My family had a sleep over party at my best friend from childhood's house (Melissa Ruttle) over the weekend out in Princeton, Mass* (home of Wachusett Mountain.)
Before dinner, we toasted marshmallows in the cool 3-sided stone building they have on their property, complete with a big stone fireplace. While we were still filled with energy from a bright, sunny and snow-filled day, our host, Brian Ruttle, said something about possibly doing a night hike after dinner.
Fast forward ... amazing lasagna dinner, red wine, peanut-butter ice-cream cake (!), board games by the wood stove ... and someone (wait, was that me?!) said,"What was that about a night hike?"
My 14 year-old Sophie perked right up, eyes bright, "Yea! Let's do it!!"
So at 10pm, we were all jumping into our snow clothes. Sixth-grader Jake Ruttle said, "Better put your snow pants on. The snow will be deep out there."
We all piled out of the house ... 4 year-old Oscar, included.
The Ruttles live on the edge of a mountain. It was a full moon. The white snow was glowing, even in the deep, deep woods.
In about 100 yards, the snow was over my kneecaps (and nearly over Oscar's head). We we took turns carrying him on our shoulders over the truly deep parts.
There were no trails. Only trust in our host -- hoping he knew where he was going!
At the top of one ledge, there was a very cool building made of stone and wood, with a porch. Inside, a grand fireplace and built-in benches along the other 3 walls. "They call this the music house," said Brian. They used to keep a piano in here and the music would wash down the mountain to the Pond House below (yet another outbuilding, in front of a mountain-water pond.)
Gorgeous! Envisioning the perfect sunset spot, I said, "I want to spend my birthday here!"
From there, the Ruttle kids begged to go to the "stone table."
"Don't know if I can find it," said Brian, as he headed Northeast, deeper into the woods. I looked down at young Oscar and said, "Sure you want to head deeper into the woods?" There was no going back! The troops were in motion.
Every tree looked the same. Everywhere there was DEEP snow. A turn here, a turn there, a few more hikes up -- and they found it! The snow was suddenly a foot or so higher, popping up from the elevation made from a table the size of a VW bug. The table was a round sheet of stone, and was surrounded, conveniently by nicely crafted snow benches (or so it seemed. They were all crusted with a good foot or more of snow.)
-- I had visions of people crafting these tables back around Roosevelt's day, when people had summer "cottages" (think Newport, RI "cottages") in these mountains for the quality air. --
After the stone table, we headed out to an old logging road for a bit. At some point, Brain pointed to a 4' snow bank and said, "behind there somewhere is the trail to the pond house."
Sophie took a turn carrying Oscar. Then Brian. We tromped through the mountain river to the pond, where we saw an old stone building with a Spanish-tile roof.
Then, the return home: back over the river, 7 year-old Margo now was suddenly sitting under the giant snow-covered trees -- saying "can't we take a rest?" I looked at my watch. It was 11:06 pm.
We arrived back at the house around midnight. Oscar's cheeks were flushed. Everyone was buzzing with delight.
"Gee, will we be able to get to sleep," I asked, (secretly envisioning a nightcap)? "Yep," was the answer.
Fifteen minutes later the house was silent and the bright moon beamed into the guest room keeping me wide awake, for at least another minute or two!* From the Town of Princeton's website: "In 1842, Thoreau and a friend walked from Concord to Mt. Wachusett, where he was stirred to write of the mountain, " who like me/standest alone without society."
--------------------------- Talk Back ----------------------
Have you ever gone on a night hike?
I imagine snow shoes would have made it easier on little legs. But it was GRAND fun, just the same.
There are lots of things I could be, should be blogging about today, but I'm still a bit tired you see. I was wondering why, when I recalled our little adventure and thought to share it here.