Nevertheless we localized the trailhead by 1220 hours and promptly engaged the enemy.
Within fifteen minutes of beginning our ascent, we began to hear ominous rumbling in the distance. We knew there was an airport nearby, but were fairly certain it did not serve large jets. As team leader, it was my responsibility to plan a retreat in case we encountered heavy artillery. I told the team to stay close together, to ease communication in case we needed to effect a sudden change of course.
Just as the trail began to level off, the nature of the rumbling became unmistakeable. Clouds swept over the shoulder of the mountain, blotting out the sun. Rain began to fall all around us. But we suffered no casualties, and pausing only to don protective clothing, we continued our assault.
We crested the first ridge and were rewarded with a view of onrushing mists and an increased rate of rainfall. Without time to think, we double-timed to the cover of some evergreens. There we took stock: the rainfall was as bad as we had seen it, but not doing any damage to our group. The lightning was not landing anywhere close. The trail was muddy, but not very slippery. We would go on!
We continued our march, reaching a series of objectives (Mt Williams, Mt Prospect) and shrugging off the mountain's already-weakening attempts to repel us. In our confidence we settled down to eat lunch on the summit of the newly-conquered Mt Prospect. When we finished, we were uncertain which trail to follow; both trails seemed to head in the same direction. We chose one, followed it for a while; realized we had taken the wrong path; and then corrected ourselves, retaking ground we had mistakenly abandoned.
The higher we went, the lighter the rain became, until we were ascending through mists and clouds, half-expecting to see mountain gorillas around the next bend.
At last, around 1330 hrs, we heard the unmistakeable sounds of automobiles. We had reached the summit! As is American custom, the summit was marked by the presence of a parking lot (so that the great outdoors will be visible from the interior of automobiles). Just above the lot, on the summit proper, stands a stone tower perhaps 100 feet high. Within the base of the tower is a war memorial; at the top is an observation room. Windows of the observation room bear plaques such as "the Adirondacks of New York", "the White Mountains of New Hampshire", and "the Berkshires of Massachusetts". I introduced myself to the room as one of "the Albecks of Poland." Then I contemplated the view, which readers may easily simulate if they possess a white vinyl windowshade.
Our mission accomplished, we began our withdrawal, just as the rain ceased. For the next few hours we peeled layers of clothing in anticipation of increasing dryness in the air. Our shoes were like portable swimming pools, our legs were caked with mud, and our underwear chafed, but the descent felt effortless as we enjoyed the vivid greens of the freshly-washed forest, the steam rising everywhere, and the birds coming to life on all sides.
Returning to Mt Prospect, we at last had an unobstructed view: a broad valley (without discernable river, so probably glacial) containing some farms - half the fields for dairy, half under cultivation- and at the northern end, the town of North Adams. For a few minutes we contemplated their pastoral existence. "I bet none of them has ever met a venture capitalist." "I bet half of them used to BE venture capitalists."