View Full Version : Mt. Greylock via AT, N-->S traverse

02-20-2009, 03:11 PM
[edit. Forgot to mention date. We started at 9:35AM on President's Day, Monday 2/16, and got to Outlook Ave. at 6:20PM.] The trail was well used and solid starting from Notch Rd. just below the Mt. Williams Reservoir. Green Lantern started out with snowshoes, but I tried barebooting and didn't posthole at all. At the outlook at the jct. of the Mt. Prospect Trail, I put on the snowshoes because the snow had been getting a bit deeper, though still firm, with no postholing. We followed some previous postholers tracks until they turned around, possibly due to deepening snow. We missed the trail a couple of times near Mt. Williams' summit. After that it usually wasn't too hard to find, though we sometimes spread out until one of us saw a blaze.
The trail finding got bad, critically bad, just beyond the summit of Greylock, on the Rockwell Rd. about where the Cheshire Harbor Trail joins. A big sign said "AT South" with an arrow pointing into the woods and up a hill. But we didn't see any blazes, and cast about for half an hour or more before finding a pathlike way through the woods that eventually yielded some very faded, very rare blazes. From then on it was more of the same mixed with slightly better blazing. We met 3 teenage boys coming from the Jones Nose info ctr, and it was a relief to be able to follow their tracks. But their tracks showed that they were having just as much trouble finding the trail as we were. Going down Saddle Ball Mtn. we were on-again-off-again, and casting back and forth across the hillside looking forward and back for the rare blaze. This was really slowing us down, and we both wondered, though didn't discuss till later, whether we might have to bail somehow, or end up hiking well into the night. We picked up some tracks at the jct. to the campsite/Noepel Shelter, and they lasted the rest of the way out, which was a great relief to us. Even those tracks were not always on-trail.
This section of the AT is badly in need of blazing. I'm telling you, the would-be hiker, but I'm sure the local chapter of the AMC already knows where it left off blazing, and this section is probably near the top of their list for this summer. Even if the blazes hadn't been faded, the spacing isn't adequate for winter hiking, when the tread no longer offers clues as to where the trail turns.
BLOWDOWN: I'd read reports of people doing Greylock by other trails, and they reported that the branches brought down by the ice storm in December had been cleared off. That wasn't the case on the AT. In the AT there were lots of branches of all sizes, and whole trees or split trunks the whole length of our traverse. At times, the branches or trees were big enough to make it look like the trail had dead ended, but that became so routine that we didn't even slow down as we went around to pick up the trail again. So there was lots of blowdown, but the woods were so open that it was very easy to get around it.
Water Crossings. There were only one or two little snow/crust covered trickles that never even showed water. At the south end, less than 1/2 mile from Outlook AVe., there was one open brook that was a bit awkward to jump over, but I made it. It was dark already, so I didn't see how Green Lantern negotiated it. He turned on his head lamp first, so maybe he saw a better crossing.