Dan and Hannah Celebrate Owen’s 10th Birthday with Ted and Carolyn on a Mountain in New Hampshire – 2022

Can you really take a hike named Ted’s Trail seriously?  That’s like saying I can’t wait to pedal on Dan’s Driveway or drive the speed limit on Hannah’s Highway.  Real trails have names like Mount Monadnock (NH) or Landscape Arch (UT) or Hot Springs (Santa Barbara, CA).  Ted’s Trail lacks drama, gravitas, or a sense of outdoor adventure is at hand.  Sadly, it smacks of small time, something easily forgettable.  And to stay gender neutral, we’ll be hiking back on Carolyn’s Trail.  I’m guessing Carolyn is a sweetheart with a mountain woman’s tradition, but what about the Mount Carolyn Trail!  My expectations are low for our hike this first Tuesday in August 2022.

At the trailhead

How wrong could I be?   Mea culpa, mea culpa.  Hikers the world over will love this six-mile loop woodland trail with views to, yes, the aforementioned Mount Monadnock.  Our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip used the All-Trails App to find Ted’s Trail near Greenfield in central New Hampshire.  Scouting it out two weeks ago, they chose it for the five of us to celebrate their son Owen’s 10th birthday hike with his grandparents.  You might know them.  One Dan and Hannah.

Proud grandparents and the awesome ten-year-old

You see, Hannah and I are creating a tradition of hiking into the mountains of New England with our grandsons and granddaughters.  Two years ago, we hiked Mount Major in central New Hampshire with Owen and just this past June we summitted Mount Monadnock near Jaffrey, New Hampshire with Owen and his brother Max (8).  Our son Will’s kids (Brooks [4} and identical twins, Charlotte and Reese [2]) are swinging some heavy lumber and ready on deck.

Up before dawn, Hannah and I drive 70 miles to the Union Street Grill in Milford, New Hampshire to carbo load for our hike up Ted’s Trail and down Carolyn’s Trail.   Muggy, mid-80s temps are in the offing so an early start makes all the sense in the world.   Just opened this year, the Union Street Grill in the center of town gives us window seating as the town of Milford wakes up at 7 AM.

The Monk, the daughter, the son, and the Omi

At the trailhead, we slip into two of the four spots for parking at the trailhead. Molly’s family slips on their Camelback backpacks of water as Hannah and I wrap our fanny packs around our waists. As veterans of this trail, Molly and Tip will guide us up Ted to the top of North Pack Monadnock.  My superficial, most likely flawed, search on the Internet has it that Ted and Carolyn developed these trails and donated the land to the state of New Hampshire for us all to enjoy. 

13 miles, 26 minutes

Taking to Ted at the outset (a bold line for Ted’s Trail and a dashed line for Carolyn’s Trail)
The first half of the trail has a gentle rise and easy on the feet

Owen, Molly, Hannah, and Tip
Much of our hike is in this Wildlife Refuge
The Monk joins the other hikers

The hike begins with Ted who either he or a surrogate has conveniently nailed yellow plastic blazes to trees to guide us to the mountaintop.  Ted’s trail is steep in places and follows a dried streambed.  Though there is no such liquid exuberance during this summer of drought in New England, I can only imagine the cascades of water in springtime.

Blueberries abound at eye level.  Molly picking them makes for an artsy picture.

Look carefully for all the blueberries

Ever creative, Owen makes a cheese stick blueberry “sandwich.”

With 1300’ of elevation gain to the top, we have a serious hike. Thank you, Teddy.

Hannah, Owen, Pops, and Molly at the mountaintop

After lunch at the summit we descend on the gentle Carolyn’s Trail.  Owen finds more blueberries.

The planks behind Owen would be needed during the rainy season

Ten year olds?  This one is a joy.  He is adventurous, creative, good company and during the six miles hike his energy never flags.  Up for anything and grateful indeed, he and I talk about his upcoming fourth grade year and his life as a soccer player.  The parenting he and his brother Max get is exceptional.

Check out our daughter Molly’s celebration of Owen’s life to date.

As the month of July comes to a close, we wanted to share a few highlights as Owen turned 10 last week on July 23! He is such an incredible kid who loves being active outside, playing with Max (the two of them have an incredible imagination and have such fun together), kayaking, reading and reading some more! Last year, he had a fabulous time in 3rd grade and is looking forward to being a fourth grader!

Here’s a short video montage of this amazing kid!

And in Owen’s words, here’s what’s on his mind and what he enjoys:

Looking forward being 10 because: being the oldest person at school 

Some strengths: kicking soccer balls, being friendly, making friends

Proud of: my super-duper awesome family & my awesomeness 

How I want to make the world a better place: spread knowledge of animal protection  

Favorite colors: green, teal, and blood red

Fav food: gyros   

Fav dessert: ice cream cake

Fav board games: Dragonwood, Stratego, Ticket to Ride, ShaThead

Fav sport: soccer

Fav books: Percy Jackson series, series about animals and/or mysteries    

Fav shows: nothing recently. I’ve been enjoying movies recently 

Fav movie: Penguins of Madagascar, Home Alone, Home Sweet Home Alone

Fav outside activities: soccer, biking, salamander-catching, camping   

Fav inside activities:  Legos, playing with Max “Legos or otherwise”, game time (playing Dig This or PBS online games)

Fav thing about school: hanging out with friends

Goals for the upcoming year: be a better goalie in soccer

Anything else to share? I really like soccer.

Just a little glimpse into our son, Owen! 

We hope you are doing well. We wish you a wonderful and enjoyable August! 

With love,

Molly & Tip 

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire with their Grandsons, Max and Owen

Typically I don’t sleep well the night before an early morning departure, be it to catch a flight or as Hannah and I will do this morning, meet for breakfast two hours away at 7 AM.  Waking repeatedly through the night, I am startled by the 4:30 AM alarm nonetheless.  Off just after 5 AM, I drive with Hannah nearly two hours to the Monadnock Country Café in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.

100 miles, one hour fifty-five minutes

There we meet our grandsons, Owen  and Max with their parents, our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip, for our pre-hike breakfast. You see, this morning we are all going to climb the granddaddy mountain of southwestern New Hampshire – Mount Monadnock.  Eggs over easy, pancakes, both blueberry (Owen) and chocolate chip (Max), home fries, and delectable biscuits with our coffee, tea, or milk set us up to take on the challenge of one tough hike.

Tip, Molly, Hannah, Owen, Dan, and Max

Driving five miles after breakfast, we know that Mount Monadnock is an outrageously busy state park on spring, summer, and fall weekends and holidays. Yet this last Tuesday of June we happily find that we have our choice of parking spots at 8:30 AM.   But do not be fooled, usually one needs an online reservation, which we have for both cars, to get into the park. 

The trailhead of our summit hike with 1800′ of elevation gain

Tip, Dan, Max, Hannah, Owen, and Molly at 8:30 AM

We choose the White Dot Trail which can take two hours to climb the two miles to the usually wind-blown bald (treeless mountain top).  Though comfortably warm at the trailhead, we bring extra layers for the expected chill of the mountaintop.  It’s a steady rock-filled climb on this the second most popular hiking trail in the world!  Mount Fuji in Japan is numero uno. 

At the outset the trail is wide and rocky amid the green of New Hampshire
Well-placed stones greet Molly and her mom
One of the many stone faces we have to climb. Clearly, this is your memo “Don’t mess with Hannah!”
Halfway up the mountain Hannah and I take a break with Owen

Generally I wouldn’t recommend an eight-year-old for this boulder-filled, hands-on-rocks climb.  But Max is no ordinary eight-year-old.  His parents have prepped him well for challenging hikes by making hiking a natural part of his young life.  Consider just this past April he climbed to the high plateau Cassidy Arch in Canyonlands National Park as well as a mile and a half down at 8000’ into the amphitheater that is Bryce Canyon National Park. 

Father and son. (Max and Tip)

Owen, Max’s nearly ten-year-old brother, scales rock faces and scoots ahead, both due to his joyful, energetic personality and his parents’ commitment to giving him many outdoor experiences.  Regularly he reaches back for my hand as I climb the stone faces.  Basically, I melt when he does that!

Owen moves and grooves on the mountain
More stone faces to climb

That said, Max is eight and is the first to need a break or have his mom carry his two quarts of water in his Camelback backpack.  While both parents are understanding of the challenge of this 1800’ climb in elevation for an eight-year old, they know what it takes to motivate Max to keep him hiking/climbing.  Tip has Max take slow or small steps but keep going.  Molly says she’ll carry his Camelback as long as he is ahead of her on the trail.

Hannah leads; we follow!

At the top we are surprised that the usual 30-40 mph winds are but pleasant zephyrs.  No need to bundle up today as we have done in past years. Nor is the mountain covered in the fog of the low hanging clouds.

Rocky Mountaintop
Glorious day with the Family Rawding at the Mountaintop

Descending, within four hundred yards of the top, we choose the slightly longer (by 0.2 of a mile) but less steep White Cross Trail though the summer forest of southern New Hampshire.

The White Cross Trail

The Indian trail tree grabs our attention on the way downThis is an example of the large trees that exhibit deformed growth and distinctive forms bent to a water source, campsite, or a safe river crossing. 

Hannah and I stay on terra firma

Four hours later we settle in for a picnic lunch of sandwiches, fruities, and veggies, washed down by sparkly water.  I am already thinking of Owen’s ten-year-old hike – Mount Chocorua in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock with Their Grandson Owen (9) Part 3 of 3 – The President

After summiting Mount Monadnock, Owen, Molly, Tip, Hannah, and I approach the trailhead after a four mile rock climb in three and a half hours; we notice swarms of young woman and men just beginning their climb to the top. 

They look like first year students on a bonding climb as they begin university life.  Think back to starting out in college, if you were so fortunate. It can be a lonely and challenging transition from the cocoon of one’s hometown to the trials of dorm living and making friends.  Universities are now welcoming students into the college family by outdoor team building experiences.  

Could I ever have used such an experience back in the fall of 1966 when I entered the College of Wooster in Ohio!  Though I had core group of childhood friends growing up, the problem was I didn’t really know how to make friends.  My friends from Fair Lawn were just always around.  

Muddling through, I eventually made it through thanks to three relationships: the guys on the tennis team, my roommate Jim Francis, and the girl of my dreams, Hannah Kraai (pronounced CRY).

Looking to confirm my suspicion, I speak up to a gaggle of passing students, What kind of group is this?  They are students from Franklin Pierce University, not fifteen minutes away in nearby Rindge.  Upbeat and high-spirited, wave after wave of groups of ten to twenty happy kids chatter by.

As we get to the trailhead itself, we pass by the university vans that brought the students to this popular state park.  I then notice plastic-wrapped packages of 24 water bottles near a covered open air structure with four or five adults.  Buoyant from our successful climb to the top of the mountain, I shout out, Are you from Franklin Pierce?

When they reply in their affirmative, I add, looking to Owen, We have a member of the Class of 2031 for you!

Immediately, a welcoming man approaches and engages us in conversation. Guessing the man is from the campus Alumni Relations or some PR arm of the university, I nod yes when he says, Would you like to meet the president of the university?

And just like that President Kim Mooney comes over and greets Owen, Hannah, and me.

President Mooney, Dan, Hannah behind Owen

Whoa!  La presidenta.  It turns out Kim is the first female president of FPU and the first alum named president.  They navigated the Covid year successfully on campus and are here as part of 50-year tradition of FPU students climbing Mount Monadnock to start the school year.  And then we learn that upbeat man is her husband, Greg Walsh.

As we wrap up our conversation, Greg hands Owen a coin of friendship.  Walking to our picnic table for our lunch touched by their kindness, Owen poses with his first silver dollar.

Though Owen and his brother Max seem like future Sun Devils from Arizona State University – the Harvard of the West and my alma mater, who knows, maybe Owen will be a Raven from Franklin Pierce University!

PS I sent the blog to Kim this morning. She responded almost immediately.

Dear Dan,
On a morning when Greg and I have already shed tears thinking about the perfect fall weather morning  on 9/11 twenty years ago, your email filled our hearts. 
Our encounter with you, Hannah and Owen has stayed with us too. Thank you for memorializing it so vividly in your blog below. You captured the spirit of Franklin Pierce students so we’ll! 
Our best to you, Kim and Greg

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock with Their Grandson Owen (9) Part 2 of 3 – The Bend

Descending the White Cross Trail

As we continue our descent down the White Cross Trail from the Mount Monadnock peak, Molly, Tip, Owen, Hannah, and I come upon this branch, bent at childbirth as a sapling.

Owen carrying on the Rawding Tradition of Bent Tree Climbing

A young woman on the trail mentions that this branch was purposefully bent by Native Americans.  Intrigued, I did a little research.   By that I mean, I googled “bent trees as trail guides.”  I learned the following.

It seems Native American bent trees in the direction of a frequently visited destination such as a water source, campsite, or a safe river crossing. These were called Marker Trees.

Hardwoods, oaks, maples and elms were their trees of choice.  With the sapling staked down, the undamaged tree would continue to grow and new branches, not near the ground, would shoot upwards.  

In front of Owen from left to right are Molly, Hannah, Dan, and Tip on the last Sunday in August 2021

They go by other names: Trail Trees, Crooked Trees, Prayer Trees, Thong Trees. 

To be a trail tree, first of all, it must be old enough to have been alive when Native American tribes still lived in the area. The bend is about four or five feet off the ground. The bend is a sharp right angle. The tree then runs parallel the earth for a measure, and turns sharply up again, towards the sky.

Owen and his Pop

After the picture taking, we head to the trailhead after four miles of hiking/climbing over the past three and a half hours.

I use the Strava app to record my hiking, biking, and walking

And then we see masses of young’uns, late teens/early twenties, pass us by in gaggles of fifteen or twenty.

Heading to the summit

Part 3 concludes the Mount Monadnock blog with what we learned about these young folks and the impression a prospective future member of the Class of 2031 made.

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock with Their Grandson Owen (9) Part 1 of 3 – The Climb

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.

Ready to dig in!

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.

The trail begins
A steady Freddy climb

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.

It seems like a clear morning, but…

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.

The White Dot Trail is to the right and the White Cross Trail to the left. I use the Strava app to document my hikes. (Thank you, Will Rothermel)

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Major with their Grandson, Max

Continuing a Rothermel Family Tradition of hiking Mount Major with our grandchildren when they turn seven, Hannah and I take Max with his nearly nine year old brother Owen and his parents, Molly and Tip, to the White Mountains of New Hampshire in mid-June 2021.  Click here for Owen’s hike at seven up Mount Major.

5A departure from home for Max and family

Meeting up with Molly’s family at the Liquor Store in Portsmouth, NH at 6A on Juneteenth 2021 of Father’s Day Weekend, we drive 35 minutes to the Farmer’s Kitchen in Farmington, NH on Route 11 for what can only be described as mouth-watering breakfast with huge portions and excellent service.

Arriving early at 640 AM
Huge portions and excellent service. Max orders the meat lovers omelet and Owen chocolate pancakes which he shares with me!

Fully fueled, we arrive at the trailhead by 8A for our roughly two plus mile climb to the top.  Taking the Blue Trail, we ascend on a rock-strewn path that soon turns into a Bill Bryson Walk in the Woods of level, tree-lined dirt.  Owen and Max come up with Hiking Game #1 where two people run ahead on the trail and hide behind trees and boulders.   We all take turns and make our hike kids-centered, when usually Hannah and I would just motor straight to the top.

Owen with his Omi hiking the Blue Trail
The rocks of the Blue

Within 0.7 of a mile, we turn left for the summit.  With protruding stones and rocks crossed by roots, the trail gives an opportunity for Max and Owen to come up with Hiking game #2.  Starting with the youngest, we each in turn name animals alphabetically.  Throughout the game, Owen lays back with me, and verbally checks in from time to time to see how I am doing.  If you know Owen, you are not surprised.

The rocky climb to the top

After an hour and a quarter we summit. 

Molly’s Family always up for a good time
Owen and his Omi hamming it up
High on Mountain Top in New Hampshire (sing to the tune of the Davy Crockett theme song)

After 30 minutes, we descend on the Orange Trail, lined with blueberry bushes with most every blueberry still quite green.  Still Max finds the occasional blue blueberry.  Saving two for his neighborhood friend Maelys, whose sixth birthday is today, he informs every, and I mean everyone we pass, that he found blueberries.  Not shy in the least, he surprises and pleases hikers who smile broadly as they pass by. 

Max with his Omi scouring for blue blueberries among the many green blueberries.

Molly comes up with Hiking Game #3 and that is to learn the NATO phonetic alphabet that begins with Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta… (see all 26 below).  Molly teaches us all one by one and within a thirty minute descent I learn all 26.  Test me the next time you see me!

Descending the steeper Orange Trail
Descending on the Orange Trail

After three hours, we arrive back at the trailhead having had a “peak” experience Saturday morning that Hannah and I plan to replicate in four years when our grandson Brooks (Will and Laurel’s oldest) turns seven and then two years later when his identical twin sisters, Reese and Charlotte, turn seven themselves. Traditions! Sing to the Fiddler on the Roof song of the same name.

Brooks freewheeling and hiking Mount Major in 2025!
Reese and Charlotte or Charlotte and Reese, ready to hike in 2027!

NATO phonetic alphabet by memory – Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliette, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee, Zulu.  This alphabet ensures that letters are clearly understood. 

Papa, Oscar, Papa, Papa, Alpha signing off. 

Bonus pictures from hiking Mount Major

With their usual positive energy, Molly and Tip begin hiking on the Blue Trail
They weren’t able to move the monstrous boulder…yet!
Molly and Tip atop Mount Major with Lake Winnipesaukee in the background
Atop Mount Major

Dan and Hannah Hike Locally at the Little Harbor Trail in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

A week ago in mid-April, Hannah and I biked to the main beach in Ogunquit in tee-shirts and shorts on a 70F day.  This morning we woke to this scene out our front door.

Let me say, you have got to be committed to hike in Maine in April.  You may think April is springtime and tulips in New England. Often not. As T. S. Eliot wrote in The Waste Land, April is the cruelest month. Amen to that!

With the temperature near freezing, we are not going to be imprisoned in our home.  (Whoa sparky, that seems like a little self-pitying, tad inflammatory verb!) Dressed in winter coats, winter gloves, and a winter ski cap with umbrellas at the ready, we drive ten miles from home to Portsmouth, NH.

Parking at the far end of the historical South Street cemetery with gravestones from the 18th and 19th centuries, we walk a paved road for a half of mile to the trailhead of the 1.5 mile Little Harbor Loop Trail.  The Creek Farm Reservation of coastal woodlands and freshwater wetlands of 35 acres welcomes us down a rain-soaked driveway to where the trail begins at Sagamore Creek.

Parking by the South Street Cemetery in Portsmouth, NH
The trail begins on a paved driveway towards the Sagamore Creek

Pools of rain on the trail do not deter us as we soon head out to the sand bar at low tide.  We see parents with preschoolers who are damned sure that they are not spending one more day inside, no matter the weather.

Barely 32 degree Fahrenheit

The historical Wentworth Mansion in the distance with people on the sand bar mid-distance

Extending our hike/walk down to the shoreline at the Wentworth House, we look out to the tidal Piscataqua River thankful we never bought a boat of any kind.  Neither of us is a sailor or a mariner of any sort.  In early 17th century, we would have been ones who stayed in England and wished the Puritans bon voyage.

The Wentworth House
That must have been a helluva ship that needed that anchor.

And don’t get me started on fishing?  I have never found the love of the sea that my dad had; he would cast in the surf at Montauk on Long Island for stripers and blues or sit in a boat forever at my brother Richard’s Arnold Lake hoping to hook some small mouth bass.  You see, I like catching fish, I just don’t like sitting in a boat holding a fishing pole for hours on end.

The trail from the Wentworth House back to the trailhead begins here.

The trail continues through the woods of pines and hardwood oaks.  The trail to the view turns out to be muddier than we wish to negotiate.  We make a 180 and turn back towards the trailhead.

It was as messy as it looks this April morning.

With side trail and sand bar distractions, our hike takes just over an hour.  After a long winter, April hikes are joys no matter the weather or the conditions.  And there are no mosquitos or ticks.  Win/win/win.

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Major (NH) with Nancy and Maryn

Hannah and I go way back with our dear friend Nancy Turley – it all began pre-Molly, Robyn, and Will in the 1970s while we planted, watered, and grew our marriage in Tempe, Arizona.  Being from the Northeast, Hannah and I had never met real-life Latter Day Saints; Nancy and her husband Wayne gave us safe passage into their hearts.  By the way, they taught us our family’s favorite card game, “Mormon Bridge” – a game we’ve spread from sea to shining sea.

During the summer of 1992 trip to the Rocky Mountain states, we five Rothermels towed our home-made trailer behind our four-cylinder Subaru Wagon.  Later we learned this pipsqueak Subaru was never meant to tow anything.  Time and again, we struggled up the northern Rockies at five miles per hour!  Once, we had to go north into Montana because we turned back since the Little Engine That Couldn’t was unable to climb to the 9000′ pass through the Bighorn Mountains coming out of Sheridan, Wyoming on our way to Yellowstone National Park.

Turley mesa to show low

While spending three days with our Turleys at their home in the Valley of the Sun, Wayne found a mechanic who fixed our radiator, which we learned was running at 25% capacity; hence the major reason why we couldn’t get up those towering mountains.  As we prepared to head for home in Maine, Wayne and Nancy offered to hitch our boxy 3’ x 4’ x 6’ trailer to their Chevy Suburban and haul it from their home in Mesa at 1100’ to Show Low at 8000’ as we followed behind.  Road weary, we thanked our lucky stars high above the Mogollon Rim that the Universe brought our families together.

Turley york to panguitch

We learned so much from their parenting – to value experiences over things, making family time a priority, and the importance of traveling to all parts of the USA to broaden our perspective and increase our gratitude and empathy.  Twice we drove from Maine and they from Arizona to pitch tents at the KOA (Kampground of America) in Panguitch, Utah to explore Bryce Canyon with their family of eight and ours of five.  By the way, despite the spelling, KOA has nothing to do with the Klan.

Turley 4 going up the mountain

Hannah, Maryn, Nancy, and dear ole Dan

And now 40 years later, we come together with Nancy and her equally delightful 24 year old daughter Maryn at our home on the coast of Maine.  Wayne died two years previous, which made our first time together a celebration of his influence on us all, our longtime friendships, and the time we did have with Wayne and Nancy.

Turley 3 start of trail

Nancy, Maryn, and Hannah Banana

Turley york to mt major

To continue our celebration with Nancy and Maryn, we drive 45 minutes into New Hampshire to breakfast out at the Farmer’s Kitchen in Farmington.  Fully fueled, twenty minutes later we pull into the trailhead of Mount Major along the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Turley 5B M and N atop

High on a mountain top in central New Hampshire

Pairing off in conversation up the rocky 1.5 mile  trail to the top  for the next hour, we four catch up on each other’s lives (Maryn’s upcoming choice of law schools, Nancy’s desire to go on a mission to New Zealand, Hannah’s welcoming her sister Leni to Maine, and my upcoming spring trip with Hannah to visit Nancy in Utah).

Turley 5A all of us atop

Atop Mount Major with Lake Winnipesaukee in the background

Once atop this 2800’ mountain of granite in New Hampshire, we had the opportunity to honor our forty year friendship with the Family Turley.

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Major with their Grandson Owen

MM Owen map

In less than an hour

In central New Hampshire, Mount Major is our go-to mountain for people who visit us from Away.  Why just last year my Arizona State buddies, Rich from Jersey and Gale, a Michigander, climbed this very mountain overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee to celebrate 49 years of friendship.

To celebrate Owen’s seventh birthday, Hannah and I with his parents, our daughter Molly and her husband Tip, will climb with Owen to the mountaintop.

MM Owen Rattlesnake

Tip, Molly, Owen, Max, and Hannah on the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail

Owen has a history of trail hiking.  Two and a half years ago (2017) when his Omi (Hannah) fell down the cliffside in San Ysidro Canyon in Montecito, California, it was he and his mom who hurriedly hiked back, ahead of a seriously injured Hannah, for one and a half miles to alert the paramedics and have the ambulance in the go position.  Just this past February (2019), Owen hiked for three plus hours with us, his brother Max and parents up and down Rattlesnake Canyon in Santa Barbara, California.

MM Owen 1A at breakfast

Early Saturday morning breakfast at the Farmer’s Kitchen

Whenever possible, all good Dan and Hannah hikes begin with breakfast out.  Today our diner of choice is the fabulous Farmer’s Kitchen in Farmington, NH.  With huge portions of eggs, home fries, toast, kielbasa, and pancakes, we are fully satisfied and ready to rock and roll.

Did I say we woke at 5A to leave York, Maine by 6A so we could breakfast at this popular cafe at 645A to beat the crowds?  I didn’t think so.  When we leave the Farmer’s Kitchen at 730A this early Saturday in August, there is already a line of people waiting for a table.

MM Owen 2AAA trailhead with sign

Tip, Molly, Owen, Hannah B, and the Ithaca Bomber

And speaking of crowds, Mount Major is monstrously popular such that when we finished the hike, the trailhead parking lot for 50 vehicles is full and cars line route 11 for a quarter of a mile in each direction.

MM Owen 2CC O and O on rock

Being early birds, we secure a primo parking spot at 815A and select the 1.5 mile blue blaze trail to the top.  Immediately we are greeted by a wide trail of rocks and more rocks that rises steadily to the summit.  Rocks and seven-year-olds are like spaghetti and meatballs.  While the four adults follow the trail, Owen scoots up and over any large boulder on or near the trail as if he’s been given a personal invitation by each one.

The blue blaze trail then levels off for a Bill Bryson-like walk in the woods before turning left for our assault of the mountaintop.  Full of spunk and joyfulness, Owen weaves in and out of the adults as he climbs up and over the stony trail as well as scampering up on all fours when the rock faces pose a challenge.

MM Owen 2AA trail map

We take the Main Trail to the top and return by way of the Boulder Loop Trail

MM Owen 2BB holding hands with Owen

MM Owen 2D Owen on rocky trail

MM Owen 3 rocky trail with exuberance

MM Owen 2C rocky trail

MM Owen 3 M, T, and Omi

Within an hour we have summited, looking out to Lake Winnipesaukee to our east.

MM Owen 4A all five at top

MM Owen 4 at the top

Choosing the orange blaze trail for our descent, we have 1.6 miles that seems less steep, though there are stony-sides that require careful stepping.

MM Owen 5A rocky trail down

MM Owen 5 O and O on orange blaze trail

Owen is a joy on the trail and in our lives with his positive exuberance.  Grandparents around the world know how fortunate Hannah and I are to have Owen (and his five-year-old brother Max) in our lives on a regular basis.

MM Owen O with H and M

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire


To celebrate this Father’s Day (2019), I ask our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip to hike up Mount Monadnock in southwest New Hampshire with Hannah and me.

MM diner pancakes D

Many a good Dan and Hannah hike begins with breakfast out for some carbo loading.  Fifteen minutes from the trailhead, our diner of choice is the top-rated Hometown Diner in Rindge, NH. Hankering for blueberry pancakes, I overstep by ordering three, when the waitress tells me, They’re big!  The plate-covering behemoths do satisfy my craving, allow me to share one with Molly and Tip, and send home one for our grandsons, Owen and Max.

MM 1 at white dot trail sign

Knowing that Monadnock’s the most hiked trail in the United States and #2 in the world (See below for number one.), we arrive by 830A to insure ourselves a parking spot as well as a cooler morning hike.

Though populaire, the trail is typical New England – a mountain of rocks.  The wide path up the White Dot Trail is stone after stone, one higher than the next.  If you are hoping for a walk in the woods, this is not the hike for you.

MM 1 trail begins with H M T

What looks like a walk in the woods soon turns into…

MM 1B stone steps with M and h

…stairways of stones…

MM 1C H on stone face

…then walls of stone.

Rather quickly, we are breathing heavily as Molly sets a pace that I love; she has a relentless commitment to the top, with nary a rose smelled.  We stretch our legs to step up the mountainside boulder trail.  Leaning into the mountain, balancing with our hands, we are greeted by stone slabs which require handholds to ascend.  Though it’s a tough hike, eight and ten-year-olds are on this trail, too.

MM 1D H on stony face

Hannah on all fours climbing to the top

MM 1E M H D on rocky assent

Dan, Hannah, and Molly making their way to the summit

And then we spot two women, one with terror on her face as she explains she can’t go up the stone face nor does she feel can she climb back down.  “Panic” is what she feels and articulates.

At this point, Tip jumps into action as he did two years ago when he escorted Hannah up a rock face ravine where she had fallen 25’ to a precarious perch off the  San Ysidro Trail in Montecito, California.  Today, Tip uses all his skill and confidence-producing words to support this athletic woman, who we learn is dealing with a recently separated shoulder.  While Molly and I lead, Hannah stays close to the hikers distracting them with encouragement and interest in their story.

MM 2 M with MM in distance

Molly ready to summit Mount Monadnock in the distance


MM 2A D with mountain in background

As I said, there are a few rocks.

All six of us make the summit and celebrate with pictures.

MM 4A we six on top

Dan, Tip, Molly, and Angie in the back.  Hannah and Amy upfront.

MM 3 D and M on top

It was indeed windy at the top.

MM 3A T and M on top

Tip and Molly atop Mount Monadnock two days before their eighth anniversary

MM 3B we four on top

As mountain hikers know, often the climb down is even more difficult.  Rising to the challenge, Tip in front and Hannah behind support Amy on the alternate White Cross Trail down the mountain.  The slower pace allows us all to bond as we learn about each other’s lives.

MM 5 descending

MM 5D rocky descent

MM 5E angie amy H descend

MM 5B tip on tree

Successfully, back at the trailhead we feel like old friends with Amy and Angie.  Our new hiking compadres are most appreciative that we altered our hike for them and to Tip for shepherding Amy all the way down.  Fact is, meeting these women made for a more memorable experience than we ever thought possible; and as Hannah reminds me We are not here to see through each other, but to see each other through.

MM 5F d and h in descent

Hikers from Maine in New Hampshire


Mt. Fujiyama in Japan is numero uno.