Pack to Pack, Back to Back

Hikes, TripReport, Wapack , , , , , ,

I’m mildly avoiding shoulder season in the Whites. With all the reports of decaying monorail, postholing in to you knee and hips, and raging river crossings, I stayed a bit south, a bit of The Wapack Range. At some point, I’ll venture to the southern end of this range, but for now, I’m still enjoying the easy access(North Pack parking) and gentle terrain and early snow out.
I packed my cook kit and a Packit Gourmet meal to test out. I was planning to hike from the North Pack lot past Miller State Park lot and across 101 to Holt Peak. I was hoping to eat lunch on a rock lookout I visited (Sunset Camping on Holt Peak) on an overnight before. Mother Nature had a different plan.
I don’t know why I keep using Mountain Forecast (Mountain-Forecast) as it is wrong more than it is right. In my experience, if it says ‘Some Clouds’, there is a 90% chance it will rain. There are other resources I use to aggregate to build my plan depending where I’m heading, but I keep including this failing resource.
Anyway, I made it up North Pack and the sun was bouncing in and out of the high pillowy clouds. I only stopped long enough to chat with some other hikers about Cliff trail and snap a couple pics and then continued down Wapack Trail. The middle stretch through is really nice with a semi remote feel. It was a busy day on the trail as I crossed a few different groups of trail runners. Once I reached the base of Pack Monadnock, I crossed a large group, 10-12, coming down. They were a pleasant bunch.
I made my way up to the summit of Pack Monadnock which had quite a few visitors. I took a couple pics from the parking area as all the lookouts had folks grouped up, found myself a rock seat for a few sips and a snack. By this time, the clouds thickened and darkened and it was clear ‘some’ and turned to ‘cloudy’. I still couldn’t tell if it was going to rain, but clearly the sun was gone.
I felt pretty good and wanted to continue, but I decided I would only go down to the Miller State Parking lot and then return. I darted down Marion Davis Trail which I find a little easier on the knees to descend. I was moving at a decent pace, and apparently not enough noise as I caught up to a couple of women and startled them as I approached. After apologizing and a brief chuckle, I continued on. By the time I approached the lot it had started sprinkling drops on my head. I could see the lot was full and the gatekeepers out. I decided to stay on trail which remains just in the woods.
I started up the Wapack trail which has a jump start up a short stretch of light scrambles. They were wet from the rain drops so a bit of care was needed. Not long after, I passed a couple making their way over the scrambles, and not too long after that, a full on rain. The temp dropped and the rain only lasted 10 minutes or so, then back to sprinkling. I pressed on and planned to warm my lunch in the shelter, if it was available. I suspected so as the rain would deter some from remaining up top.
When I reached the summit again, I was surprised to see as many folks milling around. There were several decent size groups, families with younger children and a few groups of teens/twenties. I was lucky enough that the shelter was empty so I plopped myself at the picnic table and threw on my sweater then pulled out lunch. I brought the funky canister with me to use it up(while not critical) so I had some doubt it would work well. I set up my cook pot and lit the stove. It lit easy, but sputtered in the light breeze. I wrapped my hands around to shield the wind which seemed to help. It seemed to take a while to boil little more than a cup of water, maybe 4-5 minutes. Excited and hungry at this point, I poured it into my Packit Gourmet Savory Italian Polenta with Pork Sausage, stirred it, and zipped it up. I placed it into my DIY Insul-Bright cozy and waited.. impatiently. After the requisite 10 minutes steep, more like 7-8, I opened it up mixed up the clumps and started in. This was quite delicious and will certainly buy again. It is also very filling.
After finishing and packing up, I walked over to the Boston lookout for a few minutes. The clouds were still thick and gray with occasional spitting. The view wasn’t as impressive today. I made my way along the Red Dot trail, which circles the summit. This connects to the Wapack to return toward North Pack. Once connected I continued down. The descent went smooth and made my way through the forest between the summits. I passed the large group again, returning from their opposite route. By the time I made it to the Cliff Trail junction, it was raining again. I continued on the Wapack. The trip up North Pack is mild and goes by quickly. At the summit, there were a couple women with a couple dogs. One pup approached me as I passed. It was a very small (think teacup) charcoal gray pup. Seemed curious.
I found a spot to sit and enjoyed a snack and some sips. I didn’t sit too long as I was getting chilly. I started down to keep warm. The rocks were damp in spots from the off and on rains but not too bad. I continued down, passing the two women who left the top before I. I reached the junction of the Wapack and the cutoff to the parking lot and decided to continue on the Wapack to the road. It is only a short spur, maybe hundred yards but I had not taken it before. Got that out of the way and made my way up the road one hundred feet to the lot. All said and done, it was a good hike.

A late start, a decent morning, and the North Pack lot wasn’t even full
Bog boards over some damp ground. Only a few spots were real wet, but all of it manageable
First views on the way up
A little further, peeking out through the trees
Not a ‘cairn’ in the world 😉
Summit of North Pack. The cairn seems to have grown since I was last here
Looking toward Mt Monadock. Ominous clouds approaching
A brief stay at the summit and I’m off
Junction of Wapack Trail and Cliff Trail. One day I’ll take the Cliff Trail
Lots of debris on the floor in this old forest
Passing the Joanne Bass Bross Preserve sign
A creepy looking ‘hand’ tree
There were a few rule breakers
Tunnel heading toward the summit
Again looking toward Mt Monadnock, this time from Pack Monadock
After a short stay at the summit, I head down to the Miller State Park lot via Marion Davis Trail
It’s an easy trail that goes quickly
The Miller State Parking lot was full to the brim.
Turned and headed right back up via Wapack Trail
Early on the Wapack Trail, there are some very mild scrambles and only for a hundred feet or so
The rain has caught up with me, and Mt Monadnock
The return trip was spotted rain and drizzle
Meeting up with Red Dot trail to continue to the Pack Monadnock summit
The shelter atop Pack Monadnock, looking beyond is North Pack where I started
Made a hot lunch which kept me warm and turned out to be very tasty
Luckily the cloud ceiling remained high enough for some views
From the Boston lookout. I could not see it by this time of the day
Mt Wachussett, the shadow rising in the distance
A quick descent and traverse, back to the junction of Wapack and Cliff Trail
Some light green and white vegetation brightening up the forest floor
A white sprig pushing through the green
Babbling brook, one of the few to cross
Instead of the north lot cutoff, I followed the Wapack Trail to the road
The northern terminus of the Wapack Trail
The lot has thinned out. I’m sure the drizzle prompted some of that