I thought rainy hikes were left in the Pacific Northwest, but – alas – my Gore-Tex gear came in handy in Western Massachusetts! My brother, Kenneth, and I joined forces on a super soggy hike of Mount Everett in Western Massachusetts. Our intention was simple – to connect, adventure, and appreciate nature together.
At the time of our hike, Kenneth was a few weeks away from his departure for the Appalachian Trail, with intent to walk 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine. On this day, April 18th, he is on his way to the adventure he’s been visualizing and working towards for years (with a pack that weighs less than 20 pounds, might I add!!!).
This is a report to remind me how important it is to embrace ALL weather. If we are joined by the right people and the right mindset, no weather can dampen our spirits. No storm is too mighty to break us down when we consistently raise each other up. Despite the relentless rain, Kenneth and I made it to windy summit of Mount Everett, where we met face-slapping, horizontal rain… but also a sensation of freedom and connection to Mother Nature. It was special to share this hike together, as our chosen path intersected with the Appalachian Trail! We walked northbound on the A.T., though turned around a little before the end of the trail… hah! What a joy to share this adventure with my brother before he heads on his own.
Date Hiked: Sunday, March 28, 2021
Trail: Mount Everett via Race Brook Falls
Route Type: Out and back
Length: 6.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,227 feet (2,369 on the “not-always-trustee” GPS)
Highest Elevation: Mt. Everett at 2,608 feet (793 meters)
Trailhead: Race Brook Falls Parking, Sheffield, MA (Google Map)
Distance from Boston: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Even in the Pacific Northwest, I tried avoiding starting a hike in the rain. I wouldn’t really consider rain in the forecast to be a deterrent for a mountain activity, especially in shoulder seasons. Yet, when Kenneth and I discussed the hike of Mount Everett, we agreed we’d weather the rain together. Why not? We were excited to share quality time before Kenneth started his journey on the Appalachian Trail and this hike was an equal drive for each of us.
Kenneth and I met at the trailhead where there was only ONE other vehicle parked around 11:15AM. The other gentleman shared he was headed on a rainy day trail run. Who KNEW how far any of us would make it today! The rain didn’t look like it’d be stopping anytime soon (spoiler alert: it never stopped).
Kenneth and I suited up with our rain gear and matching La Sportiva Ultra Raptor shoes (not waterproof, but AWESOME) to begin the trail. I immediately realized this would have been a great hike to have my trekking poles when we had to cross an early stream. Turned out, there were many streams to cross and waterfalls to feast our eyes upon as we hiked this beautiful, lush, forest path! There were also many rocky areas, which were trickled with runoff from the persistent rain. The trail was well maintained and marked. We started by following BLUE trail blazes, until meeting the Appalachian Trail at ~2 miles, then followed WHITE blazes the rest of the way (heading North towards Mt. Everett).
Our hike was quiet and serene. We didn’t see a single soul on the trail, save for the gorgeous pines, which breathed as the rain nourished their bark. The rain created a zen aura, with consistent sounds of flowing water from rushing waterfall and stream and trickles over rocks.
Of course, all serenity was briefly interrupted when the slippery rocks pulled me to the ground as I tripped on my left foot, jamming my left knee into a rock. Whoopsie!! It made me acutely aware of my left knee and the pain took my breath away! I pulled my leggings up to take a peek, saw it was already bruising, but nothing more, and decided to continue on the path. Nothin’ a little Tylenol and Ibuprofen couldn’t help!
Nestled in Mount Washington State Forest, Mount Everett is part of the Taconic Mountains and is the second highest peak in the state of Massachusetts! (Mount Greylock is #1!) At the summit, our views were limited by the abundance of rain clouds… though I’ve heard the view can be a bit obstructed by the trees at the summit anyways. When reaching the peak, we meandered around looking for a lean-to we saw on the map, but the wind was picking up and we decided just to head back down to the trailhead. I was sure we were very close to finding it, but our soggy feet asked us to get back to the car to dry off. (Side Note: online research has made me aware the fire tower was taken down. Guess we wouldn’t have found it anyways!)
Our way down felt much faster than the ascent It’s funny how this happens, huh? I find this to occur most often on “out and back” trails. During the climb, there’s a constant unknown, unsure of what will be encountered along the trail. We are paying attention all the signs. Each step forward, the meanderings of the path, the way the forest greets us. Once familiarized with each step, the way down can feel like a retracing, allowing for more wanderings of the mind. Yet, it never really feels like driving a familiar route – the sensation where you get to your exit and realize “Wait, how did I get here??” I find the mind can wander in the forest, but we are always ever-present. We are connecting to ourselves, Mother Nature, each other, and in a heightened awareness of our surroundings and ourselves. Sometimes, this brings awareness inward to how our physical body is feeling. On this hike, I had a heightened awareness of the lovely, throbbing sensation in the left knee I jammed on a rock. I was mindful of where the trekking poles were touching the ground, how my feet were stepping as we walked down slippery rocks. We kept our eyes on the trail blazes, though the path was simple to follow. We had to turn around only once when we met a red blaze, realizing we had walked too far and had to cross the stream a little higher up.
During our return to the car, the water levels of all stream crossings were certainly higher! In the final stream crossing to the parking lot, we embraced the spirit of adventure and just walked across the stream, letting our shoes immerse in the water. Getting back to the cars, Kenneth found a beach towel in his car – thanks to him having our Dad’s vehicle, who frequents the sandy shores whenever he can. This was pretty clutch, as I realized I hadn’t brought a towel for myself. Changing into dry clothes felt so satisfying. The comfort of dry clothes and warmth was a blanket to reward our efforts for the day. We headed to Great Barrington for a hearty meal at GB Eats, where we each had chicken fingers & fries, plus a soup. The chili was out of this world. 10/10 recommend.
Throughout our hike, Kenneth and I shared thoughtful and soulful conversations. There was a time in my life where I did not select the people I ventured outdoors with. I’d go anywhere with anyone just for the sake of adventure. This was partly due to living in a place far from many loved ones. Fortunately, over time, I found people who were not only fun to adventure with, but also true friends. I realized sharing time with people who matter is far more important than the summit or how epic the day is. Sharing this insanely rainy hike with Kenneth was a gift and reminded me how much the people in our lives truly make a difference in how we feel and interact with the world.
Good luck, Kenneth, as you head on your greatest adventure yet! We’ll all be here thinking of you, praying for your safety, as you find your deepest connection with nature. I can’t wait to hear what you learn from our greatest teacher, Mother Nature, and meet you along the trail.
I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.
– John Muir –