Monday, December  17, 2018
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After several months of carefully arranging outings so that the last of my 'New Hampshire 48' would be an especially scenic peak, the day had come. All of the other 47 were now complete; the weather forecast was good. Today was the day to actually climb that last -- deliberately scenic -- peak: Mount Monroe.

Along for today's significant event was Asmir. And, the reason he was travelling in a separate vehicle was that he was combining this hiking trip with a trip to see his brother down in the Boston area. This worked out well for us, allowing us to plan a scenic traverse from Pinkham Notch up the Glen Boulder Trail, across the high alpine terrain over to the Lakes of the Clouds and Mount Monroe, then down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.

We decided to drive the full distance from home on the morning of the hike, meaning that we only arrived at Pinkham Notch at around 10:45am - an abnormally late start for us. We parked Asmir's car at the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail parking area, taking the northern route around to Pinkham Notch (along the Jefferson Notch Road, east along US2, south-east along the Dolly Copp B road, then south on NH16). The parking lot(s) at Pinkham notch were PACKED, and we spent considerable time finding a suitable spot down along NH 16 itself. Good thing we weren't planning to use any of the more popular trails up into the high country - surely they would be extremely crowded.
A very busy start
Singling out the AMC
Direttissima brook
We chose the Glen Boulder route up because we'd never done it before and it promised interesting and beautiful views as it climbed up along the edge of the Gulf of Slides. We could have parked directly at the Glen Boulder parking lot, but instead chose to park and start at Pinkham Notch and take the Direttissima over to the Glen Boulder trail. This option reduced the elevation gain (but required more distance). In retrospect, it probably would have made more sense to just park at the base of the Glen Boulder trail itself.
Bubbling brook
First light on Glen Boulder Tr
Asmir at Treeline
The hike along the direttissima was uneventful, and nicely, it was devoid of people. Soon, we joined with the Glen Boulder trail and started a reasonably steep ascent up towards treeline. This we reached quite early -- at around 3,200 feet. An initial steep scramble over rocks gave way to a nice, gentle stretch of open alpine terrain. We could see the outline of Glen Boulder quite clearly from here, silhouetted against the thick puffy clouds in the sky behind.
Scrambling on GB Trail
Glen Boulder in the distance
Scrub and Boulder
We made our way up through the open terrain to the boulder, where we stopped for our first snack break. Although it had been forecast to be a clear and sunny day, there were a lot of clouds about. Fortunately, not low enough to obscure the peaks and with enough clear spots in between to give some sun now and then.
Down to Hwy 16
Beneath the Boulder
Snack at Glen Boulder
The shady clouds and light breeze cooling us encouraged us to continue on. It was a bit chilly just sitting around.

The Glen Boulder trail continued climbing above Glen Boulder, staying more or less on the rounded ridgecrest. The section above Glen Boulder was steeper, quite broken up and bouldery, and without a well-defined tread. However, after cresting a bump along the ridge, the trail's grade flattened somewhat and the tread became visible and the footing less rough. The trail then enters a fairly thick patch of evergreen forest for about fifteen minutes, then re-emerges into the open scrub high above the Gulf of Slides. We soon arrived at the top of Gulf Peak, a very minor sub-summit along the ridgecrest. This is a good vantage point over most of the Gulf of Slides, and over to Boott Spur.
Musing about climbing
Up the Ridge
Back down to GB
Bouldery Ridge
Ridge and Boott Spur
Into the forest again
courtesy JInnes
Gulf lookout
The Gulf of Slides
The puffy, broken clouds had now consolidated into a fairly solid grey mass, the bottoms of which we could see just grazing the top of nearby Boott Spur. Would our good visibility conditions and forecast for nice weather be on their way out?

From here, the Glen Boulder trail is virtually entirely above treeline. It leads across and through wonderful open grassy alpine meadows, either on the level or climbing quite gradually until it reaches the broad crest of the main ridge of land coming down south from Boott Spur. The trail ended at a junction with the Davis Path.
Gulf Peak
Upper Glen Boulder Tr
Alpine Grasses
Asmir on the move
Joining the Davis Path
Davis Path
We headed north, playing tag with a large family that was out on an uphill-only hike (they had a car parked atop Mount Washington). The dark overcast that had threatened us atop Slide Peak seemed to be breaking up, and by the time we got to the junction with the Boott Spur trail, there were again bright periods of sunshine.
Shattered Rock
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