"The Grand Monadnock" (pictures)
Scott and I had been wanting to hike Monadnock for some time now. Particularly after hearing so much about it with our connection to the Forest Society and some of the trails land stewards. Our interest was further peaked when I came across a book in an antique/second hand store. It was titled "Annals of the Grand Monadnock" by Allen Chamberlain, published by the Forest Society and dated 1968. I love finding old hiking books and on sale for $7 bucks I had to buy it! The book talked about the mountain's history and some of it's trails and also included trail maps.
With the weather looking very nice for Sunday we felt it was time to make the 2 hour drive West instead of North. We arrived at the Monadnock State Park lot at 8:30. I was a little bummed to find out it was a $5 charge for parking, I tried for a Forest Society discount to no avail, LOL...nice try anyway, paid and parked. The lot was already beginning to fill in, there were about 10 vehicles in the lot and a couple headed in. We got our gear on and only needed our wind breakers as it was a mild 40 degrees and though windy, it wasn't too bad. Our bags strapped on which were full of winter gear just in case, we headed up the White Dot trail!
White Dot got it's name after the trail was completed in 1900 and the stones were marked with white spots. (Annuls of the Grand Monadnock Pg. 60) The name evolved to White Dot and is blazed as such, with white dots on the rocks. Trail conditions were good. Packed snow/loose granular with a little ice particularly on the ledgy sections.
Many other hikers were passing us now and then and we woundered what the rush was! Further more most of them had nothing more than a small hydration pack on and others with just a light jacket wrapped around their waste. It's amazing how so many still don't head the warnings of hiking without proper gear. Especially in the winter! Guess they figured if they got hurt it was a busy trail and they could get help. I don't know, just always aggravating how so many get hurt or lost on mountains (this one in particular), we see it in the news reports all the time and people still hike ill prepared.
After reaching the 1/2 way sign the trail began to climb more steeply over a ledge which offered the first uninhibited 180* view to the North, East and South and up to the craggy sub-peaks of the mountain. Don't be fooled by the "summit" you see ahead, the top is farm beyond what you see! The trail now climbs steep ledge and dips down into several gullies. At one spot Scott lost his footing on a small ledge and slid down into me. luckily I was able to brace myself and stop the two of us from toppling down over into the pine scrub. It was only a few feet of a drop but would have been unpleasant non-the-less. Unfortunately Scott hurt himself a little, but was able to continue the hike. As we came out to the South side of the mountain the wind hit! It was gusting a good 40-60mph, it was pretty intense!
As we made the final climb to the summit the wind was blowing at full force, even pinning me up against a rock at one point! We shared the summit with a handful of people, all of which were trying to either hunker down out of the wind or trying to stable oneself to take pictures and look around! The clouds had now built in and an ominous looking, dark gray snow cloud hung overhead! It was a short, cold summit visit! We pulled on our micro spikes as to not take any chances on slipping and headed back down. At the trail junction we took White Cross trail down. This trail bypasses some of the steepest ledges but don't be fooled. As the sign suggested it was pretty icy in spots and there were still some steep, ledgy areas.
Views from this side were more frequent as we made our way down. Along the horizon the sky glowed in orange as though the sun was setting. The sky above was dark and snow flakes began to fall. We reached the parking lot at 12:30pm. Seemed longer than four hours, especially with how dark it was! It was a great hike and a great day! The trails reminded me of Chocorua's Carter Ledge Trail, South Baldface Mt. and Middle Moats Red Ridge. Hope to return before the summer crowds to explore more of the trails :o)