Day 121 – 134 Duncannon PA to Great Barrington MA 2017 Appalachian Trail Thru-hike

Monday 07 August to Monday 21 August

Total Distance:  1520.6 miles

States and AT Mileage: Pennsylvania (from Duncannon) 146.7 miles, New Jersey 72.1 miles, New York 97.1 miles, Connecticut 44.7 miles, Massachusetts (to Great Barrington) 14.8 miles

Mountains: Second Mountain 1362 ft, Hawk Mountain 1364 ft, Blue Mountain 1360 ft, Kittatinny Mountain 1532 ft, Rattlesnake Mountain 1492 ft, Sunrise Mountain 1653 ft, Pochuck Mountain 1147 ft, Wawayanda Mountain 1350 ft, Prospect Rock 1433 ft, Buchanan Mountain 1142 ft, Arden Mountain 1180 ft, Island Pond Mountain 1298 ft, Black Mountain 1192 ft, West Mountain 1221 ft, Bear Mountain 1305 ft, Shenandoah Mountain 1282 ft,  Mt Prospect 1475 ft, Bear Mountain CT 2316 ft, Mt Race 2365 ft, Mt Everett 2602 ft

Everyday while walking all you hear are the sounds of nature and there is calm everywhere. After being around the sounds of nature such as; the leaves rustling in the wind, the scuttling of chipmunks and squirrels along the forest floor, the sound of water gently cascading over mossy rocks, coming into town can be a sensory overload.

Cars seem to be going freakishly fast on motorways, there are people everywhere rushing about, sirens and general town chaos. Such a stark contrast to the calm every day that has become the norm. 

 In spite of this the states try quite hard to maintain and preserve state parks, nature reserves and wetlands. The most people I would ordinarily see are on weekends due to the numbers of day hikers and walkers that hit the trails. 
I’ve been surprised by how many young people 17 – 23 hike the trails and or camp. I like it, to me it signals a future generation who will have a good understanding and appreciation of nature – which can only be a good thing.

I really enjoyed walking through the wetlands the bird life and wild flowers were amazing, although the photos don’t do them justice.

This dragonfly had me baffled for quite some time before I got up close enough to realise that the wings weren’t square rather the pattern on the wings was square. 

Even in town I’ve realised that I see nature everywhere; caterpillars, butterfly’s, birds… I know it sounds funny but I’ve only noticed nature in towns before not really ‘seen’ nature.

 Anyway, almost immediately upon exiting Pennsylvania I hit a patch of ground that had no rocks and my feet were in heaven. 

I was surprised by how close to New York city the trail gets. You could definitely tell by the increase in vehicular traffic that could be heard in the bushland, at times it was a constant noise – 24 /7.
From Bear Mountain you could just make out the New York City skyline. I didn’t take any photos though as you wouldn’t have been able to see anything  due to the pollution hanging around the city. 

It has been quite warm and dry with streams and other water sources drying up. So trail angels have left gallons of water for thru hikers which has staved off dehydration and as you can see even left a table and chairs. 

Filling water bottles and dropping them out all takes time and effort which is greatly appreciated by all thru hikers many of whom leave messages of thanks. At the table with chairs there was a container that had some Crackerjacks left – I was so hungry I had two packets!
The trail passed a beaver dam where I was hoping to see a beaver, even though it was highly unlikely during the middle of the day… and no I didn’t.
The following sign made the cut because I was excited to see that they were fewer miles to Mount Katahdin then there were to Springer Mountain. The signs never get old and I will continue to include them. 😊

I have been looking forward to the state of New York to tick off the lemon squeezer. This is another one of those “trail tourist features” I’ve been wanting to do.

And while I had to take off my backpack to make it through, I didn’t have to turn sideways at all which rocked – you have to take what you can get out here.

There has been a lot of hand over foot rock climbing making each day a little more interesting. Some of my favourite parts of the trail have been these sections even though they slow me down quite a bit. 

Not because it is the climbing or mountain itself, rather because age teaches one that not only will falling hurt and you will take longer to heal, but there may be residual effects felt 10 years from now!

There was only 44.7 miles of Appalachian trail in Connecticut so it was over in a couple of days. 

My shoes were seriously falling apart and I needed a new pair. They have done really well and travelled over 700miles! I had been waiting until I reached Kent where Sundog Shoes gives hikers a 10% discount hoping they would have my shoe type and size in stock.

I have been wearing Keen Targhee II wides which have been great for stabilising my foot and protecting my feet from the rocks. The only negative is they don’t grip as well as other shoes to rocks and can get slippery. However this hasn’t had a big impact on me. 

I was as pleased as punch that Sundog Shoes came through and had exactly what I wanted. This put a definite bounce in my step. The further north we go towns are becoming more expensive; accommodation, resupplying and meals out. So luckily for me I am on serious time constraints now and spend as little time as possible in town.

Resupplying on the run has become standard – get in and get out is the motto. Common sight to see hikers outside supermarkets with food and wrappers strewn everywhere trying to make it all fit.

I am laughing as this wooden bridge and the surrounding area reminded me of the movie Bridges over Madison County – that was a good chick flick.

I’m up at 4.45am so I can get going everyday around 6.00-6.30am. This means I beat the heat, especially if I have to climb a mountain first thing and I get to hear the forest wake up around me – it really is magical.

Autumn must be slowly on its way because the sun was once fully out and awake by 6.30am now it tends to be more around 7.00am. Nothing dramatic yet but I’ve noticed the subtle changes.

Flowing with nature from the time I get up to the time I go to bed centres me and I feel one with the world around me. The length of time out here in nature can’t help but have a massive impact. And I am starting to feel more contemplative as the time and miles march toward Katahdin.

Massachusetts has a lot of mountains! I am also seeing a high number of SOBO’s (Southbound hikers) coming through. It’s hard to feel connected with SOBO’s. We may all be hiking the same trail but our perspectives and experiences of it are very different. 

Starting from Georgia gives the body a longer chance of building up to the fitness levels required for Maine which I hear is extremely difficult. The mileage completed is also poles apart as Southbounders start a lot later than Northbounders. 

It would be interesting to meet up with SOBO’s at the end of our respective hikes to compare notes. I have hiker friends who ‘flipped’ to Katahdin and are now travelling south – can’t wait to meet them along the trail.

This section of the trail saw the path traverse along the side of the mountain, where the views were spectacular. 

The Berkshire Community Centre in Great Barrington have renting for free and for $7 you get to use the facilities; showers, sauna and pool. 

I have stayed at several free tenting venue or free bed inside a church I can. Its a great place to meet other hikers with these places filling fast of course. It’s a great experience and one I highly recommend.


  1. Hi Serena, reading your latest blog has been a birthday treat for me. I have the greatest admiration for your achievements, dedication, courage, learning and insights. Shirley

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dang that’s a lotta mountains the last two weeks. Before you explained the dragonfly, I thought I was looking at something you’d made outta 4 sandwich flags and either a nail file or a pocket knife. Was going to commend your exquisite craftsmanship! Can’t beat nature huh. You sound in great spirits. I wonder how many miles you’ll have left the first time the thought of ‘I’m on the home stretch now’ pops into your mind? Keep it up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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