I Saved the Easy Hike for You

Mt Monadnock
Our destination

I don’t consider myself to be a serious outdoorsman, but I am familiar with hiking, cycling and camping. I am relatively physically fit and I enjoy being outside. Still, when my daughter asked me if I wanted to go on a hike with her this summer, I was a little bit worried. As I moved from my 30s (where she is) to my 60s, hikes gave way to day hikes, and camping gave way to hotels. I’ve continued to ride a bike that I bought in 1978, but I ride it less each year.

When I asked my physical therapist about the pain I get in my shoulder when I ride my bike, he pointed out that when riding a bike, your neck is bend forward much of the time. He added:

“…although I would never discourage someone of your advanced years from getting physical exercise, cycling is one of the worst things for your neck.”

I think he is 24. For the record, I don’t consider 60 to be “advanced years” – just saying, sonny.

Anyway, Faith assured me that she would “save an easy hike” for me. I wanted to be a little upset with her when she said that, but she’s been to the top of a bunch of places in New England that I’ve only seen from a scenic overlook, so I tempered my reaction accordingly.

The hike she was “saving” for me was Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire. Mt. Monadnock is a very popular place to hike. In fact, it’s one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world.

Anytime someone points out that something is “one of the most popular…” I get a little nervous. That’s ‘cuz the Volkswagen Beetle and the Ford Escort are among the Top-10 best-selling cars in American history. Vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor and Bud Light leads the Top-5 list of best-selling beers in America today.

New England map
Mt Monadnock isn’t that far from Hartford

So, a few weeks ago, on a less-hot-than-normal-for-August Sunday, we set out for New Hampshire. I always forget that part of New Hampshire is “over there” from here, but part of it is “up there.” If you’re not familiar with New England geography, New Hampshire is the Foam Finger between Vermont and Maine. Anyway, I programmed the parking lot’s address into Greta and off we went.

We stopped at the “almost there” point to gaze upon our destination. “That doesn’t look so bad” of course I was thinking hoping that we would be driving up to the plateau to the right of the hump shown in that picture at the top.


No such luck.

Illustrating why up is easier
Going up is easier

The scene at the parking lot gave testimony to the popularity of this climb. We parked in Overflow Lot B and we joined a throng of others heading for the last restroom we would see for 4-5 hours. Boots on, water bottles filled, trekking poles adjusted and backpack strapped over, under and across – we were ready.

I was a little worried that the trekking poles were overkill. I’d never hiked with them, but they seemed like a good idea. My main reason for using them is so that my right arm doesn’t just hang at my side. That aggravates the shoulder issue that I have. In any case, they turned out to be a very good idea.

The hike started out like any other, on a root-infested path through the woods. Then the path got steeper. Then the path turned to rock. Then the rocks got steeper. Then we redefined “steeper” – several times. Then the steep rocks were replaced by one huge rock with a very steep side. Then we saw the steepest, biggest rock ever – up there – in front of us.

All the way up, Faith was paying me back for every time in her childhood I told her something awful would “build character.” At one point, the rocks were kinda step-like. “Ooh, steps, steps are easy.” Then the steps gave way to random rubble that results from gravity pulling on things for EVER. “I’m pretty sure we’re more than half way there.” Though she never identified where “there” was. “I think this is the last steep section, we’ll be hiking along the ridge soon.” Did she think I forgot that picture I took two hours ago?

Finally No, not quite finally, we arrived at what should have been the top a beautiful mountain vista, looking out over a verdant forest and a small lake. Unfortunately, when we looked the other way, we saw the huge bald hunk of granite looming ahead and above our position. Significantly more above than ahead.

Below are a few random observations that I put into list form to keep this under 1,000 words:

  • Little kids can climb big rocks because their center of gravity is very low.
  • Chaperones of youth groups should stay with their group, tend to tired and injured members of their group and remind the members of their group that they aren’t the only people on the planet.
  • Chaperones should not hold group pep-talks in the narrow part of the path.
  • People with loud music playing from inside their backpack should have to stay in the car and not touch anything.
  • You take way more pictures going up than you do coming down.
  • Chipmunks laugh at humans all the time.

We made it to the top.

It felt good to sit there, munch some snacks and take in the marvelous view. As is often the case, going down was harder. That has to do with the way human feet and knees bend and don’t bend. I am glad Faith invited me to make this hike, but I felt better after she told me that it was among the more difficult hikes she took this summer. A recent AP Article confirms that Mt. Monadnock is a tougher climb than it looks.

75 thoughts on “I Saved the Easy Hike for You

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    1. I knew someone would call me out on that. Nothing is particularly wrong with Bud Light, it’s just hard to image that other beers (Yuengling for example) aren’t closer to the top of the list. Thanks for the comment.


  1. I haven’t taken a hike in a mighty long time, I commend you for getting to the top! At least you kept your great sense of humor about it all!! (don’t you just hate it when the wildlife sit and laugh at you!?!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. That chipmunk sat there as if to say “you can’t get any closer to me without falling off this mountain” but at least I was able to get a few good pictures of him. I always pack my sense of humor when interacting with nature :)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois. It felt good but it was more hike than I had planned for. I was jealous of the little kids who just climb up using hands, feet, knees, elbows and who, even when they do fall, only fall about 12 inches.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Foam finger – really, we’re a foam finger? LOL Advanced years? I was laughing out loud at that one because as an HR professional I testified in several court cases. One included an age discrimination claim, and the prosecuting attorney described me as ‘relatively youthful.’ My husband has never let me forget that one. I’m glad you survived this trek because I wouldn’t have. Congrats on another wonderful adventure with your daughter. Way to go Dad! :-)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was hoping you might have skipped the blog today or at least wouldn’t hold the foam-finger thing against me. It’s better than Rhode Island, which my friend says is “proof that New England doesn’t floss.” I have some friends who I know have probably darted up and down that rock, but I didn’t find it easy by any stretch of the imagination. Thanks for the comment Judy. “Relatively youthful?”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If there’s one thing my climbing/hiking experience has taught me, it’s that everything is farther and higher and steeper than it looks. Glad you made it up there and took a lot of great pics. Good post, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “All the way up, Faith was paying me back for every time in her childhood I told her something awful would ‘build character.'”

    Once character has been built, almost everything erodes it down until nothing is left bit a cranky old person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes! I’m not sure I would head up Breakneck Ridge. I remember reading (when I lived in Seattle) about people who died in “Cadaver Gap” and I wondered “why would you go there?” Fortunately, this wasn’t too long of a hike. Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome hike! I’m glad you made it to the Summit. I’d like to hike up there and see those magnificent views! Since training to hike up to Clouds Rest in Yosemite a few years ago I’ve kept hiking to stay in shape and semi-ready for an Epic hike like this one.
    In a hiking group I rarely get to go out with anymore there are people in their late 70’s that blaze up the steepest trails and leave me in the dust! I want to do that when I grow up! :)

    Hope you weren’t too sore the next day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I wasn’t too sore. There were people older than me and people hiking with little children, but I felt pretty good accomplishing this. The view was worth the climb, but it was extremely windy at the top. We ate, took a few photos and headed back down.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dan, You will have to explain some things to that young whipper snapper md – like how to talk to overly mature youngins. We are not old. You are one lucky overly mature youngin to have such an excellent guide.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did have an excellent guide John. I appreciate that she is still willing to drag me along. That PT guy will get his someday. It’s bad enough that he hurts people for a living (while making them well) but he doesn’t have to be a jerk about it :) Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. There were people hiking with babies in backpacks. We used to take my daughter in a backpack, but not up something like this. I would be worried that, if I fell, that kid would be severely hurt.


  7. Wow, I admire your spunk and your guide’s persuasive abilities. Like you, I am no longer certain I can do the types of hikes I used to do, but I have no guide talking me into it because my husband feels the same qualms. The view from the top always makes me think the effort was worth it. I’ll have to keep reminding myself of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh gosh, I love this hike. I could write a whole bunch in response to all you said, but lest I drone on and on, I’ll list a few:

    No switchbacks in NH either we discovered and you just confirmed!

    Even ‘easy’ is a relative hiking term (compared to what?)

    Sonny needs a lesson in proper bike posture! Using core muscles and proper alignment keeps neck from drooping. Damn whippersnapper!

    You drove across 1 1/2 states AND completed the hike while we’re STILL driving across Nebraska!

    TOO MANY PEOPLE!! i know, weekends are your only option.

    Lovely views, devoted guide, and No, that backpack gives you a svelte silhouette 😊. You’re welcome!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the little white lie Sammy. I just realized that I forgot to include my “illustration” as I wanted to mention that I forgot to add the backpack to that. Oh well. The bike is a challenge for me as the handlebars tend to pull me (or tempt me to lean) forward (it’s a road bike). Anything but upright tends to compress the nerves into my shoulders (complicated by arthritis and bone spurs in neck and shoulders) and pain results after about an hour.

      You’re right about the switchbacks too. I used to hate those in Washington but I could have used a few on this hike. And, yes, our states are smaller, unless you want to hike in Acadia at the northern end of Maine. You might need to leave yesterday for that one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry about all your upper body and neck stuff. We carry lifetime ‘baggage’ there, and computer-centric careers don’t help. I refuse to blame biking 😊 but I am sorry it causes such discomfort for you.

        When I’m going up I want down, and when I’m going down I REALLY want up while hiking. Those sticks, make a huge difference, don’t they?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I was very happy that the sticks helped as much as they did. I like that they help me keep my balance, but they really did a great job preventing my arms from just hanging at my side. I’m not blaming the bike, if I blame anything it’s my poor posture and a job that gradually encourages me to lean forward. It wouldn’t be nearly as bad if I wasn’t also allergic to ibuprofen – no Advil for me :(

          Liked by 1 person

  9. There’s nothing quite like mountaintop photos, and you took some great ones, Dan. I’m also enjoying your cute little illustration! “…things on which to become impaled…” made me laugh. Growing up, there was quite literally a mountain in our backyard. My dad and I hiked up and down it more times than I can count. Some of my favourite memories are of my dad and I (when I was really young) trekking up there in the early morning hours, with a blanket and a box of Rainbow Chips Ahoy cookies to watch the sun come up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a beautiful memory Wendy! The view from the top does put the effort into perspective. We were wondering if the people around this rock hike it often. I guess some must. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment Wendy.


  10. Just about to sleep but saw your post and couldn’t wait to read it. The pictures are super awesome. Yes, the backpack is not that great. I think you should do away with those horizontal straps. Anyway, you look great. I am glad you and Faith enjoyed the experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should at least unhook the straps for photos :) The top one keeps the shoulder straps from sliding off and the bottom one helps put the weigh of the pack on my hips, so they are critical but unflattering. Thanks for the comment Sharukh.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the pics and the hike!! Beautiful country!! And you’re right 60 isn’t “advanced ” years :) Reminds me of a hike two of my girls took me on in 2013…”Rattlesnake Ledge” ….rises above North Bend, Washington. What was the elevation gain of the hike? Just curious as it looks like an intense hike….thanks for sharing, Dan!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Atta boy Dan! That is so awesome. We did a few semi treacherous hikes in CR that were supposed to be “not too tough” for beginners. But, like you, we persevered and were glad we took the first (and last) step on the adventure. You crack me up with that “most popular” paragraph. All of them losers in my own personal top lists. Lol.
    Looks like you and Faith had a great time. Congratulations. Great photos too!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Well, I got out my pom poms and gave you a cheer. Rah, rah, Dan! The views are beautiful and I’m glad you made it up and back down in one piece. As for the bike, my neighbor sits totally upright on her bike. I’m working toward that…I raised my handlebars several inches and I may get new ones next summer that will come back toward me. I’ve had to do it for my back, which I suppose also affects the neck. Just raising the handlebars has made it so much better. So, in summation, you need a new bike.


  14. That is great. We started to hike last fall and really enjoyed it.
    Although you were not amused with your physical therapist ;-) (and by the way I fully agree with you, 60s are not advanced years anymore. It was true for our parents generation but not ours), he is right about biking, it’s very tough on the neck. My husband was an avid cyclist for over 20 years and ended up with neck surgery in his mid 40s.
    Anyhow, you should be proud, it sounds like quite an accomplishment and the photos are superb.
    Have a great day Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I think (well, I hope) that Mary might be right and that adjustments or new equipment can keep me on two wheels a little longer. I can ride for about an hour now, but doing something that I know is going to end in pain isn’t much fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. GRINNING!!!! (still reading …) “For the record, I don’t consider 60 to be “advanced years” – just saying, sonny.” AGREED!!! LOL LOL LOL “All the way up, Faith was paying me back for every time in her childhood I told her something awful would “build character.” OH, DAN!!! I’m roaring at this point at your description of the going up process …..
    OK. Done reading. Dan, you are one very brave man. And I would be a bit more then suspicious of your daughter if she ever says to you again that a hike is “easy”. Those pictures you took are breathtaking, but those rocks are really big and look like they are far from “easy” to traverse over. Awesome post, and I can tell by my SORE hand as I had to scroll down SO far that a lot of other people thought your post was great too. You put a lot of effort not only in this hike but putting this post together, and I for one, pat you on the back!!! I feel a bit sheepish now that the photo shoot I did at Beaver Island Beach and then putting the post together wiped me out totally. You have more oomph then I do! And, I would like to see that 24 year old know it nothing, hike what you did! I would bet my last nickel he could not. So there! That ought to make you feel good!!! <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy. Any effort is good effort. I’m so glad I was able to go with Faith on this hole. We did a much easier one last weekend but it still had its challenging moments. Sometimes I feel like putting the post together is harder (in a weird way). Thanks for the lovely comment. I like that I can make you smile b

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed that putting the post together was a lot more tiring then the actual outing. Peeps (most) really don’t know the work involved putting a post like this together. My one picture posts are a piece of cake compared to multiple pics posts. I really admire you putting together posts like this one all the time. I honestly don’t know how you do it. <3


        1. The tools for organizing the pics are pretty easy, but trying to get the pictures I want in the spaces I want is a bunch of trial and (even more) error. Lately, I’ve been trying to write better descriptions as I realized that some visitors are visually impaired.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You work hard on your posts, Dan, and it really shows. My pics are easy to place …. middle … LOL. I give you a lot of credit for what you do. Oh, I forgot to mention to you how I thought your drawing was just too cute. Impaled. Cute. Loved the face too. Hehehehehe


  16. Dan, you made it! It was a challenging climb and I appreciated the photographs so much. Although this is not what I hiked up in New England, I did climb a rather rocky semi- (?) Mountain in Maine. I was with an ex-husband and he claimed the photos from this trip so once photos were gone, name escaped me. It could have been a mountain. I really like the way the rocks are so ancient and interesting. You can definitely picture a glacier bringing them down from the North! Always a special day when accompanying your daughter. What a fantastic memory, Dan, added to all this other moments and days…


  17. People with loud music playing from inside their backpack should have to stay in the car and not touch anything. — I want this stamped everywhere at all nature resorts. I read this post quite some time ago, but ran off without a comment. The pictures make me want to go there, but your descriptions tell me I might already be growing too old for it :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Damyanti. there were people hiking with little children and I think there were some folks who were older than me (and I know you aren’t that old) :) – The loud music sign should be a rule though.


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