We’ve had a stretch of incredibly warm weather throughout the northeast in the past week, and there’s more to come. I wish I could say it was unexpected, since a day like this in the middle of a bitter winter is always a welcome treat. But it hasn’t been a bitter winter. It’s been like this pretty much all season. That’s all the griping I’ll do for now, though. I’ve been so cooped up this winter and feeling so lazy, even now that I supposedly have all kinds of free time. No job, no responsibilities, nothing to take up my time, right? Not exactly.
|I can’t think of a much better view of Monadnock. We could even pick out the Halfway House clearing.|
|Yvonne trudges through the 2 inches of snow on a sunny, hot (winter) day. Gap is visible through the trees.|
If you’ve been up Monadnock, then you know where Gap Mountain is, even if you don’t know what it is. Gap is a little hill, about 1900 feet high, across the street from Monadnock and within the same State Park/Preserve framework. Though it’s only 1200 feet shorter than Monadnock, I always have trouble picking it out from the higher summit– for some reason, though Monadnock looks only a little higher when you’re on top of Gap Mountain, Gap is a barely noticeable bump from Monadnock. Both of Gap’s trailheads are about the same distance from Keene as the trails to Monadnock (a dozen miles, and a quick drive), but if you only have an hour or two to kill, Gap is a great little walk.
|Southwest from Gap is Little Monadnock in Rhododendron State Park. I’ll have to check this out sometime.|
The walk up Gap Mountain from the southern trailhead is quick and easy, passing through old farmland (as evidenced by several stone walls) and classic southern New England forest. We took our time heading to the top, stopping to check out animal tracks (one of Yvonne’s grad school science classes is based around tracking animals– it hasn’t been a good winter for that, with so little snow) and walking slowly to avoid slipping. There were only a few inches of snow on the ground, and with the warm weather it was just the right consistency to not need any sort of traction. Even with the slow walking, we were up top in an hour, and back to the bottom in half that time.
|And Pack Monadnock near Peterborough. I still haven’t been there, either.|
Gap’s summit is open and rocky, with some wonderful views of the southern New Hampshire hills and some mountains in Vermont and Massachusetts. I could easily pick out Stratton, Mount Snow and Bromley in Vermont, and several hills in New Hampshire. Earlier in the winter, Yvonne and a few of her friends had been on Gap Mountain on a similar warm day, and had laid out on the rocks for a while to soak in the sun, which sounded like a fine idea to me. I can imagine the summit is a lot more relaxing than that of Gap’s larger neighbor to the north, even if the easier hike makes it an ideal destination for beginning hikers. I think I’ll be taking a few more trips here in the spring to alleviate my cabin fever. It’s not as much of a workout as Monadnock, but sometimes I just need the peace and quiet of a clear day on a mountaintop.