“Comes the morning when I can feel
that there’s nothing left to be concealed.
Moving on, a scene surreal.
Know my heart will never, never be far from here.
Sure as I’m leaving,
sure as I’m sad,
I’ll keep this wisdom in my flesh.
I leave here believing more than I had.
And there’s a reason I’ll be back.“
– Eddie Vedder, No Ceiling
Another solid week of favorable hiking conditions is coming to a close here in the Monadnock Region. While temperatures were up a bit, hitting the 80’s on a few days, it looks like this weekend will bring another round of ideal hiking conditions.
Aside from Friday’s slight chance for an isolated shower, we are in the clear again for a while. Mostly sunny skies and tempertures topping out in the mid 70’s are in store for the weekend and start of next week.
It may be a bit cooler than expected at the peak of Monadnock, so an extra long sleeved shirt or light jacket is an advised addition to your pack and supplies.
Clear nights and temperatures in the low 50’s are what our campers at Monadnock State Park can expect this weekend.
All in all, it sounds like a great weekend to spend outdoors. Those looking at visiting Grand Monadnock can expect big crowds, and at some trailheads, limited parking opportunities. Arrive early, if possible, and with a back up plan for an alternate trail entrance if needed.
Move It On Over
As you probably know by now, this will be the last time my words and your eyes meet for a Monadnock Weekly Report. After this day is over, so concludes my employment and management duties at Monadnock State Park, home of the most hiked mountain in the Western Hemisphere and “America’s most literary Mountain”, Mount Monadnock. In fact, you might say this dispatch is my last act as Park Manager as my day is over once it is published.
What started out as a meager email newsletter to update visitors on winter trail conditions grew into consistently the most popular and most read blog on the New Hampshire State Parks webpage; an obvious reflection of the widely spread appeal and love this treasured mountain has been generating for the past 200 years. As I have said, sharing the wonder and beauty of this sacred peak and its deep history has been the most fulfilling and enjoyable aspect of my duties as Park Manager.
Yesterday evening, Wednesday, I went for a hike up Monadnock for the final time as Park Manager. After planning an ambitious trek that would have taken me to my most favorite trails and locations, the reality of the limited amount of day light set me on a more simplified course.
Contrary to my typical peaceful, but attentive and curious mindset on the trails, my head was racing yesterday evening. As I moved up along the Fairy Spring Trail, my thoughts centered on the immediate future of the operation of this Park, as the chaos that is Fall Foliage is lurking around the bend. I tried to pry myself back to the mystical nature of the trail and, as usual, wonder if my boots were striking any of the same ground or rocks that Thoreau’s did on his hike of the Fairy Spring Trail in 1858.
By the time I reached “the Tooth” nearby Monte Rosa, I at least had some distraction with the first sweeping views.
The summit called to me and soon, my body and mind were in motion again.
I am excited and eager to get started in my new position with the State; volunteer service and community outreach are such integral and vital aspects to managing natural resources and the opportunity my new role provides, along with the impending move north strike a rich chord in me. Perhaps part of the reason why I feel heavy-hearted in leaving Monadnock.
I continued towards the top of the mountain along the Smith Summit Trail. As the peak became nearer, my steps become slower and I felt as if extra weight had been added to my pack. All along the Smith Summit Trail, I began to focus more on the fact that this was my last climb as the Park Manager of Monadnock. I told myself that this was not a death march, that Monadnock is not going anywhere and that I have no doubt that I will explore, enjoy, and indulge myself on her trails again. But, I couldn’t help the forlorn and saddened feeling of my last climb as Manager. The feeling sunk in more with each step, as if when I reached the summit, I would no longer be the lead caretaker of a place that I love so much.
Very unexpectedly, I became emotional as I took my final steps towards Monadnock’s summit. I had to regain my composure so as not to ruin or interrupt the enjoyment of the few folks who were already at the top in the late afternoon.
Wanting to avoid any human contact, I went down the east side of the summit, found a quiet corner, and looked North towards my future. I contemplated my time on Monadnock and how, in so many ways, throughout my life, the mountain has impacted and shaped my thoughts, my ideas, my values, and my understanding and connection with the world around me.
Mount Monadnock, unselfishly and without asking anything in return, has served as my playground, my classroom, my therapist, my gym, my teacher, my home, and my friend.
The one thing that comforts me the most is the continuing and evolving history of those who have fought for, defended, advocated, and loved this mountain. It is important to remember that Monadnock has more friends and admirers whose connection to this place has stirred the spirits of those who want to protect and care for this temple.
We all know how important it is to preserve Monadnock for future generations. We have been given a mountain that has been left as wild as one can expect at this stage in history. Other peaks, some even in view of Monadnock, have had buildings, roads, antennas, platforms, and other unnatural features placed upon their tops and slopes. But, the same mountain that drew the awe and attention of names like Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thayer, Cather, Twain, Blake, Longfellow, and countless others is relatively the same mountain that inspires us today.
Not only do we owe it to Monadnock to continue to look after and care for her, but we owe it to future generations to be able to connect with and fall for the beauty of this treasured mountain.
We also owe it to Monadnock, which gives so much to us, to leave a better generation of people to look after her and discover all that she can give to them.
Monadnock is more than its summit, more than a viewing platform, and more than simply a rise of land. Monadnock is an experience and a world in and of itself. Take the time on your hikes to listen to what she has to say, learn what she can teach you, and share Monadnock’s wisdom and comfort.
I will carry my lessons and the spirit of Monadnock, wherever I go. It will always be home to me and I will continue to explore and share this magnificent place.
You, who care for this mountain, have inspired me countless times as well. The many, many people who have given back to Monadnock in so many different ways remind me that the better angels of our nature will triumph and continue to defend the best of our ideals and natural settings.
In my new position, I look forward to meeting, working with, and being inspired by more people, organizations, and groups who care for New Hampshire’s parks and to make new connections with different places.
Next time I am on Monadnock’s trails, I will have a new professional title, still regard myself as an unknown nobody, but my role as a steward for our Parks will be no different.
Monadnock State Park Manager (2008-2013)