Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Midstate Trail

The Midstate Trail of Massachusetts was the first place I ever went backpacking. Greta and I decided to hike the AT in 2013 and then learned about this 95 mile trail about an hour from where we live. The Midstate Trail seemed like a mini-AT to me and good place to test out ALL our newly bought  gear. So one weekend that October we headed out with a borrowed car for an overnight.

Excited to be laden.

We hiked six miles, ran out of day, found a nice place to hang a hammock, failed to open our fuel canister, ate cold food, "slept," and then went back the way we came next day. A fun hike.
Logging made beauty.

Then Greta and I hiked the AT and did some other things but never went back to the Midstate Trail. I always did want to complete the whole thing though, so last fall I suggested to my friend Matt that we try to hike it in one go... any while were at it, try to set the currently unclaimed the fully supported FKT. The goal was to do it in about 30-35 hours which seemed possible if we hiked about 3 miles per hour. Greta generously agreed to meet us about every 10 miles with food, water, and chairs. Anyways after about 30 miles and 10 hours my attitude turned sour and I decided we should bail on the attempt. Truth is, the southern most 30 miles we hiked had a TON of road walking and cutting through people's back yards and really just wasn't that much fun. Escape from the boredom came easy. I regretted this choice the next day.

Getting lost on the Midstate speed hike.

Now I'm getting ready for my next big adventure, and in planning decided to finish up the remaining 65 miles of the Midstate Trail. So last weekend, Greta once again generously drove me to the trail. I picked up where we left off on our FKT attempt and this time would hike as a self supported backpacker. The plan was to hike a pleasant two and a half days... and that pretty much is what happened...

Moose Hill Shelter - Small/stagnant pond in front of shelter, but can see a house right over the hill...

Long Pond Shelter - cool architecture on this one, seems remote, tenting space available too.

I passed a lot dammed ponds made by humans and beavers.

Long Pond Shelter - nice big pond nearby and a piped spring!

Cool bench.

Another cool bench.


Rainy day two on Mt Wachusett.

Arriving at Muddy Pond Shelter. This is my favorite shelter on the trail.

Good Night.

Good Morning - Hey, there is snow now!

Ropes along brook crossing.

One of the only scenic overlooks.

Learned about this at the end! Will come back to hike the Wapack Trail someday.

Overall, I enjoyed the Midstate Trail. The northern two-thirds are all and all nice easy woods walking. It's unlikely you'll see anyone except at the popular day hiking spots. I only saw people at Douglas State Forest, Mt. Wachusett, Crow Hills, Muddy Pond, Mt Watatic, and the road crossings/walks. Water is plentiful. There are many streams, ponds, and at least one spring... so I never had to carry more than a liter or worry about water. Also the trail is incredibly well blazed throughout.

I would not hike the section after Douglas State Forest and before Mass Audubon's Burncoat Pond Wildlife Sanctuary again due to the ridiculous amount of road walking involved, but the rest was fun and I highly recommend it.

Here is the guide I used, made by "Nameless Mike" Benedetti in 2005. It's a two-sided trifold and totally sufficient to thru-hike with... thanks Mike!

If you hike it all you can ever apply for a cool "end-to-end" patch to put on your merit badge sash!

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