“Life is a journey, not a destination.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why This Mountain?
Tami has long wanted to hike on the East Coast. She has selected mountains that would represent different ranges and states in order to see as much as she can in a short time. She selected Mt. Greylock because it is the highest peak in Massachusetts and because it is in The Berkshire Mountains.
Mountain & Route Facts
Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at 3,489 feet (1,063 m). Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams (near its border with Williamstown) in Berkshire County. The mountain is known for its expansive views encompassing five states and the only taiga-boreal forest in the state. A seasonal automobile road (open annually from late May through November 1) climbs to the summit, where stands the iconic 93-foot-high (28 m) lighthouse-like Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower. A network of hiking trails traverse the mountain, including the 2,179-mile (3,507 km) Appalachian Trail. Mount Greylock State Reservation was created in 1898 as Massachusetts’ first public land for the purpose of forest preservation.
In addition to the road to the summit, there are numerous routes to hike to reach the summit, which include the Appalachian Trail, Hopper Trail, Thunderbolt Trail and Cheshire Harbor Trail. Tami hiked the Hopper Trail which is one of the more popular and scenic routes for fall foliage. It was 9.8 miles with 2,415′ of gain.
Historical and Cultural Information
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Mahican people were closely associated with this region. The mountain was known to 18th century English settlers as Grand Hoosuc(k). In the early 19th century it was called Saddleback Mountain because of its appearance (Saddle Ball, the name of the peak to the south, still reflects this). The origin of the present name of Greylock and its association with the mountain is unclear. It first appeared in print about 1819, and came into popular use by the 1830s. It may be in reference to its appearance, as it often has a gray cloud, or lock of gray mist upon his head, or in tribute to a legendary Native American chief, Gray Lock.
Williams College, founded in 1793 in nearby Williamstown, has always been closely associated with Greylock and the study of its natural history. On May 12, 1830, a group of students directed by college President Edward Dorr Griffin improved and further cut a trail from the end of the Hopper Road to the summit. Today this route is the Hopper Trail, traditionally climbed by students once a year on Mountain Day.
Melville is said to have taken part of his inspiration for Moby-Dick from the view of the mountain from his house Arrowhead in Pittsfield, since its snow-covered profile reminded him of a great white whale’s back breaking the ocean’s surface. Melville dedicated his next novel, Pierre, to “Greylock’s Most Excellent Majesty”, calling the mountain “my own… sovereign lord and king”. Thoreau summited and spent a night in July 1844. His account of this event in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers described his approach up what is today the Bellows Pipe Trail. Scholars contend that this Greylock experience transformed him, affirming his ability to do these excursions on his own, following his brother John’s death; and served as a prelude to his experiment of rugged individualism at Walden Pond the following year in 1845.
Massachusetts officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The capital of Massachusetts and the most populous city in New England is Boston.
Plymouth was the site of the first colony in New England, founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America’s most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials.
Massachusetts was a center of the movement for independence from Great Britain. Protests against British attempts to tax the colonies after the French and Indian War ended in 1763 led to the Boston Massacre in 1770, and the 1773 Boston Tea Party escalated tensions. In 1774, the Intolerable Acts targeted Massachusetts with punishments for the Boston Tea Party and further decreased local autonomy, increasing local dissent. Anti-Parliamentary activity by men such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock, followed by reprisals by the British government, were a primary reason for the unity of the Thirteen Colonies and the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775. The Battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the American Revolutionary War and were fought in the eponymous Massachusetts towns and were the “shot heard round the world.”
In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which during the Industrial Revolution catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts. In 1786,Shays’ Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected Revolutionary War veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention. In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept the Atlantic world, originated from the pulpit of Northampton preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the “Cradle of Liberty” for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution.
The entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts has played a powerful commercial and cultural role in the history of the United States. Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the abolitionist, temperance, and transcendentalist movements. In the late 19th century, the sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. Many prominent American political dynasties have hailed from the state, including the Adams and Kennedy families. Harvard University in Cambridge is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, with the largest financial endowment of any university, and whose Law School has spawned a contemporaneous majority of United States Supreme Court Justices.