Welcome to the Monadnock Trails Report; an escape from election talk, fiscal cliffs, the Mickey Mouse take over of Star Wars (can they possibly sink that franchise even more?), the stock market, Twilight, Syria, Baseball Winter Meetings, and the continually frustrating NHL lockout.
However, of course, we can’t escape talk about the weather. The first round of clean-up from Hurricane Sandy’s damage to Monadnock’s trails is complete. The Pumpelly Trail was cleared and re-opened on Sunday. We’re not done with clearing trails, but no trail currently necessitates a closure. We were able to get Monadnock’s nearly 40 miles of hiking trails assessed and cleared in less than a week. Thanks to those staff members and Park Volunteers who assisted me in the efforts.
But, as Mark Twain noted, “The weather is always doing something there.” And so this morning, I awoke to the first snow of the season on Mt. Monadnock thanks to the Nor’Easter.
Grand Monadnock only saw what New Hampshire Yankees may refer to as a “dusting”. No more than 1.5″ of snow accumulated. This followed a rather raw day on Wednesday this week, which saw 60mph+ winds at the summit combined with a 24 degree temperature reading (wind chill of near 0!) midday.
All of Monadnock’s trails are covered in light snow as of this writing. The winds are whipping again at the summit. Patches of ice mixed with bare rock will dominate the terrain above treeline today, tomorrow, and possibly into Saturday.
Snow and winter conditions not your thing? Don’t worry, Fall will be making a last gasp on Sunday and Monday as warmer temperatures (possibly into the 60’s at the base!) will return briefly. Trails will be wet going into the weekend from the snow melt, so despite the favorable temperatures, expect some muddy and wet sections of trail.
It looks like rain will return to the Region by Tuesday.
My camera is currently out of commission, so I apologize I do not have new photographs of the snow. I may not be able to provide non-cell phone pictures for awhile, as I may need to wait/hope for a Holiday season replacement. Until then, if you have new pictures from your hikes on Monadnock, email them to me and I will include them in upcoming reports.
Speaking more on the opening lines of this report, Mt. Monadnock often serves as a means of brief respite for many who seek it on its trails. For centuries, Mount Monadnock has served as an identity for a Region, inspiration for countless individuals, and a place to seek the wonders, solitude, and tranquilness of her natural beauty. You know the names of Monadnock’s more famous passionate followers: Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, Lovecraft, Thayer, Phelps, Ayres, Cather, Twain, Smith, to name a few.
Monadnock serves many roles to all who climb it or admire it. For some, its a large gym, playground, or classroom. For others, its a therapeutic way to to take a break from what life may be dealing at the moment. Others even use Monadnock as a place to concentrate on and work out issues in their lives. There is undoubtedly a huge social component to Monadnock where families and friends connect regularly. I have seen friendships formed, solidified, and even more personal relationships begun by those people crossing paths in their lives on Monadnock’s slopes. Some of us are fortunate enough to have Monadnock as a connection with and symbol of home. For me, Mount Monadnock has simply been a true friend who is always there and is a symbol of strength and grandeur through times of adversity.
Whatever Monadnock means to you, just remember that this mountain needs you just as much as we need it. Mt. Monadnock is a survivor; the mountain has survived historic storms, fires, earthquakes, floods, and everything else thrown at it in which it is built to last through.
But, the biggest threat to Monadnock has been us. We’ve nearly clear cut her, tried to build houses and roads to her summit, radio towers, tramways, and airplane beacons. But, it has been the local community and organizations that have defended her and preserved the mountain for future generations to enjoy it as we do. It reminds me of what John Muir once wrote: “The wrongs done to trees, wrongs of every sort, are done in the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, for when the light comes, the heart of the people is always right.”
We can thank the “heart of the people” for keeping Monadnock as we see her today. But we must remember, as stewards for the mountain, that we must continue to preserve and protect her and maintain the spirit of the “heart of the people”, as we not only inherited our mountain from the past, but are also borrowing Monadnock from future generations of wildlife, climbers, artists, educators, and admirers.