Location: Peaked Mountain, Monson, MA
Date: Thursday, December 13th, 2018
Time: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Hike Duration: 3.5-4 miles; 2 hours
Stats: Just over 10,000 steps; 53 floors
Weather: Overcast; 30 degrees F; snow flurries
John Muir is quoted as saying
“I don’t like either the word [hike] or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not ‘hike!’ Do you know the origin of that word saunter? It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the middle ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre’, ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”
Of course, I love the idea of seeing the mountains as holy and walking through them reverently. So we sauntered up Peaked Mountain. This has become one of my favorite adventures. I told Dennis that I would like to return here every season.
It’s difficult to tell in the pictures, but our hike (saunter?) started off with some light snow flurries. Just enough that we could watch the snowflakes floating around us in the air as we walked. Most of the trails here were clear and well-maintained. I would have considered it an easy hike until just before reaching the very top, where a section of the trail became very steep and rocky.
Reaching the first viewpoint took my breath away. There’s this feeling of blissful elation that rises up from the core of my being in that moment of coming out of the woods to a panoramic view of distant mountains. I think for both of us, the mountains hold a pull on our hearts.
We continued on the trail, marveling at the view that continued to open up as we sauntered to above the tree line. This is where we found our spot to sit and eat lunch as we looked out over the valley.
The snow flurries amped up a bit at this point. We enjoyed our lunch as the wind carried snowflakes towards and past us, making it seem like we were sitting on a huge rocky overlook that was moving through the air.
Also making it feel really cold! Between constantly removing my gloves to take pictures, and then to eat lunch, my hands were freezing at this point. As we got ready to keep moving on, Dennis joked about this being the false peak (like at Mt. Monadnock in NH). I didn’t believe him until we turned a corner on the trail and kept sauntering up a slight incline…
…to another amazing panoramic view!
Peaked Mountain’s summit is at 1,227 feet. On a clear day, you can gaze northeast across the Quabbin Reservoir watershed to see Mount Wachusett and Mount Monadnock.
As we explored the summit, we discovered a mailbox with a pen, small notebook, and a Christmas card. With stiff, cold fingers, I signed the card from us and logged a message in the notebook.
A light bell ringing, seemingly far in the distance, caught our attention. It was so soft that at first we wondered if we were hearing a wind-chime from a house down in the valley. But we eventually found the source in a tree not too far from the mailbox. Such a delightful surprise!
As we made our descent, we took the long way back on the Orchard Loop trail. The snow had picked up at this point to begin leaving a soft coating on the ground. There’s definitely something refreshing about the air when it snows. It feels so invigorating.
We finished this hike feeling restored and renewed. Revived by the fresh air and sweeping vistas!