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Nature is so freaking relaxing

mount tom

These things always look so easily do-able on the trail map. A short, sharp climb from the car and then a gentle meander along the ridge-top to Mount Tom.

Hahaha. Idiot.

It was an evil mile and a half of basalt towers, crumbly shale and thousand-foot plunges. This section of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail runs right along the Western edge of this huge pile of rock to Mount Tom. I’m mildly acrophobic (my hiking buddy is slightly more so, lucky for me or I might have been dared into something stupid).

There were parts of the trail we both blinked at in stunned disbelief, while clinging each to a tree twenty feet away. One memorable section was a rock three feet long and eighteen inches wide on which half of the white paint blaze had crumbled away and fallen into the abyss. I did some bits on my hands and knees, and some bits on my butt and a lot of it nowhere near the official trail markers.

None of my pictures show the full horror, as I was generally yards inland, clinging to something and making low moaning noises, so I stole a more representative picture from somebody else (and I didn’t even have the grace to note who I stole it from). I mean, c’mon…this is a trail?

So we got all the way down to the toe and suddenly realized it had taken us three and a half hours to get where we were, there was an hour and a half before dusk and the closing of the gates, and there was no way on God’s crumbly basalt earth we had the stamina to turn around and go back the way we came. In the dark. With a pocket flashlight.

I voted we go West, to the foot of the hill. There was a paved forest road at the bottom that would make an easy walk back to the car in plenty of time. I mean, sure, it was 1,200 feet down, but I felt certain we could find a tree-line spot where we could safely butt-surf to the bottom.

But no. We went down the gentler slope East and landed on the main road several miles from the car, half an hour before gate-closing. We didn’t exactly hitch-hike, but we found a man walking in the woods with several children and made with the doe-eyes until he gave us a ride to the car.

And that was the stupidest day hike I have ever done. The end.

November 3, 2008 — 10:35 am
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