Mount Monadnock | 5/16/22
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
Mount Monadnock has long been the mountain I visit once a year, often up and down the same trails. I started hiking Mount Monadnock with my family, tending to hate them for forcing me to exercise, and crying at least once on the way up and again on the way down. I remember it taking us a good two hours to go up and then another three to go down when I first started hiking what was then the biggest mountain I knew. As I grew older, more confident, and much stronger, I stopped dreading the trips out to Monadnock State Park, where I would repeatedly hike up the White Dot Trail and down the White Cross Trail and started to ask to go.
For my fifteenth birthday, I begged my parents to take me so that I could try it on my newly developed CrossFit legs. When I was sixteen, I climbed it with friends and though it was still hard, I enjoyed it. When I was seventeen, I went with a stranger I'd met on the UVM Facebook page and got caught in a thunderstorm (things I'd soon learn are rather risky). But this time, at the age of eighteen with all of the New Hampshire high peaks behind me and a year of focused powerlifting under my belt, Ryan and I made it up the White Cross Trail in an hour and five minutes and down the Red Dot Trail, one I had never done before, in about another hour. Largely thanks to his excellent pacing and pure will to keep going no matter what.
We got to the trailhead late on Monday morning, around 9 am, and I was shocked to find the parking lot empty as I typically hike Monadnock on weekends. We started up the White Dot Trail and though I had wanted to go up the route with all the fun rock faces to scramble up, I had misremembered which was which and was too stubborn to listen to Ryan telling me we needed to continue going up White Dot- oops. We ended up taking a left to White Cross, starting fast, and then naturally slowing down as we got to the exposed scrambles that kept on giving. Once the peak was in sight, I looked down and saw we were at fifty-four minutes, immediately, Ryan raced to the top to make it in an hour. I followed shortly behind and met him at the summit where we ate our cliff bars, took a few classic Mount Monadnock shots, and then moved towards the Pumpelly Trail.
After walking down the Pumpelly Trail for about 15 minutes, we took a right onto the Red Dot Trail, which was marked by a red dot surrounded by a white circle. The trail starts with a few mild scrambles before turning into a consistent and gentle grade down a lightly rooted trail that we moved down quickly and easily held conversation through. Once we reached the junction, we took the Cascade Link Trail back to the White Dot Trail and headed down to the parking lot.
Sitting in my car trying to decide what to hit next, Ryan informed me he’d never done Pack Monadnock. A mountain that childhood me had spent even MORE time on. We drove down the road twenty minutes and got up Pack in thirty minutes flat, something baby Izzy never could have fathomed. And then, we got caught in a lovely thunderstorm coming down, something baby Izzy had experienced several times.
All in all, today was a really redeeming day for me to understand how far I’ve come as a person and a hiker over the last ten or so years. The mental and physical strength I’ve developed is finally becoming clear to me and I am so thankful for where I have come from and what I have experienced along the way because I am certainly thrilled to be here now.
In fact, for good measure of reflecting on what I’ve accomplished each year of my life, I’ve decided to continue hiking this peak at least once a year. I’d say I’m off to a pretty decent start so far.