Race Brook Falls Trail, Southwest Massachusetts. I took a solo hike to shoot ice and it was about 5 degrees Fahrenheit out. This was a beautiful, still, and extremely cold day and I thought the ice on Race Brook would be good to shoot.
There were no other cars in the small parking area nor had there been any cars in the more popular Bear Mountain parking area when I drove past it so I had this entire section of the Appalachian Trail system to myself. This was both exciting and a bit scary on a very cold winter day.
Race Brook Falls trail is a “blue” trail which is an official side trail connecting up with the Appalachian Trail (white markings) and maintained by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Massachusetts. The AT goes for 2400 miles from Georgia to Maine and has hundreds of blue access trails along its length.
The trail crosses Race Brook early in the hike and I figured I’d go that far and shoot for a while and maybe skip the rest of the hike if I got what I wanted and it was too cold. I have Raynaud’s syndrome so shooting with the metal bodied RX100 on a very cold day can be problematic for me. I’m using thin gloves (mitten liners) so I never take the liner gloves off, just my mittens, but it can still get cold if I spend too much time shooting in one place.
I stopped and shot ice and I had the overwhelming impression that this was a special day to be out and I had my Microspikes on and was well prepared for a cold hike so I decided to continue up to Race Brook Falls which is beautiful when it’s frozen.
At the falls I had a drink, felt great (all warmed up from the climb) and decided to continue up the trail to the junction where it intersects the Appalachian Trail. Dave and I are actually the official “maintainers” of this section of trail so going to the junction was good to see if any trees were down or maintenance needed to be done. The trail was all clear and a pleasure to walk with the spikes on.
At the junction I felt great, took my pack off, and used my iPhone to call my friend Bill to make him jealous of the hike he was missing. I was also interested to see if the iPhone would work in such extreme cold and it did.
There was one set of footprints on the Appalachian Trail heading south to Mt. Race. They were not new, maybe a few days old. So, I was really alone and it felt eerily great. Very still and quiet, no wind at all. I decided to work my way up toward Mt. Race and if at any point I felt I was getting into dangerous territory I could turn around. The hiking was great and while there are some rock outcroppings that might have stopped me on snowshoes the spikes handled the ice on those well. I found myself on the top of Mt. Race in an hour. I took a few pictures of the distant Catskills to the west and Mt. Everett right next door to the north and Mt. Greylock in the distance.
Then I headed back down, knowing that I had plenty of work to do to safely descend a steep icy trail.
I took over one hundred images on this hike but these three images which I took at the very first Race Brook crossing were my favorite. I think later in the hike I was simply enjoying being outside and lost interest in looking for ice. It happens.
When I got home and told Anne what I’d done she got mildly irritated that I’d gone out alone but she totally understood my excitement.
Winter hiking is the best if you’re well prepared, and while I like hiking all year round, having the challenge of finding interesting ice to shoot makes it even better.