The Gathering - 2014
NoKey and I are members of ALDHA, the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association. Every fall during Columbus Day Weekend they throw a big campout weekend called The Gathering, a place where AT completers, maintainers, dreamers, and hopeful one-day hikers and their families can come together and go to hiking workshops, see documentaries, and go to a hiker fair with others who love hiking. Every Gathering is a little different, but the message is always the same - let’s get together and talk trail.
This year it was held in Williamstown, Massachusetts at Williams College with the campout on an old farm in the shadow of Mt. Greylock… you couldn’t ask for a better location in October - not to mention better weather! While it was in the low 30s at night, the days were sunny and in the mid 50s making for perfect fall days.
We arrived at The Gathering at around 8 p.m. Friday night ready to camp… but we forgot one major piece of gear - OUR TENT! Yes, we are those people who show up to a campout without their tent! Fortunately, there is no better place to forget a tent than a campout with hardcore hikers and many people had extras. Thanks to our friend and 2013 SoBo Nectar who gave us a place to live for the weekend!
On Saturday afternoon I worked at the hiker fair handing out free samples of Teeccino and Teechia products, a company for who I am a brand ambassador right now (and you will be reading more about their products in a future post of mine!). After running out of samples at 3 p.m. and judging the apple contest, NoKey and I packed Gracie up in the car and took a ride up Rte. 2 through the famous “Hairpin Turn” and up to Florida, Mass., the site of a windfarm and a beautiful view of the Adirondacks. We went back down to the campsite and hung out around the fire with tons of our friends before crashing after a long and fun day.
Sunday NoKey and I hiked up to Mt. Greylock with Gracie. The first 1.5 miles we shared with a group from The Gathering who were hiking only up to the view on Prospect Mountain. From there, we hiked another 3.3 miles to summit Greylock - the highest mountain in Massachusetts. Yeah, we could have driven to the top, but we never do things the easy way! The hike was steeper than we remember, but last time we came down this side of the mountain! We got to the top and it being a beautiful, sunny Sunday meant the summit was packed. We hung out and lazed around in the sun and ate hiker trash food (bagels, cream cheese, turkey sandwiches, fruit snacks) before heading back down.
On our hike down, we ran into a couple who let us stay in their house in Great Barrington during our thru hike in 2012 - Buttons and Bearwalker. This is the best part of hiking on the AT - you never know who you’ll run into no matter where you are!
We had an amazing time at The Gathering this year, as always. Thank you to all who organized, presented, and attended for making it great. If you’re considering heading to The Gathering next year and haven’t decided if you want to make the leap I’ll explain it this way: Going to The Gathering is like a high school reunion you’d actually want to go to! We have a great time every year and get to relive our glory days with other hikers. I highly recommend it!
Photos today: NoKey, Grace, and Me at the tentsite; Buttons, Bearwalker (and Molly!) with Nokey, Me (and Gracie!); our tentsite in the shadow of Mt. Greylock; the view from Mt. Prospect looking down onto Williamstown; a cool engraved bench near Williamstown on the AT.