It's amazing how an apathetic mind will fight to keep a person lazy. I woke up today at 9:30, later than I wanted to but I didn't fall asleep until after three. Anyway, I took a look out the window and saw that it was raining (not hard mind you). Automatically, I felt doubt about hitting the trails. I almost used the light rain as an excuse to just put it off for tomorrow. But then tomorrow would have come and I would find a different excuse. I knew that if I didn't go today, I wouldn't go at all. So, I bit the bullet, got geared up, gathered my supplies and took off a little after ten.
I didn't have a clear idea of where I was going. I've seen a sign that points to the Greylock Reservation that wasn't too far from the downtown area of North Adams. So I followed that route, heading past the large cemetery, and began to think that maybe the sign was farther away than I thought. I kept going, however, and voila, there it was close by a gas station. I turned up the street and followed the road to what I hoped would be a good trail.
It took me nearly an hour to find a trail. I had no idea where I was going, but at least I was in urban areas and the route was not complicated so I knew how to get back. Still, I had wanted to get out and be in Nature, not walking along some road in a rich neighborhood. I kept going, but nothing looked like it was going to lead to an actual trail. I thought that I might happen across a visitors' center, but that wasn't even around. I was about to give up when I saw a sign at the bottom of a road and I recognized it for one of the Greylock signs. I quickened my pace and sure enough, it lead to a trail.
Bellows Pipe Trail is 5.5 miles labeled as an aggressive trail, strenuous and part of the Appalachian Trail. I only found out when I got home that it also happens to be one of five most haunted places in the Berkshires. It's a good thing I didn't know that beforehand. Anyway, the hike started out pretty easy, the trail was laden with rivers and streams that led to the main supply of North Adams Public Water (NO TRESPASSING as the signs plastered all over the trees were nice enough to inform me). It was a wonderful hike despite the rain. There was no one else on the trail and I felt like I had the entire mountain to myself. It wasn't long when the rain abated and the sun peeked through the clouds, warming the air and letting me dry off. The rain came on and off a few times, but I decided I could deal with it and kept going.
I've never really been on the AT trail, but I've been reading Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" so I kept in mind that there could be some shelters somewhere up on the trail. A long time passed without seeing any so I figured I wouldn't get to check one out but, I climbed up a particularly steep hill and there one was. My immediate thought process was Oh cool! They are around! and I think about two seconds after this thought was completed a massive amount of hail decided at that moment to fall from the sky. Needless to say, checking out the shelter wasn't only born from curiosity but now from necessity. I spent a good twenty minutes in the shelter, looking at what people wrote on the walls and eating some lunch. I was greatly amused when I left the shelter to see a small toilet in a wooden stall not far from the shelter.
I kept going, the summit was 2 miles ahead and I really wanted to get to the top. Regrettably, I could not reach the summit today. Temperatures were dropping rapidly the higher I got and it began to snow. I was not equipped to climb the steepest part of the mountain during a snow storm and I was worried about losing daylight if I didn't turn around and head back. I now know that I need to start earlier in the day if I want to get to the top and maybe look into some better hiking equipment.
I took pictures, but the battery in my camera died before I could reach the shelter, something I'm very disappointed in, but all the more reason to return to the trail.