Ever since we arrived in Heath, MA to do this five month house sit, Mark has been interested in climbing the biggest mountain of the state, which is located an hour drive away. Usually I’m the first one to partake in any exciting hike or adventure, but ascending a 3500ft (1067 m) mountain is not in the cards anymore for me. Many times in the past, when scaling smaller hills and mountains, my “Sure, let’s do it! I’ll just walk at my own pace.” turned into tough, steep climbs with loads of sweat, many breaks and a guaranteed headache. Turning 40 is no joke!
Therefore, Mark plans to climb Mt. Greylock with a friend one day, after I drop them off with the car and take the lazy way up myself. But, who knows when that will happen and in the meantime, that mountain with its great views and variety of shorter hikes was just sitting there… only an hour away! When its draw became too great, I convinced Mark to come in the car with me, as a prelude to his hiking adventure. Dog Jenny didn’t need any encouragement. The plan: drive into the park, stop at pull-outs, enjoy the view, take photos, and be the quintessential tourist. It was bound to be a very easy and relaxing afternoon, the kind I used to thoroughly enjoy when exploring national parks all over the country. I just had to make sure not to drive Mark crazy with my never-ending “Stop here! I want to take a photo.” exclamations.
And so, the three of us set out to climb Mt. Greylock the easy way. The views at the pull-outs were expansive, but not too impressive. Plus, it felt like we were cheating. We passed many trails crisscrossing the whole area and hoped to stop at one of them on the way back, to visit some waterfalls. We could not come to this mountain without doing any hiking. It did not feel right. Close to the top, a sign with “$5 parking fee behind this point” welcomed us. “There is no way, I will pay 5 bucks to see yet the same view,” Mark said. “There is no way we will leave the top without looking over the edge,” I bounced back. We found a perfect compromise: we left the car at the second highest parking area for hikers and huffed the last half a mile up the mountain along a steep trail. It was free, we had some exercise, we felt like we somewhat deserved the reward at the top, and, best of all, I had “climbed the mountain” without succumbing to a headache.
Unfortunately, the observation tower with a 360° view was under construction. The alternative was to walk the four wind directions and have a glimpse of the surrounding area at points with or without obstructions. We have seen better views. But, we found 30 cents in a grassy area, which, the day we really need that to not run out of time on a parking meter, might save us $25 for a parking ticket. The thought we just saved $30 made us happy. 🙂
A sign for “Overlook Trail” drew our attention. Thinking it would circle the top of Mt. Greylock and offer wide views from different directions, Jenny, Mark and I set out into the shady woods. When after ten minutes we were still going down, deeper into those woods, without any chance of a view, we had a look at our map. What to do now? Instead of climbing back up and then down again to our parking area, we decided to make a big loop, and reach our car via connecting trails. Despite it being ten degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in the valley, it was a hot and relatively sweaty walk. Jenny panted heavily, so we took it easy and enjoyed a long break at the only viewpoint along the trail. Our big pancake brunch had been digested, so the snacks we brought were a most welcome sight. When we reached our car, it was 4pm. The waterfalls will have to wait until another time.