Friday, May 30, 2008

Mount Equinox

During the past couple of riding seasons, Andy and I found ourselves climbing to mountain summits on our motorcycles. We found this activity exhilarating, not for the mere challenge, but for the reward in the views from the top. Some of our conquests include Mount Washington in New Hampshire (6288 ft), Whiteface in New York (4867 ft) and Mount Greylock in Massachusetts (3491 ft). We’ve ridden as high as you can travel for Jay Peak in Vermont, and then taken the tram to the summit (3858 ft.) All of these left us wanting more, and so began my quest for mountain peaks to visit in the Northeast.

The result of my research gave me a handful of destinations for our wish list. They are as follows: Equinox (VT) 3882 ft., Burke (VT) 3267 ft, Ludlow Mt (Okemo) (VT) 3343 ft, Bolton (VT) 3680 ft, Ascutney (VT) 3150 ft, Kearsarge (NH) 2937 ft. and last but not least Cadillac Mountain in ME. This last, although only reaching to a height of 1532 feet, boasts at being the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and is the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from October 7 through March 6. Cadillac ranks in the top five along with Washington, Greylock, Equinox, and Ascutney as being the best ride-to mountain tops in the Northeast.

With a long holiday weekend ahead of us, I toss Mount Equinox on the table for our group to consider as a possible destination. To my delight, it gets a nod of approval. With Mount Monadnock in our rear view mirrors we head up route 12 from Keene. The day unfolds into a delightfully sunny day, with comfortable temperatures for riding. We cross into Vermont at Bellows Falls and make our way to route 11 via route 5 then 103. The ride is pleasant and we soon find ourselves on route 7A in Sunderland and at the entrance to Skyline Drive.

Skyline Drive is a 5.2 mile road to the summit of Equinox. As with any mountain climb, there are switchbacks that challenge, overlooks with breathtaking views, and danger of on-coming cars. One must be cautious of animals such as deer that leap from the underbrush and threaten one’s safety. On this day the challenge is in the switchbacks only and soon we are at the summit. The Green Mountains, the valley of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire may be seen to the east. The Adirondack Mountains of New York provide the backdrop to the west, and the Taconic and Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts to the south. The breeze is refreshing and we take in the 360 degree view until fully satisfied.

Each peak that we have mastered has its own unique quality. Our perceptions are challenged as we look across the tree tops below us. We step gingerly along the exposed weather beaten rocky surface and we marvel at the survival of flora between the crevasses. The hair is tousled in the breath of wind that sweeps across the summit driven by the currents of the valleys below. And yet, a creature as delicate as the Monarch butterfly lazily flutters by. It is soon evident what inspires the souls of prophets, and why they seek the mountain tops. We are keenly aware of our smallness in the scheme of life, and yet privileged to have arrived at this spot to witness the splendor of the earth.

1 comment:

Willie aka NomadWillie said...

This has the beginnings of chasin stuff written all over it. Love it. I am not the only one. :) Keep em coming