When my mom told me that Dad was taking a week off and he only had a couple of things on his to-do list one of which was hiking, I jumped at the chance to weasel myself into their free time and get my feet on the trail at the same time. Sunday’s weather looked questionable but not horrible compared to the wash out of late so I suggested a group hike up North Pack Monadnock which was quickly vetoed. I’d like to say for the record before this tale continues any further that it was my darling father who suggested we do the Percival-Morgan loop. I found it in my trusty Best Hikes with Dogs book and so it was decided. Only 3 paws… how bad could it be. The book had very clear instructions for avoiding the very dog unfriendly (kids and senior citizens, too for that matter) caves and ladders. We’d be set.
That’s why it was so awesome when halfway there I realized I’d left the book sitting on the goshdarned kitchen counter. No worries, we’d be fine. That’s why I’ve got a smartphone, right? So the trail report I found could tell me to look for Rt 26 to Holderness and then 11-something. 113? 114? Who knows. My reception was terrible and my battery was quickly dying seeing as the phone charger I had grabbed was not the one that would charge my phone. (Side note: this may have sparked a lively conversation between Steve and I as to why the heck I still had a charger in my car for a phone I no longer had) Luckily, as we zoomed down Rt 25 right by the sign for Rt 113, Steve and I realized we were quickly running out of Holderness and maybe they meant Rt 25 instead. This morning was off to a spectacular start.
There are two trail heads for this loop trail. One at the base of Morgan and one at the base of Percival. We had agreed to meet at Morgan. Unfortunately, the old folks (as they will lovingly be called moving forward) saw the trail head for Rattlesnake which is right across the street from Morgan and sat patiently waiting for us at the Percival trail head while we waited (im)patiently for them at Morgan. Luckily Steve is a problem solver so he went and retrieved them and we were off.
Well, sort of. As we all took our packs out of the trunk, we discovered that Miles’ Camelbak had gone the way of the trail book and car charger. There were some tears shed and perhaps some poorly worded and ill thought out comments from me. But we pulled it together and headed out.
The first thing I will say about this loop is how well it is marked. Book, shmook. With the exception of the initial wrong turn I led us down, both trails were really well marked and my fear of taking any more wrong turns was completely without merit.
I remember reading something in the book about a stream crossing and to let your dog get some water because this was the last water you’d see. This was definitely not the case for our hike with several crossings and 70% of our descent just straight through a stream. To say it was wet and muddy is an understatement.
Tess went ankle deep in mud early on. We braced for the complaint, the whimper, the anything. Nothing but a little giggle as her foot came back out and on she went. “It’s okay, I can wash it off in the stream.”
Here she is with her feet in completely submerged. She did ask me to dump the water out of her shoes, but she hiked the rest of the way with wet feet. She never complained once. This girl amazes me. And as you can see, it worked out well that Miles forgot his Camelbak because he carried Tess’ for most of the journey. It’s a good thing he likes pink.
It was a steady climb most of the way. Steve and the kids would go ahead and wait for us to catch up. We finally reached the sign that pointed us left to the summit via the caves or right to the summit via the cliffs. There was a bit of a tricky spot where I stopped to help my mom through. (Notice the camera in my hand)
Because let’s face it. I will help you but I will laugh if you get stuck and I will take a picture. Such love.
I’d like to take a moment to note that the reason why we have the first of those two pictures is because my dad does exactly the same thing.
As we are trying to wedge ourselves through the rock Steve yells back from up ahead, “Uh, maybe you don’t want to go this way.”
“Oh, never mind, it’s easier than it looks, you’ll be fine.”
We rounded the corner to see this.
I’ll admit, it was easier than it looked. I will also admit, I’m glad we went up this section.
We stopped to have lunch on the top of Mt. Percival with about a hundred dragon flies but for the majority of our stay no other people. I was really surprised how empty the trail was. Especially considering the gorgeous view.
From Percival we headed across the ridge to Morgan. At this point our group spread out a bit more. Steve and the kids were ahead, the old folks were behind and in the middle it was just me. In the quiet. And that was okay. It was gorgeous out there. And there was something magical about the way the woods look. Maybe it’s always like that. Maybe I just wanted it to be magic. Doesn’t matter.
We came to the trail junction and headed toward the summit of Morgan. Unfortunately, we veered off to the left instead of the right and only made it to this look out.
A couple hanging out on the ledge told us if we continued on we’d end up at the ladders so we headed back the way we came. By the time I got back to that junction and realized that was the way to the summit, Steve and the kids were already too far ahead of us to call them back and I was honestly too tired to chase them down to retrace our steps.
(Full disclosure: I may have been grouchy about this. I may have made my displeasure known when I finally caught up to Steve. Verbal vomit. Boot & Rally. Move on. I would have stewed about it for the rest of the day. But I spoke up and let it go. This does NOT mean that I will not make my family go back to this mountain someday so that we actually make it to the top. But I recognized that this was not the day. I think that’s enough for now. Baby steps, right?)
Remember when I said the trail was wet? I was not making it up.
Obviously some members of the group didn’t care.
It didn’t hurt that the way down was fueled by Twizzlers & M&Ms.
Actually, it did hurt. Steve has proclaimed that from now on our hikes are candy free zones. No more bribing them down the mountain with candy. They will have to rely on their desire not to be left behind.
We passed the ladders that you can take up Morgan.
Steve couldn’t pass up the opportunity to
show off try them out so he quickly climbed up all gazelle like.
Let it suffice to say that I’m pretty sure gazelles don’t climb down ladders as gracefully as they climb up. Well, at least not when you have to get from one ladder to another while on a rock face. But the story has a happy ending so we’ll move on.
A little over a half mile from the top we had a minor bathroom emergency. Despite bravely digging a hole and giving it a try, there’s no place like home, so we parted ways with the old folks and picked up the pace a bit. Unfortunately for the unnamed family member and their digestive tract, my IT band decided it hated going downhill and I feel like I really slowed us down. I’m definitely the weakest link hiking wise, a fact that I am committed to changing especially as my wish list of hikes continues to grow and evolve and will hopefully include some overnights in the not too distant future.
But don’t get me wrong. Overall this was another fantastic hike. I’m so grateful that my parents were able to accompany us (well for most of the way). Considering the fact that a little over a year ago, my dad had his chest cranked open and had major heart surgery, it was pretty awesome to see him on the summit. Even if he is a little too nit picky with my mom’s hiking style. Yeesh, back off, man. But that’s the beauty of a well matched pair and that is, without question, what those two are. But I digress. Another hike in the books for us and another successful adventure.