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)



 

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