“Don’t worry, it levels out….at the top.” I often wonder if we’re the only hikers who use that mantra. This weekend we hiked Pack Monadnock, which, while not very tall at just under 2300 feet, is quite steep in places. Which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect a mountain to be flat, and I don’t expect climbing a mountain to be easy. My body, on the other hand, wouldn’t stop complaining.
We’d taken a weekend off after hiking the entire 9 miles of the Franconia Ridge Loop in the pouring rain. I expected to be a little rusty, but my knees and ankles were flat out screaming, “oil can!” Like the tin man, I found my joints reluctant to cooperate.
The fee at Miller State Park is $4 per adult. You can either hike or drive up the mountain. Mountains with roadways are never my favorites – once you get up to the top the air is filled with the smoke of all the people who drove up the mountain to smoke a cigarette. Drives me absolutely insane.
We chose the Wapack Trail, which stretches for 21 miles, actually beginning in Massachusetts. The ranger at the bottom told us it was a 45 minute hike. Going full speed ahead with no breaks, we made it in 45 minutes exactly. We passed several groups on the way up, all a bit irritated that they’d been hiking for so long without reaching the top yet. I prefer the rangers who give an over-estimate on the time it takes to get to the top. Hiking up the side of a mountain isn’t easy – why not try to build confidence instead of fuel discouragement? We did our best to impart a few words of encouragement, let them know that we do this every weekend, and that during the first few climbs of the year we have to stop every 50 feet for breaks.
There are a couple of good vistas on the way up, and the view from the summit is worth the hike. It was a beautiful day, so a lot of people had driven up and it was a bit crowded at the top. It was a good hike, challenging but not long, a good work out for a late Sunday afternoon.
We learned that you could hike from the top of Pack Monadnock to Pack Monadnock North. Unfortunately, we had started too late to hike the 5 mile loop over to Pack Monadnock North. Since I don’t enjoy descending mountains in the dark, we decided to save that hike for another trip. We did start down the trail for a bit to see what it was like – sometimes it’s just a straight shot over to another peak, but this one appeared to entail climbing down one mountain and up another. That adventure will have to wait for another day.