We chose the most direct route to the Mount Monadnock summit – two hours, two miles, 1700 feet up – like a 200 story building.
We easily traversed the first mile, a gravel road rising 500 feet to the site of the Halfway House Hotel (burned to the ground in 1954). Then, in the words of another hiker, we started the “straight rocky climb up the spiritless White Arrow trail.”
White Arrow climbs ~1,100 feet in about a mile, a series of moderate to steep boulder and rock strewn pitches, kind of like climbing uneven stairs for an hour, stepping on or slipping over children’s toys. Several times, I had to stop for a minute or two to catch my breath.
And then, about 300 feet below the top we broke through the tree line and looked up. The summit!
We paused. Feeling jelly in my legs, I gazed ahead at remaining 30 minutes of the climb – boulders and slabs with several pitches exceeding 45 degrees, the last bit almost vertical.
Another 30 minutes. I shook my head in disbelief.
“Ready,” my companion asked?
I shook my head again, legs quivering.
Sometimes, words come when you most need them. I remembered Shomo Morita’s words, “When running up hill, it is alright to give up as many times as you wish as long as your feet keep moving.”
“I quit,” I announced, slowly straightening up… and then suggested, “I can make it to that rock.” I pointed, about ten yards up.
Perched then ten yards up, I looked at the summit again, swaying slightly on my now VERY jellied legs, and quit once more.
“To that ledge over there,” my companion asked?
“Don’t look up again until we reach the top,” she advised. “Climb the rock in front of you…”
We finished the climb in just short of the planned two hours. The view from the summit was spectacular.
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