Our climbing vacation in New Hampshire started in Pawtuckaway State Park, an area known for some of the best bouldering in the Northeast. Let me start with the fact that we loved the P-way campground. The sites were nice, the area was scenic, and the restrooms/showers were well-kept. We particularly appreciated the lake that was within walking distance of our campsite. We were able to climb in the mornings and hang out at the lake in the afternoons for the two days that we were at the park.
The New England Bouldering guidebook recommends that you avoid the Black Fly season as well as be aware of the summer mosquitoes. As advertised, the mosquitoes were the primary negative of the P-way portion of our trip.
On the first day of bouldering at P-way, we went to Round Pond and the Round Pond Bouldering area. (Family photo taken at an overlook of Round Pond immediately below the main Round Pond Bouldering area). Note to those driving sedans and sports cars, the vehicular approach to the bouldering areas is quite the off road adventure. We had our Diesel F250 and we quite enjoyed the large puddles and big bumps. At one point, we had the kids “hold” their heads on their necks so that they didn’t get whiplash. Ah, the fun! You can walk a few miles in and/or mountain bike in, should you prefer to keep your car on the paved roads.
There were a number of great routes to climb in the Round Pond area and the kids did quite well with both the short approach and hanging out at the flat areas around the boulders. There were even a number of kid-sized boulders that made for some fun climbing. The bad part of Round Pond (for this part of the year) was that there had been a lot of rain in the weeks before our trip, and the mosquitoes were vicious! We used Natrapel (20% Picaradin) which worked quite well, but bug spray can only do so much. Side note: when we ran out of Natrapel and switched to OFF Family (5% Picaradin), we found the OFF much less effective.
After bouldering at Round Pond for a while, we hiked back to the truck and went back to the campsite. R & C loved the lake and spent a good bit of time swimming and playing in the sand before heading back to the site to cook. All in all, our first full day at P-way was a success and taught us some quick lessons for our next trip.
- Lesson 1: Don’t try to get the kids to bed until they are actually tired.
- Lesson 2: Food/snacks add hours to the time you can stay out. Pack many snacks. They will ALL be eaten before you head home.
- Lesson 3: Reward climbing time with something “just” for them. It makes the climbing time fun and gives them something to look forward to after hours of hiking/climbing.