I am in the process of catching people up with some early hikes and other encounters with nature that I thought people might find interesting as part of a "How It Began" series. Mostly this will describe specific hikes and perhaps some lessons learned along the way...if there are any. They are meant to be short and, perhaps helpful in some way to other hikers or fellow-travelers. I will post the dates of when I hiked a specific mountain since these are NOT posted at or near the date hiked.
August 27, 2021
There are a range of opinions about Cannon Mountain (4,100 feet). The trail is relative straight but also rather sandy and there are parts where one struggles to maintain their footing on large, flat rocks that create a challenge going up and down. While this may be your thing, it isn't everybody's. Also, there are few hikers who enjoy the constant car noise that permeates most of the hike as it is right up against I-93. To add further insult to injury, we share it with a ski resort and a gondola. As a non-skier I find that rather interesting. Still, it is strange to arrive at the top and see a snack bar and random folks who took the easy (but scenic) way up.
However....if you have ever driven on that part of the highway and looked out to see the massive stone lump that Cannon is, you know that there is a primal part of you that wants to go sit on that rock and look out over the valley. I have sat on that rock and...yeah...it is pretty damned impressive.
This is also sometimes considered a "starter" 4,000 footer, but I have to say that I did not find it easy. Yes, as these mountains go the hike is short (4.4 miles round trip). Still, the footing was rough and with my aforementioned post-surgery back, it was plenty challenging. The elevation gain is 2,300 feet and you feel every one of them. The view from the top was marred somewhat by the ski equipment--there is a tower with interesting views and that aforementioned snack bar and bathrooms that make up for it--but the real gift comes before that and on the way back. Do NOT miss the overlook!
What I learned on this hike was that there are many different ways to tackle a mountain. The gondola folks seemed very happy, of course, but so did the slow moving party we passed on our way up. There were three people, one of them was talking constantly and stopping at steady intervals. We actually started by taking breaks whenever they took one, but we got impatient and moved past after they stopped us for a short chat. On our way back down--and after taking quite some time at the overlooks and the peak--we saw them again still heading up. They were still talking--and we chatted with them again--and they were still enjoying the day.
I don't know if they were bagging 4,000 footers, or challenging themselves physically or if they even cared about those things. What I do know is that they we truly enjoying their time together and getting the most out of controversial Mount Cannon. I have nothing but respect.
On the way down I wiped out in a big way that almost jeopardized future hikes. The bad footing is no joke! After much swearing I collected myself. Allison backtracked to find me. Shortly thereafter the now-welcome noise of the highway increased and we found ourselves at the bottom safe and sound.
I am a full-time pastor in a small, progressive church in Massachusetts. This blog is about the non-church things I do to find spiritual sustenance.