I had Calvin (my son) duty for the day yesterday while my wife was working. I was looking for something to do with him and late in the morning decided that maybe I could throw him on my back and go up a mountain. My wife wisely talked me out of trying the Osceolas that late in the day and suggested Monadnock, since everyone except me has been up it before and it’s a much shorter trip.
So my son and I jumped into the car and headed over to Monadnock, along with half of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. It was a sunny Saturday late in the summer, so needless to say it was somewhat of a zoo. Several rangers were on permanent parking duty and the line of parked cars threaded all the way round the camping loop.
This is the first time in a while I’ve done a real hike with Calvin in his backpack. It’s an intense experience, with way more weight than I’ve been training with lately. He’s 31 pounds, the backpack itself is 7 pounds, I was carrying about 6 pounds of water, a several pound camera, and various food items. So I was closing in on 50 pounds of weight, which is quite possibly the most I’ve ever hiked with.
Elevation Gain: 1600 ft
At about three quarters of the way up, you break the ridge and treeline a bit and your momentary excitement at getting to the top gives way to disappointment as you see the actual summit in the distance (see picture). But this terrain is a bit less grueling with some flats and downhills thrown in so we made better time.
We hung out for about 15-20 minutes at the top, where a nice guy snapped a bunch of pictures of Calvin and myself. There were probably 50-60 people up there and it was mid-afternoon. I imagine it was even more crowded an hour or two before. It was a little bit chilly on the summit and I hadn’t brought a sweatshirt for my son, so he was eager to get off the summit.
However, the terrain was really dry so the only tricky parts for me were when I attempted to pass very slow hikers by choosing a more treacherous route. On these types of descents, poles are freaking amazing, in my opinion. Particularly when you are carrying weight, the ability to vault down off rocks and brace yourself on slanted footings is just super-human. I think I made several converts as I raced down the mountain passing people. I had several conversations about my poles and how much I loved them.
The extra weight had made the uphill more strenuous, but it wasn’t a complete game changer. I just felt more burning in my quads and got out of breath a bit quicker. On the way down though, my pace combined with the weight was brutal on my knees. I would really hate to do a long backpacking day with that much weight. I’m not sure my knees could survive a day or two in a row. But luckily, it was a short hour long trek downhill and we quickly made it back to the parking area where Calvin happily fell asleep in the car, sick of all the “bumping around” as he put it.