Lessons from the Mountain

What’s wrong with this picture?

No, I don’t mean the hair.  Never mind that.   And look closely.

I learned a number of lessons on my hike with Michelle, Faith and Kathy up and down Mt. Monadnock, and this was just one of them: On rocky faces, if you don’t have rubber tips on your hiking poles (and more on why not, later), you can FLIP the poles, putting the rubber handles down for traction!  I tell you, this was a game changer for me on the way down. It was also one factor in not repeating the face plant from my last fateful trip on this glorious hill.

Mt. Monadnock is the second most-climbed mountain on earth.  Even with rain threatened (actually promised), the trail was crowded, which brings me to :

Lesson Two: Mountains come with angels, disguised as other hikers.  The first one swooped in on a very challenging (for some us) rock face.  He was positioned to help a string of people who looked up a wall of rock and didn’t say the first words that came into their heads, as this was a very family-friendly kind of day.  The second one was a reincarnated mountain goat, who did the same kind of thing in another spot, while leaping from rock ledge to rock ledge for sport.  Both of these guys pointed out the footholds and gave a hand and pull to the next spot.  The third one, a Mountain Angel named Kevin, eating lunch with his young daughter at the top of the ledge pictured here, saw me stepping way too gingerly over these rocks and yelled out for me to flip my poles upside down.  The fourth one was a ranger-like dude who helped us out near the end of the hike, with advice and caffeine  when we needed a boost.

Lesson Three: Hiking poles need rubber tips to be useful on rock.  Mine came with metal tips.  Those are great on dirt.  Then I found the rubber-looking “tips” that came with them.  But they were not really tips.  They were plastic tip covers, made to (as Kathy says) keep them from being weapons in transit.  The metal tips came poking through them in no time!  Get the real thing. And since we lost 2 out of 6 of the real thing on this hike, pack some extras!

Lesson Four: Take more provisions than you think you need.  More water.  Even a light.  You never know.

Here we are at the top – the hair is no better but hey, we’re happy!


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