Yankee classic from March 1999
On May 1, 1992, Larry Davis climbed Mount Monadnock. He liked it so much that he did it the next day, too. And the next. And the next. And every day after that. In fact, barring any mischance between the day of this writing and March 1, 1999, Larry Davis will have climbed Mount Monadnock on 2,495 consecutive days. If he keeps it up, he’ll pass Cal Ripken on July 16.
Why? It has something to do with doggedness. And obsession. Luck, too. (He says the last day he was sick, Ronald Reagan was president.) It hasn’t made Davis a rich man. But it has made him an expert on the mountain.
Davis can figure the wind speed on the summit with a single sniff of the breeze and spot a piece of litter the size of a fingernail from 50 feet away. He has seen sunrises and triple rainbows and weather so fierce that he has feared for his life.
His coldest and windiest days came in the winter of 1984. His goal then was to hike the mountain 84 times in a year. He did it, including one day when the thermometer read 25 degrees below zero, with wind-chill off the charts. Later that same winter, he reached the summit in 150-mile-per-hour winds — on his hands and knees. “It’s amazing what Mother Nature can hurl at you,” he says. “I vowed I wouldn’t climb in weather like that again.”
Still, he insists that the forecast he dreads the most is for a hot, humid day with temperatures in the nineties. When Davis reaches the top of Monadnock, at 3,165 feet, he always taps the geological survey marker there with his boot, even it he has to clean it off or dig it out with his crampon.
On a clear day he can see the Boston skyline and Mount Washington. Sometimes he snaps a photo. One year he took a picture from the summit every single day and gave a slide show of the collection. Often he finds objects — love letters, zippers, jewelry — which go into a special box.
Many days he runs into other “regulars” — fellow habitual hikers — though none of them approaches his record. And every day he comes back down, assuming he’ll return tomorrow.
“I’ve seen subtle changes take years to happen,” says Davis of the mountain,” and subtle changes that happen every day.”
Trails to Try
Monadnock may be the most frequently climbed mountain in the world, but Davis says you can find a piece of the mountain for yourself. He recommends you avoid the White Dot Trail that leaves from state park headquarters and head up the Parker Trail to the Lost Farm Trail instead. This connects with several short trails that reach the summit from the south. The Dublin Trail offers solitude and good views. For foliage season, Davis suggests, “Start at Gilson Pond and take the Birchtoft Trail to Cascade Link to Pumpelly. The traverse overlooks Thorndike Pond and you see the full palette of colors.”