Setting the Scene for the Climax of Abbott and Lowell Book Five

I’m back from vacation, and we’re back from a blogging hiatus and some time away to write, plan, and figure out some potential future projects (more on that when there is more to tell…).

My daughters and I travelled to Massachusetts at the end of June with two specific book-related research projects in mind—taking a tour of one of the Massachusetts State Police crime labs, and climbing the mountain that will be featured in the climax of our work-in-progress, Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries, Book 5. While the end scene will take place in December—in the middle of a blizzard—I wanted to get the experience of the actual location, even if we were out of season.

Holyoke Range State Park was our destination, just outside of Amherst, Massachusetts. But what we were specifically heading for was Mount Norwottuck, and its 1100 foot peak.

At the lower levels, the terrain mostly looks like every Ontario forest I’ve ever hiked through. I bet this area would be stunning in autumn.

But it fairly quickly got rocky and the incline started.

This picture was taken from about 300 feet up, looking northeast towards Amherst, Massachusetts. The buildings on the left are part of University of Massachusetts Amherst, better known to the locals as UMass. Mt. Orient can be seen in the distance.

This is the kind of terrain we were managing for a lot of the climb—well established hiking trails, but quite rocky and often very steep.

These are the Horse Caves, a geological formation of ledges below the peak of Mount Norwottuck. Local lore tells the story of American soldiers from Shay's Rebellion in 1786 hiding out at this spot from the Massachusetts militia.

My eldest, currently midway through her Bachelor of Arts in Photography, taking advantage of the outing for some great shots of the ledges at the Horse Caves.

Getting close to the top, the tree line suddenly changed to almost all pine trees and the footing looked like this:

Near the peak, a Golden Eagle soared overhead.

The prize at the top of the climb. This is my youngest, standing 1100 feet up, taking in the view. It was pretty incredible, even if it was a lot of work to get there!

Thanks to both of my girls for another great trip to Massachusetts. So far I’ve dragged them through a salt marsh (the body dump site for DEAD, WITHOUT A STONE TO TELL IT), through Witches’ shops and a tour of the Salem Fire Department (both for A FLAME IN THE WIND OF DEATH), and now up a mountain and through a real life crime lab for the as-yet-unnamed Book #5.

Coming up in one of our next blog posts, I’m going to talk about my trip to one of the Massachusetts State Police crime labs. I wasn’t allowed to take many pictures (totally understandable when real cases with real evidence are involved) but I did get a few photos and a ton of really great info. So I’ll be back soon with that fascinating information.