A New Year’s Day visit to Mt. Monadnock

I usually travel to Temple every New Year’s Day for the Peanut Butter Chip Chase 5k.  The drive from my home to the Wapack Range is beautiful, and I enjoy walking (not running) on Temple’s quiet roads. Today, though, I decided to bring in 2014 by heading to Mt. Monadnock for a First Day Hike sponsored by the good folks at Monadnock State Park. I chose a guided nature hike along the low and flat Parker Trail; the other option was an uphill hike to a spot with a good view. Each hike drew about twenty people, accompanied by guides from the park and from the Forest Society.

Yours truly celebrating New Year's Day on Mt. Monadnock

Yours truly celebrating New Year’s Day on Mt. Monadnock

I wore strap-on traction aids for my boots, and left my snowshoes in the car when I saw how icy the trails were. The temperature was about 15º, and I can tell you now what happens when you carry granola bars in your backpack on a 15º day: the bars freeze solid. (Three words for next time: inside coat pocket.) Lots of sunshine, though.

Heading out for the First Day hike

Heading out for the First Day hike

We were led by Meredith and Brenda of the park staff, along with a specialist in land conservation from the Forest Society. I didn’t take notes but soaked in what I could as they talked about forest management, wildlife habitat, and the history of the mountain. We walked at a very leisurely pace along the quiet Parker Trail. Half the fun was watching the kids in our group. A few of them appeared to be veterans of the trails. Others were wide-eyed and full of questions, walking a little unsteadily as they adjusted to having microspikes on their boots.

We were hardly the only visitors to the park, which surprised me. When I arrived at the headquarters entrance, the main parking lot was full and I had to proceed to the overflow lot. When I met Sue, the new park director, I asked her about that. “Oh, yes. We’re open year-round. Even on days like this, we get between 200 and 400 visitors.”

This is the third year that First Day Hikes have been held at New Hampshire state parks. I think I’ll be back next year.

Brenda of Monadnock park staff at reservoir dam

Brenda of Monadnock park staff at reservoir dam

New Year's Day fashion: boots with traction aids.

New Year’s Day fashion: boots with traction aids.

A path to take another day: Lost Farm trail.

A path to take another day: Lost Farm trail.

A glacial erratic along the way. Schist, not granite.

A glacial erratic along the way. Schist, not granite.

 

 

 

 

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