Thursday, May 28, 2009

High Expectations

“I wouldn’t suggest it.”

These are the words I hear over the phone after a conversation with a friend, about our final destination. My husband and I have been on vacation all week. We have taken our motorcycles along Skyline Drive of Blue Ridge Parkway fame and are heading home. The suggestion to stay clear of our final destination causes my stomach to twists in knots.

Tomorrow’s destination is Mount Greylock. This peak, rising to 3,491 feet is the highest point in all of Massachusetts. My friend begins to tell me about her climb of Greylock and what perils lie ahead for me. She is a seasoned rider and I am a greenhorn. When it comes to taking my motorcycle up mountain peaks I am even greener. I begin to second guess my motorcycle riding abilities.

Another call comes in from the friend’s spouse. Both are fun loving motorcycle enthusiast we enjoy riding with whenever the opportunity arises. We are catching up on the acquaintance who is hospitalized. He is vacationing in Colorado with two buddies, enjoying a motorcycle adventure of his own. I mention Greylock.
“I wouldn’t recommend it” is his reply.
I am now completely unsettled.

Nevertheless, the next morning we make our way to the northern entrance via route 7 in North Adams to begin our ascent. My knees are jumping and my nerves are on edge. I begin my mind game and repeat a mantra over and over that calms my nerves. The roadway is narrow and in deplorable condition! The going is slow. We meet hikers along the way, but very few other vehicles. We stop at an overlook for a break.

This section of Massachusetts is beautiful indeed and we enjoy the vista from our rest spot. Then onward and upward we go. My nerves aren’t as frayed. I think the reason is because we need to creep as the road is so poor. Before long we reach the summit and park the bikes. My joy at reaching the top is tempered by the clouds that have begun to billow up over the mountain. Our vistas are limited. I climb the War Memorial Tower just to say I did. The clouds thicken. It’s time to go. We descend via the other side to route 2 and begin our journey home.

When I recount my mountain climb story to my motorcycling friends who advised me against it, they seem surprised. Yet never missing a beat they have this to say next.
“Well, if you can do Greylock, then you can do Washington.”
Now it’s my turn to be surprised. I quickly dismiss the idea. My husband however, has heard this comment and just filed it in his memory bank.

So began my quest to ride to the top of all the mountain peaks in New England, and then some. The following year we traveled to the Adirondacks so we could ride up Whiteface. I climbed Mount Washington without incident, as well as Vermont’s Equinox, Okemo and Ascutney. The ultimate of all climbs by far has been the 14,000 feet we climbed in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Yes, I know that isn’t in New England. It may have been that all those peaks were just practice.

Greylock has just reopened the access road after being closed for two years while being repaired. We are hearing from other riders what a fantastic job they did. I have not introduced Blaze to any mountain peaks yet. I think another trip to Western Massachusetts is in order.


Baron's Life said...

Pat, Yours is always an enjoyable read no matter should be publishing this stuff in a book.. I have done the Adirondacks ride in NY a few times when I lived back east and they were most enjoyable with the beautiful scenery and all. Will have to do Mass one of these days

PatnWilton said...

That is a fine complement. Thanks so much.

Willie aka NomadWillie said...

I love it. You have picked something to chase and now you are in the execution mode. Whats the next thing you are going to chase. The mountain peaks are pretty neat. Hmmm maybe I will add to the list. MeAsWe and Me just completed the start of my 2nd NP tour and combined it with my new passion of Landmarks. Check the blog for updates.

bikerphoto said...

Good story, and you have a great blog! I want to do more riding in New England.