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Difficult Hike on Monadnock

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Saturday hike up Monadnock was difficult. First of all, I wasn’t sure that this was the best day to hike. I had not hiked a mountain in about 30 days. The weather did not look perfect. Snow was in the forecast for the afternoon, and I did not want to get caught in a storm. Finally, the sun was not shining, and it was cold. It wasn’t until 7 AM that we made the final decision to hike. I’m so glad that we did.

As we started out, there were tiny snowflakes in the air. We were experiencing frozen fog. It was beautiful and also ominous of the weather that we were about to experience. No, this was not a perfect day for a hike.

The trees were covered with rime ice. As soon as the water crystals hit the frozen trees, they froze. The patterns were unique and delicate. There was also a frozen layer of ice and snow on our trail and our coats.

One great thing about hiking in the winter is that the trail is much smoother. We don’t have to maneuver around each and every rock and stick. The snow smoothes out the trail, and we made it to Monadnock’s summit in 90 minutes. Unfortunately, the temperature was going down, and the wind was picking up as we crossed the tree line. With no protection from the wind, we added another layer of clothes.

We hiked to the summit of our favorite peak, careful not to slip on the rocks. The microspikes are a must on a hike like this. At the summit, we met some great people, and then headed back down. The trail conditions were quickly deteriorating as the afternoon approached.

We stopped for a snack, and then kept on moving down the trail. We wanted to get off the mountain as quickly as we could. Our coats were covered with ice, and there was no good reason to enjoy the nonexistent views. The mountain was enveloped in fog, snow and ice. We took the Old Halfway House Trail to our car, and high-tailed it home. Another great adventure on Mt. Monadnock completed. After a steak dinner, John and I can smile about the difficult hike.

What made this hike so difficult was the fact that we had to wait until the last minute to make the decision to climb. If we did not consider conditions safe enough to climb in, we would have stayed home. Normally we start getting our gear ready the night before. Not being prepared mentally can make a hike difficult.

Photo 1 by Allan DiBiase
All other potos by John and Jackie Stetser
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