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Intrepidly enjoying Autumn

Okay, this isn't going to be that well-laid out, but I'm going to give it a shot...

Yesterday, I got it into my head to go drive the portion of Route 2 known as the Mohawk Trail, which starts about mid-state and extends to NY's border in the west. I had driven out to the Berkshires before, so I knew about how far it was and figured it would be okay as a day-trip. I saw an article in the Globe that suggested this drive and listed some sights to be seen along the way, so I jotted those down. Rt. 2 is a 4-lane highway for a bit, but actually, right about when it becomes the Mohawk Trail, it becomes a 2-lane highway, sometimes going right through some very cute little towns.

Fall color isn't at its peak at the moment in MA, I don't *think*, but there was still a LOT of color to be seen, and I'd rather do a long drive like this on a long weekend, rather than on a regular weekend. As it was, I felt pretty satisfied with the autumny-ness of the whole thing.


The first major thing I came to -- or would have come to -- was the French King Bridge in Miller's Falls. I didn't know what this might be, but it *sounded* promising. So I took the turn-off from Rt. 2 towards Miller's Falls. Unfortunately, Miller's Falls has a LOT of bridges, as the town is built on top of a series of gorges around some rivers or creeks. None of the bridges were labelled. Instead of getting out and asking someone, I proceeded to turn onto Main Street and drive towards Turner's Falls, hoping to see a sign. I didn't. What I did was get sort-of lost around Turner's Falls, taking a road in the wrong direction, south, leading me to have to hack my way back towards Rt. 2 via Rt. 5. The irony of all this is that I rejoined Rt. 2 just AFTER the French King Bridge, and therefore had no idea that I had passed it. (I only realized when I was driving home, in the dark, that I'd gone over a bridge that seemed strangely elaborate for Rt. 2 at that point in the state, and on looking it up at home, figured out that yes, that had been the French King Bridge, over the Connecticut River.)

Having screwed that up, my next target was the Bridge of Flowers at Shelburne Falls. Fortunately, this proved quite easy to find. Shelburne Falls is small and very picturesque, also perched around some gorges arranged around the Deerfield River. It was a gorgeous fall day on a holiday weekend, so the place was packed, but I managed to find some good parking that was actually on the street where the entrance to the Bridge of Flowers was located. The deal with the Bridge of Flowers is that it was once a trolley bridge, that was decommissioned in 1928. It was planted end to end with flowers (and some small trees), and it's now pedestrian-only, so you stroll up and down it and admire all the flowers, and in the middle there's a war memorial plaque.

I took some pics, which you can see below: on the bridge, including a fortuitous shot of a monarch butterfly perched on some daisies; and then of the bridge from the sidewalk on the roadway bridge that runs sort of alongside it.

Shelburne Falls is also known for its Glacial Potholes, apparently. Driving into town, I had gotten a glimpse of the epynomous Falls and wanted to see if I could get down to them. Then I followed a sign pointing towards the Glacial Potholes, and found out they were one and the same. The falls run over this huge expanse of rock, and, well... look at the pics below. There's a nice blurb about how the potholes were formed at the site I linked above. Although, there is a funny line in there: "Access to the river is restricted due to hazardous conditions and numerous injuries." Hah hah. As you can see from the pics, all kinds of people, including yours truly, attained access to the falls and the river and the potholes. Considering the gorge we had to clamber down to reach them, I can well believe that access isn't OFFICIAL or anything, but it wasn't DIFFICULT. And the path was suspiciously well-worn.

These were quite neat. I like few things better than clambering around rocks with waterfalls nearby.

Then it was back onto the road, heading west. Next in line was the town of Charlemont and the alleged Bissell Covered Bridge. What I would like to say about this is: signage, Charlemont. Look into it. Charlemont was very scenic to pass through, on Rt. 2, but all I'm saying is that a sign pointing off in the direction of the Scenic Bridge would not have gone amiss.

But by this point it was getting on in the afternoon (I am not an early riser; but I will know better to start off earlier next time I try something like this), and I wasn't really sure how long it would take to get to Mt. Greylock, which was my end-point goal for the day. (I had read that you could drive up to its summit.) So onward.

Not that long after this, I REALLY started hitting the Berkshires, which were just aggressively scenic. A really nice drive along the Deerfield and Cold Rivers. Whooshing around curves in between towering hills that were significantly on the way towards completely golden. I should have been smarter and pulled off at one or two places and tried to get a picture.

Finally, I did make it to North Adams, and found the turn-off to the Mt. Greylock Reservation. Mt. Greylock, at 3,491 feet, is what passes for the highest mountain in Massachusetts, and indeed, you can drive up it. The drive was somewhat hair-raising in places. I did the entire thing in second gear, for example. (Much to the annoyance of the people behind me in the SUV. Neener.) And the lanes were teensy, so it was just as well I was driving a Mini, but even then, I was nervous about my right tires straying over the side, because NO GUARDRAILS, HELLO! Actually, in a couple of places there were... well, not guardrails exactly, more like concrete pylons meant to keep you from plunging over. But I couldn't really tell what the difference was between those places and all the other places where you and your car would fall for a good long way, presuming the trees didn't stop your descent at some point, and I wasn't anxious to test it. Basically, had there been anyone else with me, the word "plummet" would have been banned from the car, is what I'm saying.

So me and my Little Car mountain-goated it up some very excitingly-graded hairpin curves, so that at long last we could find... a traffic jam.

Yes, at 4:30pm or so (granted, on a holiday weekend in the middle of leaf-peeping season), the summit of Mt. Greylock featured a traffic jam in which I waited for a half-hour to get into the parking lot (they were only letting people through when cars would leave to make room for them). I took a couple of pics out of the car's windows to show how scenic the wait was.

Eventually, I was allowed to park and get out and prowl around the summit, along with several hundred other people. In addition to the striking and imposing War Memorial Tower (I was delighted to find out that it was originally intended as a lighthouse in the Charles River Estruary before it was decided to plunk it atop Greylock), there is Bascom Lodge, which provides some basic goods and a fireplace to sit around for hikers on the Appalachian Trail, which runs right up and across the summit. I have now walked, oh, about thirty yards'-worth of Appalachian Trial. (*snort*)

The Tower is climbable, and therefore of course I could not resist climbing it. First, a picture of the very pretty mosaic dome inside it (the rest of the chamber inside was marble and inscriptions and all). (More traffic jams at the top -- needing to orchestrate letting people descend the little, little iron spiral staircase, so that more people could take their place up on the little walkway at top to look out the windows.) One of the shots down from it, with Mt. Monadnock of NH in the far distance, shows the top of the Thunderbolt Shelter, for AT hikers' use.

And then, the whooshy drive back down, in which I discovered that being on the inside lane on the way down wasn't a complete sinecure because there were all these very deep pits for water drainage, so I continued to worry about dropping my tires into them.

On the way back east again, I paused at a lookout up the ridge opposite Greylock, to take some pics to show what it was I had just been on top of. I don't know if you can see it in the closer of the two pics below, but if you are looking for it, you can see the tiniest bump on the leftmost peak, which is that Tower.

And that's about it, really. Yay for satisfying fall days!


Click for larger versions, of course.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA Monarch on daisies Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA
Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA

Monarch on daisies

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA
Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA

from other bridge
Glacial Potholes, Shelburne Falls, MA Falls and Glacial Potholes, Shelburne Falls, MA Falls and Glacial Potholes, Shelburne Falls, MA
Glacial Potholes, Shelburne Falls, MA

Falls and Glacial Potholes, Shelburne Falls, MA

Falls and Glacial Potholes, Shelburne Falls, MA

Glacial Potholes, Shelburne Falls, MA View from car, Mt. Greylock, MA View from Car, Mt. Greylock, MA
Glacial Potholes, Shelburne Falls, MA

View from car, Mt. Greylock, MA

View from Car, Mt. Greylock, MA

War Memorial Tower, Mt. Greylock, MA Appalachian Trail sign, Mt. Greylock, MA War Memorial Tower, Mt. Greylock, MA
War Memorial Tower, Mt. Greylock, MA

Appalachian Trail sign, Mt. Greylock, MA

War Memorial Tower, Mt. Greylock, MA

View from summit, Mt. Greylock, MA Dome inside War Memorial Tower, Mt. Greylock, MA View from Tower, Mt. Greylock, MA
View from summit, Mt. Greylock, MA

Dome inside War Memorial Tower, Mt. Greylock, MA

View from Tower, Mt. Greylock, MA

Mt. Monadnock in center distance
Mt. Greylock (far left), town of North Adams, MA Mt. Greylock (far left)
Mt. Greylock (far left), town of North Adams, MA

Mt. Greylock (far left)



Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
moonshayde
Oct. 9th, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC)
OMG, so pretty. And it's not even really fall for MA yet.

But you know what? The no guardrails thing freaks me out. I think I'll be passing on a trip of my own for awhile...
eregyrn
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:39 am (UTC)
There's another drive the Globe suggested that I may try next weekend or so. But I knew this would be a long one so I wanted to do it on the long weekend, even though it wasn't the peak of fall yet. It took me about 4 hours to get out to Mt. Greylock, when I know I've driven from here to the Berkshires on the Pike in 2.5 hours before.

Guardrails, or lack thereof: I discovered that I basically had to will myself to stop thinking about the no-guardrails thing, or else I would become obsessed with it, and paralyzed. Like, once you start thinking about it, you can't stop.

As it was, I took almost the entire thing at 10-20 mph, no more. (The speed limit was 25.) I was actually more worried about oncoming cars coming around blind curves, and that they would be thinking that they wanted all of their lanes and some of mine, too, because I had no lane I could give up to them. Other than that, I felt okay about feeling like my left tires were practically on the yellow line.

I took the road that goes up the north end of the mountain. There's one that goes up from the south end too, I wonder if that's less twisty?
nangi_akki
Oct. 10th, 2006 12:17 am (UTC)
pretty Fall colors - and good on you for taking the time to enjoy them.
eregyrn
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
I like fall a lot. :)
jenlev
Oct. 10th, 2006 12:22 am (UTC)
you're not kidding about the potholes. meep. oh wait, i thought you meant the ones on mass ave. *veg* seriously, those are very cool, and lovely shots.

sounds like a wonderful day and drive though.

what gorgeous photos, the butterfly and the bridge of flowers. very wow. and cool tower with the light coming through and that very fine sky. and great mosaics too. :)
eregyrn
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:43 am (UTC)
you're not kidding about the potholes. meep. oh wait, i thought you meant the ones on mass ave. *veg*

Yeah, if you squint, a few of those shots DO look like some of the roads around here. ;-)

The butterfly shot was one where I especially was thinking of you. I'm surprised it came out as well as it did. These are pared down from at least 40 shots, some of which were just too blurry. My camera is more stylish than good.
jenlev
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:46 am (UTC)
true, and you don't even have to squint that much. ;)

er, i just emailed you. *g*

thank you, and if you take 40 shots and get that many to save it's a good thing. love the butterfly shot, the blanket of flowers makes it even better. *hugs*
surreallis
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
Beautiful. Autumn is the best time for day trips. Great views.
eregyrn
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, and I really like the quality of light, too. Get it on the right day, which this certainly was, and it's all extremely warm and glowy.
sef1029
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
Gorgeous pics--and words, too. I love autumn. In a couple weeks, I'm off to a vacation on the northern California coast, which involves driving the two-lane portions of Highway 1 with 2,000-foot drops straight into the Pacific.

The worst part is, I've twice rounded a blind curve to find a COW in the middle of the road.
eregyrn
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:54 am (UTC)
Ooooh, pretty! I would love to drive the CA coast. But even more, I would love to drive... well, any number of drives where I was switching off with someone so I could get to admire the scenery, in the ways that you don't when you're the driver. (Or in the ways that you shouldn't, ideally.)

I did wonder if I would encounter anything on some of the curves going up or down the mountain -- not cows, but other things, deer maybe. I can imagine that you wouldn't want to hit a cow, and not just for the cow's sake.

As it was, I kept encountering hikers. (Note also to hikers: there really wasn't enough room to be using that road as a place to walk; there was no verge to speak of.) A couple of times I did encounter oncoming SUVs who seemed to want some of my lane as well, which I wasn't having any of.
raqs
Oct. 10th, 2006 02:16 am (UTC)
ooo. pretty! i miss nature. they don't have any around here.
eregyrn
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
Pfft. You do so. You have a COAST and everything. Several, in fact. And vineyards! Go tour some vineyards, or something.
catspaw_sgjd
Oct. 10th, 2006 02:27 am (UTC)
Oh, you live in a very beautiful part of the world! An Autumn trip to your part of the States is definitely high up on my Life's To Do List: don't know when it'll ever happen as school terms rather rule it out right now, so it was lovely to share your photos :-) Thank you!
eregyrn
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! Yeah, and that's not even peak color, though it probably is a little bit north of here. You should *definitely* come and tour New England in autumn sometime. :)
rednikki
Oct. 10th, 2006 05:54 am (UTC)
Cool. Damn, I miss fall in New England.
eregyrn
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC)
And it misses you. *hugs*

I do have to admit that I would find it hard to be someplace that didn't have fall. I'm so spoiled by New England's.
keiko_kirin
Oct. 10th, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC)
Beautiful! You're making me miss autumn in New England! I love the views from Mt. Greylock, and the Glacial Potholes are way cool. Thanks for sharing these.
eregyrn
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! :)

I am hugely glad that I realized when I did that I had forgotten the camera, and turned the car back around to go get it...
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )