Legend of Shrek's
Picture Credit: Kim Morin Weineck
It starts with an iron wheel. The stone cabin was once a clapboard shack on top of the summit (not the highest prominence on South Hill, that would be Sable Peak several miles to the Northeast and across South Hill Road. There’s a trail there as well, if you know where to look, but it’s not associated with the GMT and there is no view.) There was an antique iron wheel and a few names scribbled on one of the boards above it on the side of the cabin.
The landowner’s, Spartan Race cofounder Joe Desena, and a couple other names were scribbled there for posterity. They managed to lug the thing up there up a thousand feet in hairshirt fashion for sins unnamed and apparently unredeemed judging how similar exercises continue to this day.
It was on one such cycle, that a General Store intern spotted me raking drainages in newly cut Noodle’s Revenge a week after I arrived in Pittsfield for the first time. He was struggling with the wheel, as unwieldy as it was, and recruited me to assist him. We carried the thing up as if it were an oracle, cutting switchbacks on Luvin It. I was so focused on my work on Noodles, this was the unorthodox way that I got introduced to the trail.We managed to get it up to the cabin. He raised the wheel triumphantly above his head and at his request I took his picture. He placed the wheel and added his name to the board. Perhaps the evidence of his conquest helped to pick up a woman. I’m not sure.
With the passage of time the wheel got neglected. Pittsfield pilgrims found different things to drag to the top, wire spools, hay bales, truck tires. The wheel found itself as a grill at the bottom of a snowy fire pit during the annual snowshoe race. It cracked and split in half.
How it was supposed to happen: towards the end of the third consecutive day of Death Racing, participants were going to carry enough rocks and cement to stone in the clapboard and grout it, impromptu journeyman under the direction of a master mason. In the aftermath of the race, however, indeed though the cabin was stuffed with bags of cement, and there was a small mound of rocks at its foot, things went as awry as you might expect for a race with such a characterization.
Two masons, and a carpenter with the nickname of “crazy” took residence on the summit with the aim of doing it anyway. First a washed out road that would take an excavator to the summit had to be “repaved” bit by bit with tons of stone. Once that was complete, then the excavator could haul the cobble to construct the walls. Crazy would shingle the roof with slats of faux slate and rap loudly throughout the day. When a mountain biker would arrive at the cabin, he, like some sort of forest troll, would make them pay a toll-- Carry heavy rocks around the cabin or some other such inanity.
The wheel was, at this point, in pieces and stuck into the ground next to the cabin. Joe saw it and had the masons mount it as a window in a side annex on the cabin where it iconically has remained ever since.