Gimme A Drink
Pulling into the trailhead parking lot at Mount Monadnock, it was hard to believe that it was the winter solstice. The sun was shining, there was no snow in sight, and while it wasn’t warm outside, it seemed too warm to be the first day of winter.
Although I was anxious for winter weather, it was hard to complain about how nice the mild conditions were. Dressed in light clothing and trail runners, with packs more like what you’d expect on an early spring or late fall trip, Ashley and I hoped to make good time up and down the mountain; since we weren’t burdened with winter packs, cumbersome boots, or heavy layers, there was no excuse to not move quickly. Leaving the parking lot, we certainly did not look equipped for a winter ascent of the largest mountain in the region.
With almost no crowds and weather favorable to moving fast, we promptly reached tree line. With minimal snow or ice above tree line, the mountain showed no visual evidence of winter, but without the protection of the trees we felt a strong, biting wind that announced winter was indeed coming. Gusting unencumbered over the bare summit cone, the wind easily brought the temperature down to a mid-winter like feel and had us scrambling to put on our hats, gloves, and extra layers.
We ducked behind some rocks upon reaching the summit, seeking just enough shelter from the wind for a quick snack and a few photos. Wrapped in my puffy coat, I dug a water bottle out of my pack, while Ashley retrieved a thermos from hers. Opening her thermos revealed the enchanting smell of hot chocolate—normally a winter staple of mine, but due to the mild weather it had never occurred to me how welcome a warm drink would be.
Ashley offered me a sip from her thermos, but the fact she had been sick all week gave me pause. After a brief contemplation, I threw caution to the gusting winds and indulged my desire by taking a quick swig. I was rewarded with one of the finest sips of hot chocolate I’ve ever had (at least the best so far this winter). Further down the mountain I was faced with a similar dilemma when a group of college kids rewarded me for taking a group photo of them with a pull from their bottle of whiskey. I’ve never been keen on sharing drinks with others, much less strangers, but I was all in by that point.
Now, gimme a drink!