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New England Trail Day 3 | Average Hiker

Beaver Dam on New England Trail FEATURE

It was still dark when I woke up…and cold. I lay under my warm quilt, watching the grey morning light brighten the forest around me. My thermometer read thirty-six degrees, and I lay there, wishing the temperatures to rise with the morning sun.

Finally, I rolled over, pulled my prior day’s damp clothes under the quilt with me, and waited for my body temperature to warm the clothes up. I then began playing my morning game of Twister as I tried to put my shorts and shirt on without a limb poking out from under the quilt.

Packing quickly, I jogged down the dirt road I had snuck up the night before. I was pretty sure I was on Land Trust Property but did not want to take a chance that I might be trespassing. This was a tough trail to find good camping on sometimes.

Reaching the end of the dirt road, I hooked a right onto South Mountain. I had decided to circle around and come up Old Wendell Road to reconnect with the NET. About 200 yards past the old NET Trailhead I looked up to see a new placard for the newly rerouted NET. Damn, if I had walked another few yards last night I would have seen it.

Sunrise on the New England Trail Backpacking
Pond Colors Hiking on the Trail
History Along the New England Trail Backpacking

Hermit Cave

The New England Trail was an easy hike over to Erving State Forest. This also ended up being one of my favorite sections of trail so far on this hike as the trail climbed up to a ridge walk with views over Northfield Mountain Reservoir and Miller’s River.

The day was clear and warming up quickly, which made the views out over the water even more striking as thick, white swells of morning fog rolled across the Miller’s River Valley over the water. Fall foliage made the views even more breathtaking.

It was early, so I had the trail all to myself, but this changed as I dropped back down towards the village of Farley and a parking area. Many day hikers were making their way up the rocky ridge on the way to see Hermit’s Cave, which was located on the slopes below the ledges. I would have to come back again and visit the cave.

Fall Colors on Ledges Above Hermits Cave
Fall Meadow on the Trail
NET Shelter on Trail Near Park

Road Walking

Hiking down into Farley Village, I played Frogger crossing Route 2, and then crossed over a large bridge over Miller’s River before swinging a right onto Farley Road for what was to become a long day of road walking.

The first road walk was enjoyable. I passed vegetable stands with lockboxes and farm-grown vegetables, mailboxes shaped like fishing lures, and stands of Maple trees with sugar lines running through them. Interspersed were bright, colorful homes and many Biden, Harris, and Black Lives Matter signs. I was definitely in Massachusetts.

There was another shelter just before Ruggles Pond, but like many of the other shelters on the New England Trail, it was close to a Park and a Parking Area. I don’t stay near roads or Parks, especially in the northeast. There are too many people, and I’ve only had problems hiking when there are people nearby. Animals are the least of my worries.

Much of the afternoon was spent on roads, Jensen and Cooleyville, before I finally exited onto an old Forest Service Road. Eventually, the New England Trail left this road, and I cut off into the woods to find a camping spot for the night, underneath two sheltering Spruce Trees.

Farm Stand Along the Road Walk
Massachusets NET Hiking
Farm Stand Sign on New England Trail Road Walk

Camp For the Night

It was almost dark when I set up camp, so I climbed into my tent and worked for about an hour before falling asleep. Since I was snacking my way down the trail, I did not need to worry about cooking dinner.

I lay listening as a small plane circled repeatedly overhead, and multiple dogs barked in the distance. Civilization is never far away on the NET.

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