After looking at the list of 4,000 footers, I realized that by not going over to West Bond on my Pemi Loop, I was one short of the halfway point. So, Mt. Monroe becomes #23, not #24. Regardless of number, it was a great hike and is one more peak done.
I hiked Monroe with just my son. After making sure he was well fueled with a breakfast of homemade pancakes, we were off to the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, the most direct route to Mt. Monroe. After checking the weather report, the weather seemed to be good for the day, and the visuals on the drive to the trail seem to confirm it: sunny, a bit overcast, with Mt. Washington in and out of the clouds.
We knew from the trail description that the first portion of the trail to Gem Pool would be fairly easy, and the next section between Gem Pool and Lakes of the Clouds Hut would be steep. After the hut, the final .4 miles to the summit of Monroe wouldn’t be too hard. That was pretty accurate and Gem Pool (c. 3450 ft.) was a good place to stop for a snack break before beginning the next section.
The next mile was steep, ascending about 1500 feet in about 1 mile to the hut (c. 5,000 ft). Along the way, there were several interesting water slides and cascades.
We took another snack break around 4,250 feet (the halfway point between Gem Pool and the hut). I have to say that my son did a great job scrambling up the rocks and keeping a nice pace without huffing and puffing. He enjoyed the hike and we made it to the hut in three hours. I realize that is not exactly a trail blazing time, but that’s not a bad time, either. The promise of some sort of goodies, such as soup, baked goods or hot chocolate at the hut was good motivator, too.
We had plenty of food just in case there wasn’t anything at the hut (you’re not necessarily guaranteed anything), but there was soup available: cream of mushroom. My son doesn’t like mushrooms. At all. The poor kid hiked for three hours with the promise of soup and it turned out to be cream of mushroom. Thankfully, a hot chocolate and a Snickers bar was a good substitute for the soup when we stopped back by the hut after ascending the summit of Monroe.
Once we ate lunch, we were able to leave our packs at the hut and take just the camera up to the summit of Monroe. My son was impressed at how easy it was to hike without a pack! I do have him carry a pack with his own water, food and extra clothes, teaching him to be responsible for himself when out on the trail. For this quick summit, it was nice to leave the packs at the hut.
After his treats at the hut, it was time to descend back to the car. I was pretty sure it would take us quite a while to pick our way back down to Gem Pool and easier trail conditions. I was right – it took 1 1/2 hours to get back to Gem Pool. My son wanted to take it slow and careful down the steep section and I wasn’t about to push him along and make the experience upsetting. After Gem Pool, the trail was easier and we moved along quickly to the car.
We both had a great day, and even though it was a bit overcast at times we were able to see some nice views. On the way back home between Twin Mountain and Franconia Notch, we even saw a moose. After seeing the moose, my son said that his day was complete.