When our grandson Owen was seven, he hiked Mount Major in central New Hampshire with us. (Click here for that blog. You’ll love the last two pictures of Owen.) Almost immediately thereafter, we made plans for us all to climb the monster, Mount Monadnock in southwestern New Hampshire near his ninth birthday. A steady two mile climb of rocks, Mount Monadnock at 3,165′ is nearly 1,000′ higher than any other peak within 30 miles.
Meeting Owen and his parents, our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip, at the Monadnock Country Café in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, we witness Owen chowing down with the meat eaters omelet and gigantic blueberry pancakes that he shares with his dad.
Suitably fueled, at 820A we pull into the gate at the Monadnock State Park to hear the attendant ask if we have a reservation. What! We have no idea we need a reservation. We hiked here two years ago and didn’t need a reservation; we just had to arrive early enough to get a parking spot. Driving two hours, then breakfasting for an hour to be turned away at the last minute would be heartbreaking, cruel beyond belief. Well, that might be a little hyperbole. We are told that so many people hike this mountain that hikers forge new paths into the woods to circumvent slower hikers. Fortunately, he said today there was room for hikers without reservations. Phew. Lesson learned! Check our hikes online first.
On an overcast morning at 60F at the trailhead, we opt for the steeper White Dot Trail to the summit and will return via the longer but less precipitous White Cross Trail. Immediately we are steadily climbing over the stone-filled trail with cross-wise logs and later granite blocks laid into the mountain-side that make for an easier assent.
Keeping up with the adults with his usual sunny disposition, Owen scampers over and around rocks; we all take the stone slopes switchback-style to take the steep out of our climb. Alternatingly, we take off our long sleeve shirts, then add them back on when the clouds come in and the temperature drops.
Within a 500 yards of the top, clouds envelop us such that we can’t see the peak. The trail of white dots clearly painted on the stones makes us confident we are on the way to the summit.
Once atop Mount Monadnock with limited visibility and stronger winds, we huddle behind a rock wall for granola bars, salted almonds, raisins, and water. Our time in the chilly, cloud-covered summit is short as Molly soon leads us down the less steep and more meandering White Cross Trail.
As we make our way to the trailhead, three college kids are passing us on their way to the summit. Hopefully reading their buoyant nature correctly, with a wide smile I say, “Well somebody slept in this morning,” as they see us with Owen. I ask you, what percentage of people would take my good-natured, light-hearted ribbing in the fun-loving spirit that it was intended and how many would react defensively and swat back with sarcasm, head-shaking or pissiness?
Well, not these three guys! They smiled and said you got us. Funny, some 45 minutes later the same three guys, absolutely cruising, pass us after being to the summit. Still smiling, they add to the positive vibe of the many other folks on the trail knowing how lucky we all are to be here today.
And then we see the bend in the trail. Part two describes this unusual bend.
For more information on the trails of Mount Monadnock State Park, see the map below.