Trip Report: Easy Going on Pack Monadnock

Pack Monadnock Mountain (2,290 feet). Peterborough/Temple, NH. 2023-03-12 (Sunday.)

Via the Auto Road. About 2 miles round-trip.

45 dF all afternoon. No wind to speak of, but unbridled sun throughout. For the first day of Daylight Saving Time, it positively felt like springtime in earnest. 

Budget about 90 minutes if you’re moving to make time: the snow is wet and a bit slimy, a lot like mashed potatoes without all the fluffy, buttery goodness. 

When it’s sunny and warm, who needs a long drive?  

Officially, spring has not yet sprung. That’s a day past a week from now, as I write this. (21:24 UTC, if you really want to get specific.) In my neck of the woods, it’s a couple hours past teatime next Monday. Mmmmm… tea. Perhaps with some cucumber sandwiches, if I’m feeling up for it. 

Or maybe I’ll be hiking at that moment. Who knows. I was, in fact, hiking today, in the bright sunshine. Last night, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do, so this morning, I punted for a bit, deciding if I wanted to drive around, or just hit Pack. My snowshoe travails continue, and remembering last week on Mt Morgan, I just didn’t want to spend the glorious sunshine getting befuddled by footwear. “Pack”, by the way, is from the Abenaki for “small.” Really, that nailed it for me; just what I wanted. Light and sweet. No fussing.

Update: I’ve reached out to MSR once more, and… crickets. What the hell guys? I thought you were supposed to have industry-leading repair service, and gold-plated customer support? I’m feeling a bit let down, to say the least. I don’t expect people to drop everything for me, but at least reach out and say “hey, we heard you.” 

In any case, I’m fairly decided on not shelling out moolah for new snowshoes until next season. Until the white stuff is replaced with green, I’m planning on doing lower-key hikes. The sort of things I was doing a couple years ago when rehabbing from my broken ankle, and which I so thoroughly enjoyed, precisely because they were so low-key. Some things that caught my eye have been Flat Mountain Pond trail, and the Guinea Pond trail. Maybe Smarts Brook in a few weeks when things get seriously warm and melty. The whole Whiteface Intervale area always soothes my soul. Stay tuned. 

I got to Pack Monadnock, and hey, the parking area was a muddy, swampy mess. This winter has been a wash from the get-go, but today really underscored how little snow the southern end of the state has gotten. Yes, we’ve had our moments, but overall, much of the white stuff was either dead on arrival, or gone before the end of the week this season. 

There were some folks coming down, and it took one or two of them to decide that micro spikes were a fine option. Thinking back, snowshoes would have been massive overkill. Sometimes I think “there ain’t no killin’ like an overkillin’, but usually these moments involve epic adventures with power tools, horsepower, molten metal, or (occasionally) all of the above. Today ticked the “none of the above” box, and so happily, I ascended the mountain with lighter feet than I might if the snow were a tad deeper. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count. An ounce is an ounce, but get sixteen of them together, and you’ve got yourself a pound. On your feet, that pound is like five on your back. 

Being one of the nicest days of the season so far (and hey, not for nothing, but we’ve had a few lately) everyone and their uncle was on the mountain. I won’t suggest the parking area was packed, but there might have been 50 or so people out enjoying the day at the same time as I. No worries. I met a few pups. One notable was an Aussie, not even two years old. A breed that’s known to be a bit of a spaz, at an age when all dogs are a bit of a spaz. Couldn’t keep her feet on the ground, and couldn’t hold her licker for love or money. Fine by me. Happy pups are always welcome with me. 

The views from the top were amazing and long. There was a slight haze obscuring the furthest distances, but I’m fairly certain I saw the Whites. Possibly Washington, if not, Moosilauke. Certainly Ascutney in Vermont. I peeked at the local peaks — Monadnock looked great. And with all that, I went back down uneventfully. 

There will be more low stuff coming up, but obviously, as the weather warms, and snow abates, I’ll get back to the big stuff again. For now, I’m enjoying the low-key hikes. They’ve not been part of my repertoire as of late. At the moment, they’re what I need. So there it is. 

As always, stay safe out there.

Nuts and Bolts: Take Route 101 west from Nashua. Once you cross into Milford (you’ve gone past Walmart and a bit further down, crossed some train tracks) turn left once under the bridge, and take the 101 Bypass toward Keene. It’ll save you the time making a long slog through the town itself. You’ll end up on the opposite end of town in short order. 

Follow the signs toward Wilton, staying on 101. Once in Temple, you’ll go up a couple significant hills. When you see the signs for Miller State Park, slow down. You’ll make a right into the car park, just after you cross the line into Peterborough. If you don’t have a NH State Parks pass, you’ll need to pay a few bucks at the iron ranger. 

You can go up the auto road, which is obvious, or you can take either of two trails to the summit. Kiosks are pretty apparent. There are more ways than one to hike this mountain. Find more info in the AMC’s Southern NH Trail Guide. 

On your way out, take care pulling back onto 101. The views to the east, up the road, are crazy short, and oncoming vehicles are crazy fast. Be sure you’ve not got oncoming traffic, and in so doing, keep your day on a good note. Getting t-boned is no way to finish an outing! 

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