Today started off on a negative note. I tried to join a meetup group based out of Boston yesterday so I could climb Tecumseh, which is arguably the easiest 4,000 footer. This particular meetup group (Boston Outdoor Adventures) forces participants to carpool, charges up to $40 per participant for “gas money”, then limits the hikes to four people. These people are not professional guides and they are not providing any kind of service. They are everyday hikers like me. Not to mention the meetup location is in Boston, I live an hour west of Boston. I asked nicely if I could just meet the group at the trail head, I would even show up early so they wouldn’t be waiting on me. I was met with one of the rudest messages from the group leader insisting that I “obey the rules of the group and carpool or else be blocked from participating again.” That would force me to pay, and completely inconvenience me. Obviously I declined.
Onto the good part of my day! I climbed Monadnock for fun and to help break in my new hiking boots. Yes, this was a solo hike (sorry mom and dad). Yes, normally that is a risky thing that I wouldn’t do. Let me tell you why I did this. Monadnock is the second most hiked mountain in the world, I can’t hike 200 feet without bumping into another hiker. I went on the most popular trail on the mountain to ensure that, made sure several friends knew where I was hiking, registered in the park store, and took every precaution necessary with gear. My pack was quite heavy! In addition I regularly updated social media to show that I was okay and having a blast.
A little more background on this hike. I have brand spanking new boots! I need to break them in on an “easy mountain” before attacking a more difficult 4,000 footer. Last Thursday I had my first ever Sciatica flare up. Doesn’t shock me, this happens to my mom, but it was a bad one. I proceeded directly to see a doctor where I was given Cortisone shots (ouch) and spent the remainder of the evening and next day sitting. My entire left leg was in intense pain. By Saturday I was completely healed, but still took it easy for the weekend. No pushing it with big hikes. I was nervous for this, but knew I could bail if it got bad.
I started my hike just after 11am. The White Cross Trail isn’t long, only 2.1 miles. The steepest portions are nothing compared to my white mountain hikes. Regardless I took my time getting to the summit, stopping to have conversation with fellow hikers, exchanging stories, and enjoying the view.
By 12:45pm I reached the summit, such a lovely day. I sat up there for a while conversing with another hiker I met. It was windy, but we ducked behind a boulder and shared the tea I had. Sharing a cup of tea with a stranger is one of life’s greatest pleasure.
On the way down I passed by a couple of hikers I passed on the way up! Shout out to my new friends, it was wonderful to meet you on the trail. They are in their 70’s and hiking, I hope that’s me someday! Do let me know if you would like to hike in the white mountain with me and some friends someday!
I stopped for some lunch on a more scenic stretch and enjoyed the view for about 30 minutes until I noticed that the clouds were moving in. Time to move! The forecast predicted rain in the late afternoon so I did not hesitate. I sang the entire way down, I was too happy to care who was listening. In no time I was down the mountain and back at my car. I felt good, no pain, only the wonderful memories from the hike lingered.
Turns out that I love solo hiking. Having that peace and solitude gave me so much time reflect on my life, but I also was a social butterfly and allowed myself the freedom to strike up conversation with all who wished for one.
Trail tips: Winter hiking alone can be very dangerous, especially for a 5’4 97 lb person such as myself. I will never, ever hike alone unless it is a mountain like Monadnock which I know well and there are tons of fellow hikers. I also know my ability and was confident while cautious. DO NOT attempt to hike alone unless you are completely comfortable where you are hiking and with your current ability.