Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mount Monadnock - Solo Hiking

Elevation: 3,165ft
Trails: White Dot and White Cross
Elevation Gain: 1,765ft
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Duration: 4 hours (includes stops for breaks along the trail, lookouts and at summit)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Rock Scrambles: Along the White Dot Trail - Class II

So glad that I got to hike Monadnock this morning! What a change of pace to be heading out to the west instead of north to the White Mountains. Monadnock State Park was easy to find and at the entrance the ranger was very polite and patient with answering my questions. I told him I planned to hike the White Dot trail and he said that it was the most direct route. He handed me a trails map and suggested that I descend via the White Cross trail as to avoid the ascending traffic on the White Dot. He also said that I was early and that the 'crowd' would be around 1030am. I paid my $5 fee and he placed my receipt on my dash and directed me to park in the lower lot.

The White Dot Trail starts off wide and although some parts of it were rocky, it was still easy to navigate. There were several hikers on their way down and I passed a park ranger on the way up who looked to me like he was trying to get reception on his cell phone. He told me that reception at the summit was sporadic.  At the Cascade Link junction is the Falcon Spring. There are two log benches for resting and a small spring of drinkable water.

One of the most impressive and fun feature of the White Dot Trail is its bare rock faces. Where there are many broken rocks at the start of the trail, as the elevation increases, so do the faces of the bare rock. Between the Cascade Link and the Old Ski Path trails is a distance of half a mile, but it's 650 feet of elevation gain and steep bare faces of rock! I had a blast scrambling up on those bare faces. And I sure didn't let my hiking staff slow me down either. I just wrapped its lanyard around my wrist and up a I went. Plenty of good hand and foot holds and all under treeline too, as compared to the scrambling on the Caps Ridge Trail to Mt. Jefferson.

On my way up I passed a  group of 3 hikers, two guys and a girl, they all looked to be in their early 20's. All three were resting but she didn't look too happy, wearing long jeans and a t-shirt. As I passed them I asked her if she was okay and she said that she was. I think they turned around because I didn't  see them at the summit.

I passed another group of 20-somethings, 4 guys and a girl. On the last nearly vertical rock face I scooted right up its inside corner. I heard her behind me, "Am I supposed to climb that?"

At the White Cross junction there were many other hikers making their ascent. One group of 3 fathers and their 5 sons made their way up to the summit slowly, taking breaks often. I recognized one of the fathers as we had been on a hike to the Great Blue Hills with the Beginners/Intermediate Hikers Over 40/50 meetup group. At the summit I snapped a few photos of their group and had my photo taken with my iPhone. I settled down for lunch and watched as the summit started to get crowded. Families with young children were making their way to the summit from the other trails. After lunch I took my Canon out and snapped a few. It was such a clear, sunny day and there was a slight breeze at the summit, I didn't want to leave.

After spending 45 minutes at the summit, I packed up and started my descent. There were still more hikers summiting. I made my way down the White Dot trail and at the junction, took the White Cross Trail. There were only a few spots of the trail that were steep going down. There were still more hikers coming up this trail. Many more ahead of me and behind me as well, on our descents.

The descent on White Cross Trail was easy and the trailhead was crowded with both hikers and campers. The parking lots were full with folks coming and going. I quickly walked to my pickup, unloaded my backpack and headed for the Park Store. I bought myself a cold drink, a mug and a kerchief with the trail map printed on it.

It was a perfect day for a hike and I finally got to hike Mt. Monadnock!  

**I usually wear my Canon out on ascents and pack it on my descents. But since parts of the ascent is very steep, I packed it using my iPhone instead for photos on my ascent as well as my descent and at the parking lot. I used my Canon to take all the summit photos. And connection at the summit was sporadic so I couldn't get my Peaks app connected. 

 Along the White Dot Trail (7)

 White Cross/White Dot Trail junction
 At the summit (7)

 Along the White Cross Trail (4)


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mt. Field - Solo Summer Hike

Elevation: 4,340ft
Trails: Avalon and Willey Ridge
Elevation Gain: 2,400ft
Distance: 5.4 miles roundtrip
Duration: 5 hrs/15 min (includes stops for breaks along the trail and at both summits)
My 4000+ Peak #17
Listed 4000+: #23
Via: Mt. Avalon (3,342 ft.)
Difficulty: Moderate

So there I was at the trailhead for the third time. The first time I did a solo hike to Mt. Willard, and the second time I made my first winter solo hike to Mt. Tom. I was familiar with how the Avalon Trail starts off easily from the Crawford Train Depot. I had planned to hike to Mounts Avalon, Field and Willey. But thunderstorms were forecasted for the afternoon and if I did hike to Mt. Willey, I didn't want to take a chance of hiking back down the steep rocky portions of trail when it was wet. I'd make my decision once I got to the summit of Mt. Field.

I expected the heat but not the humidity. Some parts of the trail are steep and rocky and the combination of humidity and bugs didn't make it any fun. There were a few hikers on the trail, both on the way up and on their way down. One female solo hiker on her way down had braces on both her knees. It reminded me that I had yet again, forgotten my knee brace in my pickup.

I didn't stop at Mt. Avalon, instead hiking to the summit of Mt. Field first, I would stop at Mt. Avalon on my way down. I had the Mt. Field summit all to myself and spent 30 minutes eating my lunch and taking photos. The only marker at the summit was a cairn. I decided then not to go onto Mt. Willey, saving it for another day hike. On my descent I stopped at Mt. Avalon summit and spent 15 minutes enjoying the cool breezes and taking more photos.

The rest of the descent was not fun! The humidity annoyed me, and I was glad I had not hiked onto Mt. Willey after all. And the bugs were relentless....I was tired of getting bitten and having bugs use my eyelids as landing strips. After my hike I changed clothes at the Highland AMC center and had a sushi lunch at Imperial Palace, just off of I93 in North Woodstock. The spicy tuna roll, although small, was actually very good. But the breading of the Agedashi Tofu was just too greasy for me. I didn't end up eating any of it.

It took me longer than usual to get home due to traffic. Near exit 31, there was traffic due to a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint (exercises?). And southbound I93 at the Concord exits was packed with traffic from the NH Nascar race in Louden. Traffic was so bad that they used one northbound lane on I93 for southbound traffic from exit 16 to exit 11. 

All in all, it was a good hike for me and it feels great to check off #17! And this time I remembered to use the Peaks app on my iPhone! :)

At the trailhead - Crawford Depot (2)

 Along the Avalon Trail (5)

 From the summit of Mt. Field (3)

 The Willey Range Trail from the summit of Mt. Field
 From the summit of Mt. Avalon (3)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rock Rimmon Evening Climb

What a great time rock climbing Rock Rimmon in the evening! I brought my grand daughter Ann along as she and Kellie's daughter, Cass, like to run around. There was a lot of traffic on the way to the cliff but it was worth it....the climbing is fantastic at Rock Rimmon! Got to climb with new and old friends, I topped off my third climb and got to see a fantastic sunset from the top of the cliff, and in all, gave my inner thighs a beating, LOL! Thanks go to both Beth and Mark for the patient belays! And especially to Kellie for putting together a great meetup and making the eve of my 53rd birthday a memorable one! <3