One weekend in September

Matt turned 30 on Tuesday with little fanfare, except from family who called all night with well wishes and birthday songs. He didn't want a party, but I couldn't let such a milestone pass without a little celebration so I hastily organized a 30th birthday night out for him at a beer garden with a group of our neighbors. It's a testament to him that I sent out the invite the day before (even forgetting to say it was planned for Friday, not Thursday) and still 10 neighbors came out ready to have a good time in his honor.

We sat outside on the patio, in the almost too chilly weather and threw back a couple new and unusual brews. In my eagerness to jump headfirst into fall, I ordered a pumpkinhead ale and remembered, again, that I don't much care for fruit or gourd flavored beers.

Since we're both past 30 now, we made sure to get home by midnight so we could get to bed.


Saturday we did not do much of anything, except for a little grocery shopping and napping, and it was perfect.

Sunday, after our day of laziness, I was gung ho to get us going for an early day hike, but then I slept in. Seeing as a lazy weekend was already in full swing and we both still wanted to rest our old bones, we didn't leave until noon.

In my head, I want to hike a mountain a weekend this fall. We'll see if my body can keep up.

This weekend, because it was only about an hour away and was a relative peanut of a mountain at 2006 ft high, we hiked up Mt. Wachusett, for the first time. We hiked during the hottest part of the day and we struggled (as in, I struggled) more than we should have up that rocky hill because we were dressed for fall. Up here in the north, it's inching slowly towards freezing in the evenings but still occasionally summertime warm during the afternoon. Even the dog was panting up a storm.


We hiked up to the summit via a somewhat longer route that avoided the crowds. When we arrived at the sprawling summit, we were a bit overwhelmed by the circus atmosphere. There were probably 67 adults, 59 kids, 32 dogs, and 28 cars up there. One woman was in a fancy red top, white jeans, and stilettos.

I know this is common sense to hikers but sometimes I forget. It's probably best to avoid a mountain that others can drive to the top of on a weekend afternoon when the weather is warm and the skies are perfectly clear. After October 31st, the mountain road closes and if I ever make this journey again, I'll likely pick that time of year.

I only recall two wilderness destinations that were quite this bizarre. One was Acadia National Park where we saw people drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain and plop down for a full course picnic right behind their SUV in the parking lot. The other scene was the valley in Yosemite National Park where I watched parents with young children walk up within 20 feet of grazing deer and take pictures of them, while I held my breath that the wildlife wouldn't charge the 3 year olds.

What made the top of Mt. Wachusett uniquely bizarre was the large crowd of people with antennae and satellite dishes either on tripods or fastened to their vans. I felt like I stumbled into an episode of Monk, during a flashback moment in a "here's what happened" crime scene montage. Matt wondered if they were trying to call the mother ship.



In the end we decided they were just probably ham radio hobbyists trying to tune in to other hobbyists on nearby mountains. I realized it is not all that different from say, blogging. At least they were outside in the fresh air.


In the end, we got a new view of the city on the horizon and got our heart rates going but wondered whether we should have gone to the beach instead on what was probably the last of the warm and sunny days of 2009!

We made a quick stop off at an orchard on the way back so I could pick up a peck each of yellow nectarines and apples. I'm going to have my hands full with fruit this week, so expect a post about canning, freezing, or just eating. I haven't made up my mind yet. We'll see just how lazy these bones are feeling!

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