Monadnock - Friday, October 26, 2018

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. A small group of the hikers accompanied me on a walk on the grounds to Sky Top, which is a nice view point above Pilgrim Pines. You pass by a beaver pond on the way.

Shortly after we got back, many of the group headed off home. I stayed with several others including Karen and Ileana for lunch. After lunch Yeti and I drove back to Boston dropping off the rental car in town before going to our airport hotel.  All good things come to an end.

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!

 

Monadnock - Thursday, October 25, 2018

After yoga, we all went to breakfast.  Al Stoops would be joining us again for Summit day.  The route would be via the Dublin Trail and I’d have to see what conditions were like up on top to see if it was okay to proceed. 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. Our GPS came out shorter, but frequently mileages are not the same depending on the source!

Some of the group opted out of the summit hike and I organized with Tiffany a morning tour of the covered bridges: they are interesting cultural icons of New England.

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. Even though fall is well advanced, the forests are alive with activity.  We saw interesting varieties of fungi growing on standing and downed trees.

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.  Part way further up, Tami opted to not go to the summit. She’d wait for us there. The group continued up, up until we started to get into the shorter, scrubbier trees. A winter-wonderland awaited us. The rain and misty air had coated the trees and portions of the rock with hoar frost – it was amazing. We picked our way carefully through the rocks, avoiding ice patches. Soon, we made the junction with the Marlboro Trail and from here we were on open granite, climbing all the way to the summit.

The group made it in three hours. It was cold and windy at the top.  Yeti was almost being blown over as he took a video on the uppermost summit rock.  Despite the weather, the views were quite good and unbelievably we could see the Boston sky-line. This is a first for me; it’s always been obscured by haze even on sunny “clear” days.  Al helped point out some near-by and distant mountains including Gap Mt. and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the west. Everyone took pictures and then we made our way down. Lunch would be when we met back up with Tami; she was in a sheltered area out of the wind!

After lunch, we proceeded down Monadnock, feeling great that we’d made it up and down in wintry conditions. Great hiking, great group, kudos to all!

We certainly earned our dinner. It was nice to have Maryanne join us all; she’d rested up and was feeling better.  Afterwards, we convened in the Fireside Room for our “Homespun” event. I’d quickly put together some of the photos and videos from the trip and we all enjoyed a review of our adventures together.  Yeti and I answered lots of questions about our thru-hiking treks and we all had a great time. What a terrific group. No matter the skill level, everyone tried their best and challenged themselves up to and beyond their comfort levels. And, everyone performed beautifully as a group, each encouraging the other just when needed.  Thanks to all for your camaraderie.

 

Monadnock - Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The day began again with Awakening Yoga at 7:00am which I 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. We had discussed focusing on autumn foliage and trees, as well as any other critters we could find along the way!  We did stop by Hunters Rock and he gave us an introduction to the north-eastern forest we’d be hiking through. 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. Weather was deteriorating and by the time we started up the rock scrambles to the “flatter” part of the trail, it began to precipitate: icy rain/snow! Wind got stronger, too. We soldiered on. We had limited views from the many viewpoints along the way. We stopped by Hello Rock in the trees for a brief snack break.  Then on to Thoreau’s Seat and Emerson’s Seat, features named for these famed Transcendentalists, though it is unclear if they actually perched on these rocks! Al filled us in with information about Wolf’s Den and the Graphite Mine as we got further along the cliff.  When we were close to the final push and challenging scramble, we stopped under the trees. Some opted to go out to Bald Rock and some stayed in the trees, a wise choice. There were no views from the Rock and howling winds – probably not worth the scramble! We had a quick lunch under the trees before heading back down.

It was a tricky down as all downs are with the added challenge of the wet rock and cool temperatures. Part way down, Maryanne had a slip and did a face plant. It was clear her left shoulder area was injured: whether it was dislocated or a break I could not know, but I knew that it had to be immobilized. Yeti, Allen and I had bandanas and we fashioned a sling. I then used a woolen scarf that one of the other hikers gave me to tie her arm more closely to her body to prevent too much movement. With Yeti holding Maryanne’s waist belt, Maryanne bravely walked out all the way! We used the Lost Farm Trail, a bit easier with no rock scrambles, but steepish sections. Maryanne was in great spirits considering her discomfort. Thanks to Yeti and Allan, who also assisted with her and other hikers, we got out safely. I’d called ahead, and the vans were there as well as a car to take Maryanne directly to the emergency room in Keene.

Thanks to the group for keeping their cool and walking safely down the mountain under difficult conditions.

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.

I checked with Tiffany on Maryanne’s status. She had a clean break in the upper humerus, and would be coming back to Pilgrim Pines shortly. Thanks to Kayla for getting her to and from the Keene hospital.

 

Monadnock - Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Today’s hike took us to Monte Rosa. Weather was cool and overcast, but dry. Most of us went up the Halfway House Trail and a few others took the old Toll Road; the group met where the trail comes out on the road by a private house. Soon we were at the Half Way House site, a former hotel that burned down in the 1950s.

From the Half Way 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. The weather cooperated and stayed dry and we were able to have views up by Monte Rosa’s signature weather vane! The group had lunch on top as we took in the 360-degree views, including the summit.

I then took seven hikers over to the Tooth and the Amphitheatre Trail and Black Precipice, two interesting features on the mountain. We met the White Arrow Trail which took us down to the Toll Road. The others went down via Fairy Springs Trail, White Arrow and back to the Toll Road.

After another fabulous dinner at Pilgrim Pines, the hikers’ group enjoyed a wonderful presentation by Steve Hooper of a film trailer about Mt. Monadnock. What a story he told about how the creators of the film worked to raised funds and produce this interesting documentary. I hope that Public Television broadcasts it. The film is nearing completion – an almost ten-year quest. A great end to a successful day.

Weather looking a bit iffy for tomorrow – fingers crossed.

 

Monadnock - Monday, October 22, 2018

Weather looked great: it was a sunny day, though quite cool mostly in the 40s. The day began with a 30-minute yoga session followed by a hearty breakfast in the Mayflower Lodge.

Ryan Owen, Executive Director of the Monadnock Conservancy, could not lead the Tippin’ Rock walk, but Tiffany did a great job informing us of the history and the flora of the conservation land. Tippin’ Rock is a short hike very near Pilgrim Pines in lovely woods on private land that had a conservation easement. It wended through mixed north-eastern forest where we observed many varieties of pines and spruces, birch and beech trees, as well as other local flora, including an example of a wolf tree – a white pine that had grown multiple new trunks – a defensive response to invading organisms. The Rock at Tippin’ Rock sits on a “fulcrum” and rocks when you push it with a bit of heft!

We headed over to Gap Mountain with a brief stop to view another amazing specimen of wolf tree. 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.  Lunch was at the top! Hikers were cautious on the way down, as autumn leaves were carpeting the foot path making for slippery conditions.

Another great dinner and my presentation about Monadnock, mountain, culture, and general history rounded out the evening.

 

Monadnock - Sunday, October 21, 2018

Yeti and I got up early to drive from New York City to Pilgrim Pines.  We did not encounter any traffic problems and arrived before noon in Swanzey. We stopped at a market to buy seltzer and had lunch at a coffee shop right next to the market. Then, on to Pilgrim Pines. We had to wait until 3pm to check-in so we chatted with folks who’d also arrived early.  I was thrilled to find out we’d be in the condos – so now I’ll have experienced all the types of accommodation that PP offers.  We had 19 Road Scholars from a wide geographic area including California, New Mexico, Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Arlene was our volunteer host for the week and a yoga 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 – they feed us well, here!

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. The hikers stayed for my orientation afterwards.  I reviewed the hike schedule and discussed various safety and hiking guidelines for hiking with a group.

 

Gallatin Crest Trail 2018
Destination:
New World Gulch Trail Head
Todays Miles:
11.6
Started At:
Hyalite at junction of Hood Creek Trail & Upper Wildhorse Trail

Monday, Sep 3

11.7 miles to Bear Canyon via New World Gulch Trail

Got an early start again and strode off confidently up hill on the Wildhorse Trail. We got a bit confused looking for our turn-off for Mystic Lake, both map and GPS were confusing or downright wrong!  Luckily, a man and his son came along on ATV and motorbike. He knew the area and told us that we should have turned on the S. Fork trail – which on the map looked as if it just stopped and went now where. He told us there was a woods road at the bottom which we follow left heading to the lake. Good to know…glad we bumped into someone who really knows the trails there. Off we went, steep down with switch-backs for about a mile or so. It does end and what do you know at the other end it’s marked as Wildhorse Trail, the one we wanted. From here, it was woods road until the lake. Before we got there, we stopped in a sunny spot for our coffee/breakfast break. This is a nice way to do the morning: leave camp early and then find a nice spot to cook coffee.  Now that we were not on thru-hiker mode, we had time to do this kind of hiking and we both liked it.  Mystic Lake was a long, narrow lake apparently man made. There was a spill way at the one end and we marveled that the water line could have been that high – now the water was way down!  The Mystic Lake Trail was nice – good tread, above the lake and went the entire length of the lake on the west side.  We did see some people who had camped there, but it didn’t seem very crowded.

Eventually, it led to our last trail into New World Gulch. This part was mostly wooded and also suffered much erosion from water and possibly bikes – kind of ditch-like a lot of the time.  As we got closer to the bottom, we met more and more people.  We made it to the parking lot by 1:20pm – just 20 minutes from our estimated time! Not bad. Lauran was there and drove us home! It was so nice of her and a big help to us.  A great end to a great hike! This trail is highly recommended, and I’d do it again, no question. It would be fun to get the Windy Pass cabin once – it would require booking way ahead. Late August or beginning of September is a good time for it. Happy Trails!

Gallatin Crest Trail 2018
Destination:
Hyalite at junction of Hood Creek & Upper Wild Horse Trail
Todays Miles:
14.6
Started At:
Crater Lake

Sunday, Sep 2

14.6 mi to beyond Hyalite Reservoir, junction of Hood Ck. & Upper Wildhorse Trails

Today, we got out even earlier – just enough light to see at 6am to pack up. Out by 6:30am. It’s a real steep climb of 500 feet just out of camp. Then, over a mile or two on narrow, even knife-edge ridges with steep ups and downs. Be careful on the gravelly downhills! It was very windy, so again we had on all layers until later in the a.m. where we de-layered. After several more challenging ridges we were back in the shade and didn’t suit up. We regretted this, as the wind picked up as we slabbed over to Hyalite saddle. Finally, near the top, I stopped to call Lauran to give her a heads up that we were on schedule for the next day’s pick up, we both put our jackets back on.  Great view up here all around, including Hyalite Lake down below in front of us. That’s our direction.

It’s a very steep downhill off the saddle for a short while into Hyalite canyon. Once we got down and we found some flattish rock, we finally stopped to make coffee. Now we started to see people all the way down to the trail-head. We pass over ten waterfalls, some really beautiful. My favorite was Chasm Falls; it drops down into a narrow rocky chasm as it flows downhill.

Some motorbikes break the peace and Yeti took a photo of them. They were most likely illegal; and we think we were right once we got down and checked out the trail sign. We had lunch here and then off we went along the road, past the reservoir, and then off right on Hood Creek Trail. When we got to a creek by the trail junction with Upper Wildhorse, we stopped. We cowboy camped, not setting up tents, and had a nice night under the stars.

Gallatin Crest Trail 2018
Destination:
Crater Lake
Todays Miles:
11.7
Started At:
Windy Pass Cabin

Saturday, Sep 1st

11.7 mi to Crater Lake

Yogesh and his friend left really early at around 4am, before our 6:30 start. It was a steep climb back up to the crest, but then it moderated. Went to the top of the Sentinel and had to bushwhack back down to the path, as it skirts around the peak. Again, wind kept the morning quite cool. We saw many hunters, including a group on horseback.  Yeti and I managed to find a spot out of the wind and we stopped and made coffee. A nice sunny day today, but we were layered up until the lunch break.

This day was the toughest, with lots of ups and downs. But it is probably the most spectacular in terms of terrain. Unbelievable views of the mountains, including Big Sky and Lone Mt. Very rugged, long stretches of slabbing along the sides of grassy or rocky mountains, and a steep down to a meadow area just before a short and steep climb to Crater Lake. Crater Lake is a snow melt only water source, so best to stop at the small spring just before you do the final climb – watch for the spring on the left.  The lake was really low. We camped in among the trees and had quite a nice sleep here. Yeti was exhausted, but I encouraged him to cook. We fell into our bags right after dinner – no cribbage this night.

Gallatin Crest Trail 2018
Destination:
Windy Pass
Todays Miles:
9.5
Started At:
Rams Horn Lake

Friday, Aug 31

9.5 miles to Windy Pass

On the trail by 6:45am and heading up!  Partly sunny, partly cloudy day today, which means a cool morning. We are all bundled up leaving camp. After about one quarter mile over the meadow, we cross a small stream and go steeply up in the direction of Fortress Mountain. The trail is eroded terribly in parts because of the motorbikes. There are really strange shaped conglomerate boulders all over – and Fortress Mt. is also dramatically shaped. We stop for our “breakfast coffee” just before topping the saddle. No goats this time – I’d seen a herd here in 2015.

Downhill a bit and then up and down and over rocky and narrow ridges. It was very windy up on the crest, but great views. For the last few miles to Windy Pass, the trail moderates over grassy mountain. As we approach the pass and trail junction, we can see the cabin in the distance. Two hunters have the cabin and lo and behold, one of them is Yogesh Simpson, a musician Yeti has recorded. I’d not recognized him in his hunter camo. We camped in the trees a few hundred yards from the cabin – just where Julianne, Bob and I had in 2015. We also learned that there was a piped spring just behind the cabin.

Played a bit of cribbage, ate supper, and hit the hay fairly early again. A good night here; comfy camp.

Gallatin Crest Trail 2018
Destination:
Rams Horn Lake
Todays Miles:
4.5
Started At:
Tom Miner Basin

Thursday, Aug 30

4.5 miles Tom Miner Basin Campground to Rams Horn Lake

After spending the night at the Baker’s and a nice leisurely breakfast, we headed up to the Tom Miner Campground to get the trail. Fred and Julianne drove us up there.  Due to the Bacon Rind fire, the GCT part in Yellowstone was closed, hence our starting point in Tom Miner. It was a steepish climb through a lovely “basin” or canyon passing by the interpretive trail at the Petrified Forest. No wildlife sightings except for B-Bar cattle! It sprinkled on us off and on throughout the afternoon, though the sun would come out in between the clouds.

We reached the top after about 2 miles and had a break. At that spot, we turned off onto the trail towards Rams Horn Peak, shortly forking left on a path that began to go downhill. It was mostly through trees leading after a couple of miles to Rams Horn Lake where we set up camp. We played cribbage for a bit, cooked dinner, went for a walk up the hill, and over to the other side of the lake. Later, a couple came by for water; they camped at the first campsite – we’d considered that one but came along further closer to the trail heading north.

The lake is a bit dark by late afternoon at this time of year. Rams Horn peak looms up over the water – quite a dramatic setting.  We got into our tents early – before 8pm and then vroom! A few motorbikes roared up to the lake, stayed a while making some noise, and then roared off! Just enough to break the peace.

 

Lost Trail Pass to Lochsa Lodge
Destination:
Lochsa Lodge, Idaho
Trip Miles:
102
Started At:
Lost Trail Pass

This is a section of the IBT I had to skip in 2016 because of fire closure. Blog entry follows.

IBT Trip:  August 2018

Aug 2,3,4: Lost Trail Pass to Hamilton

We stayed over Wednesday night in Darby at the Mountain Spirit Inn. Thursday morning, we left early to drive to Lost Trail Pass where Yeti and I headed up the steep Ski Trail into the woods. It’s the same route initially for the IBT route that goes back to Darby via Nez Perce Pass, but I’ll diverge and begin to go more northeasterly towards Hamilton.  Yeti came in about 4.5 miles and turned back; I went on along the road and shortly turned off onto trail 171 which I’d use for the entire day. I was lucky as most of the climbing was the part in the morning. Most of the rest of the day the terrain was moderate, though open to the sun. I slabbed along mountain-sides, passing fields of wild flowers. Views of the valleys were somewhat obscured by smoky haze from fires. I didn’t see any other hikers. By the late afternoon, I started down toward Hwy 93, where the campground was and expected to run into Yeti at some point. I had the downhill; he had a steep climb. We met a couple of miles from the road and hiked back down to the campground. It was on a river and very nice. I pitched my tent, got cleaned up, and since we had a car we drove to a restaurant and had a great meal.

In the morning on Friday, Yeti and I headed out directly from the campground. The route took us up about 1,000 feet on a woods road. Great views back of the valley and the mountain I’d come down the day before. It was a steady climb for several miles. We branched off onto an old jeep track heading up a ridge. Across the way, we could see an old fire look-out cabin. Yeti again came in about 4.5 miles and then we parted. He would go around to the Hamilton side, find a campsite near where I’d come out, and meet me tomorrow on the trail. I continued up the track. Lots of views into the valleys on both sides of the mountain once I got to the top. I then headed downhill on FS road moderately for several miles: I could see the road snaking around; it kept curving into canyons, so the distance was more than it looked.  Again, no sign of people. Hot day again and I was grateful for any shade.  I did pass some homes after leaving the National Forest and before doing another gradual and relentless climb on gravel road.  I decided to stop to make dinner at about 4:30pm and then hike on, which I like to do sometimes. It gave me a break after a long, hot exposed climb and energized me so that I could do some more miles. I did a big day, over 25 miles, I think. Camp was a big turn-out along the road.

On Saturday, I got up early and figured I had one small climb. But, after just a very short while I started to descend – so I was further than I thought. So, I had a very pleasant morning hike – downhill all the way on FS road, and I did great miles. Mostly views of trees, quite pretty. I stopped mid-morning for a longish break, made coffee, and enjoyed the early sunshine.  Before long, there came Yeti; he’d gotten up early and hiked in several miles already. We figured we’d get to town early enough for a late breakfast! He’d found a great campsite by the river just near where the road I was hiking came out. We drove to Hamilton and it was too early to check into the motel, so we went to breakfast and then read in the library. That evening, we had a good supper at a wine tasting room. BC Winery – local stuff and it was good.

Aug 5,6 Hamilton to Lochsa Lodge

This was the last stretch, about 46 miles to Lochsa Lodge and would be more challenging terrain. Sunday morning and we drove from Hamilton to Blodgett Creek trail-head. There was a campground there and several cars in the parking lot, so I figured we see people, which we did. The trail climbs up a narrow canyon along a creek, has several picturesque waterfalls, and is rocky. One of the hikers coming down the trail had seen a bear and though we saw quite a bit of scat, we did not see any bears. Yeti turned around at the 5-mile point and I soldiered on. Trail conditions were not great – very overgrown in parts and I made slower progress than I’d hoped. By lunch, I doubted that I’d be able to get in 25 miles that day, which is what I’d hoped to do. Finally, I left the overgrown trail and in mid-afternoon heat started the steep climb to Blodgett Pass. Though a hard grind, I enjoyed it more than the more level last miles, as it was not overgrown with vegetation and I had great views of the long canyon I’d just come up.  Again, I stopped to cook on the way up, so that I could then just hike until almost dark. Glad I did that. Was I glad to get to the pass and it was worth it. It was stunning with dramatically shaped peaks on both sides. I still had another climb up to Frog Lake and encountered a blob of snow on the north side.  I was glad to be going downhill and it was already late. At this point, I hoped to be able to eke out a 22-mile day, which in fact is what I ended up doing. I went as late as I dared, stopping in a burn area at about 9:15pm. I was beat.

Got as early a start, but I needed to be able to read the GPS as burns tend to obscure trail.  The going was good for about an hour – got to the junction where you would go right to ascend to a cabin on Lookout Mt. I proceeded on and then came the burn area from hell, deadfall and no trail. Thank goodness for the GPS. This slowed me down, because I was basically navigating solely using the GPS. Every now and then trail would re-appear.

Finally, after a couple of hours, I crossed a creek and was on more stable trail, or so I thought. Now and then deadfall, but it seemed okay. Then, the trail got rougher with many more downed trees and sometimes overgrown trail and downed trees. I was getting anxious, as I had more miles to do than expected and figured I’d get out later than planned. Yeti would end up having a longer wait at the other end. It was a frustrating day; slow hours of climbing over trees. If not for that the terrain was mild, and I should have been able to do better time. Finally, the trail seemed to clear and then I spied Yeti’s card on the trail; he’d been there!  At first, I wondered if he somehow was behind me, but realized that was silly. I motored on and after about an hour, saw him topping a small hill in front of me. I yelled out to him: we were both glad to see one another. He’d left so early and then waited hours wondering where I was. And, he’d forgotten his food and was hungry. That is why he’d turned back to get to the car.  Now, we could relax. I was happy to find out that the spot Yeti had camped was closer and we had less to hike out. I was beat again and so thrilled when we got to the car. Nevertheless, I had had a great time despite the last tough day. On to Lochsa Lodge and a great meal. Total miles for this trip was about 102 miles.

Monadnock 2018 Road Scholar Trip
Date:
06/03/2018

My sister and I arrived at Pilgrim Pines on Thursday June 1st. I came a couple of days early to scout hikes on Monadnock.  We checked in and my friend Fancy Free – Janet for real, Fancy is a trail name – met us. Fancy was hiking with me next day. Friday was a bit dreary, but after Deb left for Boston, Fancy and I drove over to the Pumpelly Trail to go as far as we could: we had to meet another hiking buddy later and had a bit of a time constraint. Due to the time issue and murky, mizzly weather, we did not go all the way to the summit. Too bad – I’ve wanted to check out this trail. Off to dinner in Keene once we picked up Bootless – another trail name – for a great dinner in town!

Saturday, Bootless hiked with me and we did a great loop up the Half Way House Trail, the Fairy Springs Trail and Smith Connector to the Tooth. From there, we went over the Amphitheatre Trail passed the Black Precipice. We ended on the White Arrow and finally the Toll Road. All in all, a great day – and it was cooler and sunny.

Sunday, I relaxed and waited for the group to arrive. As per last year, a watercolor program was running in conjunction with the Monadnock group. Many of the same people from a year ago were enrolled again: nice to see some familiar faces. Check-in was at 3pm, dinner at 6pm and then orientation after. I met the group, showed a hiker basics presentation, and we talked a bit to get to know each other.

Began the day with wake-up yoga. Monday was a wet, so we started out at Tippin’ Rock huddling under umbrellas and in rain gear. Ryan was terrific as always; he does a great job explaining about the land trust and the many plants along the walk. We headed back to Pilgrim Pines for lunch.

Luckily, it dried out for Gap Mountain. Rocks and trail were wet, but it had stopped raining. Gap Mountain does offer a great view of Monadnock, however, when we got to the open summit it was socked in! Oh, well. Can’t do anything about the weather except be prepared with proper gear! Some of the group had a porcupine sighting – it’s great to see any wildlife here especially when we hike with a group. Back to our base for a great dinner: they really feed us well. After dinner, I presented on Hiking Monadnock with some general facts, history, flora and fauna, and cultural references about the mountain. The idea is to offer folks an introduction to the physical, historical, cultural, and hiking history of the Monadnock magic.

Tuesday began promising with some sun peeping from behind clouds – I was hoping that the hike would be dry. We were going to Monte Rose using Marlboro, Marian and Great Pastures trails.  The route begins moderately, but then starts climbing steeply over rock steps and scrambles. By late morning, it began to mizzle – making the rocks much more difficult. The Marian Trail has some interesting short scrambles too, though the final trail is all in woods leading up to the open ledges of Monte Rosa. We stopped for lunch under the trees as it was still raining lightly. Then, a few of us went up to the top and did manage to see the weather vane, but not much view – socked in again. We all took it very carefully going down – there was some slipping and consternation on the wet rock.

At dinner, several of the group shared their opinion of the difficulty of the hike and that they felt it had been more than they bargained for. I do think rain had a lot to do with making the hike much trickier, but I realized that we had to come up with an alternate solution for the next two days. Pending Chuck’s okay, I decided to split the group into a more moderate one and the more challenging. Al Stoops, a local hiker, would be along for the next two days and I could safely have an experienced leader with each group. Chuck was fine with the idea, so it was set: Cliff Walk as planned for the challenging group and a different more moderate path for the moderate hike, though it would end up on the Cliff Walk. Ultimately. I think it worked out great: everyone was so flexible and open to “going with the flow.” And, the entire group made it out to Bald Rock! We could see the summit, South Pack, Gap Mountain, and the entire Wapack Trail ridge. Bravo Road Scholars!

Al took the guys over to the Tooth and came out at the Toll Road and I took the moderate group back down the Lost Farm Trail. We drove over to the Toll Road parking to pick the guys up.  Then we went to Jaffrey to see Willa Cather’s grave at the Meeting House cemetery. There was a funeral going on, so we had to be careful not to disturb. Then, on to base camp for showers and another fab feed.  We saw clips of the Monadnock documentary that night – can’t wait for the film to be completed and hope that Steve shows it at Pilgrim Pines.

I’d asked Al to design a more moderate hike with a naturalist theme for Thursday: he took that group to Cathedral of the Pines – a place I’d been to many times as a kid. I led three of the guys up to the summit via the Marlboro Trail. Nice day, though a bit overcast. Tough climb. I’d forgotten some of the scrambles! Everyone felt great to make it to the top – and back down!  Surprisingly, there were not many people at the summit, which was very nice and peaceful.

After dinner that night, we viewed the artists’ work – amazing some of the beautiful work done in a few short days! We also met the new “Chuck” – a woman named Tiffany. Tiffany will have a great mentor and we all wish her the best. Looking forward to working with her come fall. Chuck will finally “retire” – he’s a tough act to follow.

We did have a bit of a pow wow with the staff and suggested some amendments to the trip, for example, building in two levels from the get go. The Monadnock hikes are really quite strenuous and can be a bit of a surprise for those not schooled in hiking in the northeast and particularly, the granite state. It’s root-y, rocky, muddy and trails tend to go straight up the mountain!  Anyway, a great trip and a real learning experience for us all! Thanks to a great group of hikers for hikin’ on and rolling with the punches.

For photos, go to Photos from the menu and select Monadnock 2018.