Cathy and I have driven by Mt Monadnock many times when the mountain taunted us to hike it. I've only hiked it once, about 10 years ago when my mother was over. Cathy has hiked it several times with other people since then. I had strong reservations about tackling such a technical climb. This climb lies right in that perfect middle ground, where it is not all hands and feet scrambling nor all smooth path. It is non-stop ankle biter terrain. This aggressive climb would quickly tell me if my ankle was fully healed or not. I was going to wear my lace-up support. I probably needed to worry about rolling my good ankle more than anything else.
The summit was socked in with clouds when we first saw the mountain, but the cloud deck lifted just enough to clear the summit by noon. I had no trouble climbing the White Dot trail. Climbing big step-ups at an aggressive pace is just like riding a bicycle up a steep grade. My body is well conditioned for it. My ankle felt stable. It is all concentric muscle contraction. Cathy found going up aerobically challenging, but with hundreds of people going up the mountain, nobody passed us on the climb. I paused a couple times for Cathy, logging less than an hour of moving time. We overheard other people three hours into their climb and still only 3/4 of the way up.
Cathy scrambling up steep section.
It was wicked windy up top and cold at first, until the sweat dried up. Then it was pleasant. Despite low cloud deck, visibility was probably greater than 50 miles. I reached the summit a few minutes before Cathy did. I was watching for her, wondering where she went. Then I hear a woman squeal behind me, see someone topple over, slide on their back into a crevasse and was unable to get out. It was Cathy! She came up from a slightly different direction and when she saw me, she took a misstep. Other than a scrape on her arm, she was all right. Freaked everybody out up there though. After chowing on fruit and Vermont cheese and crackers, we started heading back down. We would take a slightly different route down, the White Cross trail.
Summit view, looking north.
The descent is what weirded me out. I never roll ankles on climbs. I barely used my hands climbing the mountain but used them continuously while descending. Then some little four year old kid comes flying by me, parallel feet hoping from big boulder to big boulder. Was I ever able to do that? What I wouldn't give to be that nimble again. My ankle was doing fine. My knees where a whole different matter.
Cathy coming up section that would later give me
the willies going back down.
It is the eccentric muscle contraction that kills me on descents. This is where your muscle elongates while under tension. Normally while riding a bike, muscles contract while under tension. The eccentric contraction is a whole different beast and it responsible for most DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) people get. I can get terrible shin splints from hiking down steep grades. And tender knees. I really need to do more of this. I think it would make me less prone to injury, although hiking like this is very risky initially, until I toughen up. More weight bearing activity like this would help my skiing too.
Don't need to show the profile for this one. Many sections
were over 60% grade.
Cathy had no trouble staying with me on the descent, and I went as fast as I dared. She no doubt could smoke me down this mountain if she tried. She runs throughout the year, so she did not feel any of the weaknesses I did. The good news is this 2.3 hour hike did not bother my injured ankle any more than my right ankle. I'd have to say that is about as close to 100% full recovery as you can get. I do need to do one of two things though. I either need to buy a second ankle support so I reduce risk of rolling either ankle, or I need to do more impacty weight bearing activities to strengthen my lower legs. One is easy way out, the other is right thing to do. I have poor track record on committing to things that do not directly make pedals go around.
After the hike, we went to Kimball Farms in Jaffrey. I've heard many people rave about their lobster rolls there. I've never been to this Kimball Farms, but I've been to the one in Westford Mass several times for icecream. Then I saw the lobster rolls were $16.95. They can't be that good. Too rich for my Dutch blood. I opted for a fish sandwich platter and large bowl of pistachio icecream afterwards. That was twice the size of the Ben and Jerry's I had the day before, easily over 1200 calories worth. I told myself I earned it.
It was so nice in the evening when we got home, I just had to jump on a mountain bike for an hour. I was dismayed to see the hill behind my house is finally getting developed. Maybe the economy is turning around. Last I heard, large "estate" homes were going to be built up there. When I moved to Pelham 13 years ago, I had a 40 mile ATV trail network right from my neighborhood. There were many 400+ foot peaks to climb. Now the network has been fragmented by development, and police have cracked down on illegal ATV use. When ATVs lose, I lose too. They keep the trails rideable. It was a great weekend, logging over 10 hours of aerobic activity and around 14,000 feet of climbing.