Climbing the World's Most Popular Mountain

Ascending Mount Monadnock
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Gripes & Groans at the Start
Lucy and I looked forward to this hike all summer—our kids were finally old enough to do some real hiking, something more than nature walks (my twin daughters, age one, were with a sitter). We had settled on a weekday in late August, and we lucked out with weather—the day was clear, crisp, and a bit cool, signaling the first signs of approaching autumn.

Everything seemed to be going swimmingly until we actually started. We had hardly set foot on the White Dot Trail when my son Will announced, "I don't want to hike." Who was this boy, I wondered, looking at my son. Minutes later, Shannon, age six, fell and scraped her elbow. Here we were not 10 yards down the trail and already doling out the bandages.

A first aid stop was followed by lots of whining—the kids claimed to be hungry, tired, and wanting to go home. We told them their bodies needed to warm up, then—ignoring their griping—we got silly, and told them that no laughing was allowed. Our jokes helped tremendously, taking their minds off their imagined suffering. Thankfully, Will and Shannon devised a game; one in which when both adults passed them, they were "out," so their pace began to be lively and steady.

Before long we reached a turnoff where the real climbing began: A gradually pitched wall of rock rose before us. There was no walking here—we were hiking up a mountain and had to choose every step with care. Lucy and I looked at the kids and held our breath.

We needn't have worried. They attacked the rocks with sheer delight, shouting, "This isn't hiking; this is rock climbing!"

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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