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January 2020
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Just a fun hike around Mount Monadnock

I have been thinking a lot about what I want Isaac to believe is “normal” – what activities we do as a family and what he grows up to enjoy.  One thing we’re trying to encourage is family dinner time, where we site down together and eat the same thing.  So far Isaac is still enjoying kale, beans, squash, ratatouille, oatmeal and all kinds of fruit, so he is a good excuse for us to eat healthy.  Another thing is exposing him to the outdoors at an early age.  In this endeavor, surely the Hines/Phillips family’s hikers and environmental activists are good role models!  So I was excited to see if Steve and Connie were willing to spend an October day enjoying the foliage on a hike with Isaac and me this weekend.

Of course Isaac decided to sleep in until 7:30am, more than an hour past his normal wake-up.  Usually sleeping in on a Saturday would be welcome, but today we intended to be on the road at 8am!  After some chatting while Isaac ate his breakfast, we did make it out of the house by 8:30am on the way to Mount Monadnock.  We enjoyed the scenery along Rtes 2, 140, and 202 on the way up and Rte 119 on the way back, as trees were definitely starting to turn colors.  We were sad to drive past the many farm stands selling mums, pumpkins and apples, but we were on a tight schedule and figured we could do some shopping another time.

Clearly we were not the only New Englanders with the same idea on Saturday – the state park was packed!  And given that I was toting a rather heavy 11-month old (he is easily 20% of my weight), we set out on the more moderate and less traveled Parker Trail on the way to the Old Toll Road.  But when we encountered the Cliff Walk trail, Connie suggested we check it out.  The new route provided near solitude (we didn’t encounter another hiker until after the junction with Do Drop) and more scenic path, with only a few steep spots.  We enjoyed some pine forest, mossy growth, and beautiful views.  When we got to Bald Rock, we stopped for lunch to soak in the open vistas.  Hearing and seeing the 100s of hikers at the top and having no need to summit, we then opted to continue in a loop onto the Smith Connector and Amphitheater trails to White Arrow and back along the toll road.  White Arrow was the typical “stairmaster” of rocky steps, compounded with enough water to make them slippery going, so we tread carefully on the way down, but then picked it up on the Toll Road and Parker on the way back.

Isaac loved the trees and would chatter away at me while awake. He loved smiling at the other hikers and looking around.  He fell asleep after a section of rock scrambles and slept through lunch, so we stopped along the White Arrow to give him some banana.  He was a trooper to stay in the backpack for 4 hours straight, and only complained a bit for the last section (audibly and by pulling my hair).  Connie and I distracted him with some bright yellow leaves, which he proceeded to try to eat, requiring us to fish them out of his mouth.  I suppose a little leaf and dirt is good for him.  One of my favorite moments was when Steve, Connie and I all sang “Old MacDonald” as we hiked along the road.  Isaac seemed happily surprised to be serenaded by his favorite song.  He did get a proper lunch and time to crawl around the back seat before we headed home.  And luckily Steve and Connie each had great back seat games to share with Isaac to keep him entertained during the drive.

Here’s the one picture from the hike, of Isaac sleeping through lunch.  Evidently the fresh fall air is tiring, even when he gets to ride instead of walk!

Fresh Fall Air is Tiring


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