When I look back at the hikes I have taken for this column, a good many have unfolded beneath sunny skies. Not all; there was the snowy ascent of Mount Everett, a drenching on the Ives Trail, and an ice-blasted visit to a New Hampshire summit. But does this prevalence of skies of blue make me a fair-weather hiker? Well, yes it does, to a degree. When most of your hiking is day-hiking, and you have flexibility about when to hit the trail, who but a fool wouldn’t pick the finest day in the forecast?
Late last month my flexibility was all dried up. It was hike on Sunday or don’t hike at all. Sunday was set to be overcast and showery. Now, some landscapes do overcast quite well, at least in certain seasons (try a green, summer glen in Scotland). But March around here needs the sun to bring out some cheer from its grays and browns. So, driving to the westernmost edge of Fahnestock State Park, windshield wipers busy, I looked forward to the satisfactions of hardship and a stark landscape, not the joys of brightly lit beauty.