Unlike my previous hike to this mountain in October, I opted to go from the State Park side. My reasons here were two-fold: first, I figured that the State Park might be the only lot plowed so far, and second, I wanted to try to most popular trails on this mountain at some point, but not during the "regular" hiking season when it is a veritable conga line all the way up the mountain. (Note to those hiking from the State Park lot on Poole Road: there is a $5 per person use fee unless you have a NH State Parks season pass.)
With no one jumping on my somewhat last-minute call, I set off from the White Dot trailhead at 9AM. Not knowing what to expect for trail conditions (aside from expecting needing snowshoes most of the day), I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-broken 2-foot deep trench snaking through beautiful open woods right from the start.
|Nice trail-breaking by someone(s)|
1/2-mile in, and only a moderate amount of climbing later, I reached the first trail junction with the White Cross Trail, which I intended to take down the mountain later. I was pleased to see it was broken out, though it clearly had only seen one or two people through it since the snowstorm.
|White Dot/White Cross lower junction|
|Lightly-broken White Cross|
Still, progress was made, and I was in no real hurry on this beautiful day anyway. Somewhere near in the second steep section I caught up to another solo hiker and we leap-frogged each other up to the summit from there. Around 1.5 miles from the trailhead, the White Dot Trail begins to hit some open ledges, providing nice views to the South. Easily visible on this day was Wachusett Mountain of course, but also the Berkshires, and even the Boston Skyline. In fact, I was just able to make out the Blue Hills a little South of Boston.
Also present on these ledges was the wind, probably 25-30mph gusts in fact. Nothing crazy, but since it was still early and so it was still fairly cold, definitely noticeable, so out came the facemask, goggles (blowing snow stings the eyes), and a windproof layer. The ledge sections were by and large bare of snow (since it was so light a snow, the wind easily blew it off the day before), so I decided to try bare-booting from here since rock-hopping on snowshoes is not a ton of fun. Before maybe 100 feet, I found where the wind had deposited a LOT of snow, and sank up to my hip in one drift. OK, back on with the snowshoes it was for the rest of the hike. The rest of the climb up consisted of these open rocky areas intermixed with deeply drifted sections, until the last 100 vertical feet or so, which was pretty clear of snow.
|Heading up under clear blue skies|
|Over a shoulder of Monadnock to the Pack Monadnock ridge|
|Same shot from slightly higher|
|Panoramic shot from high up Monadnock looking East and SouthEast. Can't really see it in the picture, but the Boston skyline was visible 65 miles away.|
|Pano from Monadnock to the North and NorthWest|
|Pumpelly Ridge - some day!|
After a while, I got moving again, and aside from following the Smith Connector a little ways before realizing my error (it was broken out better than the White Cross, which looked like one person's random wanderings), it was a nice descent. The powder was deep and only lightly tracked, and so I was sinking very deep again into the deep drifts. When the shoes didn't hit the edge of a rock way down and try to roll my ankles badly, it was a nice soft descent through deep powder. I did see a number of people heading up as I neared the lower junction with the White Dot, so I imagine by the end of the day it was in great shape.
The trek out back to the car was uneventful, though I was saddened by how many were bare-booting. We had just had 2 feet of snow and probably half the people I saw in this last half-mile (around 2 dozen) were in boots chewing up the trailbed...not sure what they were thinking. But hey, what can you do? I just enjoyed the day, one of the most beautiful I've ever had in the mountains.
Peaks: Monadnock (3159', 52WAV)
Trails: White Dot Trail, White Cross Trail
Mileage: 4.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 1800 ft
Book Time: 3 hours