Video Trip Report, Mt. Greylock (MA), Frissell (CT) & HighPoint
(NJ)—Highpoints 6, 7 and 8
Even though it pains me to say this as a writer, please watch the 5-minute video!
(The hiking starts at the 2-minute mark if you want to skip the drive.)
Starting in Ohio, I drove over 1,250 miles spanning two days and in one day (3/8/14) grabbed the winter highpoints of Massachusetts (Mt. Greylock), Connecticut (Mt. Frissell-South Slope) and High Point (New Jersey).
Here's the short recap:
Up from my smoking northeastern Massachusetts motel room at 6 a.m. Went to bed five hours earlier after 9 plus hours of driving. Continental breakfast (even at a $50-buck-a-night dive) then another 32 minutes through the town of Adams and up the mountain road past the deserted flower shop to the vacant muddy trailhead parking lot. I smelled the staying and stagnate stench of sled head fumes.
After a small bit of trekking I saw the sign that read, "Cheshire Harbor Trail, 3.5 miles to Summit." Grrr. My research lead me to believe in was two miles max with hardly any grade. It's not that a 7-mile roundtrip is that long, it's just that I was on a quest to get at least three state highpoints. It was hard but I just had to accept the mountain. And maybe realize hiking and climbing are about your relationship to nature and about enjoying what you're doing, not about bragging and notoriety. I like both approaches.
The Harbor Trail was a snowmobiled-out wide steady hike to the top (micros would have been nice, but definitely glad I left my crampons). Great views. Neat monument. Totally alone at the top like I was for Backbone Mountain (and by day's end, Mt. Frissell too). My cousin and I didn't share Mt. Marcy's top with any other climbers and it was the same with my team on Mt. Washington. I'm finding that if you're up early and hiking in the winter, the mountain is all yours.
My biggest regret is that I didn't pack my snowboard up to the Greylock summit. Since Harbor Trail is so wide, you could easily have an amazing, 3.5-mile uninterrupted glide down. But I'm sure there are some "super sic" backcountry routes where you could get into some more serious 'derrrrrrrrr.
Back in the car, energy-bars-and-water brunch, bladder wanting to be relieved, and off of the paved road. Little bit tricky navigating back to the trailhead for Mt. Frissell. Stay straight, and follow what looks to be the most dominate road. Remember, if coming from the north/east, you want to go past the park headquarters; don't bear right before that and end up in the
parking lot for the waterfalls. (The dirt road is also closed at the Mt. Frissell trailhead during winter, which is also the state line of Conn. and Mass. So if you're coming from the west, don't take 22 too far south. Get off like your heading to the falls.)
Mt. Frissell was great because even though not that high of a mountain, you have to ascend two separate summit cones so you get the illusion of real climbing. Because it's a shoulder, the "summit" is really just a highpoint marker.
After 2.5 hours of hiking, back to the car with heavy fatigue, sleep deprivation and heading for New Jersey highpoint (called High Point). Late lunch early dinner of gas station grossness.
Shortly after my New Jersey highpoint photo, a park officer in an SUV with too many guns approached me.
"We're shutting 'er down," he said.
"What, you're closing nature?" I asked.
"We close at 4:30, it's almost 5."
"Ummm, OK. Like, sorry?"
I understand it's a state park, but why the hell do State Parks have hours? Are the squirrels complaining about the sleeping bags ruffling at 2 a.m.? The need to constantly regulate. And therein lies the big glaring difference between hiking/climbing and highpointing. Location.
When you really want to get away, to connect with nature, "designated" nature spots fucking suck.
At least I had my three solo winter state highpoints in a day.