Below is an article written by Marjorie March in the Bennington Section Spring Newsletter. The Bennington Section is one of our amazing sections that has trail maintenance trips to spruce up sections of the Long Trail, including from Harmon Hill, south of VT Route 9 in Woodford, north to the top of Glastenbury Mountain. They also take care of the Nauheim Shelter (Maple Hill, near Route 9) and the Goddard Shelter (Glastenbury Mountain).
“With only an inch or two of snow now and then, this year’s ski would have to be changed to a hike. How could I make a mid-winter hike interesting, when we should be skiing? I thought about last year’s February 7th ski that crossed Stone Hill in Williamstown, MA, with 16 inches of snow on the ground and light snow sprinkles in the air. The year before last, the Berkshire Ski was a beautiful run around the North Pond in Savoy, MA, with snow that was unusually uniform and fun. But this year was different. Maybe a hike with a little history and some fine views would do.
On February 20th, five Bennington GMC members carpooled down for a hike that started at Old Petersburg Road in South Williamstown. The day was sunny and the temperature climbed from 34 in the early morning to 52 degrees by afternoon. Underfoot, the trails were lined with dry fall leaves. We hiked up through the woods on the R.R.R. Brooks Trail, a trail established by a former dean of William’s College, where we found Trailing Arbutus in bud. After a while, we took a right fork, which is the start of Shepherd’s Weli Trail, named for the man who farmed here, not for a shepherd. We climbed to an open hillside with sweeping views to the south and east on a narrow path through thick, waist-high (dormant) blueberry and huckleberry bushes. Next we stopped at a wind monitoring center, established by William’s College in 2004. A giant 160 foot pole, tethered by many long lines to keep it upright, has wind gauges at several heights and had been carried in sections to the site by a college crew team. The project’s academic questions: how strong, in which seasons, and from which direction did the wind blow are presented on a plaque at the trail’s edge. This turned out to be our lunch spot. No wind at ground level. No wonder the tower’s so tall.
Next we saw an area with unusually healthy young beech trees, their silvery gray bark catching the afternoon light, located Shepherd’s well, then hiked on to reach the Taconic Crest Trail. Here we came upon some odd, cottony clean white snow and one place where seeping water had built up into a rippled blanket of ice. We arrived at Petersburg Pass and Mt. Raimer, a ski area in the 1960s, but now only a parking lot where we had placed a second car. With more views to the south and west, on a still sunny and warm day, I don’t think anyone missed their skis or winter gear.”