You remember that day off from work that my dad didn’t want me to take (mentioned in post “How Do They…”)? I took it anyway. But because I didn’t take it to complete a backpack of the Connecticut section of the AT, I used it for a day hike. This day off marked the end of my time substitute teaching, and the start of my summer. I decided I’d use it to do a bit of traveling. Naturally, I did a lot of the traveling by foot, visiting northwest Connecticut, southwest Massachusetts, and eastern New York.
I needed to do something that would set the tone for my whole summer. So on a beautiful Wednesday, I decided I’d try to get a big hike in. I just couldn’t wait to get on the trail. When choosing this hike, I didn’t really calculate the distance. I knew it would be over 10 miles, but less than 20 miles. I threw a little extra food and water in my pack, and that was that. Besides, the extra weight would provide a good workout, getting myself ready for hiking each day in New Hampshire this summer.
Starting at the Under Mountain Trail in Salisbury, CT, my hike included a few major points of interest in three different states: Bear Mountain in CT, Round Top Mountain in CT, Mt. Frissell in MA, the CT state high point, Tri-State Marker, and Mt. Brace in NY. Bear Mountain, at 2,316 feet is the highest mountain peak in CT and it is on the AT. The Connecticut state
high point is in fact just a shoulder of Mt. Frissell that’s just over the border, that sits at 2,380 feet. The Tri-State Marker is the location where CT, MA, and NY meet, and Mt. Brace is the highest point in Dutchess County, NY at 2,311 feet. I had the privilege of visiting all of these summits in one day, while seeing a bit of history as well, such as the state boundary markers, the Tri-State being made in 1898. I would have to say that my favorite part of my day was taking 30 minutes to hang out on the summit of Mt. Brace. It was nice to sit in the sun, feeling the breeze while hearing the buzz of bees and flies, and the hum of trucks in the valley below. Brace boasts a most excellent view, especially westward over the Hudson Valley to the Catskill Mountains. Round Top, Frissell, and the north side of Bear Mountain have brutally steep and rocky ascents, that kind of reminded me of Acadia National Park, minus the scent of coast.
As I hiked across borders and back, seeing no one for the first 4.5 hours of hiking, I got to thinking about how funny borders actually are. Essentially, they’re invisible lines. They don’t really exist, except for the fact that we trust that they do. However, despite their intangible nature, they fundamentally shape our identities, political views and policy, cuisine, accents and vernacular, and more. It is fun to cross borders on a trail, because you know you end up someplace “different,” even though the natural environment in that location is no different on either side of the border.
Based on some basic math I did while hiking, I think my hike was only 12.5 miles. I was hoping it would be longer, but it was okay, because I had a post hike agenda. Being done at 2 allowed me to visit another place in southwest MA, and still get home before dinner. After
my hike, I drove up into MA to visit Bash Bish Falls. Bash Bish Falls is located in a state park, requiring just about a half mile hike to visit an extremely impressive waterfall. This waterfall features a large rock that juts out from the middle of the falls, causing the water to drop down both sides of it. The rock sticks up and forms a bit of point. To me, it looks reminiscent of a rhinoceros horn. With voluminous flow, this waterfall was spectacular. Below the main falls are many other cascades. It was a struggle for me to resist going swimming, but there were “No Swimming” signs all over the park. Getting caught disobeying rules in a state park is the last thing I need. Bash Bish Falls is one of the coolest waterfalls I have ever seen, and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in western MA.
This was the perfect start to summer, visiting three different states and completing a section of trail I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. My first time hiking the Taconics, I got up early and got after it, which is exactly how I want to spend all summer. There may be no places better in the world than atop mountain peaks and below waterfalls.