I met up with Art in East Hampton about 5:15 to drop my car at the southern end of the trail. I literally met Art for the first time at this point as he had recently learned of the day's excursion through a trail running club I just joined, The Shenipsit Striders. After a brief discussion of logistics, plans, and expectations Art was eager to join and we welcomed him in. We picked up Scott at the Bolton Notch area parking lot of the rail trail, grabbed Mark in Tolland, and headed to the northern end of the trail on County Rd.
With hydration packs loaded with fuel we started our journey shortly after sunrise. After a couple miles we found ourselves in familiar territory of Soapstone Mountain. Scott, Mark and I have done a fair amount of trail running at Soapstone Mountain, Shenipsit Lake area, Belding Wildlife area, the rail trail, and Case and Birch Mountains. We moved well early on and I was pleasantly surprised to learn of some of the pieces of the trail that connect these unique and special places.
We could see and hear the impact of the high winds as trees, limbs, and branches were strewn thought the trail. However, we were fortunate to enjoy comfortable temperatures and sunshine on our journey.
After heading through some steep and rocky terrain at Soapstone, flat and straight at Shenipsit Lake, comfortable pines at Belding, and the rail trail we arrived at Scott's car which doubled as our solo aid station. After a brief stop to refill hydration packs, enjoy some oranges courtesy of Scott, and some other goodies, we said our goodbyes to Scott and continued on our way.
Scott and Bruce
Art and Mark and Bolton Notch pond.
Our pace slowed as we continued on the ascent up to Birch and Case Mountains. Case Mountain was probably the area we experienced the most people enjoying the trail, which is no surprise as it's an absolutely beautiful track out and into the Meshomasic State Forest.
Throughout the day our only issues with navigation seemed to occur heading through the roads that connected the woods. Mark's internal compass proved trustworthy, but relied on his detailed maps when needed. We ended up off course a few times, but were able to get back on track without much of an issue.
Feeling the fatigue of the day, we were encouraged as we reached Rte 2, a landmark that we were looking forward to getting behind us. One of the busiest travel and traffic weekends of the year was kind to us as we had an opportunity to cross both lanes without much of a wait. Fortunately our crossing window was wide open as Art's leg cramped up as we made our way over the pavement.
Successful crossing of Rte 2
The sun made it's way lower as we made our way through the "Mesh". We dodged our way through and around the standing water on the jeep roads of the next few miles. We continued into East Hampton and saw the sunset, climbed our way up over a ridge and experienced another sunset. As it grew dark we neared the end and were treated with an impressive overlook of Great Hill Pond and the surrounding area.
Self photo at completion
Started just after sunrise, finished just after sunset, total of 46 miles. It was great to experience the Shenipsit trail from end to end.