ADAMS — Carol Booth woke up at 5 a.m. Monday to drive three hours from her home in New London, Conn., to hike up Mount Greylock.
She was one of more than a thousand people who hiked several miles up Cheshire Harbor Trail to the summit, the highest point in the state at 3,491 feet, as part of the 53rd Greylock Ramble. Others drove to the top.
Photos: 2021 Greylock Ramble hike on Mount Greylock
2021 Greylock Ramble returns after hiatus to overcast skies and a summit shrouded in fog.
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When Booth reached the summit around 11 a.m. and went into Bascom Lodge, she went to get her certificate of completion — an event tradition — and she found she was the oldest person so far that day to hike to the summit. Event organizers keep track of the oldest and youngest hikers, and later in the day, organizers recorded a 90-year-old hiker completing the trek.
Booth, 79, grew up in Adams and has been coming to the Ramble event for the past eight or nine years, she said. In the early years of the event, she said, her dad used to sign hikers’ certificates of completion.
“Things like this that are multi-generational and build community I really think are worth supporting,” she said.
The annual trek started in 1965 as a way to bring in visitors during the fall foliage season. Now, ProAdams, a nonprofit volunteer organization started by residents to promote the town, organizes the event. The event was officially canceled last year because of the pandemic, but some still made the trip up the mountain. This fall, the Ramble was back.
People of all ages walked on the trail that was carpeted in bright yellow and dark red leaves. Boots slogged through mud and navigated slick rocks. Babies were carried up in backpack carriers, dogs were taken on leashes, and one pug got carried down a slippery rock strapped to a hiker’s chest.
Minutes into the hike, a toddler sat down on side of the trail and declared he was taking a break. In Massachusetts fashion, one woman sipped a Dunkin’ iced coffee as she made her way up the mountain. There was plenty of leaf-peeping on the trail, with some trees hanging onto their yellow and orange leaves.
About halfway to the summit, Mary Wigmore took a break. She grew up in North Adams, and she and her brothers would do the hike every year. “It was something to do — it was the Ramble,” she said. But until Monday, she had not been back to the event in decades.
“I think it’s a great way to celebrate the Berkshires,” she said. She also appreciates the hardwood trees on Greylock. “It’s just a beautiful ecosystem,” Wigmore said.
As hikers ascended higher toward the peak, the weather got more foggy and wet. “Oh well,” one hiker said as he walked out of forested area into a clearing near the summit, only to be greeted by fog. At the summit, fog clouded the panoramic view.
The weather may have dampened turnout, said Tom Whalen, who was sitting with his wife, Cheryl Whalen, in Bascom Lodge giving hikers their certificates of completion. As of 11:22 a.m., 240 hikers reported their climbs to the organizers, he said. But, turnout picked up in the afternoon. By 4 p.m., event organizers reported that 1,691 people picked up certificates at the summit.
In addition to the oldest and youngest hikers, organizers keep track of the first person to reach the summit and the person who traveled the greatest distance for the event. One hiker reported coming from Italy and another from Anchorage, Alaska, Whalen said.
Though it was foggy, there was still a sense of local pride and love for the event.
Janice Ward and her sister, Karen Isbell, and niece, Jessica Isbell, were one of many taking shelter from the light drizzle and fog in Bascom Lodge at lunchtime.
Ward, a Pittsfield resident who grew up in Cheshire, has done the Ramble many times — “28 if I had to guess,” she said.
The trail is peaceful, she said, and she likes coming to the mountaintop.
“It never gets old, the views up here,” she said.
The trio like the hike because it’s a distraction-free place to connect.
“It’s time for us to chat and keep up with each other,” Ward said.