Here's the recap of our final 2 hikes.
Tyringham Cobble (#3)
I wanted to try this park because Doggin' the Berkshires said that free range Hereford cattle grazed in the field where the hike began. I was just curious about how Barley might handle seeing cows--and I think cows are kind of cute, so I wanted to see them. Unfortunately, there were no cows in the field--so either that's not something that happens there anymore or the cows were hanging out somewhere else.
The park was great, but it was probably my most miserable hike ever! It was about an hour and a half from our cottage and by the time we got there, the morning coffee hit me. Of course, there were NO bathrooms, not even a port-a-potty anywhere in the park. Eventually, I came to the horrifying realization that I was going to have to find a tree to go behind. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a little bit prissy--in fact, I didn't have an outdoorsy bone in my body until I met Barley (unless you count sitting on the porch and reading as outdoorsy). I hoped and prayed that I could just make it back to the car so I could race to the nearest fast food place, but no such luck. So, the first half of this adventure was not the best walk I have ever been on.
Monument Mountain (#7)
This hike called to me because supposedly in August 1850 Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville met on a hike with Oliver Wendell Holmes and other people. They took wine and food in a wagon and when it started to rain, they hung out in a cave where Melville and Hawthorne began the friendship that led to Melville dedicating Moby Dick to Hawthorne. I wanted to be able to say we'd walked in the footsteps of some of the authors I teach to my students. It was also just a few minutes from Tyringham Cobble, so we could visit the two parks I wanted to visit the most on the same day.
|Posing in front of the sign for the Melville Trail.|
We were originally going to take the Indian Monument Trail up and back (it makes a loop with the Hickey Trail) because it was the longest trail and the least strenuous trail since it used to be part of a carriage road in the 1800s (and miles are what count for our resolution, not difficultly). But when we got to the parking lot, there was an off-leash dog hanging out while its owner got his backpack put together. As soon as we started to turn toward the trail, it started trotting over to say hi, so we decided to tackle the Hickey Trail, which is half the distance, but insanely difficult for flatlanders like me (Barley had no troubles).
I was born 12 inches above sea level and lived at that altitude the first 11 years of my life. I didn't gain significant altitude until I moved to New Mexico for grad school. Despite the three years there, altitude is not my friend. It's not as bad when I'm the one driving, but it still takes a lot out of me. I also haven't had to use the muscles it takes to climb up steep inclines very much ever in my life--so even though Barley and I have averaged 4 miles a day for the last 2.5 months or so, it was a really difficult hike! For a reference point, in our neighborhood, our elevation gain ranges from 7 feet to 64 feet and at the arboretum (our most regular hiking spot) the elevation gain on our regular trails is 263 feet; on this hike, our elevation gain was 536 feet! There were parts when I felt like my lungs and heart were going to explode. And, of course, on all of those parts small children would come running up the trail behind us, so I'd conveniently take out Barley's h2o4k9 bottle and act like we were stopping for her instead of because I thought I might die.
There were also several very rocky spots that required lots of communication between the pup and I. I'm not sure how she got so good at the "wait" command, but she is so patient with me when I'm finding my footing on uneven terrain. Some how, we made it up the .8-mile Hickey Trail and were more than happy to take the Indian Monument Trail down. The Indian Monument Trail had a few tricky spots, but it was a piece of cake compared to what we'd just done! And in all honesty, if I'm going to do a strenuous trail with Barley, I'd MUCH rather do strenuous on the way up than on the way down. As good as she is at waiting, sometimes when we're going downhill Barley can't help but charge down the hill and even though she doesn't pull me, it makes me nervous!
If you are ever in Western Massachusetts with only one or two people and need a pet-friendly place to stay, we highly recommend Cavalier Cottage. It's a studio cottage, so it's pretty small, but cozy in the best possible way. There's a full kitchen and plenty of room for a crate if you need it.