Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Overnight

I just got back from an overnight on the Monadnock-Sunapee Trail, starting at Monadnock State Park HQ and sleeping at Crider shelter last night. To make day 1 a bit more interesting I did an out-and-back from Crider to the summit of Mt. Pitcher (about 4 miles north on the trail). The hike was meant to express a minimalist style, where I brought the least possible amount of gear in order to see what was truly necessary (or very, very useful). In that spirit I did without a sleeping bag, ground pad, tent, cook-stove (and associated cutlery/food), and any extra regular clothing beyond my long-sleeved tech shirt and spare socks. What I did have was:
  • Guidebook/map
  • rain-shell
  • fleece
  • zip-off nylon trousers (worn)
  • camera, sunhat, sunglasses.
  • compass, knife, iodine, gps, cell phone, headlamp, head-bugnet, ace bandage, ibuprofen, bandaids, emergency matches.
  • a 50oz hydration bladder, and a 1-qt gatorade bottle.
  • A little shy of 7700 calories worth of food.
All told I don't think my pack weighed much more than 18 lbs with all water reserves full. This was great, because I've found I can run OK with packs weighing around 10% of my body weight. Much heavier than that and it grows difficult.

These two days were amazing! I'm not going to try to sum them up. Follow along with the pictures below:


Here are a couple of other notes to go with the pictures:

  • About two miles out from Crider Shelter, I was starting to feel it. It was hot, it was muggy, and I had a cloud of midges and deerflies boiling around me that would do Pigpen proud. In short, I was begging for rain. A few drops fell, but nothing serious. Then, less than 1/2 a mile from Crider, it started to rain in earnest! Blessed relief...I was so happy I just sat in the rain for 20 minutes before meandering down to the shelter and settling in for nap.
  • I had the most amazing nap! The rain was coming hard outside and it was thundering, but I was snug as a bug in the shelter. I really considered calling the day right there, but eventually the rain stopped, and I reconsidered my plan to make it to Pitcher Mountain.
  • The minimalist overnight went OK. I took out everything from my backpack and used as a pad between me and the hard wood floor of the shelter. The mosquitoes were pretty horrible, but at least my bugnet kept me from being bitten all over my face (the whining of mosquitoes is still exquisitely annoying though, even when they can't reach you). Eventually the skeeters went away and I fell asleep (around 8:30, probably). Woke at 12:15am and then sort of cat-napped on-and-off until 5. It was a bit chilly. I ended up wearing my rainshell while using my fleece as a cushion for my bum. If it had been a little colder I would have worn the fleece and just sucked it up. Sleeping on wood planks never hurt anybody. The whole affair was a bit spartan, but I just reminded myself that I got to enjoy the pleasures of a light pack for two whole days, which seems to me to more than balance one uncomfortable night. Still, next time I'm thinking of bringing a ground-pad.

Here are some rough times and distances:

Day 1: 28.2 miles
7:10 leave Monadnock State Park HQ
8:02 summit Mt. Monadnock.
10:10 Eliza Adams gorge
noon Nelson Village
1:45 Crider Shelter (18.1 miles from the summit of Monadnock)
5:35 leave Crider
6:38 summitted Mt. Pitcher.
7:40 return to Crider Shelter

Day 2: 20.0 miles
5:45 leave Crider Shelter
8:45 swim at Silver Lake (20 minute stay)
9:45 Eliza Adams Gorge
11:00 Dublin Trailhead (11 minute break).
12:20 summit of Monadnock, again.
1:12 return to HQ and car.