Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mt. Monadnock & Bald Rock - 6/9/12

I've spent the weekend pretty much taking it easy, did lots of laundry, making lists, inventory on my gear and personal belongings, and getting ready to leave for my trip on Wednesday. Its not easy, as I have to bring a full suitcase of clothes for few days in Vegas, and bring everything I need for that too. It was a beautiful weekend though, lots of good weather was had as I can see. After hanging around all morning and afternoon, doing things around the house, I decided, what the heck, lets go back to Monadnock, I'll do a sunset hike. It turned out to be a pretty good choice!

I started around 6:15pm from the parking lot off Route 124 in Jaffrey. This is where I've parked each time up Monadnock before. Since I was coming at night, I paid more closely to the signage at the lot. There was a notice about the self-pay service. There were envelopes and a pen. The charge was $5 for day use. I paid the fee, and put the  receipt on my windshield. On it, I wrote, "sunset hike 6-11pm" as an indicator to any official who might check the lot that I'm not overdue. There are multiple signs that say no parking after dark. I usually just park close to the exit, and not deep in the parking lot, day or night.
Old Halfway House Trailhead - Mt. Monadnock
I started up the same trail that I've taken every time, the Old Halfway House Trail. You can see it start just after the gate on the left, and it follows a stone wall until it jogs left and brings you away from the road. In the spring/summer months, this trail seems to provide a pleasant array of woodland scenery. It was much nicer than the other times I've started up this trail in the fall and winter months. As you move away from the road, one will look to the left or right to see dense patches of pretty ferns and open woodlands, just the spot to walk a little slower for the chance to see a deer or something...no such luck, but it was a pleasant start to the hike.
Old Halfway House Trail
Clearing at the site of the Old Halfway House
When I arrived here, I still had a decent amount of time before actual sunset at 8:25pm, so I opted to switch it up, and intercept Bald Rock on the way. There are two trails that leave on the right and gain elevation. One is towards the Thoreau Trail, and the other leads to the Sidefoot and Hedgehog Trails. I did read that the sign was missing, so when I saw it, I didn't panic. I proceeded this way, following the paper printed map.
Missing sign for Sidefoot and Hedgehog Trails
Sidefoot Trail and Noble Trail Junction - fairly well signed
Hedgehog Trail approaching Bald Rock
I was happy I chose this route. The terrain was pretty steep. Along the sidefoot, I saw many squirrels running around above me on the slope, and at one time I thought I saw a large rabbit, but wasn't sure. It sure looked bigger than a squirrel, and had bigger ears. Next, I was on the Hedgehog Trail dealing with some large boulders. I was pretty impressed. I was more impressed when I poked out from the trees onto the lookout at Bald Rock. Wow, I still had a decent distance to go, but this was a very cool spot. I took of my pack and walked all around the open area, exploring. I STILL had time...I hung around here for about 20 minutes, snapping photos and snacking before moving on.
Approaching the outlook at Bald Rock

From Bald Rock, I took the Sidefoot back over to the White Arrow to go to the summit, which is the same way I've done the past times. I love the scrambling the Monadnock offers, its always fun. (I'm shortening everything up here, because I'm running out of time...)

White Arrow Trail
Does this spot look familiar?

As I approached the summit and looked up, I thought I saw a mini Mt. Whitney, or maybe it just looked like the desktop background of Mt. Whitney at sunset I've been looking at the past few months.
White Arrow Trail approaching the summit of Monadnock
There only other people at the summit was a group of four. I was surprised. It was actually very nice just to kind of hang around and watch the sun and clouds. It was quiet, and the breeze was cool enough to eventually put on my fleece. It seemed a cloud bank had parked right over the western horizon or sometihng, but it was still really really nice. I thought about some of the exciting moments to come just days away.
My 4th summit of Monadnock
Mt. Monadnock summit marker
Sunset from Mt. Monadnock - June 9, 2012
Just a few minutes after 9pm, I headed down. It felt like a pretty long hike down. But everything went smoothly. I think I was back at my car around 10:30pm. I was pumped to have decided to take this hike. I got to explore a few new trails and Bald Rock on Mt. Monadnock. Now from sunset on the east to sunset on the West, here we come Mt. Whitney!


  1. Nice report - you got some great pics. Monadnock is a beaut, I climbed it on Good Friday via White Dot, descending via White Cross. Was a great day - 100 mile views.

    Hope you have a ball in California.

    -Arkie/Chris Stratton

    1. Thanks Arkie - The prominence and expanse of views from its summit are well worth repeated trips.