The Pack Monadnocks + Bonus Hikes
Al and I took a post-covid camp-and-hike yesterday. The goal was to test out some new equipment we got for eventual overnights and to get a little fresh air after surviving a little over a week as the coronavirus rolled through every member of our family. Though we are all fully-vaxxed we all got sick. I hate to think of what it would have been if we weren't vaccinated.
We camped within our home county (MA Middlesex) at Pearl Hill State Park. We barreled in after work and were delighted by the tall, tall, trees and the relative quiet of our site. That night--after breaking a tent pole--we fell asleep to the sound of the wind in those massive trees. We will go there again, I think. It is relatively devoid of RV's as the lots are mostly set up for tenting. That said, many of the tent sites are pretty much right on top of each other. We were there on a low day. If you go during the weekend, take a good hard look at the map!
The next day we slipped over the border and hit a couple of our favorite mountains. Set slightly apart from Mount Monadnock are two smaller...er...monadnocks; Pack Monadnock and North Pack Monadnock. We decided to take a out-and-back route from North Pack to Pack and back over North to the car. This started, incidentally, at the northern terminus of the Wapack trail, a 21.5ish mile trail that starts on Mt Watatic--the "Wa" in Wapack and one of my very faves--in Massachusetts.
Here is what I have to say about this hike. Don't do it in your first few days out of Covid isolation! The trail elevation was, in the end, comparable to a 4,000 footer and the length--about 9 miles--was too. In addition, we were carrying heavier packs than usual to test out the packability of our new gear. Today we are both stumbling around a bit coughing...
That said, it was a pretty good hike. The clouds and occasional rain kept us good and wet for the first two-thirds of the trip but as we stumped back for our second time up North Pack, the sun came up and the views were finally cleared. In this case I cannot blame the mountains for my difficulties. I blame myself for trying to do too much too soon. It is important to listen to your body sometimes. The foliage was excellent. We saw some flowering blueberry bushes, a number of lady-slippers, and a wide variety of ferns still un-scrolling for the summer.
The company was excellent, too, and we ended our hike at a small brewery in the old Grand Army of the Republic building in Peterborough New Hampshire. The GAR was an interesting group. They knew that, of course, they would eventually pass on but they built and maintained some beautiful halls and spaces for their community. On Memorial Day weekend, it seemed to be a good place to be.
We were going to camp one more night but with our general condition and some heavy weather coming it we took a pass, went home, and watched the Celtics lose on TV.
The experience reminded me to remind you--dear reader--that there are plenty of "non-list" hikes in NH worth doing. There are plenty of non-list hikes to do everywhere, but my MA hikes don't have a list other than my own and I will address those--like Watatic--in their own time.
That said, in addition to the mountains on the Wapack Trail, here are some others I have enjoyed recently:
Black Cap Mountain (and Cranmore): The top of Black Cap is the real draw on this short and relatively easy hike. We also hit "Mt Cranmore" which is really a lower spur of Black Cap and home to the Mt. Cranmore ski trails.
Arethusa Falls: This is not a mountain but...it is a fantastic hike with a lovely waterfall at the end. It is, however, more of a hike than one might at first think.
Eagle Mountain: There are probably a few mountains with the same name so I will be more specific. You access this trail from behind the Eagle Mountain Resort--a cool old hotel--in Jackson. It only take an hour or so to do but it is a fun hike if you have a short time window. The link is to the resort. You deserve it.
Flume Gorge: We hiked this mid-winter so did not hike through the gorge. Instead we hiked above it and looked through. It was a fabulous hike with cool views.
So there yah go! The next time you are in New Hampshire and don't want to spend your day bagging peaks but would like a cool view and a lovely walk, I recommend doing all or any of them. Just don't do it when you are sick.
Leave a Reply.
I am a full-time pastor in a small, progressive church in Massachusetts. This blog is about the non-church things I do to find spiritual sustenance.