Tuesday, May 18, 2010


#28 Moriah

I forgot my boots! Really who does that? You’re going to New Hampshire to hike and you forget your boots. You know there is going to be snow so your Gore-Tex boots are important. Urg. I was not pleased when I opened the trunk and realized this. Luckily I was wearing my North Face trail sneakers. They would have to be my footwear.

So the Carter-Moriah trailhead was at the end of a neighborhood. It was kind of strange. No parking lot. We were able to park right there though. Turns out we were the only ones on the trail that day. Off we went. Uphill right away. Lucky for me the trail was dry to start off with. I knew this wouldn’t last though. The beginning of the trail was not that interesting. Some uphill, some flats. After a little while we reached the first of a bunch of rock slabs to walk up. I can imagine these would be difficult if wet or icy. Some of them even opened up for some nice views toward the presidentials. Then the snow started. We were at about 2800ft. At first it wasn’t a problem, there wasn’t that much of it. With the snow came some mud though. I was trying to avoid some mud and stepped on some snow. Soft snow. Down my foot went, into the muddy water. I could feel the wetness through my socks. So it begins. Soon enough there was no avoiding snow. It covered everything. Since it was warm out the snow was also soft in spots. That meant post holing. I’m not really sure my gaiters really made a difference. I could tell my feet were wet but at least they weren’t cold. Then the kicker. We got off trail again. Two hikes in a row. There was a ton of blow downs, which made it difficult to follow the trail. I have to admit I was frustrated. Last thing I wanted with wet feet was having the hike take longer. Good thing for dad’s GPS. We were able to figure out where approximately the trail should be and went that way. Eventually we did find the trail again. It wasn’t too long after that before we made it to the top.

It was rather windy and chilly at the top. That didn’t stop me from sitting there and eating some lunch. There is a nice large rock at the summit, which was free of snow. Another groups of three hikers from Montreal came up right after us and we all had plenty of room to sit on the rock and enjoy the 360degree view. Now my feet were getting cold. When I was moving they were good but once I stopped and the wind was getting to them it wasn’t as good. We took a little break and then headed down. Back in the snow. Dad put on Yak-Trax but I decided to just slip and slide my way down. Following the trail was a little easier this way. We did have to refer to the GPS twice but we made it. I was going at a rather fast pace. I was ready to be done with this hike. I probably would have felt different had I had dry feet, but that is my own fault. Going back down was fine, I slipped a few times but otherwise uneventful.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Hancocks

#26 North and #27 South Hancock
March 13, 2010

The lack of snow in Waterville made me a little nervous. I had read there were some stream crossings and I didn’t know if they were exposed. My fears went to the wayside as we drove up the Kancamagus Highway and the snow on in the woods increased. We parked at the hairpin turn, loaded up and headed out.
We both decided to use Yaktrax for some traction. The trail, although not marked was easy to follow at first. At one point though it seemed that most footsteps lead out to the stream. Being that things were not well marked we decided to follow the path most traveled and headed out walking on the stream. Now we knew this wasn’t the Hancock Notch Trail but we had no idea where it really was. We followed along and at one point our path seemed to take a left hand turn. Dad got concerned and checked the GPS. He thought we should go straight but I reminded him that we wanted the Cedar Brook Trail after a while and not the Notch Trail. So we decided to continue to follow the footsteps and go left. Eventually our alternative trail lead us back to the real Cedar Brook Trail. It wasn’t too long before we met up with the Hancock Loop Trail. This was actually fairly well marked. A pleasant surprise that only really lasted until we got to the junction of going to North or South. We picked north, and that’s when the real fun began.
Again we followed people’s footsteps. We dropped down only to have to go up, big time. The footsteps lead us over to the slide. Umm, not the trail, but we couldn’t figure out where the real trail was. We decided that last time the footsteps got us where we needed to be so why not follow them again. Up the slide we went. For the most part it was like climbing stairs, I found a foot hole and used it. This was kind of nice, less stress on the calves. The higher we went the harder it was to figure out where all the footsteps went. I spotted a cairn and decided to go toward that. Things were now getting icy and I was starting to wish I had my crampons on and my ice axe with me. Dad was on all fours at this point. We took a break at the cairn and then kept up with the footprints. They lead us finally back into the woods, but again it didn’t look like on to a trail. At some point I lost the footprints and we were on our own, so we just kept going up. Somehow we managed to find the real trail right before the summit. We got to the top and took some pictures. The summit offered some nice views back to the south. Next stop South. Off we went.
This time the trail was easy to follow. The yellow blazes were obvious. This was a welcomed treated. The trail between the two peaks was not too bad and occasionally offered some views of Franconia Ridge and North, including the lovely slide we climbed up. The summit of South on the other hand had no views. So we didn’t really hang around there long. As we were going along I slipped and fell on my bottom and started to slide down the trail. Why get up? So I continued to slide down. Dad decided to give me some room and slide down also. We managed to cover almost 600 vertical feet very quickly. Actually it was a lot of fun and made the trip down easier on the body. Eventually we had to get back up and walk but it wasn’t long before we made it back to the junction. From there we just headed back how we came. After we got off the stream this time someone had put an arrow in the snow pointing the way you were suppose to go. Oh well. We made it in the end.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mt Madison

#25 Mt. Madison
January 16, 2010

So I had been checking weather.com all week for the forecast on Mt. Washington. Turns out I should have checked the high peaks forecast at mountwashington.org instead like dad did. More on that later. So the forecast was looking good and dad and I both wanted to hike up Mt. Madison. I really wanted to use my crampons and get a good winter climb in. Temperatures were looking good and so was the wind (so I thought). We left Waterville at our usual 7am start. We parked at Appalachia just like we had 6monthes earlier when we did Adams. This time our trail of choice was Valley Way.

At the trailhead there was a group of guys preparing to head out, we said our hellos and went long. Valley Way is a nice trail. It is well traveled so it is packed down. Once again I took snowshoes and didn’t need them. I have to keep telling myself the extra weight is good exercise. The beginning of Valley Way is a gentle uphill. You don’t get any really steep sections in the first mile and a half. Even then it isn’t bad until about a half mile to the hut. Dad and I wore our Yaktrax on the way up. We were surprised that the group of guys didn’t pass us. With about a mile to go we encountered another group of guys. This group was coming down. They had hoped to do a Presidential Traverse but the weather was too much and turned them around. So I am thinking, great, this can’t be good. A little farther along we encountered two more guys. They had wanted to do Madison but turned back because it was “socked in.” Even more lovely news. Although, they did say they had talked to a group of 4 that had been successful. Along we continued and soon we met the group of 4. We chatted awhile and they said they could see cairn to cairn so they made it. Alright, some positive news, kinda. We were in the clouds at that point and I hate not having any views. Plus you could hear the wind getting louder. I was starting to doubt weather.com’s forecast of 30mph winds.

Finally we made it to the Madison Spring hut. Here we encountered two guys that had just come off Adams and said it was wicked up there and no views. We were pretty much still in the clouds. Not wanting to give up we found the side of the hut that was most protected and put our crampons on. Suddenly Madison came out of the clouds. It was time for us to head up while there was some sun. We dropped our bags around the corner, under the hut and headed up the summit cone. Now at this point I was well aware that the winds were much stronger then 30mph. I found myself at times running up the slope. I wasn’t doing this because I was excited, I was doing it because there was a serious tailwind pushing me. The higher we went the winder it got. I started having difficulty with balance. The rocks became my friends as they offered balance and a little wind block. Soon I felt like I was in a cartoon, leaning full tilt forward, not going anywhere and not falling. Then a slight let down in the wind and I moved on. Then I got blown to the side, up and at it again. Finally I could see the summit. There she was. There also was a 15foot section that had no rocks protecting it and near hurricane strength winds blowing. I sat down and waved dad on. I was afraid to go. I didn’t want to be blown off.

As I sat there talking to myself I realized I couldn’t come this far and not go on. I was less then 100ft from the summit. There was a slight let up again and this time I ran not because of the wind pushing me forward but for fear of it pushing me over. I ran up and dad pointed to a spot for me to sit. There was a tiny bit of protection here. He had to fix his crampon and I tried to take pictures and not lose the camera. Once he fixed the crampon it was time to get off and back to the hut. Off we went. I took off because I wanted out of the wind. I then noticed I was struggling to breath. Here I am walking into 60+mph winds at 5300feet elevation. I turned me head a bit so I could get more air in and out. Luckily this trick worked. As we headed down I saw a group coming up. It was the guys from the parking area. They too had dropped their sacks and were making their way up. I stopped and chatted for a minute and waited for dad. Then I kept going. I was very happy when I saw trees again. See as we were coming off the mountain the clouds were rolling back in. While we were up there we were above them but could see Mt. Washington engulfed in them. Dad came down a little bit after me, turns out his crampon fell off and he went down using one, which caused some falling. We got back down to the hut where I was more then happy to dig into some food. We chatted with some guys taking a lunch break and took a rest. After a little while we gathered our supplies and headed down. The way down was uneventful, but I was very happy to get to the car and our post hike chocolate milk.

Thoughts: AHHHH. That was crazy! I crawled, got blown over, had a hard time breathing but pushed on. My fear of getting blown off was a bit much. I had the ice ax if need be for self arrest and there was no great cliff. I did have to talk myself on but I think that is what sets us apart from those who turn around. I knew to wait for a little let up to move from protection to protection. I had the proper clothing. Some people think I am crazy for what I do but the rush I got being up there is something they will never experience. Oh yeah, I think that is about my limit with the wind. Any higher speeds would be a bit much.