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Friday, October 21, 2011

Mohawk Trail Blues

The frisson of unforeseen consequences! Who’da thunk that the posturings of Hurricane Irene in August would lock down the annual Mohawk Trail (Route 2) hegira of  leaf peepers in October?  At the beginning of the month, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced that a six-mile mountainous stretch on the trail between western Charlemont and the evocatively named township of Florida would remain closed until mid-December. So much for Route 2 completists! To salvage a modicum of that tourist trade, Mass DOT offered the alternative below—a long, forbidding route with few amenities and its own Irenic souvenirs.
The Mohawk Trail Impasse in Red; The Serpentine Diversion in Green
On Columbus Day, Wig & Pen set out from Amherst to experience the end of the beginning (EOB) on the Mohawk Trail. The EOB is just east of a bridge after which Charlemont yields to the town of Savoy—the eastern gateway to the Mohawk Trail’s high country. In spite of electronic signage to the east announcing Route 2 Closed Westbound Savoy, an intermittent stream of motorists, observed by this blogger, drove up to the EOB, winced, and turned around.

Irene in Florida

The End of the Beginning 
East of Charlemont on Route 2 in Greenfield and Shelburne, tourist traffic had been moderate-to almost heavy. Roadside business—minus the motels—seemed brisk. But west of Charlemont center, traffic thinned. The shop at Indian Plaza—a destination for intertribal powwows—was shuttered for the season. (the powwows have continued on higher ground) During Irene, two feet of muck had washed onto the premises after the Deerfield River had overflowed its banks, noted the establishment’s owner. A week before, he and others had implored town officials to drain water via a nearby canal and dam. The town, he said, turned them down, because it would have damaged what was left of the summer rafting season. 

Did any of the local shopkeepers have weather insurance? “Way too small for that,” responded the proprietor, doing his best to mask his amusement over an outsider’s absurd notion.

Wig & Pen Powwow at the Plaza

Better Days at Indian Plaza

1 comment:

John Montanari said...

My darling wife once overheard one tourist tell another (both female, of a certain age) that she was excited to see "the fall foilage." And foiled she would be had been this year in the ol' Mohawk Trail.