Thursday, September 14, 2017

Still Screaming for Ice Cream

Usually by mid-September, we've accepted that cooler weather has set in and summer is almost a memory. But this week has been in the 80's and fairly humid. I'm glad we haven't removed our air conditioners because they're on tonight.

And I find that little is more satisfying in hot weather than ice cream. Actually, I like ice cream any time of year but it's particularly refreshing in hot weather.

The Monadnock Region has an abundance of ice cream shops, most of which we made it to this summer. We had 9-year old and 12-year old grandchildren living with us this summer so regular trips for ice cream cones was a priority. Local ice cream shops are listed below in no particular order; we liked them all or I wouldn't have included them in this post.

We went to Walpole Creamery on Main Street in Keene many times this summer for their "super premium ice cream." They offer a wide selection of traditional flavors plus some exotic flavors such as Fijan Ginger. Not only is Walpole Creamery ice cream available at their shop in Keene and in their Walpole parlor, but also in many grocery stores. Walpole Creamery boasts fresh ingredients "from Cow to Cone."

Another gem in the area is Kimball Farms in Jaffrey. There are three other Kimball's locations, but Jaffrey is the only one in the Monadnock Region. According to Kimball's website, "with over 50 fantastic flavors, ice cream is Kimball Farm’s claim to fame and it is as good as ice cream gets."

We also like Life is Sweet, located in Central Square the heart of downtown Keene, which specializes in candy, chocolate, cupcakes, and ice cream. The hard ice cream is available in many flavors and you can make your own custom flavor of soft serve ice cream.

Friendly's on West Street in Keene has many flavors of ice cream as well as sundaes and other ice cream treats.

Frozen yogurt, a lower calorie alternative to ice cream, can be found at Yolo Frozen Yogurt at 12 Gilbo Avenue in downtown Keene.

A newcomer to the region, Keene Confectioners Pastry Shoppe, located on 10 West Street in downtown Keene, offers ice cream in addition to other homemade desserts. We did not make it to this pastry shoppe this summer but hope to in the near future.

We also like Rick's Ice Cream on 58 Key Road in Keene. Their ice cream is delicious; they have a great assortment of cones and toppings galore.

Secord's on Route 10 in West Swanzey has numerous flavors of hard ice cream and soft serve ice cream. Located just over a mile from the inn, Secord's was an easy ice cream stop with the grandchildren.

For many years we have bought chocolates from Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates on 43 Grove Street in Peterborough but they have also gained quite a reputation for their ice cream. If their ice cream is as good as their chocolates, it's worth the trip.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mount Monadnock

The Monadnock Region is a beautiful place to explore for several reasons.  There is something for everyone, but the highlight of the region may be the mountain whose name it bears. Late spring is a beautiful time of year to hike Mount Monadnock, not too hot and not too cold.

Photo taken from Monadnock Berries in Troy

"Monadnock" is said to be the local Abenaki word for "mountain that stands alone" and from the top, it can be seen that few other large peaks are nearby. Mount Monadnock is generally considered the second most climbed mountain in the world; only Mount Fuji in Japan is climbed more. Mount Monadnock is 3,165 feet tall.  While it may not seem very tall, as far as mountains go, it can be a challenge to climb and physically demanding.  But for someone who is prepared, it can be a very rewarding climb. Many trails of various distances and grades all lead to the summit, where you can see in all directions for as far as the eye can see.

Located in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, Mount Monadnock is about a half an hour from the Bridges Inn, depending on the trail head.  Some of the trail heads are located within Monadnock State Park, with headquarters located on Dublin Road between Route 101 in Dublin and Route 124 in Jaffrey. On the Dublin side, it is called Upper Jaffrey Road and in Jaffrey, it is called Dublin Road.

The White Cross and the White Dot Trails run to the summit from the headquarters.  Both trails are under four miles round-trip and considered to be strenuous routes to the summit.  Bald Rock awaits hikers, offering a glimpse at things to come.  Parts of the trail may require using your hands to climb. These trails should give you a good work-out.

Photo taken from the White Dot Trail

Just north of headquarters on Dublin Road, you'll find Gilson Pond, where there is a State campground as well as the Birchtoft/Red Spot Trail.  This trail is three and a half miles, beginning quite gradually and then quickly ascending the mountain.

On Route 124 in Jaffrey, there is another State Park Ranger station.  It consists of a small shed and a parking area.  All of the State facilities will charge five dollars per adult.  This trail here on Route 124 runs past the site of a former hotel, so it is called the Old Halfway House Trail.  There is a network of trails; the main trail follows the white arrows.  It is three and a half miles to the summit and back. Some people have hiked it in less than three hours. Shown below near the beginning of the Old Halfway House Trail and then closer to the top is our little Eduardo, now nine years old, who has been hiking Mount Monadnock with his family since he was a toddler.

The White Arrow/Old Toll Road, which may be the most popular trail.  The first half is easy because there is the option of a forested trail or a dirt road.  However, the second half quickly begins to start feeling like you are climbing a mountain.  The trail is mostly covered in boulders and stones, and some places are rather steep, but it is possible for those who push themselves.

Eduardo needed a rest at the top

The Dublin Trail is a little over four miles, running in a line up the mountain's north face.  Since it is not a State facility, there is no parking fee.  It is also a less crowded trail, which is important because Monadnock can be quite busy during the nice weather, especially on the weekends.  The Dublin Trail is moderately difficult, but worth the effort.  A small parking area can be found on Old Troy Road in Dublin, near Dublin Lake and Route 101.

Also ascending the mountain from the Dublin Lake area is the Pumpelly Trail.  It is the most challenging trail. The summit is four and a half miles, so it is nine miles round-trip and would take an entire day to hike.  The trail is noted for its views, particularly during foliage season, as well as interesting geological formations.  There is also a notable absence of other people.

Finally, there is the Marlborough Trail.  It can be reached from Route 124, on Shaker Farm Road in Marlborough.  Each way is a little over four miles, because the parking area is a distance from the base of the mountain.  There is a lot of tree and plant life to be seen, and rocks to be explored.

Additional information about hiking Mount Monadnock can be found on the Monadnock Travel Council's website.

A stay at the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House coupled with a hike up Mount Monadnock makes for a memorable get-away.