There are slightly over 54 miles between Greylock & Stratton Mountain and the weather was clear for a few days (though you can't tell it in the virtual distance between these two posts). Between the two mountains I had a lifetime of change as the hiking companion I was planning on going all the way to Maine was stricken with Lyme (we think) and had to get OFF. As in OFF, NOW and the nearest NOW was 4 miles away.
That became a watershed moment for me as what do you do when a previously strong hiker just wants to sleep, then grows paler and basically collapses. What I ended up doing was coming up with a plan (in the rest of life I am a producer and plans would be my middle name if I wasn't named after a wonderful woman) while letting her rest. Decision was to let her sleep for a half hour while I took my pack 15 mins down the trail and hid it and then came back to escort her and carry her pack to mine. We did that a few times and then we could hear the road. I don't think I have ever been so happy to hear traffic.
Through the help of a good Samaritan who turned around his plans and his car for us, we got to a motel, beds and a clinic the next day for her.
This wasn't what I meant to write about. I meant to tell you about these wonderful Guardians of the Stratton Mountain I met a few days later but maybe that what made them just so precious to me.
The day was grey on the verge of becoming wet and when I got to the bottom of the mountain. The rain started half way up as the fog bank consumed the mountain. Everyone out for a day hike who had passed me on the way up, passed me coming down, now wrapped in garbage bags against the weather.
I just kept going. Fog wrapped mountains just remind of home. Not really the mountain part but the fog is definitely Nova Scotian. I had the chance in Williamstown to see the Van Gogh Nature exhibit and was seeing everything in a different light.
But an appreciation for beauty doesn't make you any warmer or drier so as I climbed to the top, I hoping that the caretaker's shelter which was on the map might be a space out of the rain. And it is, but not available for visitors. I went to sign in at the log and she approached asking questions about my hike and wondering how my days had been. I smiled despite myself and filled her in on details. There was no shelter available but she could offer me a stone bench under the trees which was slightly covered.
Soon both she and her husband, Hugh had joined me with tea and cookies to go along with the gorp and we talked. Over an hour passed on that mountain as we discussed the Van Gogh exhibit, how they came, 47 years ago, to be the caretakers, his wood carving, her painting, how his grandfather carved mastheads for ships in Lunenburg (though that might have been his great grandfather), about Nova Scotia and how excellent the view was from Stratton on a clear day, (that it is noted as the birthplace of the Appalachian Trail). I had to go. I had miles before the shelter and the rain was coming back but those two caretakers took care of so much more than just a mountain that day. They kept me moving forward with excitement and joy, wondering what the next connection would be.