November 27 , 2004 (Ed. note: This is one of the best hikes on the M-M Trail. Eight miles over some diverse and highly interesting terrain. It's a rare opportunity to hike from one town to another more or less the way you would have done 300 years ago. We had a great, great time.)
Bug and I picked up the trail on Grassy Hill Rd (just off Old County Rd) about .3 mi. west on Rt 119 from Monument Rd. We (with the help of my lovely, kind wife Jane, stashed our ride at the end of Prospect St. in Troy, and started hiking North at the last house on Grassy Hill before it became unpassable via normal car.
The ancient remnants of Grassy Hill Rd. pass South to North on the Eastern slope of Grassy Hill, and the M-M uses about .5 mi. of Grassy Hill Rd. before heading east into the woods into a swampy trail. As usual, Bug led the way . We were zig-zagging over a faint trail through a NH swamp (which seemed just fine to the woodland animals that inhabited this forest). We were clearly just several minutes behind a Moose, who left us a wondrous pile of fresh moose cookies to marvel at. Along this stretch we hiked past two beaver ponds, and then forded Tully Brook as the trail rose and became a bit drier. I easily crossed the brook over the conveniently placed boulders, but Bug had to be a bit more careful. How you doin' Bug?
Tully Brook has it's origin about a half mile from here and joins Falls Brook in Royalston, below Royalston Falls, in Royalston, Ma. After fording the Tully, the trail rose along a stone wall, and a branch of Tully Brook on our right. We crossed a short time later and came to an intersection of trails; one of which is Morgan Rd., where we stopped to have lunch. Actually, I noticed that Bug was a little out of sorts. I knew a half of a sandwich would cheer him up. It always does. We forget that out canine friends sometines don't feel so hot, just like us.
Traveling West, we passed by another interesting pond and more wet trails. But soon we were rising again and climbing on rock ledge, marking the beginning of the ascent of Little Mt. Monadnock. We climbed for 30 minutes or so. The blazes now are on the ledges, and soon we reached the summit with a majestic view of the object of our hike in two weeks; Mt. Monadnock. The trail up was open and fun to climb and the view Northeast over Gap mountain to Mt. Monadnock was majestic. We took our time and just enjoyed ourselves.
The descent allowed us a nice view Southeast across the Rhododendron State Park and to Fitzwilliam, NH. as we left the ledges behind. We were just below the crest of ledges when we came upon an amazing natural phenominum. There before us, on a plateau at about 1500 feet , were six 18-20 inch mounds, that seemed to be the homes of....something. Each mound had a 1" entrance near the top and the residents, I suppose, were "resting". These mounds were not new, as they had grass growing from their sides, like a Scottish thatched Cottage.
Just below the Mystery Mounds there was a vertical drop along the ledge part of the trail, and I had to help Bug down it (he was ready to launch himself, because he is Bug). This could be daunting to some hikers. Be careful. As we got lower on the trail, we entered a sparce pine grove and then re-entered the woods. The blazes were not very clear here and bug and I had to stop for conferences several times.
As we picked our way through the sketchy trail, we came upon a clear wood road, and found a white blaze. Cool, we ain't lost. Man, you never know. This part of the trail is comprised of a classic series of woods roads that you find all over New England; logging ATV road by Summer, Snomobile road by Winter. This is where you come to hunt, as well. We happened on a pile of freshly cut wood, and this was the first sign of people that we had encountered for the last 3 hours. Well Bug, if my reckoning is correct, the Missionmobile should be up ahead, just where we left it 4 short hours ago. It was.
The ride back home was awesome, we were in a great mood. Our drive took us through Fitzwilliam, NH, one of the coolest New England Towns I have ever seen.