“There is a passionate affair going on between the climber and the mountain. ‘Why do I climb a mountain?’ I would say that the climber would say, ‘because I am in love.'”- William Shatner
It’s a post Valentine’s Day edition of the Monadnock Weekly Report. I’ll talk more about the above quote after we get through our current conditions.
As for Monadnock’s trails, Winter is still in effect. Last weekend’s Nor’easter dropped a reported 30″ of snow in Jaffrey and closer to 32″ on the mountain. It was tough going on the trails afterwards, especially for those “breaking trail”.
Some warmer temperatures and rain earlier this week soaked our new snow accumulation and brought some of the depth down, but there is still a lot of snow out there, especially in the middle sections of the mountain.
The more heavily used trails, such as the White Dot, White Cross, and White Arrow trails, have been packed down pretty well at this point, although there are sections of ice lingering. And even though many other trails have seen foot traffic since the storm, snowshoes might be helpful on the lesser used trails.
There is a mix of conditions above treeline. Last weekend’s storm was accompanied by high winds, so the snow drifted quite a bit in areas. There is a lot of bare rock near the summit with areas of ice mixed in, especially on the north face of the mountain.
Even with packed snow, light forms of spiked traction are advised. They can also help to grip into the snow and really improve your footing in the current conditions, especially on descent.
There are some favorable conditions for X-C skiing. Some of the trails have not been broken out yet. For those hikers who specifically want to snowshoe, I would consider some of the following trails: Cascade Link, Parker Trail, Birchtoft Trail, Hinkley Trail, and the Harling Trail. Cart Path, Mossy Brook, and Marian Trails should be good for snowshoeing as well.
The Monadnock Region could be in for some more snow this weekend. A dusting of snow is possible overnight tonight. Saturday looks to be cloudy, with accumulations of snow Saturday night into Sunday morning of 1-3 inches. Sunday will be colder and windy.
The clouds should clear for the Holiday on Monday, but the winds will still be gusty.
More precipitation could be on the way by midweek, so keep an eye on the forecasts.
Why is there a Shatner quote on the Monadnock Report?
As I am sure you all, like me, own a copy of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, contained in a wonderfully packaged Blu Ray box set with other Star Trek films, you may recall Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy on “shore leave” in Yosemite National Park. In the beginning of the film, while free climbing in Yosemite, Capt. Kirk tells Spock that he is climbing El Capitan “because it’s there.”
I’ve heard that response from other people about climbing mountains and to me, it is a cop-out response that is not entirely truthful. In a behind the scenes interview for the movie, William Shatner explains the answer to the question of why we climb much more eloquently, which I quoted at the beginning of the report. It at least explains why I climb.
We climb mountains for so many different reasons. It can be an almost religious experience, connecting ourselves to Nature and to each other. We value these lands and these opportunities. It is important enough that we have set aside millions of acres across our Nation, protected lands, to ensure that we all have access to these special places in their natural state whenever we need them. We seek them out because it means something to us. We pass the tradition on to our children because we know how much it means to us and we want it to be the same for them. Our National, State, and City Parks reflect the best parts of our values and our humanity.
I tend to have a more romantic connection with the outdoors. I have hiked in many special places and have a true passion for some specific mountains and lands. Some of my favorites are right here in the diversity of New Hampshire’s State Parks. But, I don’t think it is a stretch or exaggeration to say that I am in love with Monadnock.
There is something really special about this noble mountain. The list of names associated with Monadnock, drawing inspiration from this peak, is impressive. But you don’t need to be a Thoreau, Emerson, Thayer, Cather, or Hawthorne to feel in awe at Monadnock’s sight or on its slopes. For more than a century, local community’s efforts and financial contributions from all over the world have helped to protect the mountain from those who would defile it with houses, widespread logging, tramways, roads, and buildings. Parcels are still being added, further widening the reach of Monadnock’s conserved land. Time and time again, organizations and individuals have cared so deeply for this mountain, that now close to 6,000 acres of Monadnock is perpetually protected.
I am not the only one who can say I am in love with this mountain. That is one fact I am forever grateful for.
Amongst many roles to me, this mountain has been a friend, a teacher, a therapist, an inspiration, and a guiding spirit. Mount Monadnock is home. I am comforted by the fact that she always will be, no matter where I go.
Whenever anyone asks me why I climb, while the list of reasons may be long and sometimes inexplicable, I know I can always confidently respond by saying “…because I am in love.”
Why do you climb?