Yesterday, my son and I had an excellent father/son adventure. I’ve been writing about adventure in this blog for many years. I’ve had solo adventures, team adventures, adventures with friends, mis-adventures; and of course, adventures with Debbie.
It’s kind of cool that my son is growing up and we can now have father/son adventures. On a family trip to the White Mountains last summer, he and I made a pact to climb all of the New England 4000 Footers…in winter. Debbie and I have done them all, but not in winter. She has no interest in dealing with all of that cold weather hiking.
This winter, rather than jumping into a 4,000 footer without preparation, and preferring a shorter drive, we decided to start with a 3,000 footer. Mt. Greylock, the high point (3,491 feet) in Massachusetts is a hill I know well, so it was a logical choice. I’ve run it in summer many times and hiked it in winter a few times. We were last there for the 2013 Mt. Greylock Trail Race.
It wasn’t all easy for him. He had his low points like everyone does on a long hike. We used snowshoes the entire time, which added to the effort required. It was an eight mile round trip in just under six hours with a fair amount of elevation gain/loss. Several times, he wished that he was “at home playing with his LEGO.” He also asked for “Momma” on multiple occasions, threatened to stop, and claimed “this isn’t worth it.” I chuckled each time without offending, and applied CGP (constant gentle pressure). He did the whole hike on his own power and he also carried his own pack most of the way.
We parked on Mountain Road and took the Gould Trail to the Appalachian Trail up to the summit. On the descent, we took the Thunderbolt Ski Trail to Bellows Pipe Trail South and then wound our way on various side trails/snowmobile trails until we found our way back to Gould and the car.
It was a really nice route. We had Gould all to ourselves, though the trail was tramped on earlier in the week. It was cold, in the high single digits (Fahrenheit) when we started at 8:00 A.M. and warmed up a bit. The sun was brilliant, which felt great. The snow was perfect depth and consistency for a nice snowshoe climb. When we crossed the access road at the AT intersection, we saw a runner coming down the snow-covered road from the summit. We paused to see him and we were surprised to see that it was our long time trail running friend, Will Danecki. He was out for a training run on his Dion Snowshoes. It was fun to chat with Will, who was in the area to visit his mother.
There was no wind on the summit, so we were able to take in the great views, chat with other hikers who came up different routes, take photos, and enjoy a snack. We met some backcountry skiers and learned about their gear, including the “skins” they use to go uphill on skis. It was fun to watch the skiers and snowboarders barrel down the Thunderbolt. That was thrilling.
On the way down, we ran into another acquaintance. Don Boire and his friend, Tricia, were hiking up so they too could ski/snowboard down. We also ran into another father with his young daughter. She was a firecracker. She asked my son how old he was. When he said, “Seven,” she proclaimed that she was “four and a half.” She was going up…on skis. She had a slick little chest harness and her Dad was offering assistance by pulling her. It was cool.
We had some good trail time together so I told him stories about past trips and stuff. It as a day filled with lessons and learning. I told him about the time back in 2000 or 2001 when I first visited Greylock with his mother. It was a rainy June day and the Thunderbolt was all mud. That year, the Greylock Trail Race was run down the Thunderbolt, which they no longer do. I walked to the summit in sandals and watched her free-fall down that hill with reckless abandon. It was amazing. I’ve never seen someone descend like she did that day. It’s an awesome trail, but I have no interest in running down it. She would go back tomorrow.
A day in the woods with my boy was sheer joy. When I tucked him into his bed last night, and I told him how proud I was, he said, “Dad, it really was worth it.”