Mount Tom State Reservation

Mount Tom State Reservation

There are those moments in life
which are so profound
and literally awesome
that every amount of mental and physical anguish
fades into,
“worth every minute” of suffering.

 

I was entirely wild
in the wind
on the cliffs
of the mountain ridge.
Powerful.
Soaring with the vultures.
Completely elegant,
despite my awkwardness.

I am constantly fascinated by geology. The color of the rocks, the different layers, the texture… What caused it? Some mountains were created by tectonic plates colliding into each other, like the Appalachians. Other ranges were created by continental rifting, like the Metacomet Ridge. And of course… some are volcanoes, like the Cascades.

I am constantly fascinated by weather. A huge contributor to how we see mountains is water. Snow and rain, freezing and flooding, glaciers and erosion… slowly, tenaciously, wearing away mountains.

My first time at Mt. Tom State Reservation, January 2014. (c) Michelle Valk

I’m continuously gathering information about the mountain ranges in the Northeast, often sparked by new things observed during hikes. Being from the Pacific Northwest, the mountains around me on the East coast always seem so foreign to me. Before hiking to the summit of Mount Tom I had previously been in the Metacomet Ridge Mountains twice before.

  • Poet’s Seat Tower (elevation 846 ft.)
  • Goat Peak (elevation 822 ft.).

I wrote a post in December 2014 called Eight Northeastern Mountain Hikes which included some quick facts about these hikes.

Mount Tom Range
The Mount Tom State Reservation holds within its boundaries the Mount Tom Range. Often, the whole range is just referred to as Mt. Tom. This is most likely because Mt. Tom is the highest peak in the mountain range. The Mount Tom Range is roughly 4.5 miles long and borders the west side of the Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts.

Fun Fact – There are 42 other Mount Toms in the United States of America.

The Hike
Nathan, Michelle, and I went hiking along the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail that runs through the Mount Tom Range. The entire M-M Trail is ~114 miles long and runs along the Metacomet Ridge in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.

We began at the parking area nearest the Nature Trail. At first, the hike didn’t seem like it was going to be too difficult and then we got to our first upward climb.

I felt tired. Restless nights and high anxiety is exhausting. I was ready to give up before I even truly began. My body didn’t want to go up. I was assured that I just needed to get warmed up. To my surprise, after scrambling a few more basalt walls, I was ready to make it to the Mt. Tom summit.

The way the trail traversed the mountain ridge made the hike very pleasant. After almost every sharp ascent there was a view of the Connecticut River Valley. Mountains in the distance in every direction.

The vistas were always in the harshness of the sun, but most of the trail was protected by the shade of trees.

Metacomet Ridge Mountains extending south towards Connecticut.

At one time there was a hotel at the summit of Mt Tom. Random remains of forgotten times were scattered across the mountain top.

 

And there was this star…

We looked for a summit marker but, somehow it eluded us.

The summit? Perhaps.

On our way back to the car, we followed the M-M Trail back the way we came, veering right at the D.O.C. Trail junction. We were on the western side of Whiting Peak (elevation 1014 ft.), following the DOC Trail towards Quarry Trail creating a loop. There is one more thing about this hike I have to mention…

Turkey Vultures
I do not have a single picture, although they seemed to be everywhere.
And it’s certainly not for lack of trying.
I think maybe… it is just one of those things where you had to be there.
To experience it first hand.
To truly see how majestic these grotesquely beautiful scavengers are.

They soared so close the the cliffs of the mountain.
Drifting in the air.
Directly in front of us.
So silent.

I’m always observing and learning about birds.
My favorite site to research birds www.allaboutbirds.org, where I learned, “Turkey Vultures lack the vocal organs to make proper songs. Most of their vocalizations come down to a form of low, guttural hiss made when they are irritated or vying for a better spot on a carcass. They also may give a low, nasal whine while in flight.” This explained their silent flight, satiating some of my curiosity.

June 7th 2015
Distance traveled ~5 miles
Mount Tom Summit Elevation – 1202 feet
Difficulty Level – Moderate
Parking Fee – $5 MA, $6 out of state.
For a trail map of the reservation… Click Here!