Another Memorial Day, and another unshod trek up
This time I not only posted an official
for it, I spammed a handful of other social forums with the intent of simply
getting more of my acquaintances out of their desk chairs and into the
woods, regardless of their footwear choices.
The logistics got a little weird but everyone who was going to attend was on-site by 10AM, and entry to the park had gone quite smoothly despite the various fears about capacity crowds that had been expressed by some folks.
As we started collecting, a lot of emergency vehicles suddenly
came streaming into the park, sirens a-blaring.
Apparently someone had suffered a heart attack somewhere near the summit,
and despite the efforts of those nearby, the incident and its outcome of
made the news
back in Boston.
As we began our trek up White Dot, a group or rangers and responders
pounded past us to go up and support the rescue airlift operations above.
Not the typical Monadnock incident this time ... usually one expects the medicals to happen late in the day when hikers have gotten tired and stupid, so this was rather unusual.
|We soon turned away from the "major highway" of White Dot, heading along the Cascade Link toward the lesser-used trails. The mix of rocks and muddy areas had us leaving plenty of transient tracks.|
|Things got steep a bit later, as expected, and it wasn't long before we cleared the more heavily wooded parts.|
|We were on my suggested choice of Red Spot, another of the trails up the northeast flank to the Pumpelly Ridge. Fairly generous blazes helped keep us on the trail through the open sections.|
|Here's the main reason for alternative trails: as we crested onto a flatter part, we could see over to all the crowds on White Dot! We had only seen three or four other small groups all the way up Red Spot, and almost had it to ourselves.|
|With all the leisure of our early start, relative solitude on the chosen route, and having arrived at the major open viewpoints, there were clearly more photo opportunities.|
|We were totally having fun with the amazing grip of bare soles on the steep slabs.|
|The top was quite populated as we expected; we paused just short of it for some snacks, staying out of the strongest wind and away from the families with rambunctious kids. Then we quickly summited, wandered around a little, and collected all our feet around one of the brass benchmarks for the obligatory style of barefoot "we made it" shot. Six of us this time, pretty good turnout! It would have been seven but there was a little rendezvous confusion with another guy who preferred to wander his own path that day anyway, but apparently my Meetup post had inspired him and a friend to get out to the mountain in the first place.|
|We agreed on the typical descent route of White Cross, and started our way down. Time to really test those knees and IT-bands...|
|At a lower level of big flat slabs, it was the perfect place for a "timed selfie" of the whole group and a traveling feet shot by another of our party.|
|As we got down a ways farther, one of us led an interesting side trip to bushwack through a little wild forest to an old trail. The terrain underfoot through here was rather odd and a bit tricky, with thick blankets of leaf litter sometimes covering deeper holes between rocks.|
|We passed some interesting features, including what someone had phrased in the past to our guide as "quartz boulders as big as Volkswagens". No lie, the two obvious ones we found are huge, and mostly white and rose quartz.|
|Slightly off the trail is a lovely little pair of waterfalls.|
|We were on the remains of the Red Cross, with rusted steel blazes still stuck on a few trees here and there. This is certainly not the only obscure or "secret" spot on Monadnock; this blog thread hints about many more.|
|The downside of being in lower woods near water became obvious: lots and lots of these. Bugs hadn't been too bad on the way up, despite the park rangers' advice that it was black-fly season ... there were a few black flies on the way up but they seemed to dislike the Picaridin on me enough to not bite, but now on our way down there were *clouds* of mosquitoes attacking us. Fortunately for not too much farther, as we were off the steeper parts and soon popped out of the woods near headquarters.|
About 5.5 miles and everyone 100% barefoot, and a fun little side
adventure along the way.
There's a small museum by Headquarters with a lot of mountain lore on the walls; I finally learned what that "diamond-plate" pattern on some of the rock is from, sometimes also called "granite worms". Select the big-picture for readable detail.
|Some of us stopped at Kimball Farm on the way out. This is their idea of a "small" cup, aka dinner for the evening. I wasn't sure where to even begin on this, but decided that the first priority was to get through the steep parts.|