For those of you who know me, it’ll come as no surprise when I say I’m not a huge fan of camping – I’m more of a “serve-me-breakfast-in-bed-resort” versus a “build-your-own-room-and-sleep-with-bugs” kind of gal. However, Melissa loves the outdoors and really enjoys camping, and since relationships involve compromise, compromise I did. A while back, we, along with a friend of ours, went camping in Hancock, NH.
Now, it’s not the outdoors I dislike, it’s the walking a distance in the middle of the night when you have to pee part that doesn’t appeal to me. Other things I really enjoy – like the kayaking we got to do and spending time among nature’s wonders – one of which being Monadnock Mountain in Jaffrey, NH, which we decided to hike while we were in the area. If you’re not familiar with the mountain, here’s some interesting facts:
- It’s the most climbed mountain in the world (yes, the world – right ahead of Mt. Fuji in Japan) – 125,000 people get to the top each year.
- There are at least a dozen, well-marked trails – of various skill levels – leading to the summit.
- It’s the most popular mountain in the USA, partly due to the fact that when hikers reach the top, on a clear day you’re rewarded with panoramic views to all six New England states.
- Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and other thinkers of our country have hiked it and mentioned it in writings as a symbol of spiritual and environmental awareness.
We had hiked this mountain before, probably 5 years ago or so. I remember it being quite a challenging climb, mostly at the top when you are above the tree line and you are essentially rock climbing. However, this time, we took a different trail – one much more difficult – that was mainly made up of rocks and boulders.
During our climb, we decide to rest for a bit for some water and trail mix (could there be a more appropriate food for hiking? ). We get to talking, and before we know it, a half hour has passed. Disappointed by how much time we had lost by the impromptu break, we quickly get back on our way. On we climb, and after some tricky maneuvers, we reach the summit – 3,165 feet. Our legs fatigued, and the wind practically knocking us over, we sit to rest before enjoying the views.
Then, it’s picture time. For my photo, I want to stand on the tippity-top – the technical 3,165-foot peak (a rock is carved to indicate the true summit). I wait as other climbers have their photo opportunity, then it’s my turn. As I stand there trying to hold myself steady for the picture (it was really windy), out of literally nowhere appears an airplane. No one hears it until it’s practically on top of us. Everyone on the summit (about 50-60 people or so) gasps and looks to the sky. There I am, holding myself steady from the wind and now from the roaring of this unbelievably close plane, and as I look up, the plane suddenly starts doing maneuvers – flips, pirouettes (I’m sure the military has a much more masculine term for that spin!), and dips. Then, as quickly as it appears, it disappears on the other side of the mountain. People run to see where it went, but it’s gone. Vanished.
Then, along comes a second plane, showcasing similar aerial dancing. A fellow climber tells us that it’s the Air Force doing maneuvers – he believes the aircraft is an A10 Thunderbolt. What better place to do your maneuvers than where you know you’ll have a captive audience?! This pilot is so close that as he’s flipping, he waves at all of us and we can see him! Spontaneously, I turn into a little girl, laughing and clapping as I stand on the summit. The rush I feel from having completed the climb, combined with standing on the tip-top summit just as this amazing show in the sky presents itself to me is just indescribable. People take turns standing on the exact summit point, and it just happens to be my turn when the planes come.
Boy, am I glad we took that unplanned 30-minute snack/chat break part way up the mountain, otherwise we would have missed this entirely. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Perhaps I should trust the Universe’s timing more often.