We Gather for Transition

My son and I decided to take a local hike last week, rather than “bag” another three Adirondack High Peaks. We have hiked 37 of 46, and really want to become 46ers this year, but recognize the current restrictions of COVID as well as the intense burden the rangers in the Adirondacks are currently facing. Since the ADK mountains are a solid 2.5 hours drive from us, we chose to stay more local.

Mount Greylock is just over the border in MA, and only 1/2 hour from our camp home in Petersburgh, NY. We were careful to shop in Albany and bring all our needed food with us for a good weekend adventure of hiking and photography, capped off with some sunshine and lounging in our temporary summer pool in the woods.

The hike was 3.5 miles each direction, with an elevation gain of just under 2,000 feet. Mount Greylock has the amazing “lighthouse” at the top, and a classic old lodge that serves meals and serves as a hostel for through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail. You can hike up on several trails, or drive up a wonderful winding and narrow paved road. The views are amazing. The clear views of the COVID restricted world let us see nearly 90 miles in every directions, covering CT, MA, NY, NH, and VT.

We hiked up before dusk so my son, a photographer, could enjoy sunset colors and vistas. We then were so enamored with the views that, even without proper light jackets in the cooler air, we decided to hang around for a few hours until the stars regaled us with their presence. We hiked down a bit after midnight, drove to Petersburgh, slept for two hours, then drove back to the summit to take photos of the emerging morning. Add in meeting some amazing people, the free coffees and companionship from the lodge keepers (who attended Pratt which is where Erik will start college this fall), the waddling porcupine we laughed at, and the black bear we nearly hit on the drive back up (!) and it was a great, exhausting, in-the-moment adventure.

And one with a revelation.

People gather for moments of transition. They come to witness, to be, to connect, to share, to reflect, and to support. They come to learn, to marvel, to pause in their daily life. Sunrise and sunset are recurring transitions that Mother Nature shares with us, they happen every day, and they are no less amazing for their commonness.

There are moments of rarer transition. I am raising monarch butterflies and the transition from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to flittering airborne beauty occurs once a year for however many eggs I raise, and each moment of flight is a thrill.

The tide. The clouds and passion in a storm. The shift of the wind.

The demolition of a building. New steel structure being topped off. A ribbon cutting.

Commencement, Graduation.

Birth. Death. Weddings.

Each of these is a transition, often a gathering, and a celebration.

So our hike and our experiences, the people, the visual time, the good spirits in the moment, all made me wonder if this current transition we are in, the long emergency, climate change which brings species migration, amplification of diseases, impacts for innovation, if this is a magnificent transition that will bring us together. That is in fact bringing us together.

Maybe we are just arriving, finding our place, spreading our blanket, talking about the last butterfly we saw, settling in, and the connection is coming. The moment the wings pull the air and raise the Monarch off our finger, the instant the sun dips below the horizon, the second of the kiss after the vows or the cap flying into the air…all of these are still ahead of us. The gathering is here, and the revelation and the celebration are to come.

This is what our hike gave to me. A reminder of this promise of transition and the reengagement it will bring.

Be greener, in the moment,