HAEOur Turn on
the Mass Pike Bridge

Footsteps from a 2000 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail.

by Tim A Novak, your cybah-spaced mountain correspondent

On Bear Mtn.     According to the journal I kept during our hike to Maine, I scrawled a couple of pages describing the deep depression I was dealing with. Between the lingering damage from the break-up with my girlfriend and the incredible stench from my befouled body, my attitude had been corrupted. I had a strong urge to get off the Trail and end the trek. Connecticut didn't offer much excitement and the desire to bail was overwhelming. If not for the timely intervention of a local Trail Angel* that brought us to their home and fed us barbeque and beer, I probably would have gone. With my repaired attitude, Mark and I were back on the Appalachian Trail. We walked up and over Bear Mountain, through Sage's Ravine and towards Race Mountain. We were in Massachusetts now, our eleventh state on the AT as well as our home state.

Shay's Rebellion    Mark and I stumbled down Race Mountain and immediately got lost. We searched for the Appalachian Trail and ended up in Camp Megawealthy amongst the screaming children. We walked to the road and stuck out our thumbs for a ride to the nearest Appalachian Trail crossing. On our journey we saw a marker of the last battle of Shay's Rebellion and stole some under ripe but still edible corn. At the end of the day we wound up at Shea's Pine Tree Inn drinking beer with Peter n' Judy, the French Stooge, Highlander and Bill. Another wacky night partying hard with fellow thru-hikers.

Sunshine Daydream     The next day we struggled a grueling 11.5 miles in a hungover daze. At a road crossing, I hitched into Tyringham to get our maildrop while Mark stayed behind with our backpacks. I got the package and stopped into Monteray for more beer. (the best hangover cure) One of my rides back to the AT was atop a sheet of plywood on the back of a pick-up truck. The driver was a bit leadfooted and I nearly fell off a number of times. When I returned, Mark and I had a roadside beer swill before we headed to Mt Wilcox Shelter. We met up with two new thru-hikers. They called themselves Sunshine Daydream and their thru-hike was also their honeymoon! I also had the thrilling opportunity to inhale a large flying insect through my nose and out my mouth. During its trip, it left a wing behind that nagged my throat like a stubborn piece of popcorn.

Mass signage     We were very close to home so Mark and I decided to head back there. We spent the night at our homes then got a ride back to the Appalachian Trail the next day. That evening was spent at the AMC lodge at Upper Goose Pond. On the shore of the pond, Mark was lucky enough to see me do unintentional back flip as I fled from the swarm of yellow jackets that stung me several times because I was standing on their nest.

     I recovered from the multiple stings enough to continue north in the morning. Mark and I crossed the bridge over the Mass Pike we had passed under many times. I had fantasized hiking this Trail each time I saw the bridge and now I was standing on it with 40 pounds strapped to my back realizing the dream.

the Mass Pike bridge

*A Trail Angel is a friend to hikers and understands their love for food, beer and a chance to use a shower. They usually provide at least one of those wonderful things!

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Copyright 1999 Tim Novak and Half Ass Expeditions