Monadnock (Again)

The Livingston Family went back to Monadnock, but this time, in the snow. We love this place. What can you say? Monadnock is a perfect mountain. There are no great distances to cover. It’s got an exposed rocky summit. It’s only a two hour drive from our house. It’s lovely.

We were last there on 17 June 2020. That was during our “warmup” hike to the summit and start of our five-day New England Trail End-to-End Adventure. Unfortunately, our kids couldn’t be with us on that trip. That would have been too much for them, but yesterday, they were leading the way. Back in June, it was sweltering hot in the valley, warm on the summit, and we had 360 degree views for as far as you could see.

Yesterday, we had whiteout conditions and no views, but it was every bit as exhilerating. The wind wasn’t too bad. It was manageable if you stayed warm and protected your skin. As long as you kept moving, you were fine. The kids had tackled Monadnock for the first time, back in May of 2018, when Debbie led a hike for her Cub Scout Den. I’ve been on Monadnock in winter on several prior occasions, but it had been about 20 years since my last winter sojourn.

In May of 2018 when the kids first hiked the mountain, it was a cool but sunny day, which was very different from yesterday’s conditions. This past weekend, our original goal was to go skiing/snowboarding at one of the Connecticut “mountains” but everything was booked. It’s booked next weekend too. Between the reduced capacity at resorts, and decent conditions, the demand is high, so we missed out. Debbie checked some other places in southern New England, but we have decided to lay low and not deal with quarantine rules and other requirements.

Monadnock seemed like the perfect alternative. We have made a few trips around New England in the past month, but have encountered barely any people in doing so. Yesterday, we saw about a dozen folks on the mountain in groups of two or three. It’s the perfect place to distance yourselves from others and enjoy nature.

The kids hadn’t experience a winter mountain hike, so we figured this would be good training. We took our time to educate them on the preparation and execution of a winter adventure. They led the way, and it will be interesting to see if we can keep up when we get to our 50’s. We cobbled together a collection of traction devices from our gear room including vintage Yaktra and, MICROspikes, newer EXOspikes, and various snowshoes. We have crampons, but didn’t pack them. We didn’t need the snowshoes, but carried some as backup. The trail had been “tracked in” on the easier slopes, so it was better to just attach the spikes to our boots. Above treeline and with fresh snow, it was a little harder to navigate, but we knew the route from prior trips and the occasional “white arrow” painted on a rock helped.

One person we did see, was Colin, the ranger who was stationed at the Monadnock State Park trailhead on Route 124. He collected our $15 fee and gave us some helpful tips. Kudos to him for hanging out in his little (heated) shack on Super Bowl Sunday while a bunch of winter hikers explored the slopes of the local mountain.

Minutes after we arrived in Jaffrey, it started to snow. By the time we started hiking, the snow was coming down at a steady rate. It continued to snow throughout the day. Our total elapsed time was 3.5 hours. We made it to the summit in about two hours and the walk down was quicker. On the way up, we took the Old Halfway House Trail to the White Arrow Trail. On the way down, we took the White Arrow to the Old Toll Road, which made the descent even quicker. It would have been fun to explore Monte Rosa or some other trails, but this was a quick trip and we wanted to get home before the weather got too bad.

The drive back to Connecticut took longer and we saw a few accidents, but we stayed out of trouble. Everyone was stoked from the adventure, which set us up nicely for the week ahead.

1 Response to “Monadnock (Again)”

  1. 1 Srikanth Perinkulam 9 February 2021 at 3:31 am

    Oh boy! Wonderful to see these pictures. Almost white-out conditions? Monadnock has always been on our list. Sad we never really got around hiking there despite living in Boston!

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A couple of trail runs along rivers with @trailrunningmom ❤️
#monadnock #mtmonadnock #newhampshire #hiking #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders #family @trailrunningmom ❄️ 🥾 🏔
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