Waking early in the AM I was prepared for my first full day of hiking in my home state of MA which would result in seeing my family that I had left 4 months prior. Needless to say this was one of my most lookforwarded to days on trail.
Working my way up Mt Race I couldn't help think how far I had come to reach MA. It wasn't long ago I was leaving South Station in Boston writing a quick blog entry on what this journey might teach me and what I could expect really not knowing what to expect at all. 1500 plus miles later things have become a lot clearer to me. With these thoughts on my mind I came to Race's peak and got my first view of my home state. It was breath taken.
Soon after I pushed to my end destination and as I exited the woods I was once again overtaken by emotions when I saw Paw and Mama Lou waiting for me. It was a beautiful reunion. For 2 days I got to catch up with not only my parents but my brother Scott and his awesome family, my aunt Joan and my good friend Clarkie. I was so grateful for this time spent with a few loved ones. At one point I thought it would be nice to have all kinds of people out to see me but as I got closer to MA I realized I actually needed just a few to spent some quality time with and keep my spirits high. I felt seeing so many would be better suited for when I finally accomplished this lofty goal.
When my family time finally came to an end I said my final farewells concluded by a teary eyed but uplifting goodbye with paw and mama. I was ready to get back at it and push on.
Each day MA started to turn the trail back into true wilderness. This transition started late in CT but MA took the torch and showed its beauty. Coming from some southern thru hikers they expressed to me as the came into shelter that MA was some of the best hiking they had seen in 500 miles. I was proud of my state to say the least.
I also went through a bit of a hiking transition. As I've mentioned in a past blog my switch had been flicked and I started to feel a bit of determination to get focused on an end plan to the hike. Soon after leaving Barrington I pulled away from some of my regular hiking partners and formed with a newer pack that seemed to be on the same page I was. Working together I could feel and see a difference in the push for Maine. I love so many of my hiking partners but moving forward with Yeti, Atlas, Little Bear and Rigga has played out to be a great decision! We are working well together and are focused.
As climbs seemed to increase slowly, woods changing scenery, wilderness growing quiter and temperatures slowly decreasing the home stretch started making its appearance. I could sense a shift in the hike and we started all noticing and discussing in camp. That end feeling started presenting itself more and more.
From all I loved about my home state my favorite memory will be my stay at Upper Goose Pond Cabin. This was a beautiful cabin shelter on the banks of Goose Pond. There were 20 or so of us enjoying this beautiful shelter and camp ground. Though we got hit with a half hour hail storm it produced one of the prettiest dusk into night that I have seen on trail. These photos are proof of what I experienced.
My final push through MA was a beautiful day over and beyond Mt Greylock (great pancakes at the peak lodge), a walk through North Adams which sat on route 2 (could take this all the way into Cambridge and close to my apartment) and a final difficult climb (didn't help that I had 4 all you can eat chinese food plates in my belly). Soon after and with the sun setting myself and hiking partner Yeti hit the VT border and sign announcing we were on the AT/long trail of Vermont. Another state down and one that's close to my heart.
Was leaving MA easy? Actually yes. Knowing I'd be back soon enough I craved pushing on. I wanted the next state of VT because it got me one step closer. One step closer to this achievement that consumes my mind.
As I walked out of the state I tapped the white blaze on a tree paying respect and thanking the trail as I do each day. I thanked it for allowing me to move through another state healthy and stronger. I thanked it for the opportunity and continued endless lessons.
I spent time with those I love and spent time in the state closest to my heart. It was my 11th state. It put me over the 1600 mile mark and got me that much closer to Maine.
Pushing on and working hard... I'm growing more even at the age of 41. My nose senses the finish and this hike in a sense is just getting started. Vermont, NH and Maine is up. These are the toughest states we see. It's the gut check moment of the hike. I'm excited and slightly fearful but I'm ready.
Thank you MA.... You've made this good hike even better.
As I hike it I hope you hike the good hike as well. See you soon!
Jesse AKA The Boston Mule