Monday, September 3, 2012

Mountain summit, hang gliders, and wind turbines

It's a sunny, warm Labor Day and we don't have any set plans. Time for a motorcyle trip!

This summer took us east to New Hampshire, throughout our state of Vermont, and west into New York. We decided to go south into Massachusetts today, with Mt. Greylock, at 3491' the highest mountain in the state, our destination.

Continuing with our philosphy that the journey is more important than the destination, we took the scenic route. It was our first trip on the second leg of the Bennington Bypass, which opened only four days earlier. As we rode along the smooth, new pavement it was hard to believe that it took five years and $72 million to complete the three mile-long highway.

Bennington Bypass

Vermont Route 9 heads east from Bennington, snaking its way over and through the Green Mountains. We turned south onto Route 100 at the top of Searsburg Mountain and for the next 17 miles watched wind turbines lining the mountain ridges to the east pop in and out of our view as we rode into Clarksburg, just over the border into Massachusetts.

We've lived in southwestern Vermont for 21 years, yet had never been to the top of Mt. Greylock. I remember seeing road signs for the park in Williamstown and North Adams, but we didn't know exactly how to find the summit road. We turned south on Massachusetts Route 8 in North Adams, and could see the summit with several hang gliders swooping around it to our right. We tried two different roads without success, ending up the first time at a barrier across the road, and the second at a dead end. Finally our GPS came through, leading us up the twisty Reservoir Road to the Notch Road, part of the Mt. Greylock scenic byway.

hairpin turn on the way up Mt. Greylock

view from one of the scenic overlooks

We live in the mountains, rode a motorcycle through the Appalachian Mountains and the Alps, and yet this drive was something special. The wide-open views across three states (Massachusetts, New York and Vermont), soaring pine forests, valleys dotted with fields, a smooth paved road that hugged the sides of the mountain, and unexpected hang gliders swooping down over our heads combined into a ride that had us both smiling when we pulled into the motorcycle parking area at the summit.

We walked around the summit, visiting the 93' tall granite Veterans War Memorial and learning about the history of the park, established in 1898 as the first wilderness park in Massachusetts. Henry David Thoreau, the Massachusetts-born poet, author and philospher hiked Mt. Greylock. His thoughts about the experience are carved into a rock near the summit.

As the light increased, I discovered around me an ocean of mist, which by chance reached up exactly to the base of the tower, and shut out every vestige of the earth, while I was left floating on this fragment of the wreck of a world, on my carved plank, in cloudland; a situation which required no aid from the imagination to render it impressive. As the light in the east steadily increased, it revealed to me more clearly the new world into which I had risen in the night, the new terra firma perchance of my future life.... All around beneath me was spread for a hundred miles on every side, as far as the eye could reach, an undulating country of clouds, answering in the varied swell of its surface to the terrestrial world it veiled. It was such a country as we might see in dreams, with all the delights of paradise.

We spent time sitting on the rocky, grass slope that dropped steeply off the side of the summit, looking out over the valley to the wind turbines on the ridges in the distance and watching two hang gliders lazily descend in wide circles until they finally landed in a bright green field so far below us we could barely pick them out.

The ride down the western side of the mountain was just as much fun as the ride up. We traveled north toward home, promising ourselves we'd come back to Mt. Greylock before the end of the riding season.


  1. Nice summer pictures you took of your trip. My question is are there any challenges you face when riding that you can share. Like problems with the bike or changing tires. But mostly how do you avoid this?
    Pirelli Motorcycle Tires

  2. Thanks for the note, Charity! Luckily we haven't really had any issues on the road (besides weather), but I know one of the reasons Mike decided to trade up to the R1200GS from the 800GS was to be able to ride on tubeless tires, which are far easier to fix on the road. Mike also is a fanatic about maintaining the bike, as well, so I'm sure that helps.

  3. There is a chance you're eligible for a new solar energy rebate program.
    Click here to find out if you qualify now!