p/s: I've been pried away from the White Mountains temporarily by the vast and current changes occurring in the human services (HR) stemming the insurance upheaval and my work hoursare spilling over into my weekends. It's draining and hard to find the energy to make the 7 hour-long drive to the Whites let alone climb. I'm limiting myself to hikes within an hour's drive of Northampton (MA) including Mts. Greylock, Monadnock, Ascutney, Stafford; all great hikes, but not the Whites by a long shot. At least I can get up and down Mt. Skinner in less than an hour which helps me stay in shape. So, enjoy these vignettes and hopefully I'll be getting back to the Whites soon. Alex.
Low on Greylock the woods and old trails indicate this was all agricultural land until fairly recently.
Wreckage from a single engine plane that looks like it crashed 15-20 years ago.
The AT marker.
Most of the vegetation on the ridge looks post-agricultural meaning the trees, particularly, grew in here when it was open and possibly old pasture for merino sheep at one time. Greylock was logged intermittently over centuries, but it also may have been cleared in the 1700s, like Mt. Monadnock was, when much of New England was cleared to accommodate the Merino wool craze.
An interesting rock "step" is the only variation in an otherwise gently sloping trail along the ridge.
Sections of the ridge looked like stretches of familiar White Mountains trails.
Bill waits patiently while I run around taking photos. I'm not the easiest person to hike with.
Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) in early 1930s this tower looks like a giant chess piece.
Mt. Monadnock, 60 miles away, is in the center of the photo on the horizon.
II. Mt. Skinner
|Kristen, a friend from grad school days and, like Bill, a veteran backpacker most notably on and around Mt. Katahdin.|
The Massachusetts Department of Recreation and Conservation has responded in small ways to make the Skinner State Park more user friendly, but it doesn't put needed atttention on trail upkeep with costly results as erosion increases exponentially on the more popular trails.
III Mt. Toby on New Years day.
Mt. Toby sits on a large area of limestone that tilts from north to south. At the southern end of the mountain there are caves and cliffs and on the northwest side there's series of lovely waterfalls. Mt. Toby, due in part to the limestone, is noted for it's unique diversity of plants, particularly ferns that approve of the circumneutral soil in several locations on the mountain. It's been reported that Mt. Toby is home to 43 of the native ferns of the Northeast as well as a few very rare orchids. Fifty years ago I was introduced to the orchids by members of the University of Massachusetts Botany Department and can attest that they're difficult to locate. The ferns, on the other hand, are everywhere including some lovely Maidenhair ferns along the road on the northeast side of the mountain.
IV Mt. Skinner
|Windsculpted into whalebacks on the upper ridge,|