I’ve been travelling to Massachusetts every 6 or so weeks for the past 7 years and I never knew the Appalachian Trail ran through the Western end of the state.
I should have done – my brother Doug beats on about the AT all the time…
Anyway, on discovering this, I decided I wanted to run a bit of it – most of my US based runs are around a few lakes and loops around the town of Westborough – nice, but not ‘great’.
So, before heading out there last week I hooked up with my buddy Jim via email and we arranged to meet up and run a bit of the trail.
We had planned for the Tuesday evening, but there was a warning from the Storm Prediction Center that told us of:
TORNADOES...HAIL TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.
… errr … not that keen on being pelted by golf balls, or being electrocuted, so we postponed till the next day.
I picked Jim up about 6pm and we headed out to the western edge of Massachusetts, just off I90, where the trail crosses ‘Jacobs Ladder Road’. It was still pretty wet and we drove through a couple of heavy showers, but it wasn’t raining as we set off running.
It was pretty steep going and we quickly slowed to an alternating walk/run averaging around 15 – 16 minute miles. Not a great ‘run’ for the first mile and a half, but after that we’d reached the ridge and things got a bit easier and flatter, so we got a nice stretch along the ridge till we hit the 2 miles point and decided to head back – time wasn’t on our side and I don’t think either of us relished the thought of heading down the other side, only to have to climb back up again.
The route back was much more enjoyable – initially along the top of the ridge then down the hillside which was quite technical at first, before easing off and becoming that really great running slightly downhill, on soft trails that you just feel you could run forever on. We got a tad wet towards the end and also ran through a hill fog, which was a bit weird / eerie.
In all, I really enjoyed it, not exactly a ‘run’, but something a little different and in a great setting. In hindsight, it was folly to start in a valley between two hills – next time I’d look for a more runnable section.
next up on the US side of things will be a couple of runs around Mt. Tom near Holyoke, MA