I is for Ice Glen…
Ice Glen is a local natural wonder – a wooded glen filled with ancient boulders set in a dark old-growth forest, and spotted even in summer with areas of ice that still haven’t melted. Walking up to one of the cave-like areas in the boulders gives one a whiff and a feel of very cold vapor trapped in the rocks.
I happen to have a penchant for this scent of refrigeration – odd, I know, but here’s how it happened:
When we first went to live with my grandmother in Schenectady, NY, my whole life had been spent traveling the US with my family in our “custom RV” which didn’t have electricity, and certainly didn’t have a refrigerator. One of the first and most important things I got very excited about at my grandmother’s was the refrigerator and freezer (hers was one of those avocado green babies!).
I still recall opening the freezer on the summer day we first arrived at her house…a gust of chilled white air rolled out into the sultry heat of her kitchen, which was decorated in varnished wood paneling, red dotted-swiss curtains and quilted calico appliance covers, and an avocado stove with turquoise pots and pans. I stuck my head inside the freezer to feel the coolness, and smelled my first scent of refrigeration. I've been hooked ever since. To this day, I will just walk up to the freezer, stick my head inside, and breathe in very deeply several times to get my “fix” of the scent of refrigeration.
That’s what Ice Glen smells like. I get to walk around in that scent.
Located in Stockbridge, MA, we traipsed through Ice Glen as kids when we “went back east” to visit relatives. And, we’ve taken our Fresh Air child there for the past two years. It makes for a short, relatively easy, and beautiful hiking experience (it's especially pleasant to bring a picnic to eat on one of the rocks). The boulders are fun to clamber over, though sometimes a bit slick with moss, the stone steps scattered throughout are enchanting, and the forest is truly dark and deep. We've always hiked in from the Ice Glen Road side, but we understand there's an entrance on the Park Street side, which we hope to try soon. (PS - be sure to wear bug repellent - you'll thank me for this tip!)
If one wants a strenuous and longer hike, they can head up to Lauras’s Tower, which is reached by a winding uphill climb through ferned and leafy woods. At the end of the trail is the tower, a lookout which is accessed by very steep steps and with a view that is far and wide. (I had vertigo when we were up there, and my knees wobbled climbing back down.)
A funny thing happened last year during our annual pilgrimage to the Glen. We met up with a tourist couple heading out as we were heading in. “Don’t bother going in,” the woman said to us. “It’s not worth it.” Little did she know that we dearly love this Berkshire treasure and find it well worth it!