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.


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