12.21.12 So, the calendar has finally turned to the anticipated date of December 21st, 2012. About two inches of snow fell overnight in the Monadnock Region, it is now steadily raining outside of the Park Office, the world as we know it still exists, and the cold, gray, miserable weather matches the feel of the saddened and heavy heart I have been carrying for those in Newtown, CT. Like me, you've undoubtedly been barraged with all week on the two subjects of gun violence and the Mayan calendar. One of those subjects actually deserves your attention and careful thoughts, but there are far more appropriate forums than this one, so let's get to the reason why you're reading this to begin with; Monadnock. As mentioned, the rain is currently ruining the new snowfall on the trails, but it is not going to eliminate it all together. Earlier in the week, we saw a similar pattern here; snow immediately followed by warming temperatures and rain. This caused a fair amount of ice build-up in Monadnock's upper elevations and as you can see from the picture of the mountain above, taken yesterday, it was still very much winter near the summit. I expect a similar pattern of effects from this current weather system, which will be giving us a mix of rain, sleet, and flurries through Saturday morning. The precipitation may come to an end during the day on Saturday, but I expect the sky to remain overcast and the summit may remain in the clouds for the duration of the day. We can expect clearing by Sunday, accompanied by mostly sunny skies, but cold temperatures, which looks like it will be the "norm" for the beginning part of next week. Also following under the "norm" category for the foreseeable future: icy trails! Especially if the upper sections or the summit of Monadnock is on your itinerary, bring your spiked traction! MicroSpikes or similar products will be the minimally aggressive devices needed, especially for a safe descent. Please note that day use fees will be required at Monadnock HQ all of next week, with the exception of Tuesday. Coming to Monadnock State Park... This past year, Monadnock State Park was selected to be the first New Hampshire State Park to participate in the national First Day Hike event on New Year's Day. Despite the lack of any snow at all, an enjoyable hike was still experienced by many families on the Parker Trail. Monadnock will be hosting the event once again on January 1st, 2013. Here is the press release that went out yesterday: NH State Parks Celebrates the New Year with First Day Hike on January 1, 2013 Rejuvenate by taking a family friendly trek through a state park close to home (Concord, NH – December 20, 2012) The New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and Eastern Mountain Sports will sponsor a free, guided hike at Monadnock State Park and at Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion Historic Site on New Year’s Day as part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2013. “We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks. First Day Hikes is a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks,” said Phil Bryce, Director of New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation. “We are fortunate to collaborate with wonderful partners to help provide First Day Hike activities at Monadnock State Park and Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion Historic Site.” At 10:00am on January 1st, park staff and volunteers will lead an easy to moderate hike, which is about one to two miles. Day-use fees will be waived for all visitors at Monadnock State Park and Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion Historic Site on January 1, 2013. Eastern Mountain Sports will display a range of outdoor recreation gear while providing information and demonstrations for their use. Complimentary healthy hot drinks and snacks will be offered as well. “Last year, we hosted over 14,000 people who hiked over 30,000 miles in our state parks across the country when we launched America’s State Parks First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day 2012 in all 50 states,” said Priscilla Geigis, President of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). “To start 2013, we’re inviting kids and adults to get their hearts pumping and experience the beauty of our state parks at one of over 400 hikes nationwide. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day!” First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family. " Once again, the guided First Day Hike will take place on the Parker Trail for 2013, which rambles through the forest on the southern slopes of Mt. Monadnock. Monadnock State Park volunteers, Society For The Protection of New Hampshire Forests Land Stewards, and Parker Trail adopters John and Lize Bigl will be leading the hike here at Monadnock from the HQ area. More information and a link to pre-register for either event can be found at: http://www.nhstateparks.org/whats-happening/first-day-hike/ I hope you all enjoy whatever you choose to celebrate this Holiday Season. Kick off 2013 doing whatever brings you joy and peace. For many of you, I hope it includes a visit to Grand Monadnock.