They Just Smell That Way
Well, Peter led. Actually, Sean Morgan -- CCS senior, Brownsville local, a man who knows the mountain and was climbing like a mountain goat -- led. Peter and Sean led, joined by fellow vet woodsman and CCS senior Ross Wood Studlar and freshmen Chuck Forsman, Dane Martin, Bryan Stone and Alex (Joon-Ho) Kim. A fine time was had by all.
As the oldest poopster of the party, 52-year-old Bissette held his own, sweeping behind for at least the final third of the climb, but I kept up and I made it to the top. But man, oh man, it was a climb.
I hadn't hiked a mountain in over nine years -- I used to hike
But I was in my forties when I made my last climb (Haystack in Wilmington), and I tell you, I was feeling the years yesterday. Particularly in the last mile of the 3.2 or so mile hike uphill. The equivalent hike down went much quicker and (per usual) tested a whole different set of leg and foot muscles, but it was easier on the ol' bod that the climb up. Gravity, you know.
As Dirty Harry quipped in Magnum Force, "A man's got to know his limitations." I used to climb Camel's Hump's 4,080+ feet once or twice a year and love it, but I was a much younger man then. Mount Ascutney is far shy of Camel's Hump's altitude (see below), but it sure marks my current limit -- though I fully intend to visit the peak this summer, I'll take the car up to the near-summit parking lot and walk that mile versus the 3+ miles uphill we managed yesterday. It's unlikely I'll be making the hike we made yesterday ever again in this lifetime, unless it's as ashes in an urn for my students to spread over the summit.
Peter and I planned this way back in December 2006 and this past January. It was our intention to bring the entire freshmen class on this end-of-the-year sojourn, but alas, due to a number of issues I shan't go into here, that didn't happen as we'd hoped. Still, we stuck to our staffs and those who could join us, did.
Since the state park proper is closed until May 18th -- the day before CCS graduation -- planning a day trip that involved simply driving ourselves to just shy of the summit (there's apparently a parking lot between the south peak and summit; a less-than-a-mile foot trail takes you to the summit) was impossible. So, we decided, Peter and I, to make the climb to the peak on the Brownsville Trail, and just go for it.
We made the climb. It was memorable, a great, grand experience. I'll write about it in some detail later -- jeez, I not only climbed it, I came home and prepped for the coming week of CCS and drew two complete pages for James Sturm's CCS class today (the climax to a class 'round robin' 'versus' comic, which concludes with my "Baby With Adult Legs vs. Bryan Stone" final round -- Baby With Adult Legs created by Joe Lambert, Bryan Stone by -- uh, Bryan's mom, I think. And his Dad. I hope.) -- so I'm too pooped to blog much today.
I'm not sure how high up we were -- there's some confusion in the available literature on the mountain.
Ross checked his hiking guide in the drive to Peter's house to eat after we were off the mountain, and reported it was 2600 feet, rated as a 'strenuous climb' (that it was!), but I don't know about that height.
We passed the North Summit sign, marking 2600+ feet, and there was still considerable climbing after that. Since the parking lot for the park is reportedly at an elevation of 2,800 feet, I reckon we climbed at least a wee bit higher than that, whatever the hiking guide books say otherwise. I know that after the North Summit sign, we climbed for at least another half hour, and it was all climbing!
Anyhoot, we made it to the observation tower. This was originally a fire tower; the cabin was long ago removed and the whole contraption has been relocated, and the views are breathtaking, encompassing the entire landscape round Ascutney's peak. We didn't make it to Brownsville Rock, which was about another 1/4 mile northwest of the summit -- Sean told us about this (it's a hang gliding launch site), but going to and coming from the tower we passed the sign for the Rock and simply continued on our way; nobody even commented on it. Next time, eh?
OK, enough on that -- for now. If anyone who had cameras send me pics, I'll post 'em here!
In any case, gentlemen -- Peter, Chuck, Sean, Dane, Ross, Alex, Bryan -- it was a real honor to climb that rock with all of you, and it's a day I'll savor to the end of my days. Thanks for making it happen!
"The real income of the bottom 90 percent of American taxpayers has declined steadily: they earned $27,060 in real dollars in 1979, $25,646 in 2005."
- Heather Boushey and Christian E. Weller, "What the Numbers Tell Us," in James Lardner and David A. Smith, eds., Inequality Matters (New York: 2005), p. 36.
"The 2006 round of tax cuts delivers 70 percent of its benefits to the richest 5 percent of Americans, and 6.5 percent to the bottom 80 percent."
- Clive Crook, "The Height of Inequality," Atlantic, September 2006, p. 36.