Last Hike of the Season
If you were to survey all New Englanders to find which season was their favorite, I bet the results would say fall in a landslide. Everything is crisp, dry, and cool, without the humidity of spring, the heat of summer, and the snow of winter.
This fall's foliage was sort of a bust, definitely not one of our best. It was rainy for a long time, then unseasonably cool, then unseasonably warm. It snowed a bit and then was 60 degrees two days later. The trees couldn't figure out what was going on so the leaves never turned for their annual fireworks display.
I went hiking with Mark Lotterhand on a Monday in November, the latest I had ever gone in the regular hiking season. It was cold and windy at the top. Mount Monadnock has a rocky summit, the result of a forest fire a long time ago. Thoreau spent some time here.
It was so clear on that day that we could faintly see Boston far away on the horizon. Boston is a two hour drive away from Mount Monadnock, so I'm guessing we could see 80-100 miles.
Monadnock is one of the most hiked mountains in the world, second only to Mount Fuji in Japan (Correction - it is now *the* most hiked mountain in the world since they put a road up Mount Fuji. Thanks Mark). It's not hard to see why it is so popular - it's an easy drive from Boston, not too difficult a climb, and gives great views at the top. On summer weekends, this mountain is awash in families.
On the day Mark and I (and the dog) hiked, we saw no one. We took a less popular route up and, like I said earlier, it was cold and windy. I can't guess how fast the wind was running but I had trouble standing up in it and you had to shout to be heard.
Mark (who knows just about everything about wildlife, geography, and weather) explained that wind's effects are not linear with their speed, ie. there's a bigger difference between winds of 55 mph and 60 mph than five miles per hour. If nothing else, I gained a new respect for hurricanes.
I give this hike four stars. If you click on any of the images above, you will see the larger version.