2017-06-14 / Irregular Regulars

Observations from the F.A.R.M. (Fresh Air & Room to Move)

Borestone or Bust
By Karen Pease

I was 11 years old the first time I climbed Borestone Mountain in Elliotsville. I spent a good part of every summer in the Monson/Willimantic/Elliotsville area, which was over-run with Besseys, Bessey in-laws, Bessey wannabes and Bessey groupies.

In other words, it was my home-away-from-home.

I’ve climbed Borestone many times over the years; with the Willimantic church group, with cousins, with Patty and John and other friends, with Guy and Guy’s friends, and with Steven. But I’d never climbed the mountain with my younger children, Josie and Eli.

So when Eli suggested a hike while we were at camp on Memorial Day weekend, Steven and I said “Sure. Okay. We’ll do it; no problem!”

There was a slight problem. Maybe even two or three. The last time I hiked Borestone, I was 20 years younger and 20 or more pounds lighter. I didn’t think those factors would make a difference. I might have been wrong.


Steven and Karen on Borestone Steven and Karen on Borestone First off, Eli suggested taking the woods trail all the way from the parking area at the trailhead, rather than hiking the road to the Audubon museum and Sunrise Pond. He said the scenery was better.

The scenery consisted mostly of my big feet as I cautiously lifted them over rocks and around tree roots, although I did get a glimpse of forest and granite crags when I sat down to rest.

Eli and his girlfriend Alex graciously waited. I urged them to go on ahead. Who wants to be held back by an overweight, middle-aged mother?

“What’s the point of hiking with you, if we aren’t together?” Eli responded. I heard him whisper “Sorry” in an aside to Alex. Bless his heart — and hers. She was as patient as my son, and as sweet.

The black flies weren’t sweet. They were nasty; thick swarms of them surrounded our heads. We looked like Pig Pen from the Charlie Brown comics as the insects followed us up the trail. Typically, black flies don’t bite me. I don’t think I taste as good as my husband and son, who continuously and liberally doused themselves with bug dope; preferring cancer-causing Deet over fly bites. While the gnats didn’t chew on me, I did manage to inhale one. Explosive coughing failed to dislodge the bugger, so I finally took a swig of Gatorade and washed it down. Electrolytes AND protein; just what I needed.

As we neared the summit, the climb became one of clambering up over boulders, using hand- and toe-holds. It was then that I remembered why sandals weren’t the footgear of choice for serious (and smart) hikers. Like bighorn sheep, Eli and Alex scrambled upwards quickly and without breaking a sweat. In fact, Alex still wore her jacket…while my baseball cap was soaked and my face was so hot that black flies sizzled when they landed on my cheeks. I was my very own “bug zapper.” Bzzztt!

Eventually, Steven and I ascended the face of the rocks and emerged on Borestone’s zenith. Steven practiced using some colorful language that he typically keeps stored for special occasions — which is how I knew just how special this occasion was! Although my husband and I don’t often pose for photos, I insisted that Eli snap one of his parents on the summit. I wanted proof that we’d made it to the top. We sat for the snapshot; my quivering leg muscles making the decision for me.

Steven declared, “Well, we proved something to ourselves.” I smiled, feeling somewhat proud…until he finished his statement. “We proved we’re too old for this $*&%!”

I disagree, however. We’re not too old — but we are out of shape. We should hike Borestone EVERY time we go to camp…but we should also make sure we mow the lawns and whack the weeds, first. Because, until we’re heartier — until we can climb that mountain without feeling like we’re going to stroke out — Steven and I sure as heck won’t be able to mow and weed-whack afterwards. Once we reached the base of the mountain, it was all I could do to climb back into the truck for the ½ mile ride back to camp.

All in all, though, it felt pretty darned good. My body had recovered by morning and I wasn’t sore. The views from the summit were impressive. And I have another “family memory” stored for future telling.

It will be interesting to hear how Eli recounts the tale of “The first time Mum and Papa climbed Borestone with me.” I hope our son skips the part where Steven said he wished he had a wheelchair for the trip back down the mountain — and makes it a zipline, instead.

Karen, whose column has garnered a number of awards, welcomes your comments and/or questions.

Email her at roomtomove@tds.net. Visit her blog, Grumbles and Grins, http://karenbesseypease.blogspot.com.

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