Tracing the old Indian trade route along and across the Green River
The slip road from the airport car rental plunges me immediately into a series of tunnels and a sludge of traffic. I only ever glimpse the handsome city of Boston in my rear view mirror as I emerge onto the freeway that will take me due north and far west into historic Massachusetts.
Mohicans, Mohawks, mills and now modern art.Finally, as the light is fading on a grey day and without seeming to make a turn, I lose the freeway, the traffic evaporates and I find myself on The Mohawk Trail. Thirty-seven of the spookiest miles I will ever travel.
Maybe it springs to life in the summer. Maybe it sparkles in the snow. But in this liminal gloom it terrifies. Tracing the old Indian trade route along and across the Green River (it is), Miller’s River (I crossed it) and the Cold River (I believed it), it passes through a series of what appear to be ghost towns. Houses half built, half burnt, wholly dark. Decrepit stores, peeling signs, only the occasional flickering light within. Skeletal trees. Some only half razed by god knows what. Compacted snow creeping down a rock face like fingers. Then the lights of a pick-up truck behind me. Keeping its distance. Speeding up. Pulling back. Can’t drive faster. Daren’t slow down. No passing place.
Suddenly, I am at the summit. The light changes. A deep curve in the road (yes, it’s called Dead Man’s Bend) reveals the relative metropolis of North Adams below. My destination for the next few days. My fellow road warrior overtakes and waves.
I’m now ensconced in a glorious wee hotel (slash motel) with a glass of red and an artisanal pizza. There are hipsters of all vintages and a playlist and there’s a fire.
But it’s 3am and thankfully, tomorrow’s another day.