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Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.

The hike up was TOUGH. Not the sort of adventure for the weak-hearted (or unfit like me). Took a little over 90 minutes. The first 1/2 mile
was relatively flat, then the climbing began; a steady 4-5% grade. The snow was in good shape, no melting and not slushy. At about the 1 mile
point, things changed a LOT. The grade became almost impossible for me to climb, it had to be in the 25% category or more. Thank God I had my
snowshoes and decided not to wimp out and also brought my trekking poles. I made a lot of use of both, and developed new techniques for
using the snowshoe crampons (toe stepping, digging steps, etc). I had to take rest stops about every 15-20 minutes. I seriously considered
bailing out a few times, but kept reminding myself that I've been waiting for this hike for about 5 years and there was just no way I was
going to give up - I'd never forgive myself if I did. More than once, my friend Wayne popped into my head along with his famous "Warrior" pep
talk, and that played a big part in saving the day. Some of the views were worth the pain too.

Once I reached the summit, I walked around a bit enjoying the views and comparing them to summertime views. I also thought about my bike ride
up this mountain (I'm not sure which was harder). It wasn't too cold and the wind wasn't too bad. I took some pics, ate lunch, and
contemplated the journey DOWN.

So the downward trek began on a reverse-course of the way up. By this time however, the trail had gotten quite a bit of sunlight and the snow
was VERY soft. The steepest parts were on the verge of impossible to descend standing as I soon found out. The trip down was a bit faster
than I originally expected, but that's mostly because parts of it were completed sliding on my butt (yes, next time I'm bringing my ice-axe).

I forgot that I changed my starting point at the last minute in the morning, and completed my descent at the wrong trail head. The result
was OK though - I had a very nice 1+ mile walk on a relatively flat road back to my car. That walk revealed Pecks Falls so I'd say my mistake
couldn't have been a better one to have made!

Mount Greylock is located in the Berkshire Mountains, and is the highest mountain in Massachusetts. At 3,491 feet, Greylock wouldn't seem to be too remarkable, but this is actually one of the most scenic mountains in the Eastern United States. It is so inspirational that legend has it, that Greylock's long, saddle-like shape inspired Herman Melville to write "Moby Dick". He was, by all accounts, enamored with the mountain, and he even set up a special observation deck at his home (near Pittsfield) so he could view Greylock whenever he desired.

When you travel to Greylock, it is obvious why people believe the legend and why Melville went out of his way to keep the mountain in his sites. Greylock can be seen for miles around, and is a quite impressive site given that is rises nearly 2,700 feet above the surrounding town of Adams, Massachusetts. Furthermore, it's very colorful, and has a steep slope that shoots up into the sky, unlike most mountains you'll find of this height in New England. This is because Greylock is a Monadnock - a lone, isolated mountain rising steeply above the surrounding area.

Thunderbolt Trail is the shortest and consequently steepest route up or down Mt. Greylock - Massachusetts highest peak at 3,491 feet. It climbs the eastern side of the mountain, starting in the town of Adams from the Greylock Glen. The Thunderbolt Trail was originally a CCC built ski trail, and in 1936 hosted the United States Eastern Alpine Ski Championships. Its current course has been somewhat altered from the original, but is no less challenging. The Thunderbolt Foot Trail climbs gently west winding through the forest south of Hoxie Brook, and eventually the foot trail will intersect the old ski trail on your right. At about the half mile mark, the trail becomes considerably steeper and heads northwesterly towards the summit ridge. This stretch is quite broad and is recognizable as a steep, tree-lined ski run. At about the 1.5 mile mark the trail reaches the summit ridge, where you have a beautiful view upon the town of Adams from Hadley Lookout. The rocky outcroppings on the ridge line to your left (as you face downhill from Hadley's lookout) are Ragged Mountain, and Raven's Rocks (An awesome place to see Greylock on another day!) From the Hadley Lookout the trail levels considerably and bears southwest to the summit along a short stretch of the Appalachian Trail. This last stretch is approximately half a mile and during winter, affords a fine view of the monument on the summit when conditions permit. The trail passes a small stone shelter, and the summit road on the way to the top. The total vertical via this route is approximately 2,275 feet in about two miles. You should allow for 1-2 hours to summit via the Thunderbolt, and half that time to descend. In winter, add another hour to ascend. But if you just wanted the views and scenery without a challenging hike, you can drive up the mountain via the main road. Visit the Mt. Greylock for more information.

In winter, snow conditions are typically varied from under a foot at the base, to over five feet in sheltered areas on the summit ridge. Most of the snow may also be blown from the immediate vicinity of the highpoint. Personally, I would discourage winter hiking on the Thunderbolt without modern snowshoes, trekking/ski poles and/or an ice axe for self-arrest. It isn't Mount Everest, but people should be aware of sound winter travel principles any time they attempt steep terrain in frozen conditions. (DO NOT attempt this hike unless you have experience with winter hiking techniques.) (Skiers note: If you're looking for a challenge or if you're into some of the best back country skiing in all of New England you'll find it all on the Thunderbolt. The pitch is similar to what you may find on a black diamond trail at a modern resort, the trees and natural obstacles make this a more challenging run than at first it may appear. Typically, those interested in skiing the trail should wait until a bit later in winter for the base to form, and start hiking in the dark if they have any hopes of beating the locals to first tracks on a powder day! Also, a great resource for more Backcountry skiing is the New England Lost Ski Area Project: www.nelsap.org)

Thunderbolt is listed on the Mt. Greylock State park trail map, and is open year-round for hiking, snowshoeing and skiing. You are welcome to hike it in the winter even if you do not intend to ski it, but the considerate thing to do is stay in the path of those who have already ascended in order to preserve snow quality. Many skiers summit Mt. Greylock via the bellows pipe trail and descend via the Thunderbolt since the Bellows Pipe is a less difficult climb and occasionally packed by snowmobiles. There's also a great movie about the history of the Thunderbolt called "Purple Mountain Majesty" created a few years back by some locals, and the living relatives of Thunderbolt legends.

(The trail description on this page is courtesy of Ryan Auge'.

Directions: : The trailhead can be reached by traveling south on Highway 8 from the town of North Adams. On the northern side of the town of Adams, bear right onto Friend Street, follow this Friend Street (which will become West Road), and then approximately 1.5 miles will be Thiel Road. Turn right onto Thiel Rd., pass through the Jaeschke's Apple orchards and into the Geylock Glen. Thiel Road continues straight past the intersection with Gould Rd. and you can park at the end to access the Thunderbolt Trailhead.

Portions reprinted from:
- http://www.berkshirehiking.com/hikes/thunderbolt.html
- http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/150465/mount-greylock.html

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Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Thunderbolt Trail Hike @ Mt. Greylock
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
March, 2008; Mass.
Perks Falls
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Gould Road / Maples Road
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Gould Road / Maples Road
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Gould Road / Maples Road
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