Sunday, January 1, 2012

Beginning A Hike On The Taconic Crest Trail

I'd attempted to hike the Taconic Crest Trail (AKA the Snow Hole Trail) on Christmas day but arrived at the parking area only to discover that I'd dressed quite imprudently for the high altitude weather and had forgotten my camera. So I returned the very next day, better prepared, and happily discovered a warmer day. I drove east on Route 2 through Rensselaer County until I passed through the tiny town of Petersburgh, New York. I could see the Taconic Crest straight ahead of me. That's where I'd be hiking, from right to left as it shows in this photo. You can see Route 2 winding its way up and over the mountains on the right hand side just below some telephone wires:

I parked in the parking lot at Petersburgh Pass, the highest point on Route 2, just a stone's throw from the Massachusetts border and pretty close to Vermont also. There once was a ski resort here, but now it's just a parking lot for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. There were many people using the old ski slopes for sledding on that day. They sure were having fun:

From where I parked I could see Mount Greylock, the highest mountain in Massachusetts. You can see the War Memorial Tower at its peak if you click the photo to enlarge:

The dogs and I crossed the highway (there's very little traffic) and climbed up that steep slope to begin our hike:

The first several hundred feet are rather steep, but it's actually a rather easy hike after that. The dogs were all excited and running in circles:

When we reached the top I looked back at the people sledding on the other side. I could hear the children's laughter clear across the valley:

I signed the trail register and began the hike. All the sounds became muffled and a sense of serenity and peace  enveloped us as we entered the forest. Even the dogs seemed to sense it:

With all the leaves off the trees I could see mountains in every direction. Notice Fergus' ears flopping as he joyously romps along the trail:

Everything was snow covered but neither slippery nor deep. It was just right - except, that is, for the howling winds:

On and on we hiked through Hopkins Memorial Forest, now owned by Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts:

The trees are never very tall or old looking and I suspect that is a result of their rugged, mountaintop environment. But the forest is stunning nonetheless:

There were so many trail markers as to be almost silly. At times they seemed almost to be defacing the forest because there were so many of them. But I figured that too many was better than too few, especially for wintertime hikers. But we were just getting started. I'll post more tomorrow:

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