Mount Monadnock: The Most Climbed Mountain in the USA

Mount Monadnock: The Most Climbed Mountain in the USA

As we hiked up the White Dot Trail of Mt. Monadnock, my girlfriend stood above me and warned, “climb forward, but don’t place your hand on that rock over there because a snake is hiding inside it.” She motioned to another snake-free rock, and after completing her suggested sequence of steps I successfully pulled myself up to the level that she had already ascended to. Under normal circumstances I would run in the opposite direction of a snake, while screaming at the top of my lungs. However, I was in the company of women who train for things like Tough Mudder and the Spartan Race, and I didn’t want to seem like a wimp.

It all started a few days before, when my girlfriend asked me to join them on a hike, and in my mind I had imagined a nature walk to photograph butterflies and pretty foliage. However, that morning we embarked on a long drive towards New Hampshire, which I thought was a bit weird, since we could have easily completed a nature hike close by in New York. Upon arrival several hours later, one of the girls checked us into an app on her phone that would alert the authorities if we went missing, and that was the point when I realized that I was about to climb my first mountain.

I was caught between fear and excitement, because on the one hand this would push me far out of my comfort zone, which I would normally love to do. But on the other hand, I was definitely out of my league. As we began the hike, I immediately fell behind because the White Dot Trail was the steepest and shortest path to the summit, and the incline quickly tired me out. I realized that I was terribly out of shape, in addition to the fact that I wasn’t dressed appropriately and began sweating through my clothes. Even though my sneakers were anti-slip, I frequently found myself sliding on the rocks.

I looked over at my hiking mates to see that they had very specific hiking attire, especially shoes, which allowed them to step comfortably on rocks without sliding. The girls noticed that I was in need of a break, so they cut me some slack and stopped for a moment. Meanwhile, groups of hikers continued to pass quickly by.

My main motivation to continue was the positive vibes I received from my girlfriends, as well as the community support from other hikers all around us, especially those descending, who encouraged, “you’re almost there!” They were obviously lying, but their encouragement was certainly motivating.

In my mind I had imagined a nature walk to photograph butterflies and pretty foliage… Upon arrival, one of the girls checked us into an app on her phone that would alert the authorities if we went missing. That was the point when I realized that I was about to climb my first mountain.

The snake incident occurred around the halfway mark, and we stopped to soak in some gorgeous, sweeping views. I also took a moment to observe the other hikers around us: a mix of tourists, regulars, and even a company on a team-building retreat. The most peculiar was a camp of teenage kids who were undergoing digital detox as part of a rehab program, which I figured out after hearing a kid scream about how he would rather die than continue on without his phone.

Groups of people huddled ahead of us as we neared the summit, and it almost felt like I was getting in line to enter a club. I had no idea what to expect since I had never been to a summit before, but as we arrived it seemed like an average day at the park, only 3,000+ feet in the air. The views spanned all of New England, from Boston to the Berkshires, Mt. Washington, and Vermont. As I snapped photos, some hikers advised me to photograph the “Thoreau Bog,” which was apparently named after Henry David Thoreau, who had frequented Mt. Monadnock, as was reflected in his transcendental writings.

We took the White Cross Trail on the way down, which is much less steep, and it was interesting to see the new wave of hikers on their journey. While the majority of folks were enthusiastic, there were a few who seemed like they were on the same boat as I had been, and I did the same as those before me and lent encouraging words.

I later learned that Mt. Monadnock is the most climbed mountain in America, and I can certainly see why. Even though it was probably one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my life, I managed to push through despite lack of experience, improper gear, and a fear of things like snakes. So in the end it is absolutely accessible for non-hikers like myself, while still intriguing and challenging enough for seasoned climbers.

 

Mount Monadnock: The Most Climbed Mountain in the USA

About Roxanne Lee

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