What we're about

Eclectic Exploring is for friendly and flexible co-explorers and adventurers, and is open to new ideas for meetups and new places to explore. We’ll focus on Hilltowns, Berkshires, and Pioneer Valley (that's a lot!), and we’ll venture out to Central Massachusetts, southern Vermont and New Hampshire, Connecticut, eastern New York ... maybe Montreal!

So many interesting and engaging activities in our area, outdoors and indoors. Hike, bike, paddle, skate, ski, snowshoe, explore, museums, historical venues, live music, festivals, markets, restaurants, etc. I'll be getting to know people and recruiting additional organizers as we grow. I'm in the process of being certified as an AMC Hike Leader, and that should be complete by the end of fall.

Who are we? You add to the group with your uniqueness and positive outlook, value diversity and openness, and bring your flexibility and care for yourself and others. You respect yourself, everyone here, and everyone we encounter, and communicate as needed! Very importantly, you take responsibility for yourself. You are 18 years old or older - I'm in my 50s and welcome all ages and backgrounds. The activities will be for various levels of ability.

That was the fun stuff, now the stuff to get out of the way so the fun can be more fun:

PLEASE change your RSVP if you can no longer attend! We care about you and all members, we want to know that you're safe, and we want other members to be able to attend in your place. Most appreciated! Sadly, if there are two or more no-shows without a reasonable explanation, we gotta letcha go, and we really don't wanna do that. :(

Please always review the event descriptions carefully! You are responsible for determining whether you are physically able, and able time-wise, to attend an event. Logistics will be provided, and questions are welcome! (After a little research on your part, of course!)

Please include a photo of your human self with your profile if possible so that event hosts can recognize you when you arrive at an event, and so I have some confidence that you are joining for the activities and it is an authentic profile. If I see a profile without a face, or question the validity for any reason, I'll send you a private message with additional questions. Thanks!

You do not need to RSVP "No" to an event unless you are changing your RSVP from a "Yes" to a "No."

If your profile indicates that you have remained inactive for a period of two years, your profile may be deleted from this group. We look forward to adventure-ing with you!

Anyone soliciting products or services through this group without the organizers' permission will be removed from the group immediately. To discourage solicitation, I ask that group members do not buy any products or services from anyone trying to sell them through this group or this website. Thank you!

If you have any questions or concerns about this Meetup group or an event, please contact the event organizer through the links on the group home page, or post a "Comment" on the main or event page as appropriate.

Please consider donating to the cost of this Meetup group! Funds are used to offset the yearly dues for this Meetup group, as well as other miscellaneous expenses that could come up, and will be used with wisdom and the utmost respect. It’s voluntary, and all are welcome to events regardless of donation. Thank you!

Legal Disclaimer:

By RSVPing "Yes" to one of our events, Eclectic Exploring – Western Massachusetts and Beyond Group members and their guests agree to release, hold harmless, and indemnify the event organizer(s) and all members participating in the event from any and all claims for property damage, injury, and/or death while attending events. In consideration for accepting this entry, I, the registrant, intending to be legally bound, hereby, for myself, my heirs, my executors and administrators, do waive and release any and all rights for damages I may have against any parties or persons connected with the Eclectic Exploring – Western Massachusetts and Beyond Group for and related to any event that I attend. I attest and verify that I, and any guest(s) I bring, are physically fit to participate, and that I assume all risks associated with the events that I or my guest(s) voluntarily attend.

As always, please be safe and have fun!!

Upcoming events (5+)

Cycling on the Norwottuck Rail Trail to ... Turtles!

Norwottuck Rail Trail

Experience the freedom of riding, and enjoy the lovely views and various, beautiful ecosystems along the trail. There were multiple turtles hanging out on Saturday - see photo. We'll plan for 10 miles out and 10 miles back on the Norwottuck Branch of the Mass. Central Rail Trail going toward Amherst, and the mileage could be adjusted depending on the group. I just rode 17 miles on my first ride of the season on a hybrid bike, so we should be fine with stretching, rest, water, the right gear, etc. We'll do our very best to stay together. Lunch in Northampton to recharge is an option! Gear List - Required: - Bicycle in good working order - Spare inner tubes, and tools for basic repair - Water - adequate amount for safe completion of activity - Footwear and clothing that supports safe completion of the activity - Rain gear if chance of precipitation - Food as needed for safe completion of activity Gear List - Strongly Recommended: - Bicycle helmet - Eye protection - Sun visor, sunglasses, sunscreen - Rigid/bike shoes - Health/medical supplies - Payment source for various needs - Cell phone in case of separation from the group Please remember that your preparation and choices can affect the entire group! Please ask if you have questions. By your RSVP of "Yes" or "Going", you agree to the disclaimers in the main Eclectic Exploring group description, here https://www.meetup.com/Eclectic-Exploring-Western-Massachusetts-and-Beyond/. As always, please be safe and have fun!


Hwy 20 & Appalachian Trail

My friend, "on the go" Joe, loves to share hikes with people, so he'll lead this one. You might have met him at the Wiggins Tavern evening, or in a hiking group. I've done this hike at least twice, and it's interesting and gets us on the storied Appalachian Trail that goes between Georgia and Maine. From Joe: "Hello everyone, by popular demand is this great hike to the red cabin and serene Upper Goose Pond. We will meet at the Big Y in Lee (10 Pleasant St) at 11:00 AM, and then shuttle cars to the Appalachian Trail parking lot on Route 20, OR you can meet us at the Route 20 parking lot in Becket near the AT trailhead at 11:15 AM. We will travel southbound on the AT over moderate terrain to the pond and back for a total hiking distance of 4.2 miles. We will take a break at the cabin & dock area and enjoy the natural beauty of Upper Goose Pond." We'll have apres-hike lunch options in case we are so inclined ... including The Starving Artist Cafe and Creperie in Lee. **Please note that there are two options for meeting locations. I changed the map location on this page to the one that might be harder to find, the parking lot near the trailhead, so that you can just tap on it and your GPS will bring you there. The Big Y is easy because it has an address. Sooo ... Option 1 is Big Y World Class Market, 10 Pleasant Street, Lee, MA at 11:00 AM - there is a bathroom inside the store - and they will likely leave promptly at 11:00 unless they know someone is on their way. Option 2 is the parking lot on Route/Hwy 20 in Becket, MA near the Appalachian Trail ("AT") trailhead (west of Route 8) at 11:15 AM - no bathroom there as far as I know, except the vast one in the woods. I hope this second option makes it a little easier for people coming from the east. Hiking Gear List - Required: - Hiking shoes or closed-toed shoes with good traction - Two liters of water, potentially more based on hike parameters and individual needs - Clothing that wicks moisture and insulating layers as appropriate for the weather - NO cotton clothing, please! It's still not warm enough ... - Food/snacks/bars (fuel for the body!) - Rain gear if chance of precipitation Hiking Gear List - Strongly recommended: - Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, etc. - Insect repellent - Poles if you find them helpful - Extra socks to avoid blisters - Health items, prescriptions, etc. Please familiarize yourself with Leave No Trace/LNT principles as they relate to day-hiking, as we strive to follow them: https://lnt.org/learn/seven-principles-overview and https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles. Hiking gear/sample checklist: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/day-hiking-checklist.html By your RSVP of "Yes", you agree to the disclaimers in the main group description, here https://www.meetup.com/Eclectic-Exploring-Western-Massachusetts-and-Beyond. As always, please be safe and have fun!

Coffee and Creating - Bring your projects and visions!

Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters

What are you creating? Leisure, self-growth, enjoyment, life plans, art, achievement, relaxation, self-employment, other projects ... Bring whatever you're working on or playing with - ideas, studying, reading, crafts, writing, etc. for brainstorming, encouragement, laughter, and quiet support and camaraderie. I have a lot of studying to do, so I thought others might want focused support for their projects/activities, or just nice company and coffee. I was in the Hadley Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters and saw how much room they have - and good sandwiches, etc. - including decent-sized tables, so it seemed perfect. Begin your week with inspiration and direction for going forward ... It's okay to show up a little late to this Meetup, just please still keep your RSVP updated. Because we will be using the space of a business, the group values support purchasing at least one item. Thanks!! We can share what we're working on and what support we'd like, if any, and then get to it. With breaks, of course! They're good for productivity, you know. By your RSVP of "Yes", you agree to the disclaimers in the main group description, here https://www.meetup.com/Eclectic-Exploring-Western-Massachusetts-and-Beyond.

Walk Mill River, Labyrinth, and "Prayer Flag Garden", with Mindfulness Practices

Lyman Plant House and Conservatory

Meander alongside the Mill River with fellow appreciators, soaking in nature with all our senses, come upon an unexpected clearing, immerse in contemplative, present-moment labyrinth-walking, and bask in messages and energy of love and hope in what I call the "Tibetan Prayer Flag Garden". Practice centering and grounding, set intentions, and share in community as optional mindfulness practices. Boisterous and spontaneous laughter very welcome! After returning to our starting point, we'll walk to downtown Northampton, tea at Dobra, and partake in lunch for those who are interested. Steady rain or otherwise hypothermia-friendly conditions will cancel, or possibly turn this into a tea/vintage shops/lunch event. Let me know if you're having trouble figuring out how to get to our meeting spot. One source states that the path is 1.2 miles one way - that sounds right and we can return from the labyrinth to shorten it, in that case making the total walking distance no more than three/3 miles for the day, including getting into town and back. Estimate only, but should be close! What to Bring: - Water - Clothing/layers/footwear/accessories to suit the weather and possible light precipitation and, well, mud - "Beginner mind" - Some form of "currency" for tea/lunch Disclaimer: By RSVPing "Yes" to this event, you agree to the disclaimers on the main group page, here https://www.meetup.com/Eclectic-Exploring-Western-Massachusetts-and-Beyond. As always, please be safe and have fun!!

Photos (171)