Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mt. Lincoln #27 & Mt. Lafeyette #28

July 3, 2010 - Mt. Lincoln & Mt. Lafeyette #27 & 28 (in that order)

Mt. Lincoln - 5089 feet - 7th highest mountain in NH
Mt. Lafeyette - 2560 feet - 6th highest mountain in NH
Met Gwen around 8:30. I had trouble finding the trailhead and ended up on the opposite side of the highway from her. I parked at Lafeyette campground and went through a tunnel that goes under Route 93. I thought about how this little bit of extra walk will probably kill me at the end of a long hike. Gwen was waiting for me on the other side of the highway and all ready to go, except for a quick bathroom break. She said she had heard from a Canadian woman that the bathroom smelled like 'sheeeet'. There were a lot of people starting out at the same time as us. It was July 4th weekend so I shouldn't be surprised but I never would have guessed it would be as busy as it was. This turned out to be one of the reasons this hike took us as long as it did. Kind of like how Mt Everest gets crowded at the summit, except about 25,000 feet closer to sea level.

We took the 'Falling Waters Trail'. It was so beautiful, we both agreed that we didn't care how many people passed us because we were having so much fun hiking along these hidden waterfalls and checking them out. It was good we felt this way because we got passed, a lot. About 90% of the people passing us were speaking French. Gwen told one guy she liked his boots and he said "you're welcome very much" and he seemed pretty happy with himself. The trail crossed a river about 3 times. Close to the summit of Little Haystack, there's a short path that goes out to 'Shining Rock', a big flat wet rock. We decided against the detour and to stick to the task at hand. We summited Little Haystack around 2:00 (4760 feet). There was a ranger up there trying his best to keep people off of the alpine plants. Because of the harsh conditions up there (it's above treeline) the trees and plants can be really tiny but hundreds of years old. Even though there's signs and a ranger, there was still some idiots walking wherever they pleased.
There was a boatload of people just laying around on the summit and I thought this might thin out the crowd but there was still a steady stream of people coming from and going to the summit of Mt. Lincoln. The trail from Haystack to Lincoln to Lafeyette is all above treeline and follows a ridge so there's views all around you. We had perfect weather for doing this hike.

It is suggested that if there's any clouds around at all, don't attempt this hike. People have been struck and killed by lightening here. The ranger pointed out a glider to us that had been buzzing the summits all day. It was really kind of like a party atmosphere, at 4000 feet. Weird.

It took us about an hour to get to the summit of Lincoln. We summited around 3:00. This kid offered to take our picture and he said he was going to "take a few". So he was hopping all over the place. I took some shots of him and his friend. I took pictures for 5 or 6 groups of people, I think the most I've done. I could tell I was getting burned from the clear cloudless weather. I made so many stupid moves on this hike and not wearing sunscreen was the least of my mistakes. I was also getting bit behind my ears and kept scratching dried blood There are little rock walls along the trail to keep people on the trail, which is a good thing, except, with the amount of people that were up there, we had to keep stopping to let people by. I don't mind a lot of people when I hike, in fact, I usually prefer it, but this was really obnoxious. We stopped and ate a little bit before we summited Lafeyette.

We summited Lafeyette around 4:30. You can see Greenleaf Hut from the summit of Lafeyette and it looks so close but it's really a mile away. I could tell that it was under the trees though and I was looking forward to the protection from the sun. I was getting so tired and burned out from being out in the sun so long. I stopped to use the bathroom at the hut. I walked in to the dining room and it was packed with guests waiting to eat (we got there at about 5:30). I just guessed at which direction the bathroom was and saw that they had several small bunk rooms instead of the one big one they have at the Zealand Hut. They had compost toilets, made in Lawrence MA! For some reason it made me feel better to see a Lawrence address on the bathroom door. A little piece of home!? (I think I was really starting to lose it by this point!)
I felt a lot better after stopping at the hut though and cooling my face and bug bites down with some water. We were heading down now, piece of cake! Just when I started to feel better, Gwen started having problems with her boots. Her toes were hitting the tops of her boots while walking down hill and causing her a lot of pain. I looked back at her at one point and said "are you smiling or grimacing". She was grimacing from the pain. So it was a long hike down and out. There are some signs on this trail which I've never seen before on any of our hikes that show where on the trail you are and how close you are to the end. For some reason they made the trail look like a drawing of a large intestine. After the second of these signs, I let out a "you've got to be f'n kidding me". We still had 2 thirds of the way to go. At some point this guy passed us who said something about this being a harder hike that he thought it would be. Meanwhile, I was thinking about never hiking again and questioning why I do this at all. "Why can't I just collect stamps or something? Lot's of people do" We ended up seeing him later walking with a couple, the woman was limping and the guy she was with was supporting her. I asked her if she was injured and she said no, but that she had muscle fatigue. They were barely moving. I asked them if they needed anything because we had everything but she said no and that she thought they were almost to the trailhead (they were not). Gwen offered the woman her headlamp but she didn't think she would need it. It was so nice of the guy that passed us to hang with that couple and make sure they were OK. I hope they made it back safely. When we passed them it was starting to get dark. While we still had a little bit of light left, I fished my headlamp out of my pack and Gwen did the same. I thought for a second my headlamp wasn't working because it didn't come on right away and I was using rechargeable batteries that I did NOT charge up the night before (another stupid move!) but it did come on and all was well. I could eventually hear the river which was a welcome sound but I was also hoping that we didn't have to cross the river in the dark, that would suck. We didn't and we finally got back to Gwen's car at 9:14! Yikes. She gave me a lift to my car :) I would guess it took that group behind us at least another 2 hours before they made it out of the woods. I pulled into my driveway at 12:00 midnight. The next couple of days I had like zero energy and I didn't even want to think about this hike! Now that I'm all healed up, I'm ready for my next adventure so stayed tuned! Hopefully, the next one will be an easy one!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

#26 Mt. Jefferson

September 20, 2009
Round trip, this hike is only 5 miles but Mt. Jefferson is the 3rd highest mountain in the Whites. While researching this hike, the notes online said not to underestimate this one as most of the hike would be above treeline. I guess some people are uncomfortable with that but with the fantastic weather we had, we didn't have to worry about lightening or rain/snow. We planned to meet at the trailhead for Caps Ridge Trail at 8:30. I woke up at 3:30 and was fighting a cold. It was hard to get out of my warm bed, especially since it was close to freezing outside. The road to the trailhead was so cool. It's the highest highway in the White Mountains, or so the sign on the road said, and it was just a dirt road in the woods. I missed a turn earlier and had to stop a couple times and ended up being an hour late. I got my boots on and was ready to go really fast though. We left around 9:45 and the beginning of the trail was cold in the shadows of the pines. We came out of the woods pretty quickly. Not long after we did, there was some steep rocks to climb. A couple with 2 dogs passed us. We could see way up to what looked like the summit of Jefferson. Of course, once we got up there, there was a lot further to go.

We came to a lookout and I took some pictures. We could see people ahead of us walking around on the rocks and could hear them to. I could hear someone talking over everyone else and it turned out to be the guy who passed us with the dogs. One of his dogs took off into the short scrub pines, I guess because it got spooked by the steep rocks. Gwen and I both tried to talk to them but they didn't want any help. I figured they would give up but they passed us again. I was hoping they would give up. The dog was obviously really tired. He said that the dog had done Eisenhower the day before with them. I tried to tell him that they get tired like people do but he wasn't hearing it. He had his mind set on them all summiting Jefferson.

The first part was really steep but closer to the top was just really rocky. It looked like a big pile of mossy rocks. I thought the top looked like what I've seen of Everest without the snow, although there was some ice.

We could see the summit of Washington clearly. In fact, the weather was absolutely perfect, not a cloud in sight. I got a little bit of sun burn on my nose. For some reason the cog railroad wasn't running. Maybe because it was after Labor Day?

Gwen wasn't feeling great either. She thought at the time she might have asthma (that has since been verified!). She had an inhaler in the car and wasn't sure how to use it. She had to stop once to let her lungs calm down. I could hear her wheezing from where I was sitting. I can't imagine how scary that must be gasping for breath at 5,000 feet and knowing you have to get yourself down still.

The distance to the summit was deceiving. Being able to see the top made it seem closer than it was. We finally summited at 2:00pm.
There were a lot of people on the summit including a large group of middle aged women. Gwen and I actually lost each other at the summit. I was scouting out locations for our summit picture and she was with a family on the true summit. Mt. Washington seemed so close. On the way down, Gwen said she was feeling tired but that she felt better going down. It was tough going down all those rocks and it took a lot longer to maneuver over them then I thought it would. I love my hiking boots but I really need some new ones. The sides were starting to come unglued. By the end of the hike I was tired and cranky :( Probably because I underestimated this hike (I was warned not to do that!) We finally got back to the cars at 6:00 and there was a group of people drinking in the parking lot. One of the guys who was carrying a pit bull tried making small talk with me. My intuition was telling me this was a bad guy. I asked Gwen what she thought that was all about and she said "they're casing the joint". I think she was right. We didn't do our usual going out to dinner this time because we had to work in the morning. We were both wiped out from this one for a few days.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

#24 & #25 Wilcat 'D' & 'A'

Met Moss (Gwen) at Pinkam Notch visitors center at 8:40. We would be taking the Wildcat Ridge Trail to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, a loop, so we had to drop a car off at the end of the trail.

There's a river crossing at the very beginning of the trail. The 4K book said if the water's too high to get across the river, you have to go a mile up the river to cross over, so we attempted crossing. I was able to make it about half way hopping on rocks, before the rocks ran out. We looked to see if there was an easier spot to cross. Not finding one, we then decided to take our boots off and try to walk across. I hopped to the half way spot again then walked through the water on smooth river rocks. The water was so freakin' cold, I thought my legs would turn to ice. They were almost ceasing up. I promptly got back on a rock and screamed until the feeling came back. It was colder than the ocean in Maine. Moss was attempting to cross the whole thing right through the water. I watched from my rock perch as her legs went further and further under water. We decided to go back to that point a mile upstream and start from there. It was a nice trail, winding through a bolder field and following the other side of the river. It was a little frustrating though because it added another mile and an hour to the hike. I was getting whiffs of delicious smells every now and then. Sweet and purfumy. Musky and fruity.
The trail was also covered in mica and quartz. Not long after getting under way, I fell on a big rock and smacked down hard on my side. My 2 water bottles that were in the side pockets of my pack went flying, into mud. I kept saying to Moss "that's gonna bruise" and it did, big time. A nice technicolor circle about 8" around.
The first part of the Wildcat Ridge Trail is really steep. The book said all the work would be at the beginning, then the trail would level off at the top. There were a lot of sheer rock faces and at parts, they had wood blocks secured to the rocks acting as steps. I don't know how they were secured but they were pretty handy. I was glad we were doing a loop though, I wouldn't have wanted to go back down that route. The rocks were wet and covered with slugs. She is kind to inchworms but she may have killed a couple slugs, but not on purpose. There were a couple of ledges where you could see Mt. Washington across from us and Route 16 below. It gave the impression that we were closer to the top than we really were, there was plenty of more climbing to do.

There are 5 Wildcat peaks; A, B, C, D & E. None of them were marked, except D with a viewing platform, so I couldn't really tell where we were at any point. When we got close to D, we could hear the gondola that goes up to the top of the ski hills. There were maybe 10 people who had taken the gondola to the top and were walking around taking pictures. When we got to the summit of D (the viewing platform was closed), we met up with a couple who had passed us earlier. They were really nice. They live in Germany and take a vacation every year to visit her family and to work on the 4K footers. They've been at it as long as we have and have bagged a couple more peaks than us. They were taking the ski trails back down because they had already done peak A.

We continued on and it was getting late in the day. This part of the hike seemed to take forever. It was just up and down, up and down. It took about 3 hours and 20 minutes to our next trail intersection, Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, and at that point we still had another 4 miles to go to get back to my car. We had passed the summit of peak A, but we don't know where exactly. When we finally came to the intersection for Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, I yelled out "alleluia!" and some weird guy came out from behind some trees. He was camping in the woods and was like, "hey..what's going on?".
It was 6:20 at this point and getting dark. It was down hill but still rocky so we didn't go as fast as I thought we would at this point. Luckily, it was the day before the summer solstice so we had a lot of daylight to burn. We ran out of water at 7:30. Moss had a water filter and we stopped at a river so she could filter some. I took a couple pictures while Moss pumped away on the filter. After what felt like a long time, she held up the water bottle and there was about 3/4 of an inch of water in there. "Does that seem right to you?" she asked. It didn't. I said "lets just take a couple swigs and go without until we get back to the car, I have water and Gatorade in my car". Time was a-wasting. To make matters worse, the trail follows a river so you can't hear the highway. Usually, you can use that as a gauge as to how close you are to the road. I was thinking "how much further can I go?" "how much more can I take?" and some how just kept walking...and walking....and walking. I started yelling that I was going out of my f#$%ing mind at one point. Moss said "go ahead". We finally had to put on head lamps. Luckily, it was only for like a half hour. The mica in the soil sparkled. We finally got to the car at 8:58. Almost 12 hours of hiking!

I stopped at McDonald's on the way home and ended up leaving before I got any food because they didn't have any fries ready and I was too tired to wait around. Driving home was a little scary, I kept nodding off a little and had to shake my head to wake up. It was so nice to be home in my own bed though, it was worth it.
Peak D marked our half way point of peak bagging. 23 more to go!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

#23 North Kinsman

5/23/09 - I should have known by the way this day started the way it would end.

I was meeting Gwen at the trailhead at 8:30. For some reason, I came really close to running out of gas. I don’t usually do this but I just kept driving, even when the gas light came on. I knew I had at least 20 miles after the light came on so I just kept going. I came close to running out, but I did eventually make it to a gas station, bought some food and met Gwen. The trailhead for Kinsman had been recently relocated so we found the new trailhead (Mt. Kinsman Trail to Kinsman Ridge Trail). As we were packing up, there was a group leaving ahead of us. A father and his 2 sons (I guessed). Two couples came out of the woods and said they couldn’t find the trail and had lost an hour looking for it. They were headed up the road to the old trailhead. We decided to do our best to find it. They said someone told them the marked trail was not the way to go, use the trail to the right of it (this turned out to be the reason they got lost). It looked like the two trails paralled each other. (Left around 9:20) We went the way they sent us and the trail seemed to turn right, over a river and in front a house. I felt it was the wrong way; it was obvious someone was living there and turned around to see if the trail went another way. Gwen stopped and talked to this man who had just pulled up to the house. She told me later he was Bode Miller’s father and that that was the house Bode grew up in. That was cool and all, but I was impatient to get the hike started.
We followed some trees that had ties around them. They quickly disappeared and so did our trail. We figured we must be at least headed in the right direction and decided to see if we could bushwhack our way to the correct trail.

We followed the river that had ran by Bode's house and eventually found a trail.

It ended up not being the right trail but at least it was some kind of trail. We came out on the right trail, Mt. Kinsman Trail and the Dad and 2 sons passed us again. They wondered how we got in front of them. Even though we got lost, we ended up saving some time.

Gwen was leading the way and asked how her pace was. I told her she was going too fast for me. I wasn't feeling well but I was hoping it would go away. I kept thinking "maybe if I eat something, maybe if I drink more, maybe I'm drinking too much". I had to keep stopping. My stomach was upset and I felt like I could throw up and I wanted to. The closer we got to the summit, the worse I felt. I started getting dizzy and shaky and cold. I sat down for a long time and felt a little better. I almost gave up about 3 times. I was trying to phyche myself out to keep going but I also had to think about getting back down and whether I was making the situation worse by continuing on. We decided we would summit the north peak and leave the south for another day. I was so bummed out; the only logical way to do the south peak is to go over north. Gwen was super understanding though.

We summited around 2:00. It was cold and windy.

I felt a lot better on the way down and had plenty of energy to get down. Gwen gave herself a trail name: Moss. I like it and like she said, at least the day wasn't a total loss; she got a trail name.

We got back to the cars at around 5:30. Someone had blocked off the wrong path we followed.

On the drive to the highway, I noticed I had driven by the Cannon Tram and hadn't even noticed it on the way in. I guess I was too freaked out to notice because I was low on gas. I was really disappointed things turned out the way they did and I wouldn't even write this down, but we did technically do a 4,000er.

Went to the Woodstock Inn for dinner, the best part of the day! I met a couple girls in the bathroom who were washing up in the sink. They said they had been backpacking for 4 days.

We will have to come back and do this whole hike again..Ugh.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Hikes Coming Soon!!

Stay tuned for details!

"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."

-Sir Winston Churchill

Saturday, June 7, 2008

# 22 Mt. Passaconaway

6/7/08 – Hiked with Gwen – I was meeting Gwen at the Ferncroft parking area at 8:30. The ride up to the Whites was really foggy (it always seems to be foggy on the ride up). I got there at 7:30 so I drove to Conway to my favorite Irving Blue Canoe station for food. Got to the parking area at 8:20 and Gwen was already there. We loaded up on bug spray and left at 8:45. The forecast was calling for hot muggy weather so we brought a lot of water and I asked Gwen to bring her water filter in case we needed it (we ended up needing it). We were taking the Dicey’s Mill Trail which is the same trail we took back from Whiteface so I was able to see that house by the river again that I fell in love with. (see pic) We also walked up that driveway that’s part of the trail. The AMC guide said this was once a logging road. We crossed a river that had logs laying over it to make the crossing easier. Once you get to the other side you go by this enormous boulder that’s like the size of a whale! The AMC guide even mentions it. It didn’t take long to start feeling the heat and the bugs were out in full force. Even though we used OFF they were going in our eyes and ears.
Sometimes we would walk through a pocket of cool air that would make me think “but sometimes there’s hot pockets” which made me think about “Hot Pockets” which made me think about that new Hot Pockets commercial where this guy is pulling a stack of Hot Pockets out a freezer and he looks at his friend and sings “Hot Pockets” in a kind of high voice and that made me laugh and I had to explain the whole thing to Gwen. Sad to say, but, if someone had asked me “whaddya gonna pick!?” I’d have to say, Cold Pockets.
We stopped often for water. I brought 2 big bottles and Gwen had a North Face hydration system but we ended up needing to stop to filter more near the top. I was pretty miserable from the heat but tried to not think about it. Gwen and I never complain to each other which I think is what makes us such good hiking companions. We might mention something that’s hurting but we never whine!
I couldn’t figure out where we were on the map because one of the trails that intersected with ours wasn’t marked (at least I didn’t see a sign). It started getting cooler and less humid the higher we went. Gwen spotted a patch of snow! It was in the 80’s and we were wiping our heads off with snow balls. Crazy... man.
When we got to the intersection of the Rollins trail which is the trail to Whiteface, we realized we were close to the summit and surprised we made it so quickly. There was a part of the trail that was like walking up a Zen fountain. It was like a rock path lined with moss with water gently trickling down. It was gorgeous and it energized me.
We found the sign that pointed the way to the summit and were on the trail for not very long when we came across a cairn and the trail split. We each took a path to try to find the way but they both dead ended. We realized we must be at the summit. It just seemed too easy. Summiting is usually more of a battle. It was so easy, it was a bit anti-climatic. We summited at 12:45.
The way back down was pretty easy because there weren’t a lot of big rocks to negotiate. We stopped at that river again and cooled off a bit. We were both covered in bug bites. Got back to the cars at 4:20 and stopped at the Yankee Smoke House for dinner. Not a great choice for a vegetarian but there’s not much else around there. The drive home was awesome. It was really hot but I had all the windows down and by the time I reached Dover, the sea breeze knocked the temperature down by at least 10 degrees.
Yay Us! Next Mountain/s will be Wilcat probably and hopefully before June is over.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

#21 Whiteface

9/22/07 - Hiked w/ Gwen - Met at Sabbaday Falls. We realized we were on the wrong side of the mountain so we had to drive 45 minutes to the right trailhead. We didn't start hiking until 10. Stayed in the hardwoods longer than usual. When we got closer to the top of Whiteface there was a lot of rock climbing to do. It was fun and I was glad it wasn't raining. Rain was forecasted for later in the afternoon. The rocky climb just seemed to go on and on. We only saw 3 people on the trail even though the parking lot was packed (they were probably all in front of us). We stopped at this really steep cliff to eat something. I was a little nervous watching this guy walk around the edge (the guy in the pic). We were really high up. Finally summited around 2. We were doing a loop and wanted to hike Passaconaway as well but the hike was so long, and we didn't get to the trailhead to Passaconaway until 4:30 that we decided against it. Oh well, we'll have to come back for that one. It was starting to get dark on our hike back down. When we came out of the woods we had to walk these dirt roads that had some houses on them. I would love to live here. There was one little cabin right on a river with a fireplace. There was someone inside, I could smell food and I was hoping they'd come out and offer us a meal! Got to the cars at 6:30.

Friday, July 6, 2007

#19 & 20 North & Middle Tripyramid

7/6/07 - Hiked with Gwen - We planned on camping out the night after this hike. We were meeting at 8:30AM at the trailhead. I got there early so I got us a camp site at Jigger Johnson campground and set up the tent before I met Gwen. It was really buggy. I had bug spray but they were going in my eyes. We kept hearing thunder but decided denial would be the best plan of action. We didn't see anybody on the trail all day until it started raining. We sat under some rocks and split a tuna sandwich while we talked about what to do. We'd been hiking for 4 hours and had another 4 to go. Should we turn around at this point? Gwen thought we should and I was so bummed but I knew she was probably right. A couple was coming down from the summit of the North Peak and they said a storm was headed for us. Just then a couple guys came up from where we just came. They were headed the same way we were going so we decided to follow them up the mountain. Gwen and I said we both felt like we had summit fever. No wonder people die on Mt. Everest. It continued to rain and thunder but no lighting thankfully. The 2 men were ministers (Middle Peak was their 40th mtn) and we hiked with them all the way back to the cars. They were from the Boston area and were history buffs. They gave us a book on the 4k footers that's a lot better than the AMC guide. The hike down was difficult because of the rain, we were all sliding down these huge flat slippery rocks on our heels and butts. We were totally soaked and muddy. The trail ended at the Sabbaday Falls. We hung out and chatted with the ministers for a little while and got back to the car at 7:00.<---"Jazz Hands" (#20)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

# 18 Mt. Pierce

9/16/06 - Hiked with Gwen. Trailhead is across the street from the AMC Crawford Visitor Center on 302. Started around 9:30 on the Crawford Pass. The oldest constantly maintained trail in the White Mountains. We passed these 2 old ladies who were from the South doing parts of the Appalachian Trail. Gwen said to them "I hope were like you when we're your age, not that you're old!". It seemed like most people on the trail were headed to the Mitpah Hut. Once we passed the intersection to the summit of Pierce, we hardly saw anyone. The trail was really mossy with babbling brooks and just idealic. I told Gwen I want to move to this trail when I retire and live with the trolls and gnomes. She said she would live just down the trail at the next idealic spot. The summit was in an exposed alpine area so there were warnings to be prepared for storms. We ate some food and the fog lifted for about 2 minutes, long enough to get a quick shot of Washington. We were back to the cars at 3:45 and we joked about going outlet shopping because we never do anything but hike when we're in the whites.