ADAMS -- Peter Femino's big Columbus Day weekend plan was a 300-mile bicycle ride across the state.
Femino, of Marlborough, would peddle from the commonwealth's lowest point -- Provincetown -- to its highest -- Mount Greylock -- fine-tuning his itinerary into a course for competitive cyclists. He hopes this will be the course of a future race to benefit Boston Children's Hospital, to be names the "Pain in the Mass Tour."
The wearied cyclist who hiked the mountain Monday didn't expect to find thousands of hikers, fellow cyclists and motorists there -- all participants in the 45th annual Mount Greylock Ramble -- enjoying a fair-weather afternoon atop the state's highest peak.
Femino, his wife, Laura, and children, P.J. and Taylor, were joined by an estimated 4,000 who turned out for the town's Columbus Day tradition. The crowd topped last year's, wowed organizers and kept staff and volunteers busy inside Mount Greylock's Bascom Lodge.
Familiars pinned the 45th Ramble a success early in the day, after 2,000 certificates of achievement -- given out annually to those who conquer the 3,491 foot peak -- disappeared to the crowd by 1:30 p.m.
"We never run out of certificates," said Haley Meczywor of the Event Committee, a Ramble organizer of several years. "It's been crazy and great."
Meczywor identified this year's distinguished hikers as Tom Hardy, 91, of Orange, who was once again the oldest to summit; Ade Rittig, Joshua King, of Virginia, and Tony Mejias, of Adams, all 3, tied for youngest; Stephen LaFogg, 56, of Cheshire, first to reach the top; and Todd McLaughlin, of Hawaii, as the person who had traveled farthest to make the climb.
"People were saying this is the highest number [of hikers] we've seen," Meczywor said. "I don't know what did it, but this is exceptional."
John Dudek, chef of the Bascom Lodge, agreed with Meczywor, especially considering that he'd been watching snow fly atop the peak late Sunday night.
"It was surprising seeing the snow," Dudek said. "Big flakes, but no accumulation, fortunately."
Dudek said more prevalent advertising and billboards this year were in part to thank for Monday's turnout.
"I think it really helped to ignite activity," he said.
The lodge has also recently hosted live music and cultural events, and featured a jazz trio Sunday night.
Hikers from the states of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Florida, Vermont, New York, Virginia, Hawaii, Washington and Kansas joined Monday's crowd.
Bill and Linda Thurston, of Kansas City, Mo., were among the imports.
"We always wanted to see the leaves in New England," Bill Thurston said. "We thought the highest place in Massachusetts would be a good spot for it."
To the summit, Mount Greylock stands tall at 3,491 feet.
Justin Wesolowski, 5, relished what was already his fifth trip to Bascom Lodge.
"It was fun; I'm used to it now," Wesolowski boasted. "I'm going to walk down to my [grandmother's house]."
Wesolowski's father, Thomas, said his older son, Alex, 16, had already been to the top earlier in the day, marking the journey as his 17th.
"He's too cool to do it with dad," Wesolowski joked, "but not too cool to do it."
See photos hikers posted on Twitter and Instagram on our Mount Greylock Ramble Pinterest Board