Hiking Mount Monadnock

Way back in the day when I worked at a lovely little prep school, every year around this time, we would bus all of the students and most of the faculty/staff to Mount Monadnock for “Mountain Day”.  Essentially, Mountain Day was a day when we all climbed a mountain.

Get it? Complicated, I know.

*Just imagine showing up for a nice peaceful hike, and when you get there finding that about 400 teenagers have taken over the trails.*

Oh Helllllllz No. Terrifying thought.

Anyway, moving on.

I’m pretty sure that most of us faculty that hiked enjoyed this day more than most of the students. I honestly looked forward to it every year, because after the first time I hiked Monadnock, I fell completely and utterly in love with it. It’s a gorgeous, relatively small mountain in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, and just happens to be the most hiked mountain in the US according to some sources.

With the peak at just 3165 ft (according to Wikipedia), and only a 2000 ft ascent between the bottom and the summit, it really is not a huge mountain. But it’s not the height (or lack thereof) that I love about this climb, rather it’s the character of the mountain. The entire second half of the hike is boulder climbing, with the top stretch to the summit being just a huge expanse of bare rock just daring you to climb up it. I’ve climbed at least once every year since my first time at “Mountain Day”, and years after I left that prep school, I’m still drawn to Monadnock every summer or fall.

At the start of my favorite traill! Here we go!

Will and I decided to go up this weekend because Sunday was supposed to be beautiful weather, and it certainly didn’t disappoint!  We went up my favorite trail, the White Dot Trail, which at 2.2 miles is the shortest but steepest climb to the top. And when I say steep, I’m not kidding.  Honestly, even though it’s only 2.2 miles, this mountain kicks my ass every  single time we climb. Not to mention the fact that Will and I pride ourselves on making it to the top with no breaks, so that straight-up rock climbing gets pretty difficult about 2/3 of the way up! Yesterday, we made it to the summit in 54 min, which just might be a personal record for us. Woo hoo!

A little over half way…I was a sweaty mess at this point! 

Heading up the last stretch to the summit

The one frustrating thing about yesterday’s hike was the fact that while I did make it with no breaks, I was just about dying. I honestly felt like someone was simultaneously trying to rip out my trachea and crush my chest with an elephant when we were in the heart of the toughest part, and my lower back was spasming like crazy. And you know the worst part about the whole thing? Superman over there Will was just cruising along with not a care in the world. He actually said on the way down “Oh, that was an alright workout on the way up”.

WHAT?!?

Enjoying the view from the summit…and catching my breath. Finally.

Ok show off, I’m over here with legs like Jell-o and you just had an alright workout? Tres annoying.

Me: Sweat City. Will: totally fine. 

It just goes to show that no matter how in shape you are, you can always find something to challenge you. I consider myself to be in very good shape; I run stadiums at least once per week and I lift weights like it’s my job. Heck, my legs are strong like bull.  I should have DOMINATED this climb, in my mind! But none of that mattered when I stepped onto the mountain yesterday. With my ego fully in check I can say that it was a challenging climb, and thank goodness it’s only a 2.2 mile trail, because I’m not sure I could have kept up that pace much longer.

Jell-O legs aside though, the entire day was excellent. Monadnock makes me happy every time I cruise up that White Dot Trail, and I plan on continuing to hike it every year until I can’t do it anymore. Sitting up on that summit after beating my legs to a pulp to get there is one of the greatest feelings in the world and I can’t wait to head back next year! Heck, maybe we’ll even decide to go back again this year once the leaves start turning. Talk about a beautiful view!

What did you do this weekend? Do you enjoy hiking? What’s your favorite mountain to hike, and how often do you do it?

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18 thoughts on “Hiking Mount Monadnock

  1. What a fantastic hike!!! I absolutely love getting outside and hiking, too– it’s just so rewarding when you reach the summit, jello legs and all 😉
    This past summer, my dad and I climed Half Dome in Yosemite– BEST. HIKE. EVER! It was grueling, but the view was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Nature is so beautiful from a bird’s eye view!!
    Have a graet day girl!!! 🙂

    • I LOVED your recap from your hike of Half Dome. It’s a dream of mine to get out west and do some hiking, so maybe I’ll do Half Dome someday too! And it really is unlike anything else, the view from the top of a mountain, any mountain, truly gives you a different perspective on things!

  2. That hike looks gorgeous – and tough! I would have been dying while climbing it too! It’s amazing how no matter how fit we are, climbing is always a hard workout. Sometimes I like to walk up the 8 floors of stairs to my apartment instead of taking the elevator, and it always leaves me winded haha.

    I love hiking too. We don’t have any mountains around here, but we have an escarpment with the Bruce Trail that runs along it (it’s a huge trail that goes for hundreds of kilometers), so I love hiking there!

  3. Ahhh I absolutely love Mt Monadnock, what a fantastic hike it is! It really is a tough one though, especially towards the top, so I think feeling tired as you did is justified! Although I would be irritated with the other person going up like it was no big thing lol 😉
    My dad and I were talking about going again this year.. hopefully sometime in October!

  4. I saw your facebook post and decided to take James on a hike in Blue Hills yesterday. 600 somethig feet is nothing, but still a beautiful day. I think I sweat, especially in the front where I was carrying him… but that might have just been a leaky diaper. hah! Lol. Sorry to gross out your readers! Anyway, if your lungs were hurting, maybe you should consider running a bit more to get your lungs in shape?? haha. JK.

    • HAHA!! Well, sweat or leaky diaper, at least it’s a nice day to spend together right? Blue Hills is great for just a little day hike, and there are some pretty good views of the city, right? And about the running… Touche… 😉 I thought all my stadiums had gotten me ready, and maybe my cycling to work, but nope!

  5. I love this post! I was just having this conversation with my sister a few weeks ago, as I have begun to hike again since the weather has cooled off. I certainly don’t think I am in amazing shape, but I am in very good shape when it comes to what I can do (I think). I have gone hiking with different friends and my dog in tote numerous times this fall and each time I end the day feeling so proud of myself because I am far less winded then my friends. These are friends that do spin class like it is easy, run 15 miles a day and then bike 30. Yes, these friends are ambitious and amazing in my opinion, but I can sometimes feel stronger because I am good at hiking.
    So, my point is–this is an amazing post. I am about to do Insanity for the first time in 2 years and know it will probably kick my butt (I have been putting it off for 2 hours) but this post seriously just pushed me to do it and realize that my body needs to acclimate to it and that I am STRONG and that is what counts! Thanks, Steph! 🙂
    PS-Willie is a beast.

    • I love that you can go hiking with Lex, it’s so great for you, and for him too!! And you’re totally right, we all acclimate to what we do. Being in shape to run a marathon is totally different than being in shape to climb a mountain or to go for a swim…it’s all relative, but tough to remember that sometimes!

  6. Pingback: New Hampshire Fall Color Report - Mid September « New Hampshire Mountain Dreams

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