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Thread: New England Trail -- towns advice needed

  1. #1
    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    New England Trail -- towns advice needed

    Hello! I'm pretty much finished with the route planning for my hike in October, but since I don't know most of the area too well I figure some of the folks here could help me with some info and advice on town stops.

    I'm planning on doing mail drops for food, supplementing with some groceries from town. I'll buy denatured alcohol along the way for stove fuel, since I can use HEET from gas stations for easy availability.

    Here are the places I need some info for:

    -Jefferson Village, NH
    Is there a place to send mail drops here aside from the post office? I try to only use the PO as a last resort due to the hours of operation. But I can easily plan to get to town during open hours.

    -Waterville Valley, NH
    I'll be coming down from Tecumseh into Waterville Valley, hopefully picking up the maildrop and then tenting at one of the USFS campgrounds. Is there an outdoors gear store that might accept mail drops? Just name/location of the store would help, and I'd call to see if they'd accept the package. And does anyone know of better options than either of those USFS campsites? Or if they accept walk-ins (i.e. hikers without reservations)?

    -Plymouth, NH
    Picking up a mail drop here... is there a gear store in town? There must be. I'm thinking of trying couchsurfing.com for a place to stay in town, but if there are any hostels or cheap lodging within walking distance of town, that might help, too.

    -Northampton, MA
    No mail drop here, but there is an obstacle. Since there is no official crossing of the CT River on the M-M Trail, I can either try my luck flagging down a boat, or I can go into Northampton and try my luck there. Once again, I'm going to try couchsurfing, but if anyone knows of cheap lodging and/or hostels right nearby, that would be ideal.

    I'll also be doing maildrops at the AMC Highland Center (though I'll probably camp elsewhere... too rich for my blood), Hancock, NH (grandmother lives there, not far from Monadnock), Leverett Village, MA (there's a food co-op right on the trail, which is fantastic), and Tarifville, CT (trail goes right through town). I think that ought to take care of the entire trail.

    So, can anybody shed some light for me? Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Senior Member DrewKnight's Avatar
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    Hi Guthook... I can try on a couple of these...

    -Waterville Valley, NH
    I'll be coming down from Tecumseh into Waterville Valley, hopefully picking up the maildrop and then tenting at one of the USFS campgrounds. Is there an outdoors gear store that might accept mail drops? Just name/location of the store would help, and I'd call to see if they'd accept the package. And does anyone know of better options than either of those USFS campsites? Or if they accept walk-ins (i.e. hikers without reservations)?


    I live in WV... it is a small town (300 full time residents) and there isn't much in the way of services. We do have a small post office right in Town Square, and you might be able to do "poste restant" or whatever they call it. As an alternative, we could PM and figure out how I could receive your drop. There are no gear-stores to speak of -- a small general store which has a good variety of provisions, though not cheap, and a bike shop, but that closes Columbus Weekend and is only open weekends after Labor Day, if I remember right.

    There are two USFS campgrounds in Waterville Valley -- again, I think they may be officially closed after Columbus Day, but you could check with ProSports, the company that administers them. Waterville Valley campground is closer to town proper, and is considerably more sheltered, as it's woodsy and down close to the river. Osceola Vista is farther out of town (~3 miles), and more exposed, but has very inspiring views of Osceola and the Tripyramids. You didn't say what route you were arriving via, which might influence the choice. I would say, except for Columbus Day weekend, which tends to be very busy here, you'd be OK for walk-ins any time in October.

    -Plymouth, NH
    Picking up a mail drop here... is there a gear store in town? There must be. I'm thinking of trying couchsurfing.com for a place to stay in town, but if there are any hostels or cheap lodging within walking distance of town, that might help, too.


    Plymouth is a small college town with very good services -- a Walmart, a decent grocery store, etc. There is a full-service gear store on Main Street (Plymouth Ski & Sport, though you are not going to mistake it for an REI or EMS. There are several small local and chain hotels in town. Again, timing is everything, because the weeks leading up to Columbus Day are peak leaf-peeping season, and every doghouse behind a double-wide will have out a No Vacancy sign, and rates go way up. Given the number of college students, couch surfing might be a viable option.

    Good luck, let me know if I can provide more beta.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    For Northampton, try contacting Craig Della Penna of the Sugar Maple Inn. The lodging isn't cheap, but Craig's a stand-up guy and might be interested in your hike. He specializes in selling property near rail-trail conversions and hiking trails.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    re: trail towns

    Thanks for the input, guys. Drew, I hadn't even thought of Columbus Day weekend... post offices will probably be closed a little extra for that, too, so I should figure out just where I'll be at that time. Depends on when I leave to start the trip, but it looks like I'll either be in Waterville Valley or just past Plymouth. I may PM you soon if sending the mail drop to you might work. Thank you for the offer!

    I'll look into the Northampton thing, too. Could be pretty interesting...

    Cheers!

    edit: oops, forgot to mention my route through WV. I'm planning on coming down the Tecumseh Trail into town, roadwalking to the PO or wherever I need to go, then heading out of town east towards Tripyramids (can't remember exact trail off the top of my head). In case the campsites are full, is stealth camping okay just east of town?
    Last edited by Guthook; 07-12-2009 at 06:50 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member DrewKnight's Avatar
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    Guthook... you'll end up coming down either the Mt. Tecumseh trail, or via the Sosman Trail to the top of the ski area, then down via the ski trails and work-road. Once you're at the base lodge, truck down the access road to Lot 4, turn left and walk a couple hundred feet to Pipeline Trail, which is a straight shot to the Tripoli Road, where you can pick up West Branch Road toward town. Probably shorter than the more circuitous mountain access road.

    Also, you could consider stashing your pack in the woods near the Livermore parking area, which is about one mile down the Tripoli Road from Osceola View Campground (ergo, much closer to your exit route). If you're going out via the Tripyramids, you'll take the Livermore Road to either North Slide or Scaur Ridge Trail in all probability.

    To the best of my knowledge there are no restrictions on camping off the Livermore Road, and there are plenty of places that would work in the first mile or so up from the parking area. The only place I am pretty sure you can not camp is higher up, once you cross over the stream to access the North Slide trail, you enter the Sandwich Wilderness.

    I will check with Kevin, who runs Jugtown, and ask him if I receive your package, if they could hold it for you. That might be the easiest way to hand-off.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrewKnight View Post
    you'll end up coming down either the Mt. Tecumseh trail, or via the Sosman Trail to the top of the ski area, then down via the ski trails and work-road. Once you're at the base lodge, truck down the access road to Lot 4, turn left and walk a couple hundred feet to Pipeline Trail, which is a straight shot to the Tripoli Road, where you can pick up West Branch Road toward town. Probably shorter than the more circuitous mountain access road.
    Thank you once again for the advice! This will undoubtedly save me a bit of wandering around town, trying to find out where I am. I'll wait to hear from you about the possible package drop for my food.

    As for Northampton, I discovered this morning that one of my cousins just transferred to Hampshire College. Looks like I'll have family in the area! I wonder if I can bribe her to let me stay on campus for a night. Hmm...

  7. #7
    Senior Member pedxing's Avatar
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    Guthook, I thought you might be interested in this http://www.netrail.org/ if you haven't seen it already.

    (BTW: I came off the trail after finishing the Cohos - I have some skin grafts on my feet that were not responding well to the wet conditions, so my improvised multi-trail hiking will have to wait.)
    "I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride."
    --William James (1842-1910)

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jay H's Avatar
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    Check out:

    http://www.usps.com/receive/choicesf...therplaces.htm

    Use "general delivery" for them to hold it for you (up to 30 days)...

    Jay
    You must go and you must ramble
    Through every briar and bramble
    Till your life is in a shambles
    Maybe then you will know
    -"You Must Go" - John Hiatt

  9. #9
    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pedxing View Post
    (BTW: I came off the trail after finishing the Cohos - I have some skin grafts on my feet that were not responding well to the wet conditions, so my improvised multi-trail hiking will have to wait.)
    Pedxing, bummer about having to leave the trail early, but how was the Cohos? I'm pretty excited to hear about it, even if it's still an unbearable two months away for me.

  10. #10
    Member Lou Hale's Avatar
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    I live a few miles from where the M & M crosses the CT. I don't know if you will have a cell or not, but I will be glad to help you with the driving. There is also a small farmers store, with good food( im a regular ) where you can wait or use the phone.

    The M&M does not really run through northampton, so not exactly sure why you would want to go there. It does how ever run through state parks on both sides of the river. Camping is not listed on thier web sites, but its been done.

    There are also several cheap motels right across the river in holyoke.

  11. #11
    Senior Member pedxing's Avatar
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    Just got back from Vermont. Drove there instead of walking, but the festival and the hiking were fun anyway.

    Its hard to separate the Cohos from the weather in my mind. Because of all the rain and the limited number of trail maintainers, the snow mobile trails it uses had incredibly high grasses (and other plants) and amounted to miles of swamp/bog. I did talk to some of the trail maintainers about this as they really wanted some input on how to prioritize their efforts - so hopefully this has improved.

    I had gone with trail runners on the theory that it was inevitable that my feet got wet - but trail runners at least would dry reasonably quickly on a nice day. I figured gaiters and gortex boots would be useless. Unfortunately the trail runners never had a chance to dry. During the brief rainless stretches, the trail was so wet that the shoes stayed soaked. I also made a mistake in my socks. I'd had great luck with wicking socks from New Balance and decided to get some new ones when I bought some new trail runners. Apparently, New Balance contracts out those socks and switched suppliers. These new ones responded badly to water - so its Smart Wool and Darned Tough (or maybe Thorlo) from now on.

    The trail goes through some great territory and the road walks really aren't that bad because mostly they go through really interesting territory. I saw no other hikers for days at the start, though I saw people out and about for other reasons. They have finished one major re-route since my hike which further reduces the road walking. I'm working on putting together something on trail journals - but am happy to try to answer any questions you might have about the trail.
    "I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride."
    --William James (1842-1910)

  12. #12
    Senior Member bcskier's Avatar
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    Tingley rubbers and BD goretex gaiters

    The above was my footwear combo for the Cohos. I was very happy with the way it worked out. Unfortunately my 20+ year old Limmers don't fit my feet anymore. I think the ball of my right foot has flattened over the years and there wasn't enough room in the toe box for this trip. Blisters forced me off the trail two days early but I would have left it even earlier if I'd had perpetually wet feet, I'm convinced.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    Pedxing, you were at the LT fest? Did I meet you? I was the guy behind the Green Mountain Club table for most of the day on Saturday. Couldn't stay for sunday, but it was a gorgeous weekend for trail work.

    So, snowmobile trails and bogs getting you down? That's very good to know, as I was under the impression that the snowmobile trails only accounted for the far northern stretch of the trail (like Lake Francis to the Canadian Border). Is there a lot more than that? From the Cohos Trail Association website I get the impression that they're doing a ton of work this summer and in the future, but it is a small organization, so it's very understandable if the progress is slow.

    Well, enjoy the dry feet now that you're back!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Guthook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lou Hale View Post
    I live a few miles from where the M & M crosses the CT. I don't know if you will have a cell or not, but I will be glad to help you with the driving. There is also a small farmers store, with good food( im a regular ) where you can wait or use the phone.
    Thanks for the heads-up, Lou. I know the M&M doesn't go right through Northampton, but it's close enough It seems I've got a few friends who might be in the area to give rides, too, but you might hear from me just in case. I definitely appreciate the offer of a possible ride.

    I've got a few busy weeks at work coming up, but I intend to finish with all the big planning by the end of this month... rides, mail drop locations, camping areas, etc. We'll see how well I can get all that out of the way.

  15. #15
    Senior Member pedxing's Avatar
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    I'm sorry I missed saying hello. I was at the Festival and bought some raffle tickets at the GMC table and checked out the T-Shirts. I stopped in twice, once late morning and later around two o'clock. There wasn't all that much happening - not sure if the action picked up later in the day. Still, it was great weather and a nice trip to Rutland (there was also an Arts festival across the street from the Chaffee and a great farmer's market).

    I would have come back again for the barbecue I smelled, but it was just some of the folks at the booths cooking stuff for themselves.

    I don't have the Cohos data book anymore, which would jog my memory, but there were lots of snow mobile trails. The last significant stretch was on the way to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail and South Pond - but there were some after Mt. Martha (Cherry) as well as some road walking. I don't think they would have been annoying if not for the direct and indirect effects of all the rain (Direct: wet grass, mud and running and standing water. Indirect: grasses and other plants much higher than in a dry summer and less traffic so not much of a foot path where the grasses are worn down.

    I'm glad that I got to know New Hampshire above Cabot and Unknown pond a lot better. I'll continue to keep an eye on the Cohos, hope to do it again and will be rooting for the folks who work the trail, but I think I'll go for a third LT trip before I try the Cohos again.
    "I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride."
    --William James (1842-1910)

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