Nineteen Road Scholars are on the trip. We began with awakening yoga and then breakfast. The sun was out, and it was mild today, so we had an auspicious beginning.
As usual, breakfast was great; the kitchen staff at Pilgrim Pines are great and they feed us well. Following the meal, we got into our vans and drove the few miles over to Tippin’ Rock. Ryan Owens, Executive Director of the Monadnock Conservancy, met us and started us off on the easy-going wooded trail.
Ryan weaves a fantastic tale relating to the group the story of how this parcel of land was set aside in a land trust. He also is a professional naturalist, so he was able to tell us a lot about the local trees, varieties of ferns that we saw, and told us about the Wolf Tree. It’s a white pine that has grown many new trunks. Apparently, this is caused by a weevil that infects the tree. The tree’s defense is to send out new lead trunks to outwit the pest! Who ever said that trees weren’t smart!
Of course, everyone got to tip the rock – a massive glacial erratic that stands alone in the woods. We went about half a mile further to the lookout. Colors are starting to look great.
After lunch back at Pilgrim Pines, we set off for Gap Mountain for a moderate 2-mile hike through the woods to a viewpoint at the north summit of Gap. It affords great views of Monadnock. Everyone did great, most of the group kept together. It’s a nice moderate climb and good introduction to the rocky trails we’ll see later.
Back to Pilgrim Pines for a great dinner and then a terrific presentation about Monadnock by Lee Willett, who has been a park employee at Monadnock for 37 years. Lee’s wry humor and folksy manner are both funny and entertaining as well as informative. We all enjoyed her talk and many historic images (Lee has an amazing vintage postcard collection), and we learned lots about the mountain. A great way to end the day.