Morning came into the chamber of solitude. Snoring bodies and shifting legs all uncomfortable from a night sleeping on wooden planks, how our ancestors from various points on the globe would have unanimously resounded in condemnation of our mushy softitude and inability to be content. What we call “roughing it” and they would have considered luxury and comfort.
No bears for the night. Some strange forest noises but other than that there wasn’t a Deliverance meets Evil Dead last stand at the cabin that night. We hid in a cottage provided by the Green Mountain Club and guarded by a caretaker, a rather sour woman of a certain age [the author means young and not Femme d’un certain âge], and a block against the door marked bear-a-cade which should have been marked, REMOVING THIS TO PEE IN THE NIGHT MAY HAVE YOU MISTAKEN FOR A BEAR. But it wasn’t. But it did wake us. No bears. After all that work to keep the bears away, the bears actually stayed away. Some of our party was disappointed. Others weren’t. I won’t tell you which where in what camp. It doesn’t matter.
We made the last of our complicated breakfasts. Less complex than the day before but still involving coffee and tea and hot something. One of our party had had a tough two days and had hurt his ankle so took a pass on the Final Assent, the summiting of the Camel’s Hump Mountain. We left him behind at the cabin. The cabin wasn’t the usual lean to that one may find in camp trails, but was an actual cabin with windows and fully enclosed. It was a very cute. As said above, uncomfortable for the Modern Wo/Man but better than being out with the [not] bears.
We carried light since we could leave our packs at the cabin. This still meant walking up the mountain after two previous days…. one and a half days to be precise, but those were hard days. For the start, the travel was simple. Easy. Then, about .2 miles from the camp, we let on to the trail to the mountain. The Mount Mordor we Hobbits had traveled so far to see. The trail started to go up and up and up. I fell back. The climb was impossible and I wondered if I would make it. I set off to the side of the trail to lay down. I was dizzy and short of breath. As the oldest of the party, perhaps this was beyond my years… Yet, much older people than myself were bounding up the trail so I figured so could I. After laying prone a while then moving to higher ground to again lay prone, my body seemed to grow accustomed to the torture I was enduring and I started to hike up, at first slow, then at a normal pace, and in time I came to join my friends as they crawled along a rock scramble.
This was nothing like the previous day-and-a-half journey. For one thing, there were scads of people. It seemed that at every turn I was letting a party ahead of me. Clearly the majority of people were day hikers. This was the route from the parking lot to the mountain, the path most traveled. The heat of the day broke early and the exposed sections were quickly a chore added to the list. The views were still enraptured by the summer funk and valley mist of late summer. While we were baking up in the sun, the higher we went the cooler the wind that blew.
Down below we heard from those hiking up that it was well close to 90 degrees in the valley, even warmer than the elevation we had slept the night before. Summer, the hottest of human existence was upon us. However, far above that, we worried about ozone and sun cancer. The sun beat down on us on the rocks yet the thin wind blew with a refreshing cool that as we climbed seemed stranger and stranger, at least to me. The trees at time gave some succor but for most of the trail I was alone, and exposed. I would meet my company and then loose them. Finally, I was able to keep up and we traveled up higher and higher. Suddenly, we crossed the tree line. This is not a gradual process but is an almost exact line where the trees just turn bonsai and then succumb to alpine altitudes and rocky faces.
We walked up the stone face and the flowers and greenery was left to the cracks and fissures where the rare plants of so many ice ages ago would sprout and in their way, thrive.
At more-or-less exactly 11:49.04, give or take a few hours, we had come to the summit of Camel’s Back Mountain.
The group of so many expectations and verisimilitude dreams of the generations before had made this small thin line on the map, both printed and from The Googles, come alive. We had, in our way, met the challenge and from far far far away goal of what seemed like so long ago, moved through the woods and in inches made miles.
From the summit we could see other far off distances and in all directions, however hampered by the late summer haze so typical of the Northeastern regions of the United States of America. From this vantage point, we then returned down, to the cabin, loaded up our packs and met our friend and walked the seemingly short distance to the parking lot in order to return to our civilized world, the jobs and positions we hold, and the many offerings and comforts of the Peak Oil Age.