Mt. Monroe NH, 09 September 2017

1:39 a.m. on September 10, 2017 (EDT)
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Report and pics later today. An absolutely incredible hike!


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5:19 p.m. on September 10, 2017 (EDT)
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Last week my hiking & snowshoeing partner, Chad, and I decided to hike Mt. Monroe NH on Saturday. We both left around 0730, I got to the trailhead around 0950 and Chad pulled in maybe 30 minutes later, after having passed the turn off US route 302. After getting our boots on, making any last minute adjustments to our packs, using the facilities twice in 1/2 hour (me, I always super-hydrate myself the night before and the morning of a hike so going that often is a good thing), and getting the latest trail and weather info from the USFS ranger, we headed up. 

Mount Monroe is the 4th-tallest mountain in NH at 5372', and lies about 1.5 miles south of Mount Washington. 

IMG_1903.jpgA marker at the trailhead.

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The trail we took is the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, which closely follows the course of the Ammonoosuc River as it flows down the, you guessed it, Ammonoosuc Ravine. The river and its tributary streams drain the west slope of Mt. Washington and the north slope of Mt. Monroe. There are cascades the whole way down the river. 

The first 1.25 mile of the trail is a gentle uphill slope, very easy, then for the next mile or so - up to the Lakes of the Clouds hut - it gets pretty steep. There was a short wooden ladder up against a 6' vertical ledge at one point, and we ended up doing some 3- and 4-point scrambling in a few spots above the treeline. On this section of the hike we met a young hiker named Todd who'd just come down from the summit where he'd laid a stone in memory of his grandfather, who'd just passed away Wednesday at the age of 92 and whose surname was Monroe.

i think I'm constitutionally incapable of smiling on command. It just looks like I'm showing my teeth.

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Showing my best side.

IMG_1902.jpgCascades, and more cascades.
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Approaching and going above the treeline.

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As luck would have it, neither of us got a pic of the OUTSIDE of the Lakes of the Clouds hut, where we stopped for maybe 1/2 hour or so. I guess we'll just have to do it next time (there IS going to be a next time.) We scarfed down some food, I tended to a hot spot on my left heel, then we grabbed our packs and headed for the summit, approximately 0.3 mile away and 350' higher. The area was pretty much clouded in now, with visibility maybe 250 yards at most. We had to do some more 3- and 4-point scrambling closer to the summit. 

IMG_1905.jpgOne of the Lakes of the Clouds.

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From the summit.

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From the summit we headed back down to the hut for maybe 15 minutes. It had started to sprinkle while we were at the summit, by the time we reached the hut it was falling a little harder. Chad put his rain jacket on, Phil the Furnace waited because he'd be wetter with it. The rain got stronger as we descended, wetting all the rocks and making some of them EXTREMELY slick. Vibram soles are an amazing invention, but they can't violate the laws of physics, so both of us had a few minor slips. No injuries for either of us, other than to my pride when I managed to end up on my fundament on an almost perfectly level section of trail. Chad safely descended using his rubber-tipped staff, I had my brand-new Black Diamond Alpine FLZ poles strapped to the side of my pack but ended up just picking my route very carefully and using my hands on the more sketchy parts. I'd guess it took us almost 2 hours to get down below the treeline and to where the path became less inclined. Somewhere along the way the rain intensified to the point that I put my rain jacket on, and there were enough water droplets on my glasses that they had a distorting, fish-eye lens effect on my depth perception at times. 

By the time we reached the trailhead and parking lot it was about 1930, and had been just barely light enough to see without our headlamps for the last 5-10 minutes. Chad's dry clothes from his pack were pretty wet (he REALLY needs to discover ziploc bags!), the Stoic Breathe shirt I was wearing was soaked but would dry quickly with the Jeep heater running so I gave him the nice, dry, ziplocked, merino baselayer top I'd brought along and we went in search of food. Our original plan had been to stop at the Yankee Smokehouse in Ossipee, but seeing as it was about 1945 when we were ready to leave and Ossipee was probably 1.5 hours away we figured they'd be closed by the time we got there. Then Chad remembered the pizza place where he'd turned around after missing the Cog Railway road on the way up, so we headed there. It was 1958 when we got there, we asked if they were closed and when the lady said they closed at 8 we turned around. The owner graciously told us that if we wanted a pizza he'd make us one, so we stayed. And had one of the 2 most delicious pizzas I'd ever had in my life, along with the most incredible cannoli you could imagine. So if you're ever in the Crawford Notch/Littleton area, stop in at Catalano's Pizzeria. You won't be disappointed. Oh, and the also have baked potatoes stuffed with chili & cheese, broccoli & cheese, and bacon & cheese. 

The hike itself was awesome. Amazing. Incredible. Any superlative you can think of fits. The trail was really nice, the cascades were very scenic, and the water was so clear that it was hard to tell how deep it was. The hike was also far, far physically easier for me than it should have been given the trail length (7 miles), profile, and elevation gain. By the time we reached the summit I still had absolutely no physical pain or even discomfort, not in my knees, legs, anywhere. I have no idea WHY it was so easy, when much shorter and easier hikes left me sore and aching. Was it because I was hiking with a friend instead of solo? Was it because I psyched myself up for it so much? Or have I just gotten in that much better shape? I'm not complaining, but I hate not knowing LOL

I wore a brand new pair of boots yesterday - a pair of Lowa Camino GTX I bought last Sunday, and that I'd only worn for about 4 miles of hiking last week. They felt that good on me, like they were made for my feet. So comfortable. And with only the beginning of a single small hot spot, I think I made a pretty good decision. I'm definitely going to be reviewing these once I get a lot more miles on them. 

My first official 4K was a great hike, and we're already planning on summiting Washington on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail & Crawford Path this year. The first time we'll both have a full weekend off together is the 2nd weekend in October, hopefully the weather will cooperate for us. I'm addicted LOL.

7:29 p.m. on September 10, 2017 (EDT)
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Great report and photos as usual.  You may be addicted but its a healthy one!  I like the recommendations for local food - especially someone who went the extra mile for you.

3:22 a.m. on September 11, 2017 (EDT)
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Pretty.

The hike seemed easier because you are putting in the miles.  It makes a big difference!

Next time you need to smile for the camera, just remember the crotch pocket food pouch forum thread :o

Ed

6:53 a.m. on September 11, 2017 (EDT)
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I'll have to read it, I wonder if it's anything like my idea for underarm burritos?

Maybe it is the mileage I'm doing, even though I'd done almost as many miles before my Little Haystack hike and that one hurt me. But I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth, if the next hike is painful at least I'll have had one physically easy one. 

I'm already hooked enough that I'm going to start researching lightweight or UL gear for weekend trips, the Granite Gear pack that was just reviewed sure does sound nice and a pretty well known explorer I follow on Facebook has nothing but good things to say about GG. I guess it's time to hit gear stores and try some packs out, and start looking  bags & tents. 

8:00 a.m. on September 11, 2017 (EDT)
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Nice report and great pictures,,I think its your getting more use to hiking more and your getting in better shape...Keep um coming...I saw your last post real quick...Do you know about the 4000 ft of NH facebook page? Its pretty cool...I have some friends that are members...Keep working on the 48...

8:47 a.m. on September 11, 2017 (EDT)
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Phil Smith said:

I'll have to read it, I wonder if it's anything like my idea for underarm burritos?

Maybe it is the mileage I'm doing, even though I'd done almost as many miles before my Little Haystack hike and that one hurt me. But I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth, if the next hike is painful at least I'll have had one physically easy one. 

I'm already hooked enough that I'm going to start researching lightweight or UL gear for weekend trips, the Granite Gear pack that was just reviewed sure does sound nice and a pretty well known explorer I follow on Facebook has nothing but good things to say about GG. I guess it's time to hit gear stores and try some packs out, and start looking  bags & tents. 

You gearing up for three season or four Phil? I am a backpacker, not a peak bagger, but when you are ready to spend a few days out there look me up. I know a few spots :)

3:34 p.m. on September 11, 2017 (EDT)
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At the moment I'm planning on 3-season, I want to get shoulder season experience and learn the technical side of winter in the mountains before I start doing multi-day treks in winter. 

4:38 p.m. on September 11, 2017 (EDT)
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Phil Smith said:

I'll have to read it...

 I mis-named the thread, but I believe you already read it.

https://www.trailspace.com/forums/camp-kitchen/topics/185891.html

Ed

4:46 p.m. on September 11, 2017 (EDT)
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Phil Smith said:

At the moment I'm planning on 3-season, I want to get shoulder season experience and learn the technical side of winter in the mountains before I start doing multi-day treks in winter. 

 That makes good sense. Much of what you learn the rest of the year applies in the snow, but there are many other things that are totally different. The dangers are certainly more dangerous in the Winter.

My Fall is already pretty well booked, but keep it in mind for next Spring. I pass through your town on my way to NH most trips and like I said, I do know some spots over there :)

12:38 p.m. on September 12, 2017 (EDT)
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I will definitely take you up on a hike next spring! Last night I went to EMS and tried on a couple backpacks in the 60l range, I think I'll go back Sunday and spend more time. There's also LL Bean, REI, & IME within 90 minutes of me so between the 4 I should be able to find a nice lightweight pack, 4-season tent, and down sleeping bag with enough room for me. 

August 22, 2019
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