Posts Tagged ‘nature’

This is the first time I’ve chosen to blog about one of the hikes that my wife and I have gone on but it seems appropriate, since I enjoy writing, that I should give my thoughts, etc… on the trails we hike. We have hiked Monadnock frequently this year but also have hiked Mt. Wachusette (easy hike) and Carter Dome (not so easy). I hadn’t hiked for probably 15 years before this year but my wife finally got into it and we started hitting the trails. I’ll try to give my trail reports based on how we felt the difficulty, etc… were. My wife was completely new to hiking this year and though I haven’t done it in many years, I am a long distance runner so getting back into it wasn’t too challenging. Anyway – onto this trail report….

At the trail head

The trail head has two possibilities when you arrive. You can simply walk up the Old Toll Rd which is graveled and flat and lasts for a mile, or you can follow the Old Halfway House Tr. which more or less mirrors the road but does meander into the woods a bit. We chose the latter, since there seemed to be a fair number of hikers on this particular day, despite the cold and windy conditions (30 degrees and windy at the base). The Old Halfway House trail was very easy and we could hear larger groups of people through most of this portion of the hike on the road which was never very far away. Once the trail passed the end of the Old Toll Rd, it intersects with the White Arrow Trail which was our ascent to the summit. Within a short walk (quarter mile tops) we arrived at the site of the Old Halfway House….

site of the Old Halfway House

This was an interesting area with some historical context and bits and pieces of the foundation that used to house the hotel that resided here in evidence. After snapping a couple more pictures we moved into the meat of the hike.

Like many of the hikes we go on, this one seems to follow what appears to be a steep riverbed that in wetter times of the year may be extremely difficult to navigate. Of course, the forest service is good at redirecting water coming of the mountain so I’m certain it is quite passable even then. The trail is very rocky and in sections, very steep…

On the White Arrow Trail

Along the way some of the rocks were carved into MANY years ago with dates going back more than 100 years. it is kind of cool to be following a trail that you know someone from over 100 years ago was on and took the time to let you know they were there.

Since Monadnock is a relatively small mountain (3165 feet), It wasn’t long before we were above treeline. I have to comment here that Monadnock, set off the way it is from the White Mountain range and towering over valleys in all directions, offers some tremendous views as you ascend it’s rocky face. It offers not only the granite that is the underpinnings of New England for you to admire, but also some Mica, and a fair amount of iron in the cracked remains of boulders that once tumbled down from further above. There are also large chunks of quartz on and off the trails as well as some large veins of quartz within the granite itself.

On this particular day, as we got above treeline, the wind was really whipping and at times sounded like waves crashing into shore as it hit the immovable face of the mountain. After getting some beautiful views in the forest below, we were faced with the virtually lifeless (though not completely so) granite underpinnings of this mountain. The wind was truly intense and we were bundled in layers and had to add one more as well as ski masks to keep from freezing (such is hiking a mountain in New England in late November). Even with my insulated Thinsulate gloves, I felt the cold coming through but it wasn’t unbearable. We pushed on….

As you can see above, in this picture, it gets quite steep here but there it is an easier climb than it appears and my wife, who read that this was a “difficult” hike, didn’t think (after the fact) that it really was THAT difficult. Not that I would recommend this hike for a first time jaunt but for someone with a few relatively tough hikes under their belt, this is a fabulous hike. The views are great. The scenery on the mountain is awesome and it offers enough difficulty to keep it interesting.

Once we reached the top, I began to take notice of some of the other carvings in the rocks, which go back more than 200 years. I couldn’t help but have that transcendental moment where (as I looked out over the vista)…

that I was seeing the world as those intrepid travelers of the past must have seen it more than 200 years ago and beyond. From this vantage point, the world seems almost unspoiled. The mechanisms of modernity fall away and become forgotten when you are looking out at the world from the top of a mountain and all you can see for miles and miles is the canopy of the forest. There is one or two caveats to that, of course. Mount Wachusett is not very far away and easily discernible to the southeast, as is the skyline of Boston on a clear day – which is VERY COOL. This was one of those days. Boston was beautiful in the distance, the towers of the Prudential and the Hancock standing out in stark relief to the rest of the landscape which is valley in all directions, surrounded by even more mountains.

A view from the summit of Monadnock

If you have never hiked this particular mountain, which is located in Jaffree, NH – I highly recommend it, no matter which trail(s) you choose to ascend by. My wife and I have been up (and down) the more heavily traveled as well as the less heavily traveled. They are all enjoyable but if you like a little more privacy in your hike steer clear of the White Dot or White Cross trails (especially in summer) as you will never have any time to yourself. The Cascade Link to Pumpelly or up the Spellman Trail (I’ll detail these at a later date) will offer you a more secluded hike but be prepared for alot of people at the summit (except on days where the wind chill is WELL below ZERO (as was the case today). We saw almost no one at the summit – probably because it was far too windy and cold to remain for long. Monadnock is the second most hiked mountain in the world (surpassed only by Mt. Fuji) and you are going to see many fellow travelers along the way

I highly recommend this hike. Enjoy!

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