Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mount Everett, Part 1

It wasn't long ago that I was running out of things to post and considering giving up on blogging. But then winter ended, the weather warmed and the woodlands greened. Now I'm hiking when I get the chance and often have so many photos that I have a great deal of trouble weeding them out to a post-able quantity. For instance, I had 212 photos at the end of this hike and have whittled them down to eighty, which I'll split into five posts. Actually, there's also seven more from the ride home which I took of the local towns. And five videos. So if you think I'm going way overboard with the amount of photos I share, consider that I've deleted 59 percent of them.

On a fine Sunday in May I decided to take Daphne, Seamus and Fergus to Mount Everett, which is on the Appalachian Trail in western Massachusetts. I used to hike there many years ago and it was a favorite of mine, with a fire tower at the top and a mountain pond at the bottom. But it'd been ten years or more since I'd been there and I couldn't remember how to get there. Thankfully, the internet set me up with directions and I was on my way. We arrived in an hour and twenty minutes and started up a wide dirt road which was the beginning of the trail:

Early in the hike we passed these Interrupted Ferns, Osmunda claytoniana, the only fern I can identify other than Maidenhair Fern:

But the big excitement of the day was the wild Azaleas which were in bloom everywhere. I've seen the plant before on mountain hikes, but only a small bush here and a small bush there. These Azaleas were huge and growing in profusion. In most places, there were Azaleas blooming everywhere I looked:

The hike up Mount Everett begins on a dirt service road with many nice grassy places along the edges. The dogs ran and frolicked, but given the ease so far, seemed to have decided that this was an occasion for taking it easy:

Soon enough we arrived at a stone lean-to with a lawn, a comfortable bench and a view. That, apparently, is what the service road was for. A sign forbid camping, but still it was a nice spot. That's the dirt service road/trail below us:

I snapped some pictures of the nice view but remembered that there used to be a fire tower at the peak. It was always closed and chained to keep people off of it, but of course that just encouraged most folks like me. So looking forward to the fire tower, I continued on my way upward:

The nice road, however, ended at the stone lean-to and we were back on a traditional trail with lots of sharp rocks and an increasing grade:

The dogs at this point must have realized that this would not be the walk in the park they'd previously assumed:

And everywhere there were wild Azaleas in full bloom. Often the bushes were only ten feet apart:

The flowery branches stretched out over the trail and framed every scenic overlook. They were exceptional and I've never seen such a display of wild Azaleas:

And upward we climbed. The trees, as you can see behind Fergus and Seamus, were becoming miniaturized and gnarled from the altitude:

And upward we climbed, the dogs most always ahead of me. I am getting to be quite an old fart, after all, so sometimes can't keep up and instead insist that the dogs slow down to accommodate me. Notice the small blooming Azalea on both sides of the trail:

Seamus and I required rest breaks, but Fergus and Daphne wanted more action. Well, they just had to wait for us:

More rocks, more steep grade, more Azaleas - and notice the empty space to the left. That's where the side of the mountain drops down to where we'd begun:

Seamus liked to lie down and rest every so often, though he wasn't having a crisis of any kind. I remained on my feet but was happy to stop for a breather. As you can see, Daphne was still full of energy:

And to wrap up today's post, a brief video of the view from a rocky shoulder on our way up Mount Everett. Notice the Scrub Pines growing out of what appears to be solid rock. How do they do it?:

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