Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway

The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway is a hiking trail that links Mount Monadnock with Mount Sunapee over a fairly undulating 50 mile greenway that traverses public as well as private land. It was created in the 1970's as a way to link two of the major southern New Hampshire mountains together. Most people that hike it stick to the most popular trails surrounding the two peaks. According to the MSG website, for those interested in hiking the entire 49 miles in one shot, there are 5 campsites along the way and those attempting it should plan on the trip taking 3-4 days.
Soooooooooo.... It seemed like a good idea to try it in one. I convinced one of my friends, Josh to come along as well. Misery does apparently love company. Knowing that the going would be slow in the dark and with all the water that we had in the past few weeks, we started out at 3am at the base of Monadnock. Quickly skirting up to the summit in only 45 minutes, I thought that this trip would be a breeze. Afterall, I have run 50 miles in 8 hours, hiking it in a day would be a piece of cake. No sooner had this crossed my mind, did we get lost. Anyone who's been to the summit of Monadnock knows that it looks pretty similar from all sides as it rises up from the surrounding landscape. Great for views, not so much for finding the correct trailhead at 3:45am. After a good twenty minutes of scrambling from rock to rock we finally found it and were on our way. Oh, did I mention that the 49 miles is from summit to summit? Getting up and down can add anywhere from 4-9 miles to the total hike. Yikes!
Our goal for the entire hike was simply, start in the dark so we wouldn't have to end up in the dark. We figured if we could keep going at about 4 1/2 mph we'd be able to get to Sunapee as the sun was setting. What we hadn't counted on was: a)Danny falling ~50 times between the hours of 4am and 7am, b) insufficient bridges making streams a continual fording event, c)the weather- we had brought winter weather gear and ended up keeping them in our packs and although it is better to be well-prepared we ended up having more weight than we'd expected, and d) Hunters!!! Granted it was hunting season, and I was wearing an aptly colored brown and white hat, but still. At one point we had to slow to a near stand-still as an anger-spewing Orange-garbed rifle toting predator was wildly swinging his loaded gun while talking on his cell-phone.
Despite the slow going, this trail is not one to miss. I have lived in this area for most of my life and hadn't heard of most of this hills we climbed and had not laid foot on a single step of it. What a shame as there were some amazingly beautiful sections, nearly untouched by the people who live nearby. It has opened my eyes to the opportunities that lay all around us in this beautiful state.
All told: Summit to Summit 13:33 hours, 3.7 mph; Base to base 14:47 hours. Danny's food intake: 5 peanut butter sandwiches, 160 ounces of water, 12 ounces of Hammer Gel, 4 snicker's mini-bars, a V8, a sour pickle and a large bag of trail mix.
Up Next: Taking it easy for the next couple months, small day hikes, 5K's and then ramping back up for the Snowshoe series that starts up the beginning of January. Hope to see you there!


  1. Having any photos you might want to share from your hike on Mount Sunapee?

  2. Unfortunately by the time we got to Mount Sunapee we were in the dark making photo ops very limited.

  3. Do you have a list of the trails you took? What is the route? The website has a very poor map.