This was my first time on the Marlboro Trail in perhaps four years. A couple of years of various physical issues interfered drastically with the weekly hikes I used to make. But Saturday was going to be the first time for the year, and maybe we'd be able to do some fairly frequent hikes later on.
I should have re-read my own description of the trail. The foot of the trail was steeper than I had recalled it. Not terribly steep, mind you, but certainly it went up a lot more than I thought it would. And depsite the hiking I've been doing on Mt. Wachusett, I was still struggling here. (My friends Richard and Beverly had commiserated with me a couple of hours early about how much slower we had gotten in the past few years.)
The weather cleared as we continued up the trail, which on the lower slopes had a number of soggy and muddy areas. There were a few small sets of stairs here and there that Jim had managed to install. Generally, the trail was in good shape. Cairns were common even at the lower elevations, although the painted square trail blaze wasn't the capital M I expected until we got up to the first rocky clearing.
We stopped to rest there--the other two seemed to be more tired than me at that point, although I was breathing hard when I caught up to them there. We looked around a bit and enjoyed the views. Gary wanted to see Mt. Wachusett, but we couldn't quite pick it out from this spot. (On the way down, we saw that it was just at the shoulder of the mountain to the south.)
We continued up, taking a few minutes at the junction with the Marian Trail, just a little more than half way to the top. We were all starting to get pretty beat by this point, but oped to continue up a little farther.
After leaving the deciduous trees behind, we were in all evergreen forest. A steep part was ahead of us, and lots of evergreens. The other two were looking like they had had enough, even though they said they'd go all the way if I did. Check the time: An hour and a half to this point,with at least half an hour to go--and probably more like 45 minutes. And then back down. We decided not to push it, so we caught our breath, and a few photos, and turned around. Half an hour later we were in the car and heading home, with a commitment to climb Mt. Wachusett again midweek, and to come back to Monadnock on the next weekend to head for the top.
The view to the northwest from the Marlboro Trail.
See the information about the trails on Mt. Monadnock.