“Wilderness appealed to those bored or disgusted with man and his works. It not only offered an escape from society, but also was an ideal stage for the Romantic individual to exercise the cult that he frequently made of his own soul. The solitude and total freedom of the wilderness created a perfect setting for either melancholy or exultation.”- Roderick Nash
There was a little bit of both melancholy and exultation this past week at our Grand Monadnock. I experienced the melancholic feeling of a January thaw that resulted in the loss of 95% of December’s snowfall accumulation. This was followed by the exultation of Wednesday’s snowstorm which blanketed the mountain with 4-5 inches of fresh snow.
Perhaps, 4″ of snow is not typically worthy of an exceptionally joyous feeling, but as I experience the recent warming shifts, trends, and changes to the colder and snowier winter climate I grew up with in southern New Hampshire, “exultation”, unfortunately, is no longer an exaggeration.
Last weekend’s warmer temperatures eliminated much of the snow, as noted. This process also resulted in freezing run off, producing stretches of ice on the trails that are now hidden under light layers of snow. Spiked traction is heavily recommended, particularly for hikers aspiring to treeline and above.
Snowshoes and X-C skis will need to wait for another storm or two.
The temperatures and the wind will pick up on Saturday. A partly sunny day with highs at the mountain’s base reaching into the mid 30’s is expected. Winds and clouds will increase, especially into the afternoon and there is a chance of flurries during the day.
Another breezy, mid 30’s day is expected on Sunday and we could see some additional snow showers, which may carry into the Monday holiday.
Arctic air will sweep back down for Monday and the majority of next week, bringing zero degree temperatures at night and only mid-teen temperatures in the daytime.
Last Week’s Quiz
Last week, I asked what two former names once applied to the present day Dublin Trail. Technically, it was three former names as the current name is a shortened version of one of them.
And, some of you knew the answer: the Darling Trail and the Farmer Trail.
As Fritz would say, “I’ll tell you the story…”
The house and lot at the base of what is now known as the Dublin Trail was acquired in 1840 by Luther Darling. Because his house had four previous owners and dated back to 1784, it is unclear whether Darling blazed a brand new trail up the mountain or simply re-opened or improved an already existing trail from the lot. There is recorded evidence of the trail existing in 1843, but its history is not noted.
The trail leading from the Darling’s lot to the summit, up the northwest slope of Monadnock, became known as the Darling Trail. It is received much use in the 1840’s and 1850’s as Dublin, NH became a popular summer retreat. It is said that the Darlings took in some additional income by feeding travelers and hikers and providing overnight accommodations, including an 1851 stopover by future Monadnock celebrity and mainstay, Scott A. Smith. This practice of money making hospitality by trailhead neighbors was not unusual at the time, especially at Monadnock.
Luther Darling would reside in his house until his death in 1860. His son, Josiah Darling, lived at and maintained the property until 1878.
In 1878, the Darling lot was purchased by William Farmer, who continued to maintain the trail and provide food and shelter to hikers and travelers. The Darling Trail would then become known as the Farmer Trail.
I have not yet found precisely when the transition took place, but Farmer’s son in law, George Eaves, eventually took over the property. Also for unknown reasons, the trail never took on the Eaves name.
In 1902, Eaves abandoned the lot at the base of the Farmer Trail. The empty 132 year old homestead would burn down 14 years later.
By the 1920’s, the trail became known as the “Old Dublin Trail,” eventually being shortened to the present day “Dublin Trail” title.
In 2007, the bottom portions of the trail were moved about 1/3 of a mile southwest down Old Troy Road to accommodate a larger, more formal parking lot.
The only trails on Mount Monadnock that are older than the Dublin Trail, as far as we know, are the Marlboro Trail and the White Arrow Trail, both of which were blazed sometime around 1825.
This Week’s Quiz
Currently, Grand Monadnock’s network consists of 36 hiking trails, not counting the Old Toll Road. Throughout the mountain’s long history, there have been over 100 hiking trails on the mountain, most of which are abandoned and reclaimed by Mother Nature. As you can imagine, there have been a large variety of names for these former trails. Below is a list of some of the former trails on Mt. Monadnock. One of the names is not a former trail on Monadnock. Which one is it?
1) Green Carpet Trail
2) Spooky Woods Trail
3) Tenderfoot Trail
4) Hazard Trail
5) Twisted Birch Trail
6) Chipmunk Trail
7) Sarcophagus Trail
8) Eveleth Trail
9) Sweetwater Trail
10) Red Cross Trail
We’ll have the answer here on the blog next week.