Idyllyic Trail, the Berkshires: Hopkins Forest, Williamstown, Massachusetts

This is part of a collection of posts on our recent Williamstown, Massachusetts, hiking excursion.  Two dear friends joined me for almost a week in mountains, early in May.

Clark Trail Tiffany Effect

Clark Trail Tiffany Effect Before Hurricane Sandy, October Scene

That idyllic college town is surrounded by impressive mountains, –changing shape, color and majesty every few hours.  Rumor has it that Melville was inspired to write Moby Dick by gazing at the hulk of Mt. Greylock from his Berkshire hideaway.

Mt. Greylock from below, Williamstown, Mass.

Mt. Greylock from below, Williamstown, Mass.

As NJWILDBEAUTY readers already knows, alluring trails are everywhere — even on the grounds of the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute of Art, and ditto re the Bennington (VT) Museum.

"Nothin' but Blue Skies, From Now On..."

Mountains Everywhere, en route to Bennington VT – 9 miles from Williamstown

We’d spend four hours in woods alongside streams, earning ever-changing views with every few steps — then lunch, and do art museums all afternoon.  My idea of heaven!  Our attention on the Hopkins were delicate and often rare [spring flowers]  ephemerals tiptoeing into light on every side.

Clearing after Storm, Apple Barn, Bennington VT

Clearing after Autumn Storm, Apple Barn, Bennington VT

Words are not the point for this post.  Let the pictures carry you with Jeanette Hooban. Carolyn Yoder and me, on Hopkins Forest trails, my Berkshire favorite — as spring awakened in those sacred mountains.

Hopkins Parking Sign -- We are not in Kansas (i.e., New Jersey) Any More

Hopkins Parking Sign — We are not in Kansas (i.e., New Jersey) Any More

Jeanette Forging into Hopkins Forest

Jeanette Forging into Hopkins Forest

Berries of Spring in Hopkins Forest

Berries of Spring in Hopkins Forest

First Foam Flowers, Hopkins Forest

First Foam Flowers, Hopkins Forest

Still Life With Granite, Hopkins

Still Life With Granite, Hopkins

Rare Princess Pine and Canada Mayflower, May in Hopkins Forest, Williamstown

Rare Princess Pine and Canada Mayflower, May in Hopkins Forest, Williamstown

True Solomon's Seal, Hopkins Trail

True Solomon’s Seal, Hopkins Trail

Fungus Doing the Work of the Woods, Hopkins Trail

Fungus Doing the Work of the Woods, Hopkins Trail

Newborn Beech in the Beechwood, Hopkins Trail

Newborn Beech in the Beechwood, Hopkins Trail

Unfurling Fiddlehead - Spring Genesis, Hopkins Trail

Unfurling Fiddlehead – Spring Genesis, Hopkins Trail

Off They Go, Into the Hopkins Forest

Off They Go, Into the Hopkins Forest

Shy Trout Lily Peeks Out among Tree Roots, far from its usual favorite streamside habitat

Shy Trout Lily Peeks Out among Tree Roots, far from its usual favorite streamside habitat\

Hopkins Forest Signs

Hopkins Forest Signs

The Happy Wanderers, Hopkins Forest Trail, Williamstown, Mass.

The Happy Wanderers, Hopkins Forest Trail, Williamstown, Mass.

Exploring The Berkshires, with The Intrepids

I convey this brief post on the evening we arrived home from our Berkshires week of hiking, arting, feasting, laughing, exploring, wildflowering, birding, treeing…   all to the tune of brooks, streams and rivers, and the leitmotifs of mostly invisible birds.

These lively pictures were taken by Jeanette Hooban, one of the Intrepids, as NJWILDBEAUTY readers well know.

My fellow author of the book on Stuart Country Day School’s fifty years, Carolyn P. Yoder, has become an official Intrepid — our heroic driver who wrote immediately upon return to say, “fabulous, just fabulous,” adding, “everything was so easy, even the driving.”  No one in my experience has deemed the negotiation of the NYSTATE Thruway from Troy to nearly Somerville, ‘easy’.

Both Carolyn and Jeanette are always ready for anything.  They don’t bat an eye, for example, when trail maps, such as those from the Clark Art Institute, turn out to be misleading, wrong and just plain infuriating.  “More time on the trails,” they sang out, as we trundled on.

Our birding was mostly by ear — especially exuberant oven birds of the Hopkins Forest Trail maintained (and well mapped and signed and blazed) by Williams College.  At one point, alongside a wildly twisting stream, we heard the few unmistakable notes of the almost-never-encountered bob-white.

I don’t trust words tonight.  And it’s beyond me to upload my own pictures.  Jeanette’s will serve as appetizer, partly metaphorically, and partly in reality, in the interim.

Enjoy!

Our Hiking Feet Cool Among River Rocks, at the Clark Art Institute Reflecting Pool

Our Hiking Feet Cool Among River Rocks, at the Clark Art Institute Reflecting Pool

One of the main reasons we go there is the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

My Favorite Renoir, as well as Sterling Clark's Favorite, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass

My Favorite Renoir, as well as Sterling Clark’s Favorite, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass

This is my all-time favorite Renoir.  It turns out to have been Sterling Clark’s as well.  Eat your heart out, Barnes Foundation!

Our favorite work there, bar none, is Ghirlandaio’s lady with a red dress.  If Jeanette has an image of that, I’ll add it.  Or find on line.  But not tonight.  This aristocratic Florentine remains vividly gracious, across all those centuries.

Another major reason for the Berkshires is hiking.  You’ll get that post when my pictures are uploaded or downloaded – could someone explain the difference.

In between hikes and arts, we feasted:

Arugula Salad, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass

Arugula Salad, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass

Stuffed Pepper Appetizer, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass

Stuffed Pepper Appetizer, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass

In more ways than one:

Margaritas Arrive, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass.

Margaritas Arrive, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass.

Coyote Flaco was a first for all of us.  It’s on Route 7 north on the left-hand side heading into town.  We were welcomed like royalty, even though it was MOTHERS’ DAY! evening.  We were graciously seated outside, beneath vivid umbrellas, at the edge of a babbling brook (which also ran alongside our motel, a little farther along Route 7.)  A steep hill, completely forested rose directly from the brook, which never stopped singing.

The vivid, most exciting food is Mexican and Spanish, with exquisite sauces, tropical beauty, exciting yet subtle flavors, and lashings of lobster.

The Staff so welcoming, as though we were their long-lost relatives, at last come to town.

Wonderful people, murmuring with delight, filled the indoor rooms.  We could savor vivid delicacies in a timelessness not known by any of the three of us in our complex professional lives in Princeton.  At the end, the Staff GAVE us their three signature desserts.

And THREE ROSES, still velvety and fragrant, as we reluctantly drove south on 7 this morning.

Stay tuned for other Berkshire miracles, and some from Hyde Park, in quest of Eleanor, of course.

Autumn, the Impressionist — Berkshire Trails, October’s End

Clark Art Institute Trail, Cattle Guard, late October

Clark Art Institute Trail, Cattle Guard, late October

NJWILDBEAUTY readers adventured along with Deb Hill and me in stormy weather, spooky weather, which I conveyed to you for Hallowe’en.  But there WERE moments of sun, even on grey days, and an entire afternoon of sun on our final day.  We walked four hours on Clark (The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute) Trails, beginning at the Stone Hill Center.

Ferny Welcome to Clark Trail

Ferny Welcome to Clark Trail

We lunched sumptuously, the norm, at the Water Street Grill.

Bacon Bleuburger, Water Street Grill

Bacon Bleuburger, Water Street Grill

Then we walked the sun down on the Hopkins Trail, managed by Williams College.

Hopkins Trail Birch Glory

Hopkins Trail Birch Glory

Every moment of our time in Williamstown, we were surrounded by mountains.  It was as though we were the fulcrum of a watch, every numeral a blue/black/purple mountain.  This is my most essential landscape, a place of absolute nourishment, a sense of being cradled against the slings and arrows of outrageous anything.  I hope these scenes work their magic for you.

Essence of Berkshires, Clark Trail

Essence of Berkshires, Clark Trail

We were up to our knees sometimes in leaves of Cezanne hues, noisy and crisp, and covering up acorns by the dozens, which can act like ball bearings!

Cezanne at the Clark (Trail)

Cezanne at the Clark (Trail)

Cezanne Beside Us and Overhead and Underfoot

Cezanne Beside Us and Overhead and Underfoot

Sometimes, the forest’s palette took us back to pre-Renaissance — we found the scarlet/crimson of the legendary Ghirlandaio bought by Sterling Clark, and inside the nearby classic white museum.

Autumn / Ghirlandaio

Autumn / Ghirlandaio

Rapt on the  Clark Trail

Rapt on the Clark Trail

There was sorrow, on the Clark Trail:

Mourning the Downed Birch

Mourning the Downed Birch

And Mystery!  What an appropriate mushroom for almost-Hallowe’en!

Mystery Mushroom, Clark Trail

Mystery Mushroom, Clark Trail

And moments like spring, at the end of October:

Spring Green in October

Spring Green in October

Clark Trail Fern Grove

Clark Trail Fern Grove

Purple Majesty with Spring Green Meadow

Purple Majesty with Spring Green Meadow

Even the morning dew was memorable, on the Clark Trail.

Morning Dew, Clark Trail

Morning Dew, Clark Trail

Autumn surprised us with the pinks of the Clark’s storied Renoirs:

Autumn Steals the Pinks of Renoir

Autumn Steals the Pinks of Renoir

The birches were the masterpiece of this walk.

Clark Trail Sun Birch Williamstown

Gold was the predominant hue of this adventure.

24-Karat Grove, Clark Trail

24-Karat Grove, Clark Trail

Cairns said farewell:

Crossroads Cairns

Crossroads Cairns

Hopkins begins with a fence, then rises and rises up into the Berkshires.  From its crest, one sees many mountains, including Greylock.  The sun was our taskmaster that day, so these are lowland views on two Hopokins trails.

Don't Fence Me In, Hopkins Trail

Don’t Fence Me In, Hopkins Trail

The Clark’s legendary Impressionist masterpieces have serious outdoor competition!

Hopkins Trail Entry Scene

Hopkins Trail Entry Scene

Lure of Hopkins Trail

Lure of Hopkins Trail

New Growth, Hopkins Trail

New Growth, Hopkins Trail

We realized, coming upon many new evergreens, on Clark, Hopkins and the Bennington Museum Trail, that deer in our (New Jersey) region deprive us of this luminous experience.

The lesson of the level of majesty we discovered and discovered in the Berkshires is the importance of preservation.  Support every referendum and land trust that saves open space in your region.

HALLOWE’EN ~ SPOOKINESS WITHOUT COSTUMES

Bennington Historic Mansion, Dressed for Hallowe’en

Bennington Spectre late Oct. 2014 Williamstown trip

Perversely, I returned to the Berkshires for the Anniversary of Sandy-the-Hurricane, by any other name.  There I was marooned, two years ago, forfended by tree-strewn roadways, lacks of electricity and gasoline, and, frankly, long-continuing storm, from returning to Princeton.  Where, as it turns out, after, finally, a gruelling 10-hour drive, there was no power in the house here, yet again.  Somehow, I needed to re-experience Williamstown without a hurricane – which, yes, reached even there, darkening nearby North Adams.

SNor'easter Skies late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

View From Window of Cozy Corner Motel, Williamstown, toward Shrouded Berkshires

“Best-laid plans of mice and men, gang aft agley…”  The anniversary trip involved what seems to have been a six-day Nor’easter.  I remember when they used to be called 3-day blows.

Agandoned Factory Nor'easter October 2014 Williamstown 001

Faded Glory on Water Street, Williamstown

Oddly enough, though we did manage hikes and beaucoup art, and some sunlight, many of the pictures look worse, weather-wise, than I remember.  In fact, spooky.  What do you think?

Glory of Yesteryear late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Glory of Yesteryear, Once-Essential Chimney, Williamstown

Factory Windows late Oct. 2014 Williamstown 002

Venerable Factory Windows

No Touchdowns Today Williams College Field in Nor'easter

No Touchdowns Today — Williams College Field in Nor’easter

Where Are The Players of Yesteryear late Oct. 2014 Williams College

Where Are The Players of Yesteryear — Williams College Field

Chef's Hat Breakfast Haven late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Chef’s Hat Breakfast Refuge, Williamstown

Not About To Take Off Greylock and Williamstown airport

Not About to Take Off, Williamstown Airport and Mt. Greylock

We boldly ascended Mt. Greylock that afternoon, the peak that purportedly inspired Herman Melville, who lived near another flank of this mountain, to write Moby Dick.  I must confess, I could live near Greylock for any number of decades without writing anything about the sea, let alone a masterpiece…

Overlook Trail Greylock Summit late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Overlook Trail, Mt. Greylock, Nor’easter Days

Greylock Summit Noreaster Days late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Summit View, Greylock

Mt. Greylock Tower late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Greylock Tower, Berkshires

Greylock Vista Noreaster late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Weather Systems, Mt. Greylock Summit, Berkshires

Survivor late Oct. 2014 Williamstown Nor'easter Days

SURVIVOR – House of Noble Heritage, Williamstown

What Stories They Could Tell late Oct. 2014 Williamstown 003

What Stories These Windows Could Tell

Promise of Change late Oct. 2014 Williamstown0

Promise of Change, View From Cozy Corner Motel, Williamstown

Glowing Through the Storm Williamstown

Glowing Through The Storm — Cozy Corner View of Autumn and Tumultuous Brook