Monday, May 26, 2014

Hiking: Mount Monadnock

It's Memorial Day here in the US. It was Victoria Day in Canada last weekend, but of course the US doesn't celebrate the birth of British monarchs, so I went to work and waited for this weekend for an extra day off. Honestly, I worked today too, but only my Canadian job, since my Albertan co-workers were in their offices at the University of Alberta.

However, I digress.

Today is Memorial Day, and to take advantage of the three day weekend Andrew and I went hiking on Saturday. Originally I'd hoped to go to the Appalachians, but they're a three hour drive away (much like how the Rockies are three hours away from Edmonton). In around-about way (Googling hikes in Vermont) I discovered another potential hike site: Mount Monadnock, which according to their website is the third most visited mountain in the world. It's located in New Hampshire, but it's only an hour and a half drive away.

As the weekend grew closer we hummed and hawed over whether or not we should go. The forecast was iffy (chance of rain), and the last thing we wanted was to be stuck halfway up the mountain in a downpour. In the end we decided the actual chance of rain was low enough to warrant going, and if it turned out to be cloudy, it would make better conditions for hiking anyway. A blazing sun leads to lots of sunscreen, and sweating.

So, the hike. We parked at Gilson Pond, and started out on the Birchtoft path. From the trailhead, the distance to the summit is 3.4 miles/5.5 kilometers, with a beginning altitude of 1300 feet/396 meters.
The trail started out reasonably easy. After 1.25 hours we'd covered 3 kilometers and were thinking to ourselves, there was no way this trail is going to take us 5-6 hours to complete (what the staff at the check in booth had told us).
The lovely Andrew, out on the trail.
Me, of course. I downed 1.5 liters of water during the course of the hike.
Although all the snow had melted off the mountain, there was still a lot of water on the trails. It made the return trip extra tricky having to be careful not to slip.
A look out point, a little over half way up the mountain.
The last trail crossing pointing us to the summit (or on to another trail).
The summit of Mount Monadnock off in the distance. Once we got close to the tree line we had to follow carins to guide us to the top.
At the top of the mountain, elevation 3,165 feet/965 metres. It took us 2.5 hours (minus 15 minutes for a lunch stop where we each devoured half a loaf of bread).
The view from the top. It was cloudy, but we could see enough around us to make it worthwhile. We stayed for fifteen minutes to rest our feet and refuel, then headed back down.
An example of the steep rock face we had to climb. I thought it was fun to have to scrabble up--albeit challenging.
I would definitely go back if we had the chance, maybe camp there for a night or two and check out some of the other trails, or rent a canoe or kayak.



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