I decided to take my birthday off from work and go for a nearby hike I’ve been eyeing for a while – the Worcester Range traverse.  I’ve climbed Mount Hunger and White Rock Mountain in the Worcester Range before, and even Stowe Pinnacle which is 1.5 miles off the ridge, but there’s a longish trail connecting the southern mountains to Worcester Mountain in the north, so I had to hike them all together.  12.5 miles from trailhead to trailhead.  I love a good traverse.

My work friend who is currently on maternity leave and lives nearby came out to help shuttle my car and do a short portion of the hike with me.  Thanks, Amy!  We met at the Worcester Mountain Trailhead, left my car there, and drove back down to the Middlesex Trailhead.  The Middlesex Trail actually starts out on a woods road and is pretty flat for maybe a mile or a little less.  Then it turns into the woods and into CC Putnam State Forest, where I’d be the rest of the hike.  Amy had to turn back there to get to an appointment, but I have no doubt she could have kicked my butt going up the mountain.

The trail got steeper in the woods, and although it wasn’t actually that hot out, it was muggy enough that I was covered in sweat immediately.  I made it up to the intersection with the Bob Kemp Trail and continued on it.  There was evidence of fresh trail crew work in several ladders as I made my way up.

I made it to the top of the trail at a large, flat, rock ledge area, which I thought would be great for stargazing sometime, and took the short spur to the summit of White Rock Mountain at 3194′.  The breeze up there helped cool me down and I took a short break for a snack and water before heading back down the spur and getting on the White Rock Trail over to Mount Hunger.

I’d only done this piece of trail completely covered in snow before so it was interesting to see what it actually looked like uncovered.  I did come upon a four-person trail crew from the state putting in puncheon and stopped to chat with them.  Then I ran into my first hikers of the day as I got closer to the Waterbury Trail, which I joined for a short, steep distance up to Mount Hunger at 3539′.

There were a couple of folks at the top so I moved off to a side ledge to sit for a bit and eat my lunch.  The sun started to shine a little brighter at this point, but soon went away again.

I packed up and started down the Skyline Trail, which started out with more open ledges and views among short stretches of trees, but eventually turned into woods.  I was surprised by the amount of PUDs (pointless up and downs) but the trail really did stick to the very ridge of the mountain, PUDs and all.  I only saw one hiker coming the opposite direction and was surprised to see anyone at all since I didn’t think the ridge was used much and it was a weekday to boot.

I made it to the junction to the Ridge Trail leading to Stowe Pinnacle, but that wasn’t on the docket for today.  After another snack and water break, I kept moving along the Skyline Trail, rising to a high point of 3450′ and then starting to descend again.

There were a couple of viewpoints on the ridge, which were unexpected.  And a couple of blowdowns to go around, which I suppose shouldn’t be unexpected on this trail that’s far from access.  They were easy enough to get around.

I did come upon a small group of women and dogs hiking in the opposite direction.  I heard them coming but they were shocked to see me.  We all expected the ridge to be a solitary place but I guess it’s hard to find that any more.

I was excited to finally get close to Worcester Mountain, and once I could see the summit, it didn’t take long to arrive there at 3293′.  I took a long break on the ledge for another snack while I enjoyed looking back at the ridge and mountains I’d come from.

Then it was time to head down the Worcester Mountain Trail and finish my hike.  It was very rocky and steep at first, but smoothed out at I got closer to the bottom.  I saw one final hiker climbing up the mountain as I reached the trailhead.

Once there, I realized that I’d left my car unlocked all day, although it appeared no one had bothered it.  Then I went to meet friends in town for dinner and left my car door hanging physically open as I went into the restaurant.  Happy birthday to me!  I’m 34 and I’m losing my mind.