Saturday, May 20, 2017 – “Sasquatch Hikes Mt. Monadnock” race.
My friend Dan found this race and mentioned that he was looking for a partner, so I signed up, too, and off we went!
Mt. Monadnock is pretty legendary, but I didn’t know what to expect from the trails. The publicity for the race made it seem fairly family friendly– a race with lots of swag, where everyone gets a medal– so I was not anticipating how steep the trails would be, nor the amount of rock scrambling that would be involved.
We received a bag, a filled water bottle, snacks, some coupons, our bibs, and a tiny laminated trail map when we checked in. Then a volunteer at the trail head took down our numbers and start time. It was very informal, which was fun.
The trails were very crowded, with over a hundred racers in addition to the usual weekend hikers. It could not have been a more beautiful day, so that probably brought even more people out on the trails. No one was grumpy or unfriendly about the trail traffic, though, and several groups of day hikers moved aside to let us pass when they saw our bibs.
We took the White Dot Trail up the mountain. After having borrowed Jesse’s trekking pole in the Glastenbury Wilderness, and loved it, I was trying out a hand-me-down pole that was my dad’s for this hike. I found that it got in my way a lot as I was climbing and I had to put it aside for several rock scrambles. Dan asked to try it and found it very helpful, so he used it for much of the ascent. I took it back for the descent, as my knees hate the downhills.
There are several false summits on Monadnock, but we took those opportunities to drink some water and take photos of the spectacular views.
After climbing up tumbled rocks and over gnarly tree roots, you reach the point in the trail that is all rock slab climbs and traverses. I was wearing an older pair of Merrells that didn’t have much tread left, so this got tricky whenever the rock was wet. It was loads of fun, though.
We made it to the summit in 1:40ish and received our medals from some heroic volunteers who had lugged them up there!
We spent some time taking photos, taking in the view, and having a snack before following the White Cross Trail down the mountain. Good planning on the part of the race organizers to send everyone down a different trail. Not only did we get to see another part of the mountain, but we didn’t further clog up the White Dot Trail for those still climbing.
While not as steep as the first trail, the descent was still very challenging. There are fewer grand vistas, but also more interesting young forest and a few streams to hop. Back at the base, we learned that we did not win the raffle (womp womp!), but we chatted with the officials about future hikes. They are organizing a hike on the Franconia Ridge loop this summer. If the event is anything like this one, I highly recommend trying it out! They were very organized and fun-focused. If you are not a very experienced hiker, this is a fantastic way to get a taste of the hobby. Every single one of the organizers was incredibly friendly and knowledgable.
I can’t end this post without including my favorite photo from the hike: