Hiking one of Boston’s closest mountains provides a short day trip at only one hour and a half away. There are multiple trails at Mount Monadnock, but the most frequented is the White Dot - White X loop. The mountain is 3,165 feet (965 m) tall, and it is one of the busiest during the warmer months. A great way to avoid the crowd is by traversing Mount Monadnock during early Spring, late Fall, Winter, or our personal favorite: hiking at sunrise.
Ridj-it carpoolers generally leave Boston around 2:00 AM, and we would be lying if we said that all of the passengers were completely sober. Many adventurers don’t bother to go to sleep beforehand, so plenty of coffee is purchased to keep everyone awake during the drive and traverse. Arriving at Mount Monadnock at 3:30 AM under complete darkness can seem intimidating, but a great headlamp lights the way with no issues. One huge suggestion: do not use your phone as a flashlight.
People who have never hiked Monadnock are surprised by the White Dot’s fairly constant incline and steep elevation gain, and the feeling gets amplified in the dark. The sounds of tiny critters rummaging around on the forest floor crack like lightning, spooking unsuspecting hikers when barely any other noise is permeating the forest. A light amount of rock scrambling adds to the excitement as the deadline of reaching the summit before sunrise looms over the entire group.
Finally, the group emerges from the trees, and White Dot levels out for a short period of time. What can be a light or non-stop wind greets adventurers heading towards the White X junction, and large cairns begin to guide the group’s way up the mountain. If you are in moderate shape, it can take two hours to climb to the top if you’re taking breaks, so at this point the group limits how much they rest to ensure they reach the summit in time. Thirty minutes to sunrise - go go go!
Hearts are already beating heavily, and jump for a second as a very brief descent tricks hikers into believing they’ve gone the wrong way. Again we emerge from the trees, and soft shades of orange peep over the horizon. Shortly afterward, the summit is reached, everyone plops down in an area protected from the relentless wind, and the cameras and coffees are taken out to greet the sun.
Soon soft gasps of human awe start ringing from the group as orange deepns into red. With any luck, a few clouds will grace the sky and add texture by refracting the streams of orange and red sunlight seeping over the horizon off of their otherwise white puffiness. Vocalized amazement eventually transitions into silent admiration of a spectacle that might seem so normal in the city, but takes on a more primal feeling outdoors.
Eventually the reds turn to lighter yellows, blues begin to appear, and the clouds regain their daily whiteness. The entire experience can last thirty minutes, and everyone makes their way down the White X trail on tired legs with hopes of an incredible breakfast and coffee - lots of coffee.