When I first saw that there was a Mt. Pisgah in Massachusetts, I experienced a moment of confusion. I thought for sure I knew where Mt. Pisgah was, and I was pretty sure it was in North Carolina. Turns out I was right; there is a Mt. Pisgah in North Carolina. There’s also one in Massachusetts and one in Oregon.
At an elevation of 715 feet, the Mt. Pisgah in Massachusetts is more of a hill than a mountain. It’s in the middle of conservation lands that straddle the border between the towns of Berlin and Northborough.
The day we went started out rainy. The forecast said there would be a break in the rain between about 10am and 1pm, which is just when we were planning to go, so decided to proceed as planned.
At the trailhead, we met another family, a mom and her two girls, and we grabbed our wide-brimmed hats and headed into the fog. The plan was to hike the the Mentzer Trail, with the North Overlook as our destination. Out and back, it would be about 1.25 miles.
Living in the West for so many years, I seem to have blocked out the existence of mosquitos. Between two rain storms is apparently, in the estimation of the striped and highly aggressive mosquitos we encountered, about the best time to go hiking We soldiered on, though, trying not to stop too much, which was difficult because we saw so many very cool things to stop and look at.
My son was, as usual, on my back, which made him something of a sitting duck for the blood-sucking insects but which kept him from contributing to the stop-and-start nature of the hike. The girls, however, did just fine on their own in this regard.
My daughter, always the map-reader, carried the map and followed our route. She pointed out every blaze along the way and insisted that the rest of us also notice and admire each painted yellow spot before moving along. All of the girls found ferns and raspberries and lots and lots of mushrooms.
“Look! An orange mushroom!”
“Look! A blue mushroom!”
“Look! A tiny little mushroom!”
We saw both a frog and a toad. They behaved differently than the books and musicals I’ve seen about them have indicated. Perhaps in real life, they’re more private about their adventures.
We were just about at our destination when the girls began insisting they were done hiking and my son started asking to get down. We paused for a few moments and looked at the view, trying to imagine what we’d be looking at if it weren’t covered in fog and swatting away mosquitos, then we headed back the way we’d come.
About halfway back, I let my son out of the carrier on my back. He was very excited to walk and seemed to think it imperative that he step on every single rock in our path. He didn’t limit himself to the ones that were in front of him. He swerved back and forth across the path, holding my hand for support and making sure to leave no stone un-stepped-upon. The girls by now were tired of finding mushrooms and decided to run ahead. They would round a curve and the other mom and I wouldn’t be able to see them. We knew they were there only by their laughter bouncing back to us through the fog.
Back at the trailhead, we packed the kids quickly into the cars and shut the doors, trying to keep the mosquitos from following us home. I squashed one on the headliner just before we pulled away.
In spite of the bugs, I quite enjoyed this hike. It was a treat to experience the different sounds and smells and animals in the forest when it’s rainy. The trails were well-marked and it was easy to find a path that was the right length for our little crew. And I look forward to going back and seeing that view when it’s clear out.
But what’s up with these trailheads that have no facilities? We’re not a “peeing in the woods” kind of family (well, 75% of our family isn’t), and even a port-a-john would be welcome after we’ve all emptied our water bottles.