What a beautiful day to climb a mountain! What a great day to spend with family and friends and what an awesome way to raise awareness for Parkinson’s Disease. The Parker’s Climb Team started our 3 1/2 mile, 2,200 foot ascent up Mt. Greylock at 10:00 am this morning. We reached the summit just before noon and it was a climb filled with beautiful views, tremendous fall foliage and great conversations amongst our climbers. Unlike Mt. Katahdin, I actually had the energy to talk.
The Cheshire Harbor Trail could best be described as a graceful climb in comparison to Mt. Katahdin that we climbed in August. This trail was a decent cardio workout, it gave your legs a good solid challenge, yet it was a steady trail from bottom to top, and back down. A couple of times I had to work to keep my breathing under control but for the most part 2,200 ft. was pretty easily obtainable.
The route to the trailhead was tucked away on the south side of the mountain in a place not so easy to find so Geoffrey and I picked a spot in the town of North Adams to meet up with Ella (Geoffrey’s niece), and our new friend David who drove in from Sturbridge. We waited here for updates from our Vermont Parker’s and our Boylston Parker’s since they had three to four hour drives each, to meet us in the Berkshires.
This time gave us an opportunity to catch up with Ella, who we have not seen for quite some time, and to get to get to know David before hitting the trail. It was also perfect for me to keep eating. I actually did quite well in the area of breakfast this morning, for a girl who does not eat breakfast. I had cheerios, a banana, a bottle of strawberry-banana Naked Juice and even a second banana right before we started up.
We also met Laura and Zena from Williams College who joined us to show their support for our cause. There were a few more students that had planned to climb but this was a very busy weekend at Williams. It was Parent’s Weekend and Saturday night there was a dance and a pretty large party afterwords. We lost some of our climbers who found the need for some extra shut eye this morning! Laura and Zena were delightful – we are so happy that they joined us and I think that they were equally as excited to share in our experience.
To have George and Christine, along with their friend Jeff from Stowe, Vermont start out at 5:00 am to climb with us was truly inspiring! We really enjoyed Jeff – he let me use his walking sticks on the way down, it was my first time to try them out and they really do take some of the pressure off of the knees. George and Larri had to roll out early too but it would not have complete without them!
Madeleine was grounded from our climb by the doctor after her knee injury last weekend. I know it was not fun to miss the climb – I know Maddy and she is not a side-lines kind of girl but she played an equally important role today. She and George sat this one out together and had a lunch spread prepared for our group when we reached the summit! It was an awesome lunch complete with homemade apple pie (Geoff’s favorite) and homemade cheesecake – all made by George.
Baxter’s Logde has a large back porch overlooking the surrounding landscape and this is where we lunched. It was perfect cover because it was pretty windy and cold with a light rain falling when we arrived at the summit. Once we had sufficiently fed ourselves, Larri went to work passing out slices of apple pie and cheese cake to other climbers arriving up top. With each slice of apple pie or cheesecake Larri handed out a Parker’s Climb Flyer to let people know who we are and why we are climbing. It was awesome and we got as many compliments on our quest to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and to raise awareness for PD, as we did for George’s pie and cheesecake.
We started our 2 hour descent at around 2:00 pm – after taking summit photos – we did after all make it to 3,491 feet to the top of Massachusetts highest mountain! We have our second summit photo to prove it! We took two summit photos – one inside during our lunch and a second official summit photo at the War Memorial. It was an impressive structure!
Each and every person climbed well and became an important part of our climb but if I may give out the award for greatest achievement today, it goes to David! You see, David was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago, at the young age of 36. The disease hit him hard, as it oftentimes does when it strikes young individuals. David read our story in the North Adams Tribune and decided he was coming out to join us on our climb, something he would not have been able to do just a few weeks ago!
We all celebrated with David after learning that quite recently he had undergone successful Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. In fact his surgery was done this past September 3rd and he is already out climbing a mountain on October 26th! In David’s own words, “this miraculous surgery has given him the ability to take back his life!” David was awesome- he climbed as if he had been doing this level of activity all along – he had no problem climbing and I think David really enjoyed spending the day with us Parkers! David you are now an official member of the Parker’s Climb Team – Thank you for joining us!
Geoff and I also got to see Travis, our new Parker’s Climb mascot in his element! Heelers are bred to herd cattle and Travis herded us up and down the mountain! He kept an eye on everyone of us and from time to time he would run well beyond the last person in our party to make sure he had us all accounted for! He would race past us and go check out the front end of the trail! Travis, you earned your spot amongst the team!
We all came off the mountain in good shape thank heavens! No injuries, a few stiff knees but we are all in good shape. It turns out the most challenging part of the trail came for Larri – actually it was a cross walk extending across the road that took this seasoned climber down! She popped out of the woods to cross the road with Travis on a leash and she lost balance, went down, tucked, did a perfect 360-role and was back on her feet before anyone of us could lend a hand or snap a photo! I am sure the row of cars stopped to let us pass are still talking about it today! What was really hilarious was the reenactment of the tuck and role on the way back for those in our group that missed the first ground roll! Well done Larri- I start practicing my ground roll this week! I am sure one day I will have the opportunity to test it out for real when my body gets ahead of my feet!
A great climb and a great day with family and friends. While standing at the bottom of the mountain after our walk down, all of the Parker’s started planning the next climb. Everyone is in favor of doing a cold weather climb (like this was not cold enough for the Florida Parker’s)! We will see where this goes from here.
Geoff and I love you all! Thanks for making the second Parker’s Climb a great one!