Mother’s Day Mountain

Mount Greylock, at 3,491 feet, was a mountain I had to see. Nevermind that the hike was scheduled for Mother’s Day, when my family would be day drinking and talking about … our childhoods? … yeah, that made the hike nearly irresistible!

So we had a great international group with a lot to chat about, which was great because it took my mind off the initial ascent that was nothing if not straight up Thunderbolt, a ski run masquerading as a hiking trail. And of course I’d done my usual amount of research (none) about the trip before signing up, so I only had a vague idea that it was going to be a full day, 12 mile, double-summit hike.

not sure how accurate the blue arrows are but it's a reasonable facsimile of our 12 mile route

not sure how accurate the blue arrows are but it’s a reasonable facsimile of our 12 mile route

One lovely diversion were the numerous wildflowers along the way. In places the forest floor was blanketed with tiny white blossoms, in others the “hobblebush” (white flowers like hydrangea) were taller than us.

tiny yellow lillies

tiny yellow lillies

trillium, a.k.a. stinking benjamin -- looks good but don't bother sniffing

trillium, a.k.a. stinking benjamin — looks good but don’t bother sniffing

hobblebush, said to be a favorite snack of moose (unlikely here)

hobblebush, said to be a favorite snack of moose (unlikely here)

It’s always interesting meeting folks for the first time and spending an entire day with them as we all get dirtier, smellier, cranky, hungry, tired… such a lovely day out! But seriously, there were folks from Ireland, Costa Rica, Mexico, France, Germany and… average Americans, which offered lots of opportunities for interesting conversations about travel, hiking, occupations, and of course, what sort of gear storage you have (mine is basically the trunk of my car).

what is going on here??

what is going on here??

One of my fellow hikers really broke the ice for all of us when she started to overheat before we’d even tackled the first significant hill. The problem was she had long pants on and hadn’t considered the 80 degree day that was just warming up. So our resourceful leader quickly produced a multitool with scissors and reduced her problem to short pants. (No more whining, right? I wish!)

going up thunderbolt

going up thunderbolt

The ascent up Thunderbolt had us all warmed up in no time. It was steep. And yet the summit wasn’t the end of the road. In fact, the summit was was just the beginning of the hike.

the 93 foot tower on the summit

the 93 foot tower on the summit

great views for lunch

great views for lunch

After a little refreshment the serious hiking began. We went down Overlook across the gorgeous ridge and eventually found Moneybrook Trail. We stopped again at Moneybrook Falls (lovely, if a little paltry on the “falls” side), and the day was about halfway done! We’d entered the Hopper, a glacial bowl, and the only way out was up. Then up some more.

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moneybrook falls

moneybrook falls

It really was a damned long day. Somewhere along the way I’d forgotten the reason I ‘had to’ do this hike: Frigging Henry David Thoreau, the bearded bard. When he was in his late 20s, the original hipster built his cabin at Walden (on somebody else’s land) and set fire to a neighbor’s property, burning about 300 acres. That probably caused a little stir in old Concord. So being Thoreau, he walked away — a long way. He walked all the way to Greylock, climbed to the summit and spent a night up there covered by a few boards for warmth. He then continued to meet a friend in New York and went to the Catskills, probably hoping the neighbor’s angst about the fire had cooled by then.

the original shiftless hipster

the original shiftless hipster

No, I’m not just trashing Thoreau for fun, he’s in our new book and when I make presentations on it I talk about his long walks and his enjoyment of mountains and being outdoors, especially his night on Greylock. Penance for his bad deed? Maybe, but what sticks to a guy who’s basically 27, jobless and wandering around like a modern stoner living in his mom’s basement? Maybe the cold night outside had some effect: he became a better writer, published more … let’s just hope my book sells more than “Walden” did — he had 500 copies printed but 450 ended up in his little cabin by the pond because they didn’t sell during his lifetime!

The black flies prevented me from channeling my inner Thoreau on the hike, but living like that doesn’t especially appeal to me, so BUY MY BOOK! If I were going to rate this hike alongside others in the book, it would be right down there with the solo slip-n-slide on Kinsman Ridge in the snow. But I have to give Thoreau his due, the guy could walk. Strolling from Harvard home to Concord was nothing to him, and he was a frequent visitor to Wauchusett and Monadnock just for the heck of it, certainly logging more miles than his old leather brogues were intended for. He didn’t have the option of Vasques or Tevas, poor guy.

the book, the reason for this hike

the book, the reason for this hike

available on www.michaeltougias.com

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