Quiet ripples in a mountain spring — #berkshireweekend

I‘ve found a spring too that I never knew before. On Sunday I walked up the Appalachian Trail in North Adams for awhile. The trail comes through on North Hoosac Road near the old Blackinton Mill. It’s mostly just a sign here, but the road has a soupçon of shoulder there where cars can pull off.

You duck between a couple of houses with gardens so close their Black-eyed Susans and Jerusalem Artichokes almost touch the path, and then you’re in the trees, walking uphill on the bank of a stream.

The path is running north up an the eastern slope, and it follows a dip in the ridge, so you walk along the stream most of the way. The path climbs, but most of the way it climbs gently, a gradual slope through maple and hardwood and hemlock, sometimes just above the streem bank and sometimes overlooking a long drop to the water.

Mushrooms appear in vivid shapes I’ve never seen before, long yellow tapers and amber fins and orange caps, and the trillium have bright red berries.

About an hour up, a sign marks stone steps down … and the spring pools in a circle of stones. The water that ripples gently in the rain. (A shower came through, and I sheltered under the hemlocks.)

I was standing on the stepping stones, watching the rings the drops left in the water, and a couple came up the path behind me and had almost passed by when a woman with a silver-grey ponytail noticed that I was there. She looked over her shoulder and called “a nymph!” … and we both laughed.

A trillium's berry gleams bright red in the rain along the Appalachian Trail.
Photo by Kate Abbott

A trillium's berry gleams bright red in the rain along the Appalachian Trail.

Farther up, the path gets steeper and scrambles up a rocky slope, and you come out on top of a ridge. I’m not sure whether I was fully at the top (I think the climb to Pine Cobble takes longer than two hours), but the slope comes out into the open in a patch of scrub oak and wild lowbush blueberry, and you can see out over the valley.

The sun came out, and the sky looked deep clear blue. It looks like a fire came through there, or at least a number of the trees are leafless, though plenty of the oaks are green, and the young sassafrass — since when do we have sassafrass up here?

On the way down, the soles came off both of my shoes. I was wearing an old pair of hand-me-down sneakers (not really sure who from), and they started flapping from the toes and just snapped loose. They didn’t leave me barefoot but wearing a thin layer of something plasticky but definitely not waterproof, so I squelched down in closer touch with the earth than I realized I was going to be, which was lovely in its way.

I stopped at the spring again to see it in the sunlight, and the water was still ringed, either from dripping trees or because it’s a spring, and the water is moving … do springs really bubble up out of the earth? I’m not sure I’ve ever really seen a spring in the wild, almost untouched. Someone may have set some rocks around this one, and campers draw water from it, but the stream is unblocked and clear, and the water reflects the sky.

A black trumpet mushroom opens in the moss and the sunlight along the Appalachian Trail in North Adams.
Photo by Kate Abbott

A black trumpet mushroom opens in the moss and the sunlight along the Appalachian Trail in North Adams.

Events coming up …

Find more art and performance, outdoors and food in the BTW events calendar.

Golden and magenta beets catch the sun at the Williamstown Farmers Market.
Mar 16 2024 @ 9:00 am
Williamstown Farmers Market opens a new Winter Farmers Market with Hexagon bagels, winter vegetables, eggs, cheeses, locally raised meats, maple syrup, artisans and more.
Golden and magenta beets catch the sun at the Williamstown Farmers Market.
Apr 20 2024 @ 9:00 am
Williamstown Farmers Market opens a new Winter Farmers Market with Hexagon bagels, winter vegetables, eggs, cheeses, locally raised meats, maple syrup, artisans and more.
Maple leaves glow crimson on Route 9 near Notchview in Cummington.
May 4 2024 @ 9:00 am
This four-part class will revisit trees through the seasons and witness their unique characteristics with and without leaves.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

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