Back in January, I had been dealing with a few minor injuries and sicknesses so I desperately needed a weekend outside. I continue to gently pressure a few of my friends from home to obtain the necessary equipment to go camping with me. However, until that glorious day arrives, I usually have to travel solo on weekends to find some adventure. I recently made the lonely 5 hour drive up to the small town of Gardner, Massachusetts for an action packed weekend with Legs and Verge (and their parents – Goldberry and Bombadil). The highlight of the weekend (besides seeing two of my favorite people) was summiting Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire during a small blizzard.
Besides catching up and spending some time with my favorite trail family, the weekend was filled with hiking, eating and drinking. On Saturday morning after a delicious homemade breakfast, Legs, Verge and I drove out to Mt. Monadnock on the border of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The weather was beautiful despite temperatures in the teens. We donned our microspikes and set out to do what we do best: climb mountains.
This was my first time using microspikes (I used the Kahtoola MICROspikes) and I was pretty amazed by how effective they were. The trail was completely covered in several inches of hard, impenetrable ice that was blanketed with a layer of softer snow. With just hiking shoes, the hike would have been literally impossible. However, the microspikes made it as simple as walking up dry rocks on a normal hiking trail.
The landscape was ridiculously beautiful – rime ice hung heavy on the pine trees and pure, white snow was windswept into gentle drifts. Since Monadnock is a fairly solitary peak, the views in all directions were stunning and Boston was clearly visible on the horizon. Once we crested the treeline, the mountain transformed into a winter hellscape. Every surface was utterly and completely covered in thick layers of ice. Rock wasn’t visible anywhere. The temperature dropped as the wind picked up and clouds rolled in. As we reached the summit, snow started to fall and it became incredibly cold. With no view to see, the three of us postponed lunch and started on our way back down to the protection of treeline.
As we descended, we ran into Bombadil and Wild Turkey (also an AT thru-hiker that I first met on the ascent of Mt. Moosilauke) as they worked their way up the mountain. The snow and ice combined to provide a few glorious opportunities for glacading, but otherwise, it was a pretty precarious descent. We were grateful to reach the car, warm up a bit and re-energize with some much needed food.
The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing around the house and grabbing dinner and a few beers at the Gardner Ale House in town. We topped off a pretty fantastic day with a midnight soak in the hot tub outside. You can’t fully appreciate a hot tub until you take a soak in single digit temperatures with piles of fresh snow everywhere.
Well, the morning of my drive home had inevitably arrived. On the way, the ladies and myself (plus Gary, Legs’ boyfriend, and his adorable dog, Frank) took one last, quick hike up Mt. Wachusett, which is a ski mountain near their house. It was a super short hike, but just another great opportunity to enjoy a beautiful winter day.