Literary Pilgrimage Day 3: Hiking Mt. Holyoke & on to Vermont

It’s taking me a while to get these posts about my Literary & History Pilgrimage done, and for that I apologize. My newly-minted five year-old starts kindergarten next week, I start teaching my college students again this week, and my 15 month-old starts preschool the next week. I am the proverbial headless chicken.

Click here to access Day 1 and Day 2.

Onward!

Literary Pilgrimage Day 3 

On Day 3, I woke with the itch to see out and over everything. I get this way sometimes in a new place. In the past, I’ve weaseled my way into single-prop planes, onto the roofs of people’s houses, the normally inaccessible top floors of buildings, and generally climbed tall things in order to get an overview of the land around me. I just feel better–breathe easier–when I know the lay of the land.

The side of historic Summit House

The side of historic Summit House

In Hadley, Massachusetts, not too far from Mt. Holyoke College, is Skinner State Park and the “real” Mount Holyoke. There, it’s a short but steep hike up to the top, where sits historic Summit House. I wanted to see it for a few reasons: 1) It’s got gorgeous views of the Connecticut River Valley, 2) I am a hiking fanatic and like to do it whenever and wherever I can, especially in new places, and 3) my protagonist in the historical novel I’m working on now attended Mt. Holyoke College in 1860. During that time, Summit House was a hotel, and the hike up to the top of Mt. Holyoke was an annual rite-of-passage for the students (they called it Mountain Day).

Me, at the top of Mt. Holyoke

Me, at the top of Mt. Holyoke

Though the Summit House was undergoing some repairs, the workers didn’t say a thing when I smiled, said “hey,”

Summit House

Summit House

walked past them and climbed the stairs to the building. I was all alone, with a gorgeous New England landscape below me and blue skies above. Just what I needed. It was easy to imagine my protagonist and her friends enjoying the same view, or rocking in chairs on the long white porch.

viewI explored the building and rock outcroppings nearby as much as I could. I stood at the railing, breathed in and took in the view. A boat skimmed over the Connecticut River below, and I could see a small town north, in the distance.

Winding Connecticut River

Winding Connecticut River

Boat on the Connecticut River

Boat on the Connecticut River

Porch at Summit House

Porch at Summit House

After the hike, I took a quick shower at my hotel back in Hadley and then hot-footed it back to Vermont and to the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I’d be attended my graduating residency as a student in the MFA in Writing program. There, I made it just in time to check in at my dorm, dump my bags, and sprint across to Chapel Hall, where orientation was minutes from starting.

I plan to write a series of future posts about my time at VCFA in the MFA in Writing program. But for now, the literary pilgrimage takes an 11-day interlude, since I was in school. After graduation, I, my husband, and our young daughters made an epic road trip from Vermont back to Western North Carolina, stopping at all kinds of historic and literary sites along the way. Next week, I’ll post about that, and I’ll start with Day 4: MFA Graduation & Salem, Massachusetts. Witches and ghosts and long-dead writers, oh my!

 

 

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