Saturday, September 5, 2009
Part two of our assault on Mt. Tom last week involved a night-time ascent up the southern end to the towers. I met up with Radar Check and Berry, another droog, at about 10 p.m. Friday night in the Log Cabin parking lot. A quick check of our gear -especially our flashlights- while laughing nervously about bears and such, and we crossed the road to begin. The full moon was breaking in and out of the clouds, providing some light and lessening the fear factor somewhat...
...until we plunged into the inky blackness under the tree canopy.
Since we were apparently out to prove that we're never too old to do stupid things, and as if to confirm that point, I managed to trip and roll my ankle not 50 yards into the dark hike. But probably because of all the adrenaline pumping, it didn't feel that painful, and so we pressed on. Also I had brought a monopod for the camera, and it served a dual role as a decent enough walking stick to help me take some weight off of the foot...
The hike in the darkness was eerie yet cool, strange and familiar at the same time. We kept up our spirits with chatter, but every strange click or crunch in the darkness immediately brought a pause in our step and three trembling rays of light swinging in the direction of the offending sound.
The ankle was beginning to stiffen up, but we were now already more than halfway up the side. This night hike was an entirely new adventure for us and just narrowly birthed of our rarely coinciding schedules. Peer pressure and the possibility of not getting another chance like this demanded that the hike go on now.
Never too old...
Soon enough our lack of common sense and self preservation was unduly rewarded; as near the top we broke around the corner of a clearing in the trail, and the moon suddenly shined bright over a dark and gloriously bejeweled landscape, stretching out before our befuddled eyes.
Glorious. Freakin' glorious...
The ledges were all lit up nicely by the full moon. Surprisingly, we weren't alone up there. A couple of hikers with bright lights strapped to their heads came by. We traded commentary on the views and what a great night it was, and they continued on, apparently on their way back down.
We found a good spot to plant ourselves and sat there for a long time, looking out over the amazing landscape on rocky benches seemingly created for the purpose...
After a long while, my gaze started travelling further up the hill, to where the tall blinking antenna towers seemed to be calling. Finally I broke away and headed for the top.
There was something even more thrilling about being up there, alone, under the towering spires and mysterious humming machinery; with a strong warm wind billowing over the top and a starlit sky above all of it..
The ankle issue had long since passed into the back reaches of my mind. I was flying through the night.
But after a while, faint calls carried by the wind from the droogs below brought me back to earth and signalled the end to the adventure; it was time to get back. Amazingly, it was now past 1 a.m. and over three hours had passed. The time had flown by.
After a careful and cautious scramble back down the hill and back at the cars, I finally got a good look at the ankle, to find it completely swollen. On the drive home, as the adrenaline subsided, a dull throbbing pain began to take it's place. I would end up having to limp through the rest of the Labor Day weekend. But still, I found myself smiling with a sense of satisfaction from a new adventure, accomplished.
The night hike was an amazing thing to do. It must be done again.
Topics: ^Mt. Tom