My First Winter Hike: Monadnock

07 Feb

I’ve been itching to go hiking for some time, now. It’s been several months since my last hike. (I’d link to it, but oops! – the hiking log is still in my drafts folder…) And, that’s certainly waytoo long. (Both the overdue blog entry and the hike.)

Notice the "White Dot" - that is the icy trail

So, on Friday night, I found myself at REI with my friend Mike, scoping out what I might need for my first-ever winter hike. After some deliberation, I ended up with some Ice Trekkers (they were completely sold out of MicroSpikes), a thicker pair of hiking socks, and some beef jerkey.  And, I was ready to go.

On Saturday morning, I headed on up to Jaffrey, NH to tackle Monadnock once again.  The forecast was calling for a sunny day with a high temp of 24˚F.  I figured that the summit was going to be in the single digits, and was prepared for it.  However, upon arrival at the base, I was thankful to find that the temperature was a much warmer 34˚.

Monadnock is known as the “Second Most Hiked Mountain in the World.”  So, I’m not sure why I was expecting to find only a handful of people on the mountain at the beginning of February… but, I was.  And, ohhhh was I wrong.  Before arrival, I had decided to be conservative and head to the main parking area and hike one of the “main trails.”  I was greeted by a ranger who was eager to collect my $4.00, and directed towards a lot that had, at least, 45 cars in it.  That alone was enough for me to know that this was not going to be the “big, scary, death-defying, winter solo hike” some friends and family were thinking it was going to be.

View on the summit. Not much snow anywhere on the mountain.

I strapped the spikes onto my boots and started heading up.  The trail was covered in ice.  Not snow.  Hard ice.  Having never used the spikes before, I was a bit timid while testing the grip.  But, it didn’t take long to see that I could walk fairly normally.  So, I started picking up the pace and by 1/4 mile in, I was starting to sweat and shed layers.  So, off came the jacket, gloves, and hat.  Thanks to the warmer-than-expected temperature, I hiked the remainder of the way without them.

It really was a great hike.  I felt pretty darn good for being fat and out of shape, and made it to the summit in about an hour and a half.  I had only fallen once on some particularly nasty glassy ice… the only type of ice the spikes do not want to grip on.  So long as you look for the cloudy, pitted ice, you are good to go.

All smiles on the summit.

The summit was blustery as I expected.  It was probably about 10 degrees temperature-wise, but the wind chill had it much closer to zero.  Visibility was pretty good.  I could make out about 4 ski areas to the north, but have no idea which ones they are.  I found a nice place on the summit where I could shelter myself from the wind, ate my sandwich, and headed back down.  There definitely was a bit of a mental hurdle taking those first few steps on a steep down hill covered in ice.  But, once again, the spikes proved invaluable.

I can’t wait for my next winter hike.

—–Hike Stats—–

  • Date: 2/4/12
  • Elevation: 3165
  • Elev Gain: 1807
  • Mileage: 3.8
  • Trails: White Dot Trail (up & Down)
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Hiking


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