Friday, September 17, 2010

A Short Hike with a Distance Wanderer

I needed to put on my hiking boots and grab my pack for a good weekend hike. Conveniently, a high school bud is hiking the AT and crossed New England last month. I kept tabs on Apple Juice as he headed north. As we approached a weekend, I left work early on Friday to join him for the weekend.

I enjoyed hiking with a thru-hiker. Having only hiked on long weekend trips, it was fun to see, first hand, the community that develops amongst those on the trail for so long. In particular, I've always enjoyed the trail names that the thru-hikers give each other.

I've yet to even consider thru-hiking any long distance trail, let alone the AT. I'm not sure how many of these mornings I could handle in a row.

But the hiking was beautiful. And food after a long days hike always tastes better than it should.

I'm sure I slowed Apple Juice down a little bit, but I felt great by Sunday noon when my weekend hike was almost through. At the Bennington overlook I was even given a trail name.

A couple of the other thru-hikers asked what was that thing down in the valley. It kind of looked like the Washington Monument, but smaller. I was able to dig deep in my past to remember it was the Bennington Battle Monument. It was built over 100 years ago to commemorate the successful revolutionary battle fought here. And now I'm known as Tour Guide, or Tour for short.

With a weekend of hiking done, how do I get back to my truck nearly 20 miles away in North Adams. Luckily, I thought ahead on Friday, and stashed my basket bike at the trailhead that I planned to end at.

After checking the map, and squeezing my backpack into the basket, I rode off. The twenty-five miles through Bennington, and the surrounding farmland back to my truck in North Adams was a great end to the trip. Going out of Bennington was a steep climb for an overloaded three speed, but the rest of the ride was mostly downhill or along the river.

View B&J N Adams - Bennington in a larger map

Short of going to the White Mountains or the Adirondacks, most overnight hiking around here is on long distance trails with few parallel trails. Long loop hikes can be difficult to find. But if you spot your bike at the end of the trail you can easily ride back to your car.

A few lessons that I learned. One, make sure your trail ends higher than where you start, it is much easier to hike uphill than it is to bike the same climb. Two, take your time cycling back to your car, you're probably already tired. Three, there is less shade while cycling than while hiking, dress and water accordingly. Four, a large basket up front seems a lot easier than trying to figure how to fit a backpack on a rear rack.

There are number of longer trails in the area. Most would be good for an over night or two with a return by bike.
Mattabesett Trail, CT
Metacomet and Monadnock Trails, Ma & NH
Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, NH
Midstate Trail, MA
Wapack Trail, NH
North-South Trail, RI

One could also bike & hike the Bay Circuit Trail, though it is also convenient to get to by MBTA without needing a shuttle at all.

Happy trails, and let me know if you've done a good couple day hike nearby.


  1. The Bennington is a lovely place for hiking and trailing activities and provides so much fun and adventure to hikers. It has great hiking trails available for travelers in Vermont.

  2. Tour, glad that you enjoyed the hike on the AT. If AJ hikes the trail for me, then its a good way to "Pay it Forward." for all our blessings. Please follow him on his blog and encourage your friends also. We would like to raise some serious money for other mothers who did not have the same access to care for breast cancer that I had. Keep us posted on Maggie +1. Love Mrs. T