I have to say I just came back from an absolute wonderful weekend road trip with my Dad!
As we were heading to the NJ state high point, somewhere in PA, we happened to see a guy standing on the side of the road wearing a backpack and holding a cardboard sign– all I saw on the sign was a stacked A T written in black sharpie— the famed symbol for the APPALACHIAN TRAIL! I yelled for my dad to stop!! “He’s an Appalachian trail hiker! Should we give him a lift??” My dad quickly replied “SURE!” So I hopped out and flagged him over.
He introduced himself as Deja Vu – a thru hiker who started in Georgia. When he got to PA something happened (I forget what) and he ended up going to Bear Mountain NY and hiking southbound to where he got off the trail- now he was hitching a ride back to continue North.
We told him we were headed for the New Jersey state high point and he said that would be awesome if he could tag along the whole way there. The trail goes near the highpoint and Deja Vu told us that he didn’t get off the trail to see the highpoint so he was excited to see the view and the monument.
As we were driving I look out the car window and see something big running through a field away from the car. Is it a dogs? No- too big— Are they cows? It didn’t make sense- there was no fence around so I say “What are those things?”
“BEARS!!” Deja Vu exclaims!
We get my dad to stop and back up but they were gone into the tree line- scared by our car no doubt. We get out and hiked a bit into the field to see if we could catch another glimpse of the mama and her cubs, but no luck- they were long gone already. At any rate I was excited- my 1st bear sighting! 🙂
We continued our drive to Highpoint State Park – exchanging stories about the AT and being a high pointer. It was so awesome! I explained I would love to start hiking the AT, but as for most people, there is no way I would be able to take all that time off in a row to do a thru hike- so I told him I am going to start section hiking. Of course I shared pics of my Joey girl- my hiking buddy!
We arrived at the New Jersey high point, jumped out to snap a few pics- Deja Vu took a few of my Dad and I and I exclaimed “SEE?!? It’s good we brought you along!” 🙂 haha! You could not have asked for better weather – and the view was gorgeous!! The monument was closed for construction so we couldn’t climb to the top, but that was ok- we started talking to Deja Vu about where he was heading and after looking at a map we realized it was not that far off from where Dad and I were going–so we decided to take him the whole way! Lucky for him we were heading that way, lucky for us we got more awesome stories along the way!
We reached Bear Mtn, NY (after a little GPS mishap) and Deja Vu told us we had to check it out sometime- there was a zoo the trail went through and at the top of Bear Mtn you had views of the NYC skyline- that sounds AMAZING so it is definitely on my must do list! I have to admit I was a little sad dropping him off-it was just such an awesome experience to talk to someone about the trail- I LOVE following YouTube channels and reading blogs about the AT.
Anyway, we continued to Mass- it was getting late so we decided to find a hotel for the night. I wanted to camp, but my dad is not much of a camper and prefers a comfy bed to an air mattress on top of a cot. He was also worried it would be a little to hot to camp (even though it was gorgeous outside). So we found a place and stopped.
True definition of irony- My dad wanted to stop for TV and AC- every TV each channel was more fuzzy than the next and the AC didn’t kick on basically the entire night- presumably because it was actually cool outside. So we had a good laugh about that- no big deal.
In the morning we continued to Mt Greylock in Mass. We stopped at an EXCELLENT café on the way- the Hitchingpost Café- oh man- what an AMAZING breakfast in such a cute little place- and the staff was super friendly- I highly recommend stopping there if you are passing by!
So with full bellies, we continued to Mt Greylock- Another day of just BEAUTIFUL weather- we were really lucking out! The view was just breathtaking and I love the tower- I must say Mass- you have really outdone yourselves! It was awesome to actually get to see it because the last time I was there it was raining and foggy and we could really only see a little of the base- and certainly we were not able to see the view. So this trip made up for that for sure! Why not visit it- it’s only like an hr away from Mt Frissell south slope (the CT high point)!
My Dad and I debated leaving a note for Deja Vu for encouragement, but we had no idea where to leave it or how long it would take him to get there or if he’d even find it. So anyways – good luck Deja Vu! We are still thinking of ya and wishing u well on your journey!
We almost missed the tiny parking lot, but I remember reading online and seeing pictures that there is a little monument for MASS and CT state line near the parking lot and the trailhead was across from that- so we turned around and found it. We both started hiking along the red blazed trail. It was a little overgrown in places and slightly rocky but not horrible–at 1st. We ran into some people heading back to the parking lot and told us to get ready for a rock scramble ahead. My dad decided to turn around shortly after that- I was not sure what to expect, but I continued on.
WOW- is all I can say about this trail-I have NEVER in my life done anything like this-actually climbing up- and up- and up. It was nuts- I had seen pictures online, and even a video of a girl climbing it in dress shoes- so it couldn’t be that bad right? Holy cow- it was nuts. Toughest thing I have done to date. Up and up and up I went, and then the thoughts of doubt started to creep in ‘Can I do this? Do I WANT to do this? My poor dad is waiting in the car- how long is this going to take me? How on EARTH am I gonna get back DOWN?!?!?’ But I quickly pushed those nagging thoughts aside and reminded myself to think positive ‘OF COURSE I can do this- we came all this way didn’t we? When am I EVER gonna be back here to try again?’ The weather was absolutely PERFECT (besides being a bit humid) and I didn’t want a repeat of my failed Mt Mansfield attempt. So I pressed on – and up.
And just when you think it’s leveling out- you go up some more- I am not kidding, this hike/climb was no joke. I had my trekking poles with me as I am ALWAYS tripping and honestly was kinda annoyed by them most of the time because it was hard at some spots to climb up while holding them.
I FINALLY made it to the top of Round Mountain, which you have to go over first to to get to Mt Frissell. The views from the top were pretty cool- and the breeze felt AMAZING when I got out of the humidity of the closed in trees and vegetation!
As I was on my way down Round Mtn I ran into a fellow high pointer. He asked me how many I have – 11. How many does he have–oh 37. haha! I’m getting there! He gave me a few words of encouragement and I continued on. Down a few steep sections, back into the heavy vegetation, but you could always see the trail ahead- I was never once worried that I was getting lost – the trail was well marked on trees and rocks, although some blazes were faded, you could still see them.
On my way up Mt Frissell I ran into a group of 4 guys coming down. “HOW MUCH FURTHER?” I asked – they told me I was very close, 1 more steep part and then I’d be there! WAHOO!! I got a burst of energy from hearing those words and kept going- definitely huffing and puffing from my asthma- nothing was gonna stop me now!
I arrived in a clearing and I could see what looked like a trail to the right, but no blazes. To the left there were blazes so I continued on that way- and came upto a BEAUTIFUL view on my left where the trail opened up. I heard voices and finally saw a man w/ two teens. He exclaimed, “ARE YOU OK?”
I was huffing and puffing quite a bit from my asthma and limping (from my OLP backpacking trip last weekend). I laughed and said, “Yeah, I just need a minute or two.”
We chatted for a bit- turns out his hobby is hunting for rattlesnakes to photograph! I asked him where exactly the highpoint of CT is and he told me I was very close- just a few minutes walk and I would see it. He told me to keep looking to the right- I’m glad he did because I was sure I would have missed it otherwise!! It was literally under a tree branch! I signed the log book, shoved it back in the box, and hurried back down the trail hoping to catch up with the man and his grandsons- time goes by faster when you’re chatting and they seemed nice enough! A little way down the trail I spotted them- they asked me if I actually made it to the summit of Mt Frissel- I said no I couldn’t find that. He explained I was close and should go back to check it out- the sign wasn’t very visible on the trail. As soon as he said that I figured it was where it looked like a little trail went but no blazes. I rushed back to check it out. I walked down the path I skipped earlier- and there it was, just a few steps down the trail! Bright yellow sign that stated it was the summit of Mt Frissell- I snapped a few pics, and tried to open the metal box that housed the register- no luck!! I couldn’t get it to budge!! Oh well-I took pics and that was enough for me- I was definitely ready to get off this damn mountain!!
I caught back up to the guys who were on the search for rattlesnakes and we started to head down Mt Frissell and before I knew it we were back on the top of Round Mtn! It really helps to take your mind off how steep it was when you’re chatting! They kept jumping off the trail to check for snakes periodically and wouldn’t ya know they actually found one! So I headed over to take a pic- it never once rattled!
When the guys jumped off the trail again to see if they could find more snakes I decided to keep going- my dad was waiting for me in the car after all and I had no idea how long I had been hiking for!
I literally slid down Round Mtn on my butt, which is what I decided to do on the way up- it was just so much easier and my knee was really starting to hurt when I bent it.
I finally made it down the rocky section and began my hike back to the car- passing a few hikers just starting. I have to say I was surprised how many people were on this trail since the parking lot was pretty small and the trail was pretty overgrown in some sections. I warned them about the steepness of the trail and the rock scrambles.
I made it back to the car pumping my fists in the air triumphantly and my dad says, “WOW!! I was trying to figure out what time you would be done and I guessed 2:30- and it’s 2:30 ON THE DOT!!” 🙂
And ANOTHER state high point I can check off my list! 🙂