In the Heart of Granite Country

New Hampshire's storied Fitzwilliam Inn is welcoming guests again after a needed—if controversial—restoration.

By Natalie Angier

The inn in the early 20th century

Credit: Fitzwilliam Inn

My husband and I were hiking up Mount Monadnock in southwestern New Hampshire one surly November morning, taking the steepest, most boulderous trail, battling knuckleball winds and patches of black ice with sly banana-peel ambitions, all the while wondering how our then-five-year-old daughter would fare as an orphan, when we met another hiker headed downward. Clad in blue spandex leggings, he was in his mid-20s and sported a goatee, and he leaped effortlessly from rock to rock like a bipedal bobcat. I asked him whether he'd been up to the top, and whether the path was safe between here and there. The young man chortled, or maybe snorted, politely. "Ma'am, this is my third roundtrip today!" he said. "I'd take my grandmother with me, and she uses a cane. You want the Ice Capades, you'll have to come back in January."

"Your third trip today?" I squeaked. Monadnock may be the most mounted mountain on the eastern seaboard—I'd clambered up it many times myself over the years—but still, we're talking a four-mile, vertically persuasive trek, and it was not yet noon. "What are you, in training for the Sherpa Olympics?"

"I just live around here," he said. "I've been hiking this mountain pretty much since the day I learned to tie my own boots." And with that raison d'homespun, he resumed his earthward bounce, while we, chastened into doughtiness, headed up toward the summit and the autumnal, gunmetal sky.

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