Gap Mountain and Jaffrey

The day began with Awakening Yoga at 7:15 which I held in the beautiful chapel nestled in the trees. Breakfast followed at 8am. The plan for today was to pack up our lunches, go over to Gap Mountain and then drive into Jaffrey to visit the grave sites of author Willa Cather and Amos Fortune, a former slave who purchased his freedom and became a noted Jaffrey citizen.

A few Road Scholars stayed behind (Win and Ann went into Keene for lunch and Lauren did walks by camp) and the rest of the group valiantly headed off in light rain to the trail head. Michael Chelstowski accompanied us as sweep along with two Pilgrim Pines staff. Kitchen staff thoughtfully packed two thermoses of coffee and muffins in the vans for us to enjoy after our wet hike.

The Gap Mountain Trail climbs about 700 feet to an open “summit” that – when clear – has a great view of Monadnock. Today, we hiked up in the trees with rain dripping, sometimes coming down lightly and sometimes coming down more steadily. The group remarkably kept up their spirits. Obviously, when we got to the top – surprise, no view. We didn’t stay long up there and the coffee and muffins were certainly welcome to the scraggly and wet hikers!

Some of us opted to continue to Jaffrey while the others drove back to camp in one van captained by our Pilgrim Pines helper, Joe, where they could enjoy hot showers and respite. The Meetinghouse in Jaffrey is a typical New England style white church building with a tall steeple, once used both for worship and for town meetings. The historic grave yard sits just next to the Meetinghouse and has scores of old gravestones. We easily found Willa Cather’s grave and had to search a bit to locate Amos Fortune’s site, which had clearly had new and elaborate grave stones added more recently. Amos Fortune was a former slave who had purchased his freedom and went on to have a successful leather tanning business in Jaffrey. He died in 1801.

On the way back to Pilgrim Pines, Kelsey, our valiant driver, turned the heat up high to dry us out and get us warm. The group was glad to get back for showers and a rest before dinner.

Once again, a fabulous meal followed by entertainment. John Cucchi and Andy Larson, a folk/blues/jazz duo on guitar and fiddle, serenaded us with familiar and original tunes. What a way to end a wet but satisfying day.  Luscious homemade cookies were provided by the kitchen to sweeten our mood.

I was so glad the hikers rose to the occasion and went out to hike in the rain…onward! They are an impressive group.