Monday, April 6, 2009

Uphill Battles

We bundled up the Bloggerette on a beauterific Sunday and took her for her first trip to the summit of Mt. Holyoke. It was warm but breezy -woops, er, hold on...hmm, I think she needs a diaper change.....











............one second.........











.........er, hold on.........











......sorry, almost........











....ok we're back. So, -noooo, wait. Kell, where's her binky???






.......ok.........






....ok, now. We're back.

The wind having the slightest chill to it, we decided to forgo the baby pack and take her in the more wind protective battle-stroller. This decision mandates that we head up the winding paved road to the Skinner Mountain Summit House rather than hike the trails; which is just as well since neither of us are exactly in peak hiking condition. The gates to the road aren't open yet, (I believe they open them up around mid-May), so it was thick with pedestrians in various states of ascension and descension.



You don't realize how steep the road can get until you try walking up it right after a long cold winter of relative immobility, and in Kelly's case, relative pregnancy. We were a little winded by the time we got to the Half-Way House. Still, it was good to get the ol' heart pumping again.



This house marks where an old covered tramway to the then denuded summit used to be, during the glory days of the summit resort back in the 19th century.



The forest has definitely reestablished itself, but the tram path to the summit house can still be seen through a steep, relatively treeless channel up to the top. The final remains of the abandoned wooden tram were finally burned down in the mid-sixties, but right behind the half-way house and under a shelter still stands the piston drive and wheel that powered the tram.





We got our wind back and continued on. Nearer to the top, along a section of road that runs along a particularly steep side of the hill we found a long, calamitous section of broken and fallen trees. Judging by the way the tops of many of the branches were broken off, they looked like victims of this past December's major ice storm that caused so much similar damage out in the Berkshires and outer-valley hill towns. I didn't realize that the ice storm had caused this much damage so far into the valley. It must have hit the range harder than the lowlands because of the higher altitude...



Many of the fallen trees had already been sawed to pieces, apparently to unblock the road.



One disturbing thing about all the downed trees here is a higher risk of a mudslides or worse, the whole section road being washed down the hill side. That would surely take forever to repair...



Onward, though there are the strong ruddy-red signs of trees budding everywhere, patches of moss are the greenest thing going so far. We'll take it.



If you get down low to it, and with a bit of the mind-flip, you can imagine the small mossy up shoots are tall pine trees, dotting a tall green mountain side, viewed from a passing airplane.



Ok, maybe all the fresh air is affecting my sensibilities....

But there is even more fresh air to be had at the top, which we finally reached. The climb took us almost an hour at baby-stroller speeds. Establishing base at one of the picnic tables mixed in among the basalt outcroppings, Kelly tended to the increasingly fidgeting baby...



We're becoming more and more adept at mobile baby care with each outing, and can pretty much whip out a mountain-top diaper change or feeding with a speed and dexterity that would make a nomadic tribeswoman softly shed a tear in awe...

While Kelly did that, the dog and I surveyed the always stunning surroundings...





Spectacular as always, and with the slightest stirrings of buds thickening the trees below...





Testament to the crystal clear day, Hartford could easily be seen on the southern horizon past South Hadley and the taller buildings of Holyoke.



After a good refreshing dose of the sparkling air and views, we started back, making a quick pass through the summit house on the way...



...then, the trek back down under lengthening shadows, fighting gravity and stretching a whole different set of leg muscles.



Having the baby with us definitely has 'in the valley' rolling on a different gear, but rolling none the less. And in true 'in the valley' fashion, we finished off our day trip with a final coffee and stroll, on the warm streets of Northampton.



Aaah yes, Spring is upon us again...

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Hey, my friend & I were at Skinner Mt. on Sunday, too! We didn't make it to the top, though. We just wandered around in the woods. We also ended up in Northampton, to walk on the bike trail for a while, then bagels at Bruegger's. Quite a coinkydink! :)

Mary E.Carey said...

Wonderful, as always. I am really impressed by the way you all keep getting outside.

wombatclov said...

You guys are such an inspiration. I know many new parents who stay at home, inside with a newborn. Not sure what the fear there is, but you sure will have a very healthy, strong little one who should appreciate the valley just as much as you do!

Tony said...

Hey you guys, thanks for the nice comments...

Elizabeth I see you were on the Norwottuck trail that day too; good stuff, right? Can't wait until we can get our bikes out there again...

Mary, you're lucky, you guys live right there near the heart of the valley, we can only visit.

wombatclov, I agree, (with the proper precautions) it's never too early to get out and enjoy our surroundings...!