“Those who climb to the peak of Monadnock have seen but little of the mountain. I came not to look off from it, but to look at it. The view of the pinnacle itself from the plateau below surpasses any view which you get from the summit. It is indispensible to see the top itself and the sierra of its outline from one side…. It is remarkable what haste the visitors make to get to the top of the mountain and then look away from it.” -Henry David Thoreau
Mt. Monadnock got its name from an Abenaki word that means “isolated mountain” or “mountain that stands alone.” The word “monadnock” is now even used by geologists to describe such a unique mountain. Mt. Monadnock, located in southwestern New Hampshire, stands about 1,000 feet taller than any mountain within a radius of 30 miles. Monadnock’s height combined with its bald, rocky top make this peak stand out for sure. Monadnock’s bald top is home to many uncommon plant species that are usually only found in the alpine zone; the fires set by people in the 1800’s to increase pastureland and (rumor has it) to kill off wolves from a potential wolf den on the mountain burned the topsoil from the mountain’s peak, turning Monadnock into quite an exceptional little ecosystem.
Remarkably, Mt. Monadnock is the most climbed mountain in North America. While sources differ about how it stands on a global scale, it has been ranked as the most climbed mountain in the world after Mt. Fuji or most climbed after Mt. Fuji and Tai Shan mountain in China. I also heard tell of an escalator that now goes up Mt. Fuji, so it may be the most climbed mountain in the world. Regardless, the summit is especially crowded year-round (another reason that the pre-fire vegetation will probably not rebound at the top). Many of the side trails on the south and southwestern side of the mountain, however, are less crowded if you’re looking for a quieter hike. If I were to hike it again, I may just hike to the summit of Monte Rosa or Bald Rock using the side trails; those two peaks on the way up offer a better opportunity to “look at” the mountain, as Thoreau liked, and view the surrounding landscape without the crowds.
To see where I got my info and to learn more, check out: