01.04.13 "Is anybody out there, please? It's too quiet in here and I'm beginning to freeze. I've got icicles hanging from my knees under fifteen feet of pure white snow."- Nick Cave It's not quite as drastic as the song by the Bad Seeds quoted above, but with snow piling up and some recent frigid temperatures, it is no doubt winter here at Grand Monadnock. A few more inches of snow blew through the Monadnock Region last weekend, padding the total accumulation of more than a foot that came down a few days prior. So, we have a new year and, unlike last season, actually have some snow to enjoy. Outside of the freak snow storm in October, last winter did not bring us a singular snow storm total of more than 10" until March 1st. Overall, Monadnock's conditions are favorable for a winter excursion. There is a fair amount of snow present on the trails with little ice in the lower sections. The summit has its usual mix of pockets of snow, ice, and bare rock. The main trails have been packed down enough by hikers, at this point, that snowshoes would not be necessary. Lesser traveled trails may require snowshoes to be utilized. Spikes should be part of your packed gear. Crampons are not asking too much, although a combination of MicroSpikes (or equivalent) and hiking poles should get you down the mountain safely. Don't forget to pack your sunglasses or goggles to ward off sun glare from the snow and deflecting the wind. Saturday looks like a great winter hiking day with temperatures at the base of Monadnock reaching into the upper 20's. The clouds will gather on Sunday and we could see some additional light snow falling. After a colder forecasted day on Monday, the rest of the week looks favorable in our forecast with temps in the 30's and no precipitation forecasted. But, this is a New England weather forecast, so don't celebrate yet. There is plenty of time for the weather gods to change their minds. The Nordic Ski Trails probably need a bit more snow for ideal conditions. Skiers have gone out on the network, but I imagine there will be areas where skis could get scraped on rocks and debris. One more good snowstorm and we should have solid X-C ski conditions. First Day Hike I would like to extend a hearty "thank you" to all who came out to start off the New Year with a hike here at Monadnock State Park and the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion in Portsmouth. I would also like to thank the staff, volunteers, and partnering Eastern Mountain Sports, who worked hard to make it all happen. We had some nice conditions for a winter hike at Monadnock, which was enjoyed by all. An extra mention of appreciation should go to our Monadnock State Park volunteers and Parker Trail adopters, John and Lize Bigl, who donated their time and fuel to lead the hike! If you missed it, don't worry. I expect we'll be gladly hosting the event next New Year's Day. Plus, there are still 360 more days this year to hike Monadnock! This Week in Monadnock History It was January 1st, 1986, when the State Law prohibiting pets at Monadnock State Park (and all NH State Parks) went into effect. While the law was changed to allow pets back into many State Parks before long, they are still banned in areas and at certain State Parks, such as Monadnock. Before 1986, the #1 complaint of hikers on Monadnock had to do with dogs. Monadnock's popularity is not a new phenomenon. Henry David Thoreau griped about the number of people on Monadnock (and how under prepared they were), and that was 150 years ago. But, the amount of dogs on Mt. Monadnock became too much for the hikers, the wildlife, the trails, the staff, and even the mountain to realistically handle. By 1985, thousands of dogs, in addition to the tens of thousands of hikers, were present each year. In addition to attending to hiker rescues, staff was often rescuing (or recovering) injured or dehydrated pets. Dogs on leashes would cause injuries to their owners descending the mountain. Dogs off leashes would chase wildlife (often to death), fight with other dogs, leave messes behind (especially in concentrated areas like the summit) or steal a lunch from an unsuspecting hiker enjoying a view. The summit of Mt. Monadnock is home to rare alpine bog vegetation that is found nowhere else in New Hampshire south of the White Mountains. Dogs rolled in the bogs to cool off and would sometimes relieve themselves in the bogs, which led to the near elimination of these plants. Since dogs were prohibited from the trails, wildlife started slowly returning, the alpine bogs started to regenerate, no more trail messes, barking, or stolen lunches, and the staff can focus on rescuing human hikers, which happens quite often without dogs being put into the mix. As a lifetime dog owner, now having three at home, I could not be more supportive of the disallowing of dogs to hike here, regardless of my stature and position. Monadnock just can't handle it. But, there are some great opportunities in the Region to hike with your dog on mountainous terrain with a rewarding view. Gap Mountain in Jaffrey and Troy is a favorite for my dogs. Pack Monadnock Mountain at Miller State Park in Peterborough and Little Monadnock Mountain at Rhododendron State Park in Fitzwilliam also offer great hikes for you and Fido (Did you know Abraham Lincoln had a dog named Fido?). So, in keeping with the essence of stewardship, protecting, and respecting of your beloved Monadnock, bring your dog to a neighboring rewarding mountain hike where they are allowed, maybe with a view of Mt. Monadnock. Perhaps my dogs and I will see you there on the trail!