Monday, May 19, 2014

Mt Monadnock - Not Monad-a-nock

I admit that I cannot say the name of this mountain without adding an extra letter a.  It is actually Monadnock as opposed to Monadanock, which is the way most people say it, myself included.

Mount Monadnock is in a NH State Park so there is a $5/person fee to access the main parking area where there is a small store, campsites and actual bathrooms.  Ah, real porcelain bathroom fixtures, a luxury that does not exist at most trail heads.  You should also know that dogs are not allowed on the trail system in this State Park.  Too bad really as many dogs love to hike. 

When we left our home in Dover, NH it felt really odd to be traveling West and slightly South to go hiking.  We always go North to the White Mountains.  I guess my expectations were for an easy hike but I will say that this hike has challenges that are as substantive as many hikes in the Whites.

According to Wikipedia, this is one of the most often hiked mountains in the world.  Certainly interesting if true.  We hiked this mountain on a cold, early spring day and still ran into at least 75 people, in particular as we neared the summit and on our descent.  We took an obscure and longer route up so we did not see a sole for the first couple of hours.  That changed fast as we neared the top and thereafter.  I would also say that many of those hiking today were ill prepared for the cold weather they would experience at the summit.

The weather today was interesting and varied.  We saw sunshine, overcast skies, hail (twice), light rain and cold winds.  This summit is the highest point by 1,000 feet for more than 30 miles around.  There was reasonably heavy rain surrounding us in all directions that could clearly be seen from the summit.  All of that may be why the winds at the summit were so strong.  I'm guessing it was blowing 40 mph with 50 mph gusts.

Our route of nearly 6 miles used the Parker Trail, Cliff Walk (highly recommended to my thinking), Amphitheater Trail and the Smith Summit Trail to reach the summit.  On the descent we simply came straight down the White Dot Trail all the way.  We actually had a different and longer plan for the descent but the threatening weather all around us made us bail and opt for the shorter route.

Standing at the dam holding back the Poole Reservoir.

The Parker Trail is mostly an easy walk but when you reach the Cliff Walk Trail it becomes far more challenging.  Fun though!

The first of several outlooks as you continue on the Cliff Walk Trail.

This area is also known as Bald Rock.

This is what we have left to climb from Bald Rock to the summit.  We'll first need to descend a little to reach the col between Bald Peak and the summit of Monadnock.

The last .5 mile  up to the summit is certainly challenging for us old folk.  The young'ns were passing us like we were standing still.  Also note that Sue at this point was already wearing three upper body layers, a wool hat and gloves.  It was cold in the winds.

We've reached the summit!

A person could camp out inside the hollow of this tree!!

Okay, this is a first for me.  That black blur in the center of this photo is a black squirrel (sorry for the poor photo).  In all the time I've spent in the woods of NH I have never seen one.  Frankly I did not even know they existed until I came home and did some research.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mount Cube - No Thru-Hikers On The AT Today

Though it was mid-week, I think the Mount Cube Trail up to the summit is generally a very quiet trail.  On this trip we did not see another human being until 10 minutes before we finished this 6-hour trek.  Short of that it was just Sue and me the entire time.

My GPS had the distance traveled at 7.9 miles which is about .5 miles longer than what we found when researching this hike.  I am not certain which is correct.  The elevation change recorded by my GPS was 2,300' (our research found sites listing it as 2,000, 2,100 & 2,300).  The trail head leaves from NH 25A about 4.6 miles from the junction of NH 25.  There is limited roadside parking (eight cars maybe).

The Mount Cube trail makes up a portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT).  Mount Cube actually has two distinct peaks and the AT crosses South Peak.  On South Peak there are 180 degree views that are generally looking South-Southwest.  A short .4 of a mile hike will bring you to the North Peak.  Once again there are 180 degree views but this time you are looking North-Northeast.  Both outlooks are distinct and beautiful so be certain to reach them both.

 If I am not mistaken, the 3.4 miles shown on this sign only covers the distance to the point where you can turn left to reach the South Peak (~.2 RT).  Take a right at that junction instead and you are taken to the North Peak (~.6 RT).  As I noted earlier, this differs from the total distance of 7.9 miles recorded by my GPS.

Reasonably early on we reached this old and overgrown foundation.

It appears these may have been the steps into the 'basement.'

Pretty color and detail on this flower!

A water crossing and the trail heading off on the other side framed by two trees.

Look closely at the root system of this tree.  There is a rock under it which is why it grew as it did but I was still amazed at the size of the root section Sue is leaning against.

This photo and the next two are from the South Peak of Mount Cube.


This photo and the next two are from the North Peak of Mount Cube.

I believe that is Mt Moosilauke off in the distance directly behind the pond.

One last photo of flowers before we finish.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Welch-Dickey Loop - Tougher Than You Might Think

We last did this hike in August of 2010.  That was only a month or two after I first started hiking.  I wondered if my recollection of this being a tough hike were only because I was new to hiking.  Or, maybe I found it tough because 11-weeks earlier I had rotator cuff surgery and therefore I only had full use of one arm during that hike.

Nope, this is a tough hike no matter how long you've been hiking.  I'm not saying that it comes anywhere close to a Mt Washington or the other Presidential summits but nonetheless, the endless ledge scrambles on Welch-Dickey are tough on the body.  Your quads, shins and ankles will be talking to you the next day.  All of that said, this is a very worthwhile hike with many excellent views along the way.  Do it!

The entire loop is only 4.4 miles with about 1,680' of elevation gain.  I will also say that the drop when you leave Welch and proceed to Dickey is, well, steep.  It does not go on very long but it does drop rapidly.  This is a very popular hike and you will not be alone (particularly on weekends).  The large and paved parking area can probably accommodate 50 cars easily (75 with a little juggling).  There are also bathrooms at the parking area; a tidbit that is always important to know.   

This and the next shot are the first views you reach below the summit of Welch.

We have a snack at the first outlook.

There are what seems like endless ledge scrambles like this one.  You just need to lean into the mountain and go.  Probably not a great choice for a winter hike!

We are on the summit of Welch and looking towards Dickey in the distance.

On our descent from Dickey we will walk along these ledges.

Along with the ledge scrambles there is a significant amount of this sort of trail.

This shot is while standing on Dickey looking back at Welch.

The big, snow covered mama in the distance is Mt. Washington

This is the end section of the long ledge we needed to walk along during the descent from Dickey.  There is plenty of flat so it is not bothersome at all to be on this shear ledge.