Williamstown, MA to Mount Greylock
(And back the next day)
October 21 and 22, 2007
I wake and check out of the motel. First I go across the street to the Price Chopper. It’s my first time stepping into a supermarket in nearly a month. I leave with some fresh cut roast beef and a loaf of wheat bread.
I stroll west into Williamstown to inquire about the bus schedule to get me home.
It’s a beautiful Autumn Sunday at Williams College.
I walk through the center of town to its far end at The Williams Inn, and inquire about the bus line. It departs for New York City twice daily, at 10am and 4pm. There’s an information booth nearby for visitors and tourists, with free flyers and an outdoor park bench. I have a seat and eat a large quantity of roast beef sandwiches in the sun, feeling better.
I had wanted to finish this hike of The Long Trail on Mount Greylock, Massachusetts. It’s a favorite place of mine on the Appalachian Trail that I’ve wanted to revisit, with the added bonus of providing a mountaintop climax to the trip.
I wander into a small bookstore and look over the literature section, hoping for something to catch my eye to read on the trip home. I walk out with Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman in hand.
I return east toward North Adams, and the Appalachian Trail that leads up Greylock. I get a large coffee at Dunkin Donuts, and stop at Price Chopper again for more bread and meat for the overnight hike.
White blazes mark The Appalachian Trail too.
I walk this comely road to a dead end – the trailhead for Mount Greylock.
The way south from North Adams is steeper than I recall, and I meet a number of day hikers on their way down the mountain. The first viewpoint is pictured above.
There’s an auto road that goes to the top, currently closed for construction. I’m racing the sunset and take to the road as a shortcut.
With a huge burst of energy and enthusiasm I’m literally jogging up the mountain in short spurts.
I meet a man and a woman leisurely walking to the summit, where the man hopes to fly a kite.
A lone cyclist coasts by, and offers a head nod in greeting.
The summit of Greylock is crowned with The Veterans War Memorial Tower – actually a stone lighthouse on top of the mountain – seen here from the road.
At 3,941 feet, Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts. The lighthouse and observation tower on top – The Veterans War Memorial Tower – was originally meant to be a lighthouse in Boston. The beacon was once the brightest in all of Massachusetts. When lit it can be seen from Goddard Shelter on The Long Trail.
This is Bascom Lodge, featuring rustic overnight accommodations on Greylock. The road to the summit is closed for construction for two years, so the lodge and tower are closed as well. There isn’t even a spigot for drinking water.
It also means that there’s no people.
I have the mountain to myself.
City lights shine under the night sky.
I stay the night inside the Thunderbolt Ski Shelter. It’s a fully enclosed structure intended to be used as emergency shelter only, but nobody may ever know I was here.
For some reason I can’t help but think of ghosts and little green men in this setting.
I fall asleep to the sound of the wind in the trees.
The Next Day, The Last Day
October 22, 2007
This quote along The Appalachian Trail is one of my favorite features of Greylock. The summit area features several rocks like this, engraved with quotes related to the mountain.
Greylock served as inspiration for the likes of Thoreau, William Cullen Bryant , Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Herman Melville.
When writing Moby Dick at his home in Pittsfield, Melville gazed out of his window at the profile of Greylock covered in snow… and envisioned a great white whale.
There’s nothing left to do but turn around and go back down the mountain.
From there I’ll catch a bus home to Pennsylvania, and resume working for dollars and cents in this crazy world that we all call home.
But first I can lie in the sun on Williamstown’s college green, and read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.