Mount Greylock Ramble: Thousands reach the peak they adore
ADAMS -- The sky remained mostly overcast, and the temperature consistently hovered at just under 50 degrees for most of the day Monday, but none of that dampened the spirits of the hikers young and old who trudged to the top of the 3,491-foot summit of the state's tallest mountain during the 45th annual Mount Greylock Ramble.
"It's been a very wet day, very damp," said hiker Kate Drury, as she headed back down the mountain to head back home. She started hiking earlier in the morning, and said despite the sometimes slippery path, she was glad she was able to make it out to her first Ramble.
"I just love Mount Greylock. I've driven up it many times, but it's just incredibly beautiful to be right here on this day," said Drury, who made the move from Salisbury to Western Massachusetts a year ago.
It was a festive day that saw more than 3,000 hikers scale the mountain, according to Haley Meczywor, a member of the Adams Event Committee, which sponsors the Columbus Day hike each year.
Meczywor said the day went off without a hitch, with no reports of any major injuries.
An Adams native, Meczywor opted out of trekking up the mountain herself, and instead greeted hikers who headed into Bascom Lodge right at the summit for hot drinks, food, and relaxation after their journey up. Each year, about the first 2,000 people who make it to the top of the mountain receive certificates, but anticipating fewer crowds due to the weather, fewer were printed.
"We ran out of them way before we expected to," Meczywor said.
No matter the conditions, the Ramble attracts everyone from Adams residents to visitors from as far away as Hawaii.
It's a tradition that is very familiar for Jim Ciuk. While Ciuk currently lives in New Jersey, he grew up in Adams, and said that he has made it out to the Ramble every year since its inception, except for a 13-year span when he lived in Los Angeles.
"It was always my favorite thing to do when I was growing up here, and it's still my favorite thing to do whenever I come back home this time of year," Ciuk said.
Ciuk said the appeal of the event is less the invigorating hike itself than it is the feeling of being part of a wider community in which one can run into old friends around every corner.
"I just love coming here and seeing everyone again," he said.
For Thet Soe of Williamstown, the Ramble was all about friendship. He decided to hike up Mount Greylock on Monday to show Maung Kyi, his friend visiting from Oklahoma, what he called "an essential part of Massachusetts."
"I've always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, so it just seemed like the perfect thing to do when coming here," Kyi said.
Meczywor said it is an event that works due to the hard work of volunteers like students from Hoosac Valley High School's LEO Club who helped direct cars parking at the base of the mountain, to the forest wardens and Emergency Medical Services workers who make sure hikers stay safe.
"We haven't really seen any problems this year," said Adams Forest Warden Chad Columbus. "Some people ask for Band-Aids and first aid, but nothing serious this year."
At the top of the summit, Katherine Schapel stared out at the valley before her. A native of Australia, who just moved to Portsmouth, R.I., with her family, Schapel did not participate in the Ramble but drove up to the top of Mount Greylock for the view.
"It is so peaceful here," Schapel said, as she motioned with her arm to include the view before her and the Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower behind her. "I'm so glad I came here on this day, with all of these people to celebrate this."
These are a few notables among the thousands of hikers who made it out to Monday's Mount Greylock Ramble.
Oldest: Tom Harty, 91, of Orange, Mass.
Youngest: Kyle King, 2, of Virginia
Traveled the farthest: Todd and Lisa Mclaughin, from Hawaii
First to reach the summit: Stephen LaFogg, of Cheshire
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