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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Big Shoulders

This weekend I climbed Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. I don't think it's known as a particularly difficult climb in general, but the trail we chose was much more challenging than any of us expected.

On some of the steepest sheer rock I felt as though nothing stood between me and a cracked skull but the non-skid soles of my boots. Those boots were the ones climbing the mountain - I was just standing in them. I don't know what people did before Vibram.

Two days later I'm still finding it painful to go up and down stairs. (And stand up. And sit down.) I don't go hiking much.

It was great though, a beautiful day and gorgeous views at the summit. As we climbed I kept thinking of Chicago's Monadnock Building and wondering if it were named after this particular peak. I've since learned it's also a general geological term. From the New Hampshire State Park web site: "Monadnock, which comes originally from the Abnacki Native American word for mountain that stands alone, is now a standard geological term for any singular mountain that rises above the surrounding plain." The Monadnock Building, a pre-1900 brick "skyscraper" (it's only 16 stories tall), is massive and rather squat, much like the mountain. The name is perfect for it.

We came across some wild blueberries on the way up. I remembered a friend telling me about a man she knew in Seattle who liked to go camping in the mountains and make himself pancakes with the wild blueberries he picked. ("Pitter-patter!" she said in commentary.) I'd always assumed wild mountain blueberries were a Northwest phenomenon, but here they were, waiting to be made into crush-inducing blueberry pancakes by any enterprising Northeasterner at hand. I tasted a few but they must not have been quite ripe: a little too tart.

We did our share of bitching and moaning on the way up - and even moreso on the way down - but the unobstructed view from the summit sure was sublime.

At the mountain's bare peak, puddles of water had collected in various stone grooves, and acting on a tip from one of the many children jumping around up there (I swear, kids as young as three were running up those trails. Sheer rock face? So what!), I peered into one of the stagnant pools and glimpsed this tadpole, mid-morph. It is in for a rude awakening when it finally crawls from its watery nursery.

3,000 feet down is a lot of hops.

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