Hike to Monadnock Summit by a path less traveled
Full Day Hike DATE: 10/01/2022 - 10/01/2022
Trip/Event Location: Jaffrey, NH
Trip Leader(s): Relayer
Max # People: 10
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Moderate
The mountain that Henry David Thoreau loved most was Monadnock.
During this Moderate looping hike we will travel about 5 miles and experience approx. 1750ft elevation gain, avoiding the popular...
Location and logistics of the Monadnock HQ car park (carpooling strongly suggested owing to parking fee) https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/monadnock-state-park.aspx
Meet just outside of the Park Store (near the vending machines)
Note: I am able to take up to 4 other hikers + gear from the Boston area, contact me to arrange
Given the rainy forecast for Jaffrey NH on event day, we have EMSINJP to thank for encouraging me to keep it on the calendar, since the remnants of hurricane Ian were found to have little impact other than clouds and a few light showers.
We started as planned from the park store (although a little late owing to my carpool arriving at 945am) with Mr TWIGS kindly acting as sweeper. The Parker trail is mostly flat and wooded, and we passed an old concrete dam on the way. At or soon after we got to the Lost Farm trail, we needed to break out the raincoats, but luckily the rocky path didn't get too wet. As elevation gain increased, we made a few stops to catch our breath and admire the views, the first impressive one occuring at the intersection of Lost Farm and Cliff Walk, from a rock just to the left of the path.
Almost immediately upon taking Cliff Walk, we encountered Thoreau's Seat - it's an irregular rock, not large or comfortable to sit on, and is easily missed unless you're making a point to find it. In fact, no one I've talked with knows if Thoreau actually sat there. (Later we learned that Thoreau was known to visit Inspiration Rock - maybe a destination for a future hike.). Just down the trail, DAVE0729, a fellow Thoreau enthusiast, discovered a mushroom grove, although no one was brave enough to sample them.
Once higher up on Cliff Walk, we were treated to a view of some morning fog laying in a valley west of us (did anyone get a pic of that btw?).) Soon afterwards we encountered Kiasticuticus Peak (aka Bald Rock) and took a few group photos with Monadnock summit behind us.
Getting from there to the summit required us to descend from Bald Rock into a wooded valley, but the trail markings didn't match what I was seeing on AllTrails. The physical markings showed a termination of Cliff Walk along with a trail marked with a red S leading towards Monadnock; however AllTrails showed Cliff Walk continuing to Amphitheatre, which was to be our next connecting trail. I had walked this route just a few weeks earlier and somehow failed to notice the inconsistency of the red S markings. As the S trail was the only one leading towards Monadnock, we followed it anyway and were pleased to discover it was correct. (Afterwards I referred to the paper map that the rangers distribute, and found that it depicts Smith Connector leading off of Bald Rock, hence the S trail markings.).
I kept consulting AllTrails in order to make the final trail switches (Smith Connector -> Amphitheatre -> White Arrow) as these came in close succession. The trudge up White Arrow seemed steep to many of us, but it was only here on this last trail that we began to encounter other hikers - the promise of a "path less traveled" was bourne out.
The summit was crowded and breezy as is typical for Monadnock. I realised that my device battery had gone flat, so I wasn't able to take any further pics until I connected my battery pac. DAN410 and EMSINJP found a sheltered area at the summit, and we unpacked our lunches and had a good chat and rest. TWIGS showed KEITHES and I his trick of dealing with lengthy shoestrings. PACEALONG told us about the residents of one of the few private houses on Monadnock (and previously mentioned a number of historical facts about the town of Jaffrey NH, having lived nearby some years back).
Hearing no objections, I led us down the hiker superhighway that is White Cross/White Dot, which was a cultural shock for the group as we had had the ascent trails to ourselves. We stopped at the great cairn for another group photo-op, which was facilitated by a kindly stranger. At the divergence of White Cross from White Dot, we took advice from an attractive young ranger whom I managed to embarass as he described a 3-way convergence of trails. We chose the White Cross after some deliberation, which was billed as the less-steep but longer trail.
Finally back near the HQ site we stopped at the Visitor's Center, which showcases a number of photos, geologic and historical info (with an entire section on Thoreau) and a model of the mountain with key features called out. I had never taken the time before and found it educational.
I would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of LIKESTREES to this event's hike plan, he was unable to join us but accompanied me on the pre-hike in late August.
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