Peak One: Rising above it all.
At the height of the summer steam bath we were all immersed in, we took a weekend ride up to higher altitudes, in an effort to shave off a couple muggy degrees, at least for a few hours. We swung up to Deerfield's Mt. Sugarloaf, climbing the almost harrowingly steep grade to the top of the 650-foot rock jutting high above the surrounding farmland.
Bursting out from under the tree-canopied access road and approaching the final hairpin turn, our breaths were snatched away for a second as once again an eagle-eye view of our beautiful valley broke before us.
Tobbacy, corn, and forest. As blessedly far as the eye could see.
A trip to the northern end of the valley is also like a couple decades back in time. To where industry and commercialism has only washed over the land about ankle deep, and life not nearly as submerged with chaos as it is further south. From this perspective, anyway, small villages and broad tracts of cultivation still appear to command the scape as it had for generations on end.
Looking to the south and east, the whole peaceful green expanse is broken only by a couple of mountains (Mt. Toby nearby and Mt. Holyoke in the distance) and bisected by a tree lined, low and slow moving, equally peaceful ribbon of blue.
Stunning, every time.
Stunning, but unfortunately, not much cooler. The warm wet blanket of July seems to have been thicker than the heights we were at. Oh well. Nothing to do but suck it up. After nearly two straight boiling weeks we were well conditioned anyway. The older and more jaded adults took cover under the shaded sides of the viewing platform or under what trees were nearby, sitting still and panting while taking it all in, blinking through salty, sweat-covered eyes.
Only her second witness to a summer, the bloggerette found it easier to accept things as they were; and thought the dazzling colors and smells of a wildflower garden more fitting of her attention.
The jungle conditions are good for most other life anyway, if not the most comfortable condition to we hairless, pampered primates.
...heat+water = good.
...ask any bug.
Meanwhile above, the sun-stirred humid soup seemed to be building up for a show. A show probably best not viewed so close.
Time to head back down...
Peak Two: Closed But Not Forgotten
With the return of sane temperatures, my work schedule likewise is beginning to settle back in to something bearable. A couple more hours here and there can be had to venture off and fritter.
And fritter them atop one of the valley's best peaks, shall I.
Skinner Mountain on the Holyoke Range, with the dual attraction of easy access and spectacular scenery. A jaunt on the motorbike late last week found man and machine winding up it's narrow paved roads to the summit.
I was quite pleased with myself for being able to get up here so quickly and efficiently on my little two wheeled escape pod. Love that bike. Can't top the experience, I mused while pulling the helmet off...
...just as this guy buzzed by overhead.
A reminder that there's always something to put you neatly back in your place.
The Ultra-Light motored by low overhead and disappeared behind the Summit House which, very unfortunately, has been suddenly and unceremoniously closed earlier this year with nothing but a brusque 'Until Further Notice'. Apparently the wooden deck and support beams, which daily weather the weather atop the 950 foot peak, were finally deemed unsafe for the general public.
It didn't look that bad, but better safe than litigiously sorry, I suppose.
Such a shame, and at a time when funds for state parks are so scarce. It might take a while before things are restored again.
But even without the old house and it's broad, venerable covered deck to sit or stroll on; there's still plenty of view to be had and picnic tables to be eaten at all around the long rocky summit.
And better still, August is one of the best months to visit the top since the summit is open to 8:00pm every day until the end of the month. Really the only time of the year you can drive up and stay long enough for a good sunset viewing.
Two State Park Rangers used their clout to watch said sunset from the forbidden deck, while the rest of the visiting riff-raff were relegated to a nearby rocky outcropping.
Meh. Just as good. Nearly.