Monadnock June 7, 2019

It’s always a bit sad to see everyone scatter. Many had to leave after breakfast to catch flights or start their long drives home. Only Sissy stayed for Ryan’s talk, though we’d asked him instead to meet us at Tippin’ Rock which turned out great. We did bump into Ruth and Steve, so they got to hear some of Ryan’s wisdom.

Thanks to the hikers, Tiffany and Arlene, and the wonderful Pilgrim Pines staff for making this a great week. I hope all had fun hiking and meeting new friends – I know I did. Happy trails!

I had arranged a ride back with Lisa, one of the artists from NYC. She had rented a car in Stamford. We dropped off the car there and took Metro North into the city. Got to Henry & Sarah’s in time for dinner. Early flight home tomorrow.  All good things come to an end.

Monadnock June 6, 2019

Today’s hike took us to Monte Rosa. Weather was warm and dry. It rained during the night relentlessly but stopped around 4:30am. The group went up the Halfway House Trail, stopping briefly to see the private home.  Shortly, we arrived at the Halfway House site, a former hotel that burned down in the 1950s.

From the Halfway House area, we joined the Monte Rosa Trail, which was a narrower trail through woods. It got rockier and a bit ledge-y as we climbed. Unfortunately, the weathervane was broken: the arrow was missing! Great views on top and we enjoyed lunch on the rocks, which thanks to the sun had dried after last night’s rain.  We took in the 360-degree views, including the summit.

Next: over to the Tooth and the Amphitheatre Trail and Black Precipice, two interesting features on the mountain. We crossed the White Arrow Trail and descended via the Side Foot Trail, a much nicer and prettier option. After a steepish section, the trail moderates and goes through lovely woods. Not too many rocks either. It crosses many of the side trails going up to Bald Rock from the hotel site, like the Noble Trail and Do Drop.

When we got down, we “convinced” Tiffany to go to Kimble’s – – the famous home-made ice cream place in Jaffrey. Portions are huge, so go down a size or two when ordering. I got a kiddie size of Mocha Almond Assault (I think that’s the name). It was delicious.

After another fabulous dinner at Pilgrim Pines followed by the artist’s show. I quickly put my photos on a USB stick and was able to project them onto the screen in the Meeting House, as the art group had expressed a desire to see where we’d hiked. It worked out okay, even though I didn’t organize them or delete bad photos!

Monadnock June 5, 2019

The day began again with Tai Chi held in the beautiful chapel nestled in the trees. Breakfast followed at 8am. The plan for today was to pack up our lunches and go over to the Park Headquarters where we’d pick up the Parker Trail that leads to the Cliff Walk.

Al Stoops was our co-leader. He’s a great hiker and fabulous naturalist and outdoor educator. It’s always a joy having him along.  After an easy hike on the Parker Trail, we branched off onto the Cliff Walk which would lead out to Bald Rock.

Soon, we encountered the infamous ladder which everyone negotiated successfully. I took a lot of video here.  Amazingly, after a terrible report on the weather, it completely turned around. It was a bit warm, but no rain at all, mostly clear skies. We stopped along the way to enjoy the many features of the hike, including Hello Rock and several overlooks. We clambered over Thoreau’s Seat and Emerson’s Seat, features named for these famed Transcendentalists, though it is unclear if they actually perched on these rocks! Success – we all made it too Bald Rock and what great views! The summit looked great. We had lunch at Bald Rock before starting down the mountain.

Al took a group ahead and stopped by Wolf’s Den and the Mine. When we got to the near junction, we switched to the Lost Farm Trail to get back to the parking lot, where the vans met us.

Once again, a fabulous meal followed by entertainment. Classical guitarist, David Ross, performed a wonderful concert of Spanish classical pieces. He was amazing and personable; we all enjoyed his playing immensely. What a way to end a challenging day.

Monadnock June 4, 2019

Weather looked good this morning: clearer and cool – never got beyond the 60s. Al Stoops joined us for Summit day.  The route would be via the Dublin Trail. The Dublin Trail goes from the north side of the mountain and is about 2.4 miles long one way; so, 4.8 approximately round trip

The Dublin Trail starts out moderately climbing through forest. We stopped frequently to check out the mosses, plants and trees that Al was pointing out. Some new ones that I learned: princess moss and wild cucumber. Familiar plants included: bunch berry, choke berry shrub, star flower, Canada Mayflower, and violets, white and blue, as well as club moss.  Significant trees in northeast forest include Striped Maple, Sugar Maple, Paper Birch, Yellow Birch and White Pine.

We took a snack break part way up the mountain to give us energy for the climb. The trail begins to steepen, and rock scrambles start. The group continued up, up until we started to get into the shorter, scrubbier trees. Al found a vernal pool with salamander eggs – oh my, they were gooey looking like a pile of jello! Soon, we made Jim’s junction where the Marlboro Trail joins ours and from here, we were on open granite, climbing all the way to the summit.

The group made it in three hours. It was a wonderful day up top: sunny, not too windy, and with pretty good visibility. The views were quite good and unbelievably we could see the Boston sky-line.  Al helped point out some near-by and distant mountains including Gap Mt. and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the west. We had lunch on the summit, took a group shot, and then headed down.

We proceeded down Monadnock, feeling great that we’d all made it up and down. Great hiking, great group, kudos to all!

Monadnock June 3, 2019

Weather looked great: it was a sunny day, though quite cool. The day began with a 30-minute tai-chi session followed by a hearty breakfast in the Mayflower Lodge. The weather report was a bit dicey for Wednesday and Thursday and I had to decide whether to move the summit hike to Tuesday. In the end, I did move it just in case.

Our first event on Monday was a local walk up to Sky Top, passing the local beaver pond. It’s a pleasant walk up Christian Hill Road to an overlook on private land. For the first time, it appeared there were people in residence. We checked out the view, took photos, and went back down. Dotty had offered to let us go see the view from her floating dock, so we did.

She was there and she gave us a tour of her cute 1920s cottage. Dotty is apparently quite the artist: she showed us some amazing rugs she made! Her family also has a small Sears catalog “house” on the property.

Lunch was in the dining room and after lunch, we headed over to Gap Mountain. Gap Mountain is a lovely, moderate woodsy walk with about 700-800 feet of elevation gain. It’s part of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, a 160-mile trail beginning in Connecticut and ending on Mt. Monadnock. The group did well, and we got to the open North Summit with sunny skies and a view of Monadnock.

Another great dinner and a presentation about local and mountain history by historian Allan Rumrill. There are so many legends and interesting facts about Monadnock.

Monadnock June 2, 2019

I got up at 4am so that I could get to the Port Authority in New York City for my 5:15am bus to Keene. All went well: grabbed a cab and got there with more than enough time to spare. Managed to have my own seat and snooze a bit. It stopped a lot and had a 50-minute layover in Springfield, MA. Bootless was there at the bus station in Keene to meet me.

We went to a nice brunch place in Keene and caught up on all the news. She then took me to Pilgrim Pines, where I waited for check-in.

Arlene was our volunteer host for the week and the watercolor group was also at PP at the same time. A good combination of disciplines and a nice group of new friends. Pilgrim Pines put on its traditional Turkey dinner – the beginning of a week of great food!

Following dinner, both groups convened in the Meeting House for a general orientation. Tiffany Mannion, the Road Scholar Coordinator, gave a thorough introduction to Pilgrim Pines and the Monadnock area, and I gave a short presentation reviewing the hike schedule, hiker safety tips, and info about hiking with a group.