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!
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”.
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?