May 4, 2013.
Still turned off from the crappy spring conditions in the Whites today is a good day to go cave hunting near home. Mt Monadnock has a man-made cave/hangout built back in the early 1900's by a couple of kids. It is still there but very little info can be found as to it's location. So today's agenda is to hike up Pumpelly Trail and with a little bit of info do some recon and if I get lucky see it in person.
Heading out late in the morning and I make it to the trail head next to Dublin Lake and on trail at 11:45. Leaving the pack and hiking poles at home I head out free and weightless. Feels good to head out into the woods with nothing to carry and the hands are free to climb, crawl or scramble over what may come in my way in search of Pumpelly cave.
The sun is bright and skies clear with temps topping out in the low sixties as I make my way up through the woods with the trees still leafless. About forty minutes into the hike and I reach the first steep section on this 4.5 mile trek to the summit. This is the longest approach to Monadnock and everything I have read about this trail should not disappoint. A few minutes later and I spy some ledges off to my left and leave the trail to investigate them.
These ledges are a huge bonus so early and still low in elevation. Kearsarge, Crotched, Belknap and Cardigan way off in the distance. To the east the Packs and yesterdays hike, Winn, Rose, Lyndeborough and the Pinnacle.
Back to the trail and ten minutes later another ledge and this time views into the northeast to Mt Ascutney across from Claremont.
Up the trail and the first look at Town Line Peak (the high point on Pumpelly Trail and supposedly near where the cave is) and the summit of Mt Monadnock.
A zoom onto the summit and it is crowded as usual with over thirty people visible form this vantage point.
A quick fifteen minutes later and another ledgey outpost for even more views this time further into Vermont. Stratton Mt, Bromley Mt, Mt Snow and Killington with their white ski trails visible.
Another five minutes and I reach the junction with Cascade Link Trail. I venture down it for a few hundred feet to get some bearings as to the location of Pumpelly cave and return back to Pumpelly Trail. Had I known the Imp was located off this trail I would have poked around a little more. Just another reason to go back some day. Less than thirty minutes and I make my way off trail to visit Town Line Peak and get blessed with a hawk-like soaring the thermals. He is circling the peak going around clockwise when looking up disappearing behind the peak then coming towards me on a moments notice. Hard to get a good picture of him because it all happened so quick.
Spending some time poking around this area and I come up empty trying to find the cave but do have a pretty good idea where it might be. Armed with this info and some other info I'll be back maybe in the fall to finish this little quest. A good shot from Town Line Peak of what I have left to hike to get to the summit of Monadnock.
While wandering around I did come across a cliff section that turns out was named by Fred Pitcher after he saw a bear on it, it is called Bruin Cliff, nice to find the story behind some of these things. I find the history of naming features just as interesting as climbing or coming across them while on a hike.
At the next junction with Spellman Trail there is a huge boulder that resembles a sarcophagus and is so appropriately named.
From here on out it is nothing but exposed slabby fun with teasing views to the summit. Rock cairns also lead the way being more reminiscent of the Presidential's.
Thirty-five minutes from leaving Town Line Peak and I arrive at the summit of Grand Monadnock and all its masses. It is annoyingly populated and even worse a trash pit for the lazy and uncaring people. It is a sad statement on some of the types of people that come here and their disregard for leaving no trace. Enough of my little rant, looking back at Pumpelly Ridge and where I came from all the way to Dublin Lake.
Time to head back and get away from the crowd. Returning the same way I came up and by the time I hit Dublin Lake I really need a drink as I also didn't bring any water. As I get to the end of the trail I hear a primal scream and wonder what the heck was that. Popping out onto the road and turning the corner I quickly figure it out as a guy is walking across the street from the lake all wet from jumping into it to cool off. Down by the car and I stop at the lake myself and splash my face with the cold but refreshing water of Dublin Lake.
Final numbers: 9.0 miles, 5 hours and 10 minutes.