June 3, 2014.
A different approach to an old favorite, Mt Monadnock via the southern side of the mountain. Parking at the bottom of the Old Toll Road trail head and heading up the Old Toll Road to the Cliff Walk Trail. This will be my first "real" challenge since coming off the AT and recuperating from gall bladder surgery a little over three weeks ago.
Another bright and sunny day as I head into the woods off the road and take my time enjoying the dark woods through this section. I am on the Parker Trail which leads all the way over to the main park entrance for Monadnock. It is a some what short walk to reach the Cliff Walk Trail through some great woods. Even though it is so close to the Old Toll Road the woods are so deep and dark it feels like being miles away from anywhere. A left turn onto the Cliff Walk and it doesn't take long to understand where this trail got its name. First up is climbing up through some broken boulders very reminiscent of the Whites.
Up through a chimney section and the first ledge with views, a spot called Hello Rock. The side view of the mountain and a view over to the Packs and Temple Mt.
Back into the woods and a warning from Sasquatch that I shouldn't be in these woods.
OK, seriously, Les Stroud the Survivorman of TV fame just did a two part series on Sasquatch in Canada. According to the guy he was with this broken tree is a classic Sasquatch sign marking his territory and (sorry Monty Python) "None shall pass". I have all the respect for Les but this one is really stretching it as I see these snapped trees all the time and Mother Nature is more powerful than Sasquatch, assuming that you believe in that sort of thing of course. Taking the dare I move through the area and continue up the trail to the next view point. Looking back down at Hello Rock ledge and across the valley Gap Mt with Little Monadnock Mt in the background.
Back into the woods again and I stop in my tracks. No it is not Sasquatch tracking me down for all my mocking! Rather it is the ever ferocious Milk Snake. Not poisonous but of good size and he was not backing down from me.
Up at the next ledge and there is a profile of a face on the rocky cliff that I have not read about anywhere.
The trail continues along snaking in and out of views and woods all the way up until breaking out onto the ledgey outcropping known as Bald Rock or as the erratic calls it Kiasticuticus Peak. Kiasticuticus is possibly Greek meaning "bald".
From Bald Rock the summit is in plain view with the usual crowds.
Over to the west is the destination on the descent, Monte Rosa, another bump on Monadnock's shoulder.
A pano shot of Monadnock from Bald Rock.
Heading off Bald Rock onto Smith Connecting Trail and it drops back into the woods. Shortly I reach the junction with Amphitheatre Trail and turn on it and make my way over to the White Arrow Trail. It is here that I hear the first voices of the day and the only people I see until the summit. Breaking back out of the trees and a look back with a pano of Bald Rock to Monte Rosa.
The trail up is more of a clamber than hiking on the bare ledges of Monadnock. It is a good test to see if my body can handle this type of climbing.
The summit is the noisy annoying place I have come to know. Way too many people and all the chatter that goes with it make it a summit I do not hang around on for long. A few snacks and some rehydration and I am glad to leave this party and make my way over to Smith Summit Trail. Near the junction are some great exposed ledges with the many layers of hardened rock visible.
Coming down off Monadnock is just as tedious as going up. But eventually I make my way over to Monte Rosa and its' infamous weathervane.
Continuing down and back into the woods the next destination is the site of the Halfway House. This is the site of a former hotel that burned down back in 1954.
Back in the woods behind where the hotel once stood is a large boulder with a hole drilled/punched into it. The old spring for the water that fed the hotel.
Just down the road and the only residence on the mountain. A sweet location and I am very curious as to how this was allowed and who lives there.
Down the Old Halfway House Trail which parallels the road back to the parking lot. A great loop hike and I think I found another favorite trail on Monadnock, Cliff Walk Trail.
Final numbers: 5.1 miles, 4 hours and 15 minutes.