Spanning the Gap

Mount Monadnock as seen from Gap Mountain's North Summit.
Mount Monadnock as seen from Gap Mountain’s North Summit.

   I had a bittersweet moment this weekend as I said good-bye to an old pal. And while I’ll miss my friend, the time had come to part ways – it simply could not be avoided any longer. This weekend I traded my 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee in for a younger model. And while I’ll miss the car that had been my faithful adventuring companion for the last 10 years, I won’t miss what had become a daily struggle to keep it on the road.

    Or my new found freedom. I came home from the grocery store on Sunday, and it was suggested that in order to break in my new Jeep, that we hop in and drive to New Hampshire and find a mountain to hike. What’s this? An unplanned road trip? And we’re taking my car??? Suddenly the impossible was once again possible. My ride was no longer an old, broken down mule used only to get to work and obtain groceries. No, now I was the owner of a sturdy steed capable of covering great distances. So we headed to New Hampshire and ended up at Gap Mountain.

     At just under 2000 feet, Gap Mountain seemed like a good prospect for a late afternoon hike on a work night, an hour and a half from home. And it was. Although it started out pretty level and flat, there was a good distance of steep climbing to get to the top. Enough to cause breathlessness and excessive sweating. And although I thought I had learned to always do my research, we went in completely blind. Luckily the path is well marked, because we went in without a map.

     The sign at the entrance let us know that we were climbing the South Summit, which had no view. It then went on to boast of the wonderful view the North Summit had of nearby Mount Monadnock. So upon reaching the top after a quick 35 minute hike, we simply kept going, hiking over the top of the mountain, across the Middle Summit until we arrived at the North Summit. And while the view wasn’t all that the sign boasted, it was pretty, and a nice reward for an impromptu hike.

    

Greetings from the Top

029     Well……I conquered Mount Monadnock. They estimate that it takes about 4 hours to climb round trip. We did it in less, including a small picnic snack at the top and taking a longer route down, so I feel a bit like a rock star. Except that I had to stop every 10-20 minutes on the way up to catch my breath. A minor detail, right? We took the ‘White Dot’ trail up, which is the most direct route, then the ‘Red Spot’ trail down, which takes you hiking across the top of the mountain and down a different side, where you eventually take a trail leading back over to the White Dot. There are some amazing views, and the scenery is gorgeous.

Next on the list is Mount Greylock, which is the highest peak in Massachusetts at just under 3,500 feet. And the new goal for the end of the summer is Mount Washington in New Hampshire, which is almost 6,300 feet.

The best part about climbing a mountain is the celebratory feasting for the rest of the weekend. Or maybe that’s just my opinion? The worst part is the guilt I feel when I come home to my dogs after leaving them alone all day. Not that the spoiled pups don’t get reparation in every form possible. Lately, they’ve been pre-occupied with the sudden surge in the rabbit population around the house. They’re quite certain that it’s their duty to try and narrow the numbers. Having had pet rabbits for a while as a child, I know that their teeth, and surprisingly their claws, make them much more formidable foes than their cuddly appearance would lead one to believe.

Two different dogs means two different hunting tactics, of course. My Jack Russell, Tempest, is a silent assassin, who will stalk and ultimately pounce on her prey (even when it’s my other dog) without making a sound. Sullivan, however, is a Schnauzer mix with a war cry that could rival that of any warrior princess. His high pitched shrieking let’s every creature within hearing distance know that he’s either A) seen another creature that moves or B) is being tortured and abused in the worst possible way. Both are rescues, and have their quirks, but are wonderful little pups that I’m happy to spoil rotten.

So, weather permitting, I will makes the pups ever so comfortable on the couch, with their pillows and blankets, surrounded by their toys, while I go climb Mount Greylock this weekend. After another long week at work, where the minutes seem like hours and the hours seem like days, I’m really looking forward to it.

View from the top.

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