How Does Poor Monte Rosa Stand Living in Mount Monadnock’s Shadow?
Remember your best friend’s little sister/brother? That runny-nosed kid that followed you all over the neighborhood, for years, but you can’t quite remember what s/he looked like because you were always too busy trying to ditch him/her? You and your friends would, deviously, mastermind games of hide and seek, where no one ever sought the poor wee-one, but instead jumped the fence and ran off to play Kick the Can or stick ball. Remember that kid?
No, of course you don’t. That’s the point! You have a fuzzy image of someone squat, whining and tripping on the backs of your heels, right?
And then thirty years later, you’re at the pharmacy (looking a little haggard because that stomach thing is going around) and you really need some Kaopectate when BAM!…Bradley Cooper (Scarlett Johansson, if you’re a dude) walks around the corner. And says…
“Weren’t you that mean kid that used to ditch me to go play stick ball? I’m in therapy because of you!”
You try to explain that you were young, stupid, eating paste or sniffing rubber cement…anything!
He or she just walks away, muttering and scowling.
That kid is Monte Rosa, younger sister of Mount Monadnock. And, MAN, has she grown up.
You’ve probably figured out, by now, that Monte Rosa is a peak in New Hampshire (about 2,450 ft.). Not the highest of mountains, certainly; just a bump on Monadnock, really…a hanger-on. But she’s something special, alright. You just don’t get to see her yet.
She’s a bit of a tease. *wink*
First, You Need Directions to Monte Rosa’s Place
To hike Monte Rosa, first find directions to Monadnock State Park from your area, via monadnocktrails.com. I find their site information both accurate and easy to navigate.
From the parking area ($5), follow the Old Halfway House Trail (a wooded, fairly level, hike) to the Cart Path. This starts to climb a bit and will lead you directly to the old Halfway House hotel site.
The Monadnock Mountain House, or Half Way House, is said to have been a three-story hotel, built in 1858, on the side of Monadnock mountain, by a gentleman named Moses Cudworth. It was about halfway from the bottom to the mountain’s summit (thus the name) and the toll road allowed goods and guests to be brought in. At its peak, the hotel accommodated around one hundred guests and its stables held as many as seventy-five horses. The hotel changed hands a few times and suffered two catastrophic fires, the last of which happened in 1954. It was not rebuilt after that. I’m assuming it was just demolished because my husband and I have found shards of china dishes, broken glass bottles and ink wells, all along the stream. Later, a snack bar/hiker’s stand operated at the site until 1969 and was removed in 1972 when the area was closed to public vehicles. Nature has, largely,taken back what was once hers.
Leominster Access Television’s Media Archive & Preservation Center has been kind enough to allow common-licensing sharing and embedding of their presentation on the discovery of severely damaged negatives, taken by photographer Percy Johnson, of the Halfway House Hotel and its guests. The story of how the negatives were found, lovingly restored and turned into a photo montage is explained in the video below. These images are amazing. My husband and I have a hobby of collecting old glass negatives, scanning them into our computer and digitally “developing” them and this demonstrates just how mind-blowing those images from the past can be. People seem to spring forth like ghosts through history! Skip to 6 minutes in, to get right to the images, or watch the entire 12 minute video for greater detail.
Incredible, right? I highly encourage you to stand upon this, now barren, natural site and imagine it in all its previous historical glory. It’s something you have to experience to truly feel. To learn more about Monadnock’s history, I recommend this book:
Let’s push on up to Monte Rosa, shall we?
The Monte Rosa Trail heads west at the junction of the White Arrow and Royce Trails, shortly after the Half-way House site, bearing left where the White Arrow Trail bears right. It is marked with white tags/paint spots and is well-traveled (you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled when there is snow on the ground). Things get a bit steeper here, crossing brooks, climbing over fallen trees, up ridges and ledges that are slippery with mud in spring or snow in winter. One last hard scramble up bare, jagged and, often, icy rock to the summit and…there she is, in all her grown-up glory! All snowy-complexioned, blue eyes and sexy curves!
But, wait. Monte Rosa is NOT the mountain in this photo. This is the northeast view from atop Monte Rosa, looking up at her big sister, Monadnock. All 3,165 sexy feet of her!
Monadnock is famed as being one of the most climbed mountains in the world. Thoreau, Lovecraft and Emerson penned poetry in her honor. I found a lovely page, compiling many odes written by the greats at Monadnock Poetry. I’m sure you can now see why they were so inspired.
This poem is featured in H.P. Lovecraft’s Collection:
An about-face to the South offers stunning views of Little Monadnock (totally different mountain) and Gap Mountain in Fitzwilliam and Troy, New Hampshire. Vermont’s Killington, the Berkshires and Green Mountains can all be seen to the West. Bald Rock and Massachusetts’ Mount Wachusett are to the East.
You may be asking, “So where is the picture of Monte Rosa, already?”
There she is, saucily donning her weather-vane hat. See, that’s the beauty of Monte Rosa. She’s pretty, sure, but you could pass her by on the street, so stunned by Miss Monadnock’s striking features that you walk right in front of a bus. But, when you get to know Rosa…explore her peaks and valleys, scale her icy walls and see the world through eyes that are very much like her sister’s (just a little lower in altitude)…she’s a 10 out of 10. She offers a view of the world, unlike any other!
Sure, you could climb on. You could venture on up to Monadnock’s summit…check out her curves…and you should! But something tells me that you’ll linger a while on Rosa; weigh your options on seeing if that scrubby mountain grass is any greener up there. And, when you do push on, one thing is for certain, you’ll look back, fondly, on Monte Rosa. You’ll never forget that first time in her company.
For more on Monte Rosa, the history of Monadnock and other day hikes in New Hampshire, check out Erin’s recommendations:
- Bald Mountain Menace: Suspected Peeping Moose Caught on Camera!
- Ted’s Trail (Or The Legend of Coyote Mountain)
Have you hiked Monte Rosa or Monadnock? Do you have more information on the history or trail? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you! Be sure to leave a comment below! I love hearing from you!