Hiking Mt. Monadnock
Nine times per year I am outside camping, hiking or backpacking with the Boy Scouts. My son aged-out in February but I am continuing as Scoutmaster until next June when another leader will step in.
There is a lot to be learned in the outdoors. Scouts have the opportunity to learn how to organize and lead themselves as the older ones take on more responsibility planning and taking charge. The outdoors also provides many opportunities to better understand nature and the world we live in.
After becoming an Eagle Scout in the late 1970s I never thought I’d be back in Scouting. I thought it was just another milestone that was finally behind me. Yet, there I was last weekend leading 16 Scouts and 8 adults up Mt. Monadonock in Dublin, New Hampshire. It was a beautiful fall weekend—60s and sunny during the day and mid-30s at night. The foliage was just a bit past prime but the views were spectacular including Boston’s skyline and the summit of Mt. Washington.
After hardy breakfast we hit the Birchtoft trailhead around 9:30 AM and reached the summit around noon. Hiking from our Scout camp the first two miles were through wooded forests and a gradual upward grade. At the two mile mark, the trail intersects with Cascade Link Trail, and the trail begins to ascend more steeply. Up to that point I worried that our two novice Scouts were going to bail out but they proved me wrong, as encouragement from their fellow Scouts gave them the resolve to press on. Good lessons for all of us not to give up when the going gets tough.
With the good weather and beautiful foliage, it was a popular day on the mountain. I am guessing that there were about 200 people at the summit at lunchtime.
Our decent was steeper but fast as the Scout cooks wanted to get back to begin preparing their dinners. Surprising to me was that the closer we got to the parking lot, the younger the hikers. We saw many young families with five to eight-year-olds climbing over rocks and staring at caterpillars. I was hoping that their parents weren’t foolish enough to try to attempt the summit starting at 4 PM in the afternoon. This time of year the sun sets around 6 PM and if you are on the east side of the mountain, it gets dark even earlier.
Why was I worried? Four years ago four of our Scouts (two sets of buddies) got separated from our group and ended up getting lost. We didn’t locate them until just after 7 PM when there was only traces of the sunset in the sky. It was a worrisome moment that fortunately ended well. We learned a lot from that experience and most importantly learned to plan ahead, to start the hike early and be prepared for the unexpected.
I think that may be another reason why I became a financial planner—With good planning you can take on a challenge, navigate the unexpected, and still enjoy a beautiful view.
Lyman H. Jackson
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