On Tuesday I found myself sitting up in bed at 10 am with nothing in my plans and no commitments to make for the day. It took me about 5 minutes to convince myself that it would be a good day to drive up to Jaffrey, NH and try a hike on Mt. Monadnock.
Given my late start (I didn't start up the trail till 1:30), I figured I wouldn't make the summit. I'm a pretty slow climber - worse on the downhills. Regardless, I set out on the long drive to Jaffrey simply because...well...I had nothing better to do.
The trail starts out harmless, but if you take the White Dot trail, as they suggest, you are quickly put under the realization that you are going UP, steeply at best.
Mount Monadnock is a pretty popular mountain. According to Wikipedia it is one of the most climbed mountains in the world and, (I think), the most climbed in the United States. There certainly was no shortage of people that day, I must have passed at least twenty other hikers. Its very name - Monadnock - is actually a term used to distinguish mountains who are topped by the same structure of glacial boulders at its peak. Thus while Jaffrey, New Hampshire's Monadnock is THE Monadnock, there are other mountains simply distinguished as "monadnock's". (Aren't you glad I knew that)?
I really love the commonality that hikers seem to have when meeting each other on the trail. Normally, I wouldn't feel the desire to say hello to every person I passed if I were walking down the street. However in the mountains its different. People are friendlier, in part because (I suspect), everyone knows that if they were ever in trouble, they'd need to hope a fellow hiker would help them. Theres also a sense of freedom when hiking in the woods. Your not always connected to a cell phone tower, or even other people. Its a great place to get away from regular life for a while and just experience nature, enjoy the weather, not worry about anything that might be bothering you. I love to leave the world in the parking lot and just hike.
As I got higher up, I started to snap more and more pictures. I'm not sure how far you can see from the top. Monadnock is 3,165 feet up. I didn't make it to the summit as I had suspected. I really want to go back on a day that I plan better and thus get there in the morning rather than afternoon. Either way, the vistas at 2,700 feet were still amazing in their own right.
Rock carins mark the way along the trail above the timber line.
That is as close as I got to the summit. The picture actually distorts the distance. In reality I was much closer than what this image portrays. So much for iphone camera quality. Either way...
I really wish I lived closer to mountain ranges. I'd be in them a lot more if I didn't have to drive at least two hours to reach them. There is something beautiful about elevation. You simply put one foot in front of the other and eventually you are above everyone and everything you know. I've flown a plane before - once - and honestly the feeling is very similar. The higher you go, the more and more things all come into perspective when you look down at the ground below you. You start to realize just how small and insignificant we all are. Houses turn into matchboxes and cars turn into moving dots. All that matters to you is the area immediatly around you, and what lies just beyond the next ridge. The only people you are in touch with are the people who came to the mountains for the same reasons you did. To climb, to have a little adventure, to look at the world from a different angle and - at the end of the day - return home with a renewed sense of whats important, whats not and maybe even...a new perspective.