Monday, December 13, 2010

Mt. Monadnock - December 11, 2010

Me at the Summit of Mt. Monadnock
What a beautiful day for a late fall/early winter day hike. Bill, looking for practice towards more strenuous hikes, suggested that we consider a hike about 5 miles with about 1500' in elevation gain. I said, "Well, how about Mt. Monadnock?" Sean, bills friend, was also available to come along. The trip takes about 4 total hours from the parking lot on route 124. There are many trails that summit the mountain, but we took the same trails that I used when I hiked in October. What a difference when you hike the mountain without hiking 20 miles before reaching the summit!

Looking up at Monadnock
We started up the Halfway House Trail around 12:30pm. We knew there was ice on the sides of the road, but I was pretty surprised to see so much snow and ice there was on the trail. Once past the site of the Old Halfway House, the trail begins to ascend steeply up a stair-like river bed. The entire trail from this point was icy and extremely slippery. Other hikers were using winter traction. That is the very next piece of gear on my list along with crampons and snowshoes. There were several locations where a short bushwhack up an incline on the side of the trail was necessary.

Icy trail
As we left the trees, we could now see the summit and the steep climb ahead to it. I personally feel that the top part of this climb is as challenging as some of the mountains in the whites, especially to those who may not hike/climb frequently. Parts of the white arrow trail going to summit require good holds on rocks and the ability to pull yourself up with a pack on. This is not as easy as it was in October with no ice. The rocks at the summit had a glaze of ice over them.

When we reached the summit, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was not very windy, but it was chilly at the top. A nice windblown glaze of ice covered all of the rock on the summit, causing each of us to walk cautiously as we explored the summit. This was the first summit of Monadnock for Bill and Sean, who enjoyed this hike tremendously. The views from the summit were very good considering the lack of light through the overcast sky. I turned to Bill and Sean and I pointed in the direction of where I hiked from in October (towards Royalston, MA). I said, "Hey, you see those mountains way over there? That's where I hiked from." We hung out at the summit for a little bit, had some stick of pepperoni, trail mix, and water. It was great being at the summit with the ice and no wind. I did not stay long last time, as time was closing in on me, so it was great to spend a few more minutes and take in the surroundings.
Bill, Sean, & Me on the icy summit

It had taken about 2 hours to summit, and about 2 hours down the trail. We realized we got down pretty quickly, but it still clocked in at 4 hours. This hike was great. There was a minimal crowd for Monadnock. After this hike, I really can't wait to get into some winter hiking with crampons and snowshoes.

Hike Stats
Trails: White Arrow Trail
Mileage: 4.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1800ft
Book Time: 4hrs

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