ADAMS – Carol Booth woke up at 5 a.m. Monday to drive three hours from her home in New London, Connecticut, to climb Mount Greylock.
She was one of more than a thousand people who hiked several miles to the top of the Cheshire Harbor Trail, the state’s highest point at 3,491 feet, as part of the 53rd Greylock Ramble. Others drove to the top.
When Booth reached the summit around 11 a.m. and entered Bascom Lodge, she went to collect her Certificate of Completion – an event-based tradition – and found out that she was the oldest person to date. there to walk to the top. Event organizers are keeping track of older and younger hikers, and later today, 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 eight or nine years, she said. In the early years of the event, she said, her father signed the hikers’ certificates of completion.
âThings like this that are multigenerational and create community, I think they’re really worth supporting,â she said.
The annual trek began in 1965 as a way to attract visitors during the fall foliage season. Now ProAdams, a nonprofit, voluntary organization created by residents to promote the city, is hosting the event. The event was officially canceled last year due to the pandemic, but some made the trip to the mountain anyway. This fall, the Ramble was back.
People of all ages walked the trail lined with bright yellow and dark red leaves. The boots dipped in the mud and cruised over slippery rocks. Babies were carried in backpacks, dogs kept on a leash, and a pug was carried along a slippery rock attached to a hiker ‘s chest.
Within minutes of starting the hike, a toddler sat on the side of the trail and said he was taking a break. In Massachusetts fashion, a woman sipped dunkin ‘iced coffee as she climbed the mountain. There were lots of leaf sightings on the trail, with a few trees clinging to their yellow and orange leaves.
Halfway to the summit, Mary Wigmore took a break. She grew up in North Adams, and she and her brothers would hike every year. âIt was something to do – it was the Ramble,â she said. But until Monday, she hadn’t returned to the event in decades.
âI think it’s a great way to celebrate the Berkshires,â she said. She also enjoys Greylock hardwoods. âIt’s just a beautiful ecosystem,â said Wigmore.
As the hikers climbed higher towards the summit, the weather became more foggy and wetter. âWell,â said a hiker as he exited a wooded area to a clearing near the summit, only to be greeted by the fog. At the top, fog obscures the panoramic view.
Time may have slowed participation, said Tom Whalen, who was sitting his wife, Cheryl Whalen, at Bascom Lodge, handing hikers their certificates of completion. At 11:22 a.m., 240 hikers reported their climbs to organizers, he said. But, participation resumed in the afternoon. As of 4 p.m., event organizers reported that 1,691 people had collected certificates at the summit.
In addition to the older and younger hikers, the organizers are keeping track of the first person to reach the top and who traveled the farthest distance for the event. One hiker said he was from Italy and another from Anchorage, Alaska, Whalen said.
Even though there was fog, there was still a sense of local pride and love for the event.
Janice Ward and her sister, Karen Isbell, and her niece, Jessica Isbell, were one of many taking shelter from the light drizzle and fog at Bascom Lodge at lunchtime.
Ward, a Pittsfield resident who grew up in Cheshire, has done the Ramble on several occasions – “28 if I had to guess,” she said.
The trail is peaceful, she says, and she loves coming to the top of the mountain.
âIt never gets old, the views here,â she said.
The trio love hiking because it’s a distraction-free place to connect.
âIt’s time for us to chat and keep in touch,â Ward said.