On Sunday, I drove up to Jaffrey, New Hampshire to meet my friend Kate and hike Mount Monadnock together!
Kate and I used to work together back when I lived in Boston – she for South End News, me for Bay Windows, which are both run by the same publisher. She's such an adventurer! She's taught me how to slack line, rock climb, and hike in the winter. She's also an insanely talented writer. I love this post about her trek to Kilimanjaro. It's so honest and good.
Anyway, Kate and I hadn't seen each other since my wedding – almost three years ago! – but we picked up right where we left off and had an amazing time.
Cheers to self-timers!
This was the longest I had ever hiked (roughly seven miles), and the going was not always easy. Kate prepared me well with recommendations for winter hiking gear (links and details at the bottom of this post), which really helped when it came to tackling steep trails that were 100% ice. I inevitably had a fall – or two – and am definitely still feeling sore today (with a weirdly beautiful bruise slowly blossoming over one hip), but it was so worth it!
The views were amazing, the company unbeatable, and while we didn't make it all the way to the top (I called it after my second fall – we ate our lunch right on the ice where I landed, ha!), it was the perfect day. I drove home feeling tired and achy and so, so powerful and strong and proud of my body. I can't wait for next time!
Here are the things I'm very glad I had – and a few that are next on my shopping list (thank you Kate for the recommendations!)...
- Micro spikes: These were completely, totally necessary for the ice we encountered. We would have had to turn back so much sooner without them! I searched Craigslist and local tag sale Facebook groups for a pair of these for awhile, but ultimately ended up having to buy them new.
- Hiking poles: I was in love with my poles by the end of the day. They helped with balance, scrambling, icy spots, and general support! I ended up buying these new too.
- Smart layers: I scored a moisture-wicking smart top at Sam's during their winter clearance (where I got my spikes and poles too) for around $20. It is synthetic, and people usually recommend a merino blend, but it worked really well and I felt nice and dry at the end of the day (even though I'd been sweating like crazy!). I wore it over a sports bra, and under this top (on sale), and a jacket similar to #7 on this list.
- Gloves: I wish I'd had gloves! At least for the beginning of our trek, and after taking breaks. Most of the time we were working hard enough that I was plenty warm, but gloves are definitely on my list for next time.
- Headband: I hate the way my ears feel after being in the cold! And it got pretty windy at certain points during our hike. I kept a fleece headband over my ears the whole time.
- Polarized sunglasses: Another wish list item. I had a basic pair of sunglasses, but the glare sometimes made it hard to see where I was putting my boot for the next step – not ideal, ha! Good ones seem pretty expensive, but honestly even a polarized cheap pair would be much better than what I had.
- A light, powerful jacket: I bought one similar to this at Target on sale. Like all the other layers, it's moisture-wicking and ventilated. It was surprisingly comfortable!
- A day pack: My parents got me a hiking backpack for Christmas, and I literally started crying when I opened it! It just feels like you can go anywhere when you have one of these, you know? Find a lightweight one with plenty of room for water, lunch, snacks, camera, and first aid kit. I also appreciated that mine has a waistband buckle. It felt extra-sturdy, and I like how the weight is distributed.
- Pants: I wore a very thick pair of activewear leggings that I bought from Marshall's for about $25. They were very warm and comfortable, but I soon saw the error of my ways in wearing just one layer. We did a lot of scooting over and kneeling on boulders and ice and branches, and I worried that I was going to tear the leggings. I'm glad they didn't rip, but next time I want the protection of an extra waterproof shell.
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