Great Day To RambleBy Susan Bush
12:00AM / Monday, October 09, 2006
Adams - Warm temperatures and clear skies joined forces to deliver the best Mount Greylock Ramble sunrise the event has enjoyed in three years, and several hikers were perched atop the state's highest peak at dawn for the view.
|from left, Becky Armstrong, John Armstrong, Tim Bushika and Raymond Arsenault watched the sunrise from Mount Greylock's peak. The foursome were among the first 10 hikers to complete a traditional Columbus Day "Greylock Ramble" hike. |
Up With The Sun
John Armstrong and his wife Becky Armstrong of Pownal, Vt. hiked the Cheshire Harbor Trail in pre-dawn darkness with hiking companions Raymond Arsenault and Tim Bushika of Stamford, Vt.. The group used headlamps as they ascended the mountain and were among the first "ramblers" to make the traditional Columbus Day trek.
John Armstrong described the scene as sunlight melted the darkness.
"The sun was just a little dot of bright orange, and we watched as it came up a quarter, then a half, then all the way...it was beautiful, just beautiful," he said.
"The way the clouds were, and the light, it looked just like the ocean," said Arsenault. "It was something."
The group logged in at the mountaintop as numbers five, six, seven, and eight. The friends began the hike at about 4:20 a.m. and completed the walk in about two hours.
During 2005, John and Becky Armstrong were among the first 20 hikers to arrive at the top, John Armstrong said.
John Armstrong said that he found the experience so enjoyable that he would be interested in another perspective.
"I'd actually like to be up there at sunset and then come down," he said.
Hundreds On The Trail
By 9 a.m., estimates were about 800 people had already started up the trail. By 8 a.m., 50 people had registered at the top and numerous individuals had made their way down the trail; by 6:30 a.m., when most ramble officials arrived at the hike's starting point, two rows of available parking spaces were already occupied, said Selectwoman Myra Wilk, who is also a member of the ramble's sponsor, the Downtown Events Committee.
A second parking area was opened to vehicles at about 8:30 a.m. after an initial parking area was filled. Busses rolled up to the ramble site and discharged what appeared to be almost capacity hiking contingents.
Steven Denault and Dan Celentano were among the "ramblers."
The busses offered a shuttle service from the Adams Free Library.
"We haven't had a day like this in three years," Wilk said. "This is a great day for this."
Matthew Kinnaman, the Republican candidate for a state Senate seat, appeared at the trail base and spoke to hikers as they ascended or descended the mountain. Kinnaman is facing a challenge from Democratic candidate Ben Downing during the November election; both are vying for a Senate term being vacated by state Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr..
Charles H. McCann Technical High School students Steven Denault and Daniel Celentano returned from the peak at about 8:30 a.m.. They began their upward trek at 6:15 a.m., Denault and Celentano said.
Denault and Celentano are experienced "ramblers," they said.
And while both said they are not always ready to tackle the hike during the event's early hours, they enjoy the walk.
"[The ramble] gives me a reason to hike the mountain," said Celentano.
"Best friends" Shelby Bator, 12, and Hannah LaPerle, 12, planned to "ramble," they said. Hannah has hiked the trail during previous years. Shelby said that she was making her first ramble walk.
"[Hannah] wanted me to go and I always wanted to try it," said Shelby.
Hannah shared some ramble wisdom with her friend: "When you go up, it's hard and when you come down, it's easy."
"Best friends" Shelby Bator and Hannah LePerle planned to hike to the mountain summit.
Richard "Dick" Alcombright, 52, a North Adams city councilor, and James Holmes, 51, a North Adams Silvio O. Conte Middle School science teacher, ran up the trail.
Alcombright has run the route during prior rambles but has not tackled the run for the past three years, he said. Holmes runs an eight-mile stretch of road that leads from North Adams to the mountaintop during the summer months but had not previously run the ramble route, he said.
The duo accomplished the ascent in about 45 minutes and returned to the trail base about 30 minutes after leaving the top, Alcombright said.
Holmes decided to tackle the ramble run at Alcombright's invitation. He is a firm believer in physical fitness, he said.
"I try to lead by example," Holmes said. "I try to get it through to my students that staying in shape isn't a crime. On the run up, I passed my oldest daughter walking up."
Ramble runners Richard Alcombright and James Holmes
The bevy of "ramble regulars" included Glen and Mary Beverly, who have participated at the hike for the past 17 years.
Safest Ramble On The Cheshire Harbor Trail
The trail condition was described as "good" by town Forest Warden Richard Kleiner. Kleiner said that there were a few wet, slippery spots along the trail but much of the rocky route was in decent shape. Rain, snow, and sleet have kept trail conditions dismal during several previous rambles, he said.
"This is just a great day for the ramble," he said. "I think we'll have one of our bigger groups."
There were no injuries reported by 10 a.m.. Town police Officer Eugene Gavazzi was among those stationed at the ramble. In addition to police officers, forest wardens and members of the National Guard were along the trail and at the mountain peak.
"We don't really get serious injuries here," Gavazzi said. "What I worry about is the people who go to trails like the Thunderbolt and try this. This [Cheshire Harbor Trail] is the trail they should be taking. We have to hope that anyone who takes off on one of the other trails tells somebody where they went. If something happens on one of those trails, they are kind of on their own, unless they can let somebody know where they are."
An evening Greylock Ramble update with additional details has been posted at www.iberkshires.com .
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or at 802-823-9367.