Ah – the end of November in Western Massachusetts and it’s 58 degrees with sunshine and blue skies… the perfect weather to take the dogs on a hike! Yesterday, we just couldn’t resist jumping in the car and heading to South Deefield to hike up Mt. Sugarloaf with Annie and Lily. It’s a bit too strenuous a climb for James, so he was happy to stay at home, having had his usual two mile morning walk.
Mt. Sugarloaf State Reservation is officially closed for the season with the gate across the access road leading up to the summit. This cut down on the number of people mulling around the area because many folks ascend by automobile. Those of us at the reservation were all hikers out to enjoy a good climb and the reward one receives once the summit has been reached… a commanding view – 360 degrees – of the entire Connecticut River Valley. Truly a breathtaking sight!
The dogs were in their element romping along the trail. We passed only a few hikers as we walked through the wooded trail. Some stopped to pet the dogs and ask what breed they are. Signs of the recent destruction caused by an early October snowstorm could be seen along the way. There were trees fallen over the trail causing detours. Annie and Lily had fun jumping over, rather than around, the fallen oak trees. The trail goes for quite sometime along the base of the mountain, then makes a sharp ascent to the summit. This can be pretty strenuous even under the best of conditions, but with fallen leaves covering the steep pathway, it made for pretty slippery conditions. Once the steep ascent has been accomplished, the path levels out and meanders along the top of the mountain offering a lovely view of the Connecticut River below and keeps going until you reach the parking lot. Normally full of cars, especially on a day like yesterday, the lot was empty and once we arrived at the observation deck, there were only about three dozen people there taking in the magnificent sight.
As we gazed out over the Valley, Annie and Lily flopped down on the grass for a rest. For our descent, we opted to walk on the road, taking advantage of the absence of cars. The steep leaf-laden path would have been even slicker going down. This hike is always a joy to take – a great workout for both humans and canines – with an awesome reward waiting for those who reach the top. Although I’ve taken this hike several times, I never stop feeling uplifted after taking in that view. Thank you to my daughter who suggested we go on this hike. What a perfect day – topping off a perfectly wonderful Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family. What more could a person ask for…