The temperature was about 8F as I left my truck in the AMC lot at 1230 and headed for the trailhead. I drove in from the north, which was a good thing as the road from CT is closed in winter and blocked with a couple of Yugo-sized boulders. There were no tracks in the snow on the trail, and the laurel bushes hung low from the weight of the ice on the branches. I bobbed and wove my way up the trail to where it starts to get steep, and that is where I learned that the 6 inches of powder covered a thin coating of ice on the rocks. I kept following the red blazes on the trees, had several "How am I going to get up THAT" moments, and slipped, slid, and crawled my way well up the flanks of Round Mt. As the trees disappeared, so did the red blazes, but there was a set of coyote tracks following the trail and I followed these, forgetting for the moment that Coyote is the Trickster.
I made it across the top of Round and down to the saddle, but missed a turn somewhere and followed the wrong set of red blazes (I think). I started clawing my way up Mt Frissell, literally pulling myself from branch to tree to root in a couple places. The coyote tracks disappeared, just stopped. There was very little purchase on the rocks because of the underlying ice. Looking behind me, I saw that I was well above the top of Round Mt and figured I was on the Frissell summit trail, which proved to be the case. I reached a 'T' at the top, hung a left, and started down what I hoped was the trail. I got to the highpoint cairn 90 minutes after I started, took the obligatory pictures, and started back. I couldn't see anywhere that another trail branched off so I retraced my steps to the top and went a few steps farther down the other part of the 'T' to the summit register for Frissell, hanging in a tree in a metal box. The last entry was 1-4-04 and talked of an "easy hike up, no snow, about 40 degrees". I made my entry, that CT was my 31st HP, noted the less favorable conditions, and headed down.
I lost count of the number of times that I fell. Let's just say it was dozens. I made a number of barely controlled glissades, controlled only in that I managed to keep my feet heading downslope. I also made a couple that were less controlled. Looking back up in a couple of spots, I saw that my butt had swept the snow off the rock, revealing the red blazes painted there. I was happy, sweaty, and wet when I reached the level stuff again. The round trip took a little over 2.5 hours.
Melanie and i had planned on doing a big loop around Frissell and Brace and Bear Mountains on Saturday, followed by camping at Greylock and going up that mountain on Sunday. The one little detail we didn't plan was a blizzard arriving Friday night, and going through Sunday.
Trying to guess when the roads would be at least slightly safe, and praying that the road to Mt. Frissell and the CT highpoint would be plowed, we decided to head out of Boston Sunday morning at 4. It took awhile to dig out the car, but we hit the road before 5. The Mass Pike was very snowy, and it took us over 4 hours to cross the state to Great Berrington. Heading southwest, East Street from the town of Mt. Washington (aka Mt. Washington Road) amamzingly WAS plowed all the way to the CT state line, where there was a wall of snow and 3 massive boulders in the middle of the street, and no fewer than 5 forbidding signs to make sure no one dared to somehow manage to drive into CT. There was a parking area plowed out even, on the east side of the street at the state line, with an AMC sign. This is where the trail starts that goes up Bear Mountain, and to the AMC cabin on its flank.
Throughout our hiking day, it was snowing lightly, somewhat windy, and temps were in the 20s. We buckled into our snowshoes, and started walking at about 10:00. Not knowing how long, or even IF we would be able to make it to the CT highpoint, it was a no-brainer to forgo the fancy loop plans we had made earlier. We instead headed straight for the "standard" Mt. Frissell trail by walking back north on the road for literally only a few yards, and turning west at a clearing marked only by a chain draped across to prevent auto access. The snow was about a foot and a half deep, and breaking trail was tiring and slow.
Shortly after starting up the trail, it forks, either leading you left or straight. Following the red blazes, we turned left, crossing the invisible state line for the 3rd of what would be about 15 times that day. The no-frills plodding of snowshoes came to an end soon thereafter, as we came face to face with Round Mountain. I would like to sometime see this part of the trail without snow on it. Does it have steps? Is it a true scramble? Or just an extremely steep trail? In the snow, it required hand over hand climbing, steeper than the north headwall on Mt. Washington or the rock slide on Kings Peak. But fortunately not for as long. We labored up, precariously at times, frankly pulling ourselves up by using trees as handholds (sorry, trees), and very often relying on the teeth of our snowshoes. Each step up probably averaged an effort of 4 steps, 2 pulls and an expletive. There were segments that might have benefited from using an ice-climbing axe. I wonder also about using crampons for a slope like this. The powder was so thick, but there was ice underneath...is this cramponable stuff?
This was easily the hardest section of the climb, so if you're trying it in winter, just know if you can make it past that first big slope, you're going to be ok. We topped off Round Mountain at about 11:30, following the red blazes up and over the summit, and seeing snowy views of Frissell for the first time. Looking behind us, Bear Mountain came in and out of view, depending on the clouds and falling snow.
After descending again to a saddle, we labored up another harsh snow slope, slightly less steep than the one on the east side of Round Mountain, but slightly longer. Checking my altimeter (which i trust about as much as i trust a typical talk radio host), the slope was levelling off around 2450'. Looking at the AMC map that showed the summit as being 2653', i put my head down, groaned, and trudged on...for about 3 more steps, then hitting my head on a hanging metal box. The summit register.
Ok, so it didn't QUITE happen like that, but almost. The trail at 2450' forks again (actually this whole trip i'm not really sure we were exactly on the trail, but we were judging its direction by clearings in the flora, when there weren't red blazes to go by), either taking a left or right turn. I checked a few steps down the right fork, and saw a metal box hanging from a tree, at eye level. Remembering other trip report descriptions, i knew it was the summit register, and it took us about 2 seconds to figure out that our stupid map had the summit elevation listed as 2653' instead of 2453', exactly 200' too high. I guess this is better than if they had listed 2653' when the actual summit was 2853'.
Heading back to the fork, and taking the left option, we headed downhill, passing the big cairn on the right, expecting that was probably the CT highpoint, but continuing on. I figured i would at some point see the big, towering green stake i had thought i read about. And as long as i hadn't gone past the tri-state marker, i wanted to be sure i went far enough before turning around and scouring for the HP. I walked for awhile, and when it was obvious i had gone too far (but still i hadn't seen the tri-state marker), i turned back. The big cairn was at 2370' on my oh-so-trusty altimeter, so sure this was the HP area, i started digging and scouring through the snow, making a general mess of the area. Where was that stake??? It was frustrating to not find it, but after literally 30 minutes of tromping around every inch of the area, using my cellphone to try to call some fellow highpointers, and digging with my gloves (while Melanie demonstrated altogether too much sense to be a true highpointer, by instead eating lunch and occasionally trying to convince me to give up looking), i finally called it a highpoint, and we turned back at about 1 p.m.
We signed the register and started back downhill, grateful that the drifting snow had only slightly ruined our tracks. After about 5-10 minutes, in a classic "i forgot i left the stove on" moment, i realized i had been too busy shivering to remember to take a picture at the summit. So i turned back and rehiked to the top while Melanie cemented her normalcy status by continuing down without me.
Going down those slopes was as graceful as Disney's Warthogs On Ice, but after several falls, hugging a few trees for dear life, snow going down pants and up jackets, and the occasional solid step, we made it off the trail ok at 2:30. HP #22. (#3 for Mel) Looking at the online pics of the HP area, we had been above the stake, and it was buried in snow.
I'm not positive we could have made it up a snowy Greylock in a day, even if work were cancellable on Monday, so unfortunately it was a 1-HP trip, but a memorable one. I'd like to go back and do the CT loop i had originally planned, maybe staying at the AMC cabin, and then continuing on to Greylock.
Btw, during this hike, i got the idea that if i ever start a band, i want to name it "Zero Prominence."
And you guys were pretty lucky there was only 1 1/2feet of snow on the ground. I've maintained "the logbook" on top of Mt. Frissell for over 20 years. I've been up there without snowshoes when the snow was crusted over and when I would break through, the snow was hip-depth; I still didn't touch the ground with my feet!!! I estimated snow depth at four feet at that time. You've got to have lots of determination at times to be up there. Some people think it's only a hill and afterwards realize it's not easy as expected. Glad to hear you made it. I'll be up there in about two weeks, so if I don't see you then, Happy Trails! Sincerely, Ted Rybak.
I scrambled up Mt. Frissell, the Highpoint of Connecticut at 2,380 feet, on Sunday, April 18th, 2004. It was my 20th state highpoint.
I drove north from Salisbury, CT following the directions provided in the Wingerís guidebook 'Highpoint Adventures'. Mt. Washington Rd. was blocked by large boulders .1 mile south of the MA/CT state line. Apparently the owners of the property allow access to the highpoint from the south but donít want traffic from the north passing through. There was a parking area at the trailhead for Bear Mt. Approx. ľ mile south of the boulders. There were no vehicles parked in this parking lot although the Bear Mt. Trailhead parking lot on Rt. 41 was full as I drove south from MA.
The temperature on my car thermometer read 65 degrees when I parked my car and started the hike at 11:45AM. I immediately realized that I had left my insect repellant back at the condo in Lenox, MA when I noticed quite a few bugs flying around my face. Thankfully they were not mosquitoes or other biting insects. I walked north along the road into MA and found the trailhead for Mt. Frissell on the left. There were several vehicles parked in the area with the ďAMCĒ sign. After hiking for about 15 minutes I reached the steep area that required some scrambling. I had expected this steep area but was somewhat surprised to find that the trail remained rather steep and rocky during the remainder of the hike. I met several women hiking together along the trail. One, the Mother, was 60 years old and said she had been hiking in VT & NH all her life and this was the hardest hike so far. As I slowly approach the big 60 myself (I was 57 at the time of this hike) I notice that each new hike often seems to be the most difficult so far. I wonder if in fact the hikes are actually more technically difficult or if itís because Iím just getting older. Shortly after speaking with these women I unexpectedly reached the summit of Mt. Frissell, which is actually in MA, at 12:30PM. It did not feel like a summit and I probably would have missed it if I hadnít looked to the right and noticed two large cairns. Trees surrounded the area and there were no views from this summit. As I approached the cairns I saw the sign-in book in a tree. I sat and ate my sandwich and signed the book. As I looked through the book I read and entry on 03-28-04 by Charlie Criss of Eagle River, AK. He said this was his 15th HP and AL would be his next. He was doing the state highpoints in height order, FL, DE, LA, etc., and said he did not know of anyone else who is doing or has done it this way. Wow! I thought I was doing a lot of driving and traveling. Imagine the time and cost involved in criss crossing back and forth across the country.
After about 20 minutes I continued on the trail for 5 minutes to the actual HP marker, which is in CT. It would be easy to miss if not for the large cairn next to it. 10 minutes later I reached the Tri-State marker. I did not notice CT carved on the marker. Maybe it was worn off or covered with dirt. Shortly after I met a local red neck couple, and their dogs, with matching his and hers hunting knives that looked brand new. They acted like this was their first adventure into the great outdoors and seemed to not have a clue where they were or what was in the area. I gave them directions and told them a little bit about what was in the area and continued on to Brace Mt, which is in NY. There were some fairly nice views along this trail from Mt. Frissell to the Tri-State Marker but the views from Brace Mt. were spectacular, even though it was a cloudy day. The summit of Brace Mt. Felt like a true summit with a large cairn on top and 360 degree views. It was well worth the extra distance and effort.
As I left Brace Mt. I missed the trail back to Mt. Frissell, which turns rather sharply and steeply to the right. I continued on to the north for about Ĺ mile before I checked my compass and finally realized my mistake. I thought the trail seemed a little easier than it had earlier. I backtracked and hiked back to my car the same way I came. I would have liked to hike to the summit of Bear Mt. But it was getting late and my 88-year-old Father was waiting alone at our timeshare condo in Lenox, MA. I brought him to visit the areas that his parents are from in nearby Great Barrington, MA and Winsted, CT. We used to spend the summers, with my Grandparents, in Great Barrington. He hadnít been there in over 30 years. We had a nice time and it brought back some good memories. I arrived back at our condo at 4:00PM with plenty of time to get ready to take my Dad out to dinner.
Connecticut (Frissel Mtn, south slope, 2380', 3.6 miles, class 3, 600 feet gain)
After a cancelled trip to Killington to set up for the ski season, I decided to make a "quick" roadtrip to Mt. Frissel, Connecticut. The drive that I thought would be 90 minutes was closer to two hours, 2Ĺ when I made a side-trip through Sharon, Connecticut, the birthplace of YAF. Before leaving my house, I could not find my NYNJTC South Taconic trail map set, so I printed a cheesy map off of Topozone, brought extra batteries for my GPS, and went on my way. I wish I had the detailed trails on that NYNJTC map with me, because when I arrived there I found a confusing number of trailheads both north and south of the massachusettes border. Since I had planned to take the longer, easier approach from the south, I had to determine which of the three gates south of the state line was the actual jeep trail leading to the tri-point, then to the summit. using the map and a bend in the road, i determined that it was about fifteen hundreths of a mile south of the bend at the top of a moderately steep hill. turns out that the correct jeep trail was the middle one.
When I find that map, many questions will be answered. Instead of going up the trail to the col between frissel and brace mtn that was marked on the map, i found myself on or near the summit of brace, slightly to the west of where i was supposed to be. Funny thing was that I didn't know it at the time. When I came to a trail junction, I used my compass and took the eastbound trail towards where I knew frissel would be. Two things concerned me: 1 was that I did not see the tri-state marker, which should have come shortly after the right turn. 2 was that I was going down hill when I should have been going up. Either the map was wrong, my compass was wrong, or I was wrong. All I knew was that if I continued going east, eventually I would either get to the summit or to the road that my car was parked on. And I was on established trails. So I wasn't too concerned.
After about a mile, I came across a trail junction, and then another trail junction, and then another. I was basically hiking blind, knowing that I was going in the right general direction. At each junction, I took a trail that made the most sense. Finally, I found a red-blazed trail, where after about 100 yards I came to thr tri-state marker. Greatly relieved to be back on track, I took a few pictures and looked on my map to figure out just what the hell had happened. At this point I realized that I had gone up brace.
The weather wasn't that great. The steep rocks between the tri-point and the high-point normally would be class-2, but they were wet effectively making them class-3 - I needed handholds to keep from slipping down. The trekking poles really got in way at this point. The steep rocks didn't last too long, and it wasn't too long after them that I came to the top of connecticut.
a four-foot-high cairn was there next to the notorius green peg, six inches high. If not for the cairn, the peg would have been easy to miss. I spent about 15 minutes there, where I took a bunch of pictures drank some water and ate two clif bars. I briefly pondered going to the summit of frissel, but with the navigation problems, the late hour, and with the 100-foot visibility due to fog, I decided against it. I packed up and was just about to leave when I spotted the corner of a blue container sticking out from behind a rock. Immediately recognizing it as a geocache, I quickly signed the log ("the first geocache I've ever found by accident!") and took off. The rocks were pretty difficult going down but not too treacherous. When arriving at the tri-point marker, I thought perhaps I would take the trail that goes due south along the NYS line. I decided that the next junction would be much more reliable - this is the junction that I thought was on the map because it was located at the col between frissel and the brace ridge.
I went to that col and turned south. After about Ĺmile, the trail just ended. Disraught, I decided to bushwack. After about ten minutes of this where I made sure to check and recheck my compass (found myself going the wrong direction on a couple of occassions), I finally found the trail that I had been on before. Followed that back for about 1Ĺ miles to my car, got in and drove home. Suffice it to say that I'm eager to find the map to see just where the heck I was.
This looks like a beautiful area. I cannot wait to return on a clear day to check things out.
We summited the "green stake" on 5/30/05 the day after we did Massachusetts. We drove down from Greylock and followed directions approaching Frissell from the north via the Mt. Washington Road. It is very easy to find your way, however we were following directions that said to look for the stone state line marker which we never found. We wound up going past the parking lot we wanted because the directions also said a white gate and the actual gate is clearly not painted and is metal. So after turning around a few times I decided we had to be in the right spot and we started up the jeep road. The jeep road is easy to follow although it was covered in a creek for a stretch. We came across the Mt. Frissell shortcut trail after the 2nd creek at a small cairn. The trail was overgrown and very muddy so we continued up the jeep road. At the top of the ridge we took the first right on an unmarked trail, then at the next intersection took a left, and then hit the red blazed trail where we took a right. A short while later we were at the tri-state marker. From there you continue up the red blazed trail over some granite boulders and up to the "green stake". I found this hike to be much more enjoyable than other people have said and the "summit" was nice. I think the mileage is longer than advertised as it took us 3 hours to make the round trip with a 5 year old (whom I had to carry at several points as he was getting tired).
Here are the instructions to the trailheads from I-90 (modified by me to work better):
1. Take MA exit 2 towards US-20, keep left towards US-20 / RT-102
2. Turn left onto US-20 and then right to RT-102
3. Keep straight onto US-7 South and stay on US-7 South
5. Turn right onto SR-41 South (not North)
6. Turn left to stay on SR-41 South and then immediately to the right onto Mt Washington Rd.
7. Continue straight (road name changes to East Street at some point). You pass the Forest Headquarters (on your right), then the road becomes unpaved. Keep going until you see a large parking area and the AMC sign on your left. The first trail (red blazed over Round Mountain and Mt Frissel) starts from the right. A stone state line marker is reported to be here as well although we never saw it
8. Go 1.2 mile past the AMC parking area until you see a small parking area on your right. There is a 2nd small parking area immediately after it that has a metal gate back and to the right (which you cannot see until you stop and look backwards). This is the jeep road that you want to follow. If you hit a lake on the right you went to far. Turn around and go back 2 miles to the parking area.
Bear Mountain (the tallest mountain in CT) and Mt. Frissell South Slope (its highest point, the place where the MA/CT line crosses Mt. Frissell whose peak is in MA) flank a dirt road that runs from South Egremont, MA to Salisbury, CT. The north end of this road is called the Mt. Washington Road and when it emerges in Salisbury, it is called the Mt. Riga Road; in the middle, at a tiny intersection by a diminutive church, it is called East Street. So many names for an obscure, 10-mile-long dirt road through the woods.
If you drive south from, say, the Stockbridge area, as given in the directions below, Bear will be on the East side of the road (to your left) and Frissell will be on the West (to your right). You will be able to see neither of them because of the trees. The trails for each start at the road, within 100 feet of each other, near an Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) parking lot on the East (left) side of the road.
On September 23, 2005, the second day of Autumn that year, I drove down from Bascom Lodge at the summit of Mt. Greylock, the highest peak in MA. I was going to bag Mt. Frissell, Connecticut's highest point. After parking, I set off at a rapid pace and quickly reached the summit, only to be told (luckily) by another hiker that the mountain I had just climbed was not Mt. Frissell at all, but Bear Mountain.
So on that lovely fall day, I climbed two mountains (three, if you count Round, on the way to Frissell).
Bear Mountain is reached by going around the metal gate at the back of the AMC parking lot. You pass a large AMC sign up on a tree, warning you to behave yourself, and then by a small cabin to your right. After 1/2 mile or so, you come to an intersection. The trail ahead is flat, as is the trail to the left. To the right, the trail ascends through the trees up some natural stone steps, marked with the white AMC blaze; this is the way.
The trail is easy to follow but if you are in doubt, pause and look around for the white AMC blaze which may be on a tree to your left or it may be on the rock itself ahead of you or under your feet.
At the summit is a huge cairn built in 1885 by Owen Travis. It stands some 10 feet high or more, and as I climbed it I marveled at the huge effort that must have gone into its construction. The current structure is a reconstruction done in 1983 after years of deterioration; its current height is less than the original ... when you se it, you will agree that Owen was a prodigious mason.
The Mt. Frissell trail is found by turning right up the dirt road out of the AMC parking lot, back the way you came by my directions, past the stone pillar marking the MA/CT border on your right. On the left, 100 feet up the dirt road (or less) is the trail, marked with red blazes. This trail in parts is harder to follow than the Bear Mountain trail but the advice about pausing to look for blazes applies here, too, particularly blazes on the rocks which sometimes show not only the way, but a turn as well.
After the first scramble, you stand on a ridge, the top of Round Mountain. Bear Mountain is clearly visible behind you, and Mt. Frissell rises ahead of you across a small col or valley. You descend and then ascend, coming nearly to the summit. Straight ahead of you, unmarked, is the short trail to the summit proper with its log book strapped to a tree (in MA). To the left, as indicated by the red blaze on the rock, the trail leads you down and to the right, coming eventually to a small cairn and the green, circular metal marker showing the highest point in Connecticut.
I stayed the night at the White Hart Inn in Salisbury, CT. I can recommend both the Inn and the town as places to spend some time.
Directions to Bear Mountain and Mt. Frissell, CT, from the north
Take Rt 7 South past Great Barrington, MA
Take Rt 23 West to South Egremont, MA
Take Rt 41 South very briefly and then turn right onto the Mt. Washington Road
Go straight through the intersection of East Street and Cross Road (do not turn right to go to Bish Bash Falls State Park)
Past the Mt. Washington State Forest headquarters building on the right, the road goes from paved to dirt
Immediately after the MA/CT border marker on the left (a gray, 4-foot stone pillar nearly overgrown by the side of the road) is a small parking lot with an AMC sign. Park here.
Having not been to a highpoint for a while, it was good to be back on the trail. The CT Hp is a short but fun hike, up some rocky slopes to the top. When we neared the trailhead we had to wait for a stuck DHL van that was blocking the road. After a short time, the van was pushed out,and we were on our way to the parking area.
The hike was very enjoyable, and we passed a couple of hikers on the way down, but it was getting late in the afternoon, kind of late to start the hike. We made it up and back before sunset, and had a very enjoyable time of it. Once again, our Winger Hp guidebook was a very valuable asset to have in my pack.
One thing I was impressed was with the peaks in that area. I expected it to be fairly flat, but was surprised by the local terrain of peaks and valleys.