Thursday night, when I checked the weekend weather for Williamstown, MA I was dismayed, pissed really, to see the forecast for Saturday, 100% chance of rain. Bill and I are here for a long weekend and my plans included three days of hiking Mt Greylock. We may not be hiking on Saturday but The Clark is nearby, along with Williams College and what looks like a cute downtown area with a plethora of cafes, restaurants and shops. We were going to venture out tonight to acquaint ourselves with the area but after dinner (and salted caramel cake with vanilla ice cream) at the hotel’s pub we changed our minds and hunkered down in our room.
On our way to our hotel we passed signs for Mt Greylock. “Can we stop and hike?” I asked Bill as we passed the turnoff. He pulled the car into a nearby parking area and took out the map we had from our hike in July 2013.
“There’s a trail head further up on Roaring Brook Road,” Bill noticed. We wouldn’t have to backtrack and it was on the way to our hotel. We turned onto Roaring Brook Road, a narrow gravel strip that didn’t appear wide enough for two cars to pass each other from opposite directions. Luckily we were the only ones on the road and only car in the parking area. Bill popped the trunk, we outfitted ourselves in hats and gloves, slipped our packs on our backs and headed for the trail. At the trail head a handwritten sign stating “third bridge out, water crossing” was tacked up above the map of the mountain. I wondered just how wide the water crossing would be and forged on behind Bill up Stony Ledge Trail.
We came across the ‘broken’ bridge about fifteen minutes into our hike; as I was walked back and forth, looking for a place to cross, Bill, already on the other side, pointed out the best spot. Shimmying along a fallen tree, one of its large limbs acting as a hand rail, I was able to get about two-thirds across the brook. Bill, with legs much longer than mine, had stepped off the log onto solid ground; I sat on my butt, dropped down into a gully then climbed up the bank to where Bill waited.
Up we went; I was soon breathing heavy and working up a sweat. I considered taking my mittens off, did take my hat off. The trail was steep in areas, level in others, wet and slippery almost the entire stretch. Occasional pockets of dried leaves covered the trail but we mostly walked over crunchy snow and icy rocks, slid several times, sunk into muddy ruts. We made it to the top, looked out and saw the Memorial Tower, which we hiked to last time, in the distance, barely visible. We took some pictures, ate a protein bar and referred to the map to plan our descent; access road to Roaring Brook Trail.
At the top it was cold. I had already put my hat back on and pulled the extra fabric, previously tucked into the crown, down over my chin and mouth. I found Bill’s heavy mittens for him in the front of his pack and he helped me put my glove liners on under my mittens; with cold fingers I was having a tough time unhooking the gloves from each other.
On our way down the access road we looked for Roaring Brook Trail. When we came across Hopper Trail we thought we had gone too far and reversed direction. We walked in and out of campsite areas looking for the trail; we couldn’t find it. We walked back to Hopper Trail and re-read the sign. The only other footsteps in the snow were of large boots and paw prints; Bill tried following the dog walker’s steps to see if they’d lead us to the trail but they seemed to stop in front of one of the campsites. We stood in the middle of the road, considered our next move.
“We could go back the way we came,” one of us said. I was aware of the time, as I’m sure Bill was. We had made a deal to turn around, no matter where we were, at 2:00 to avoid hiking in the dark and it was already past our designated deadline.
“Let’s walk a little further past Hopper Trail,” Bill said. That didn’t look right on the map, it looked like we should have met up with Roaring Brook Trail before Hopper but I nodded “okay” and fell into step next to him. I asked Bill later if he was scared at that moment. “My senses were heightened,” he said. I felt the same way, knew we weren’t in trouble, knew we could head down the way we hiked up but thought dusk might descend before we got back to the car.
We finally came across the cut off for Roaring Brook Trail, took a right and started going down. We made great time, easily crossed the brook at the broken bridge and got back to the car before sunset.