  5 miles, 3 and half hours, elevation gain of about 2,000.  Short bursts of ups and downs.

 

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