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Pack Monadnock - Our Hike

Updated on June 30, 2016
Pack Monadnock Mountain from Temple Mountain ski area
Pack Monadnock Mountain from Temple Mountain ski area | Source

Beginning A New Experience

This blog was originally posted on July 16, 2013

Ok, so I have been walking, biking (both stationary and real) and hiking for exercise and I have come to the conclusion that basically I still hate exercise, but my blood sugar levels are coming down. So, I continue with my daily exercising and it is getting easier as I go along.

In a previous hubs, I told you about where we have been going for hikes, the local Veteran’s Park, a local farm called Great Brook Farms and a small mountain in New Hampshire.

Ken suggested we go up to Pack Monadnock, in New Hampshire for a hike with Bagel.

I should insert here that the summer weather has been sunny, hot and humid here in Massachusetts. The temperature has been a balmy 95 degrees with the humidity making it feel like it is over 100 degrees.

When I asked Ken how we could go hiking on such a hot day, he said, “Oh, it will be much cooler in the mountains.” Note to self: NEVER take it as a sure thing when Ken tells me something like that!

Even Bagel did not want to hike in that weather. She looked at us like, “Can we go home, yet?” Poor baby.

Pack Monadnock Information

From Wikipedia:

Pack Monadnock or Pack Monadnock Mountain 2,290 feet (700 m), is the highest peak of the Wapack Range of mountains and the highest point in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. The mountain, a monadnock, is located in south-central New Hampshire within the towns of Peterborough andTemple. The 22 mi (35 km) Wapack Trail and a number of shorter trails traverse the mountain. A firetower and ledges on the summit offer long views north to the White Mountains, west to Mount Monadnock, and south into Massachusetts. North Pack Monadnock Mountain is located directly to the north along the Wapack ridgeline; Temple Mountain to the south.

Much of the mountain is located within Miller State Park. A seasonal automobile road ascends from the south to a picnic area at the summit. The summit also has a manned air-pollution monitoring station.

The east side of the mountain drains into the Souhegan River watershed, thence into the Merrimack River and Atlantic Ocean; the west side drains into the Contoocook River, thence into the Merrimack River.

The mountain is the home of the Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory, where birdwatchers from around the region gather for the annualhawk migration. During the peak migration season in September, birdwatchers search the sky for kettles of hundreds of hawks swarming above rising thermals as they migrate south.

The mountain's summit at Peterborough is also home to the transmitter of NOAA Weather Radio station WNG575.

The Bench

The first picture above is deceiving, This mountain has very steep paths.

We have hiked up there about 3 times with great success. I go a little bit longer each time. We take our dog, Bagel, with us and she absolutely loves it. She sniffs everything and she claims each tree (like a male dog would. She lifts her back leg and pees on it) it is very funny.

I put in my little food diary, on my phone, that I would hike for 30 minutes. I had to adjust that when the hike was over, we had actually hiked for over an hour on very tough terrain.

So today, we went to the mountain and Ken said, “Hey, you have never seen the cute bench just around the corner” and I say, “How bad is it to get to?” Ken says, “Not far, just a tiny bit steep, but you can do it.” I say, “Sure, ok, let’s try it” big mistake. Again, note to self: When Ken says it is not far, it is a little bit steep, it is right around this bend, just say NO!

Joanne Bass Bross Bench and Preserve

The bench that Ken was talking referring to is called the Joanne Bass Bross Bench. It is part of the Joanne Bass Bross Preserve. (See link below for more information)

Anyway, we go into Miller State Park and go up the windy road to the top of the mountain, the summit. There is a small parking lot and we get out and start our hike.

At the top of the mountain, we realize that it is just a tiny bit cooler but not as much as I would have liked. It was about 90 degrees and still humid.

We go to a small hut that is built of stones and a wooden roof, it is a shelter for hikers with a picnic table. We have a picnic lunch, very nice so far.

We start out on our journey, and within minutes, I am having trepidations and am very nervous.

I look down and see a stone path and wonder how I am going to climb down it.

The picture below looks rather docile but a few steps further and there is a steep drop.

95 Degrees and Counting

Ken and Bagel on the trail to Joanne Bass Bross Bench with a lookout
Ken and Bagel on the trail to Joanne Bass Bross Bench with a lookout
Going down the trail on Pack Monadnock to Joanne Bass Bross Bench and Lookout
Going down the trail on Pack Monadnock to Joanne Bass Bross Bench and Lookout

We have only started. This is still pretty good on the feet. It does get steeper. We are following the Yellow Trail. Still not bad traveling.

Step Lightly

Following the Yellow Trail
Following the Yellow Trail

Getting a bit steeper now. Then we see an opening in the distance with a magnificent view.

Ken and Bagel with the clearing ahead
Ken and Bagel with the clearing ahead

What a fantastic view. We gazed out for a few minutes, just staring at the beautiful surroundings.


Finding Out About Fortitude

And then there is the most horrifying drop and I think I will fall off of the mountain.

Before attempting to climb down this, I stood there for several seconds and felt tears rolling off my cheeks! The thought of doing this scared the wits out of me.

I put my courage to the sticking post (a phrase my mom would use on occasions where the situation was scary), and carefully, very carefully I proceeded.

Ken says, “I will help you, don’t worry” and I start to immediately worry. Mostly I worry because of my being on Coumadin, a blood thinner. If something breaks, like one of my legs or perhaps my head, how will I get help in the middle of nowhere. I will bleed to death!

Ken helps me down each step of the way. My ankles start to feel weak, sort of like rubber.

I reach the bottom of the rock wall.

After I got down, I started to panic, oh my God, how would I get back up there? I asked Ken if there was another way to get back. He said NO. Being the worrier I am, I was worried the rest of the time.

I think to myself, I am not meant to do this at this point in my exercise cycle.

What Did I Get Myself Into?

We just came down this, Oh No!
We just came down this, Oh No!


We travel on through thick trees and lots of roots of trees, then up another round of steep rocks. It seems like I have been hiking for hours, but it was only about 30 minutes in.

We get a little lost but finally, Ken finds the small sign that says “To the Joanne Bass Bross Preserve” and we go up a few more boulders and finally we see:


View from Joanne Bass Bross Lookout and Preserve
View from Joanne Bass Bross Lookout and Preserve

Window To The World

Gorgeous view from the site of the “Bench”
Gorgeous view from the site of the “Bench”

The Bench We Risked It For

The "Bench"
The "Bench"
It says Joanne Bass Bross 1915  -  2000
It says Joanne Bass Bross 1915 - 2000
It says, “To walk in these woods with you was to know no ordinary moment”
It says, “To walk in these woods with you was to know no ordinary moment”

Water Break

Bagel eyeing Ken’s water  (of which, by the way, she eventually got the last half of the bottle)
Bagel eyeing Ken’s water (of which, by the way, she eventually got the last half of the bottle)

Fear Sets In

It was, without question, a beautiful sight, but…I was dreading the walk back and the climbing of the rocks.

I am not a young person anymore and very overweight.

The view was gorgeous but the fear that gripped me was a horrible feeling.

The Way Back

The hike back, the same way we came, was brutal. About half way back, my legs felt like rubber. I could not feel them holding me up.

It was hot and sticky and my face was red as a beet. I started sweating profusely and my head was drenched within a few seconds. Usually, I don’t sweat until I stop exercising, now I was a wet mess.

Each step I took was like lifting a cement shoe up on the climb. Going down was hard, but going up was almost impossible.

We made it back to the car and I reiterated that I never wanted to do that kind of a hike again. It was too scary for me.

A friend asked me if I had gotten past the fear and gotten to the "Boy, I did this incredible thing" phase and I told her that I had not gotten there yet. The fear was still gripping me.

I will continue to hike up in the mountains and other places as I get stronger every day!


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