My friends Nancy, Joanne, and I have a tradition - for our 50th birthdays we engage in some sort of physical activity design to prove that we are not dead yet. When Nancy turned 50 we climbed a mountain in Stowe, Vermont. When I turned 50 we climbed the campanile in Florence, Italy. This year it was Joanne's turn.
We decided to hike up Monument Mountain which is just outside Great Barrington. Paul and I climbed it when we were in the area in 2013 and I looked forward to climbing it again.
There are more than 3 miles of trails which were well maintained and appropriate ages and abilities. The trail system is a large loop that starts out at the parking lot and goes up to the rocky peaks.
We took the 1.51-mile Indian Monument Trail which took us past more than 300 years of history – the remains of ancient Native American trails, stone walls of former sheep pastures, woods roads, cart paths that brought hemlock bark to tanneries, hearths of charcoal makers, horse-and-carriage pleasure roads, recreational foot paths, and roads traveled by Ford Model T’s.
The trail was steep and rugged - climbing through beautiful forest, past surprising rocky outcrops, up natural and human-assisted rock stairs.
Along the way we reached the point where the trail split - you could continue on the Indian Mountain Trail or go up the shorter Squaw Peak Trail. We decided on the shorter trail. What followed was proof that shorter is NOT always better. Oh no - this trail, while short, was steep and had you climbing all sorts of rocky outcrops and walking along cliff faces. It was a work out!
When we got to the top we pretty well had the place to ourselves. We rested, enjoyed the views, and took the obligatory 'we're not dead yet' selfie.
On the way down we found a large rock with an inscription:
This ridge and the cliffs of Monument Mountain were conveyed to the Trustees of Public Reservations by deed bearing date October 19 AD 1899 in fulfillment of a wish of Rosalie Butler that such portions of this mountain might be preserved to the people of Berkshire as a place of free enjoyment for all time.
Well, it may only be 117 years later, and thus short of 'all time', but I can confirm that we enjoyed it immensely.