Bare Mountain is part of Mount Holyoke Range State Park in Amherst, Massachusetts. I hiked the mountain while up in the area last year. The peak is at 1,014 feet, not a huge climb, but the rocks were something to behold.
As I hiked Bare Mountain, I lost the trail so many times. I would just stand there, staring up, searching for white blazes on a tree or rock up ahead. Eventually I would find something that resembled a white blaze, and keep moving forward. When I got closer, I realized it was moss, and picked my way back onto something that resembled a trail. There were so many small offshoots of the trail; that I was certain I wasn’t the first person to stand staring at the sea of rocks, wondering where the trail had gone. At times, I speculated that even a mountain goat would be challenged among the rocks of Bare Mountain.
As I picked my way up rock faces, I reflected on all of the times I had gotten my horse into a bad situation on the trail. Fortunately, there aren’t too many. But this time, I was grateful I didn’t even have my dog. Climbing up the unforgiving M-M trail to Bare Mountain, I saw evidence of a small horse or pony that had been on this trail, and winced at the thought of them tackling these rocks.
But the false summits and their views reminded my why I was making the climb. Challenging my own fitness level makes me a better rider and reminds me how hard my horse works while we’re out on the trail. Of course, I was justly rewarded when I reached the summit. The shadows of the clouds danced on the green valleys of central Massachusetts as I scanned the horizon. Slowly, I turned to begin my rocky decent, hoping that gravity wouldn’t betray me.
Hiking helps me remember just how hard my horse is working to allow me to enjoy the woods, and I get to see some pretty spectacular views that I would miss if I only rode.