Friday, October 9, 2015

Tecumseh from Tripoli Road. Tuesday, October 6, 2015

6.4 miles roundtrip with 2600 feet of elevation gain.

Yes, I know, Tecumseh AGAIN.  This was perhaps our fifteenth time up this mountain.  We still haven't completed it for the NH Grid though, since many of our ascents have been within the same months.  (For those of you who are not NH hikers, the Grid is completing all 48 of New Hampshire's highest peaks during every month of the that's 48 x 12 = 576 separate NH 4K ascents).  There are still three months left on our Grid for Tecumseh (August, November, and December)...but the girls and I decided that after this hike, we'd wait a year before revisiting this local peak.  We want to revisit some mountains we haven't seen in a while, like Garfield, Moriah, Carter Dome, etc.  In other words, after today, I won't bore you good people with trip reports of Tecumseh until at least November 2016.

We do have a rather huge local adventure coming up soon, and it has nothing to do with Tecumseh -- on Sunday, we will attempt the Presidential Traverse.  That's a traverse across the White Mountain Presidential Range.  We hope to ascend Adams, Madison, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, Pierce, and perhaps Jackson, all within a 14-16 hour time period.  The hike will be at least 19.2 miles with 8815 feet of elevation gain (more with Jackson and any subpeaks, and lots of downs and ups).  I make no assumptions regarding whether or not we will make the whole thing, or if we'll have to bail at Washington or Ike or even Adams (the weather might turn, who knows), but we are going to give it our all and see what happens.  We're excited!

Now, back to Tecumseh --

We did something different this time with our familiar peak; we hiked it from the other side.  Most folks, including me and the girls, hike Tecumseh from the ski area.  There is another way up this mountain, but the trailhead is off of Tripoli Road and somewhat isolated.  I had been up this alternate way once before, on my own, about four years ago; I wanted to show the girls this route, and I wanted to break up a bit of the Tecumseh monotony, so the girls agreed to forgo the usual way up and try something new.

We had boots on trail around 7:15am.  It's hunting season, and we preferred not to get shot, so we wore our vests.

This route is quite lovely.  Lots of ambling through flat woods and gentle climbing up slopes, and a tiny bit of huff-puffing up steep banks.  The steep parts are short, though -- nothing like the usual way up (which feels like a nonstop stairmaster during the second mile).

It's a busy week for us as usual, made especially crazy by the fact that the Sandwich Fair is this weekend.  We plan on being at the fair multiple days, plus we have the Presi Traverse on Sunday, so our general time for schoolwork is cut short.  The girls managed to get an insane amount of academics finished this week so they could go to the Fair, and this hike fell right in the middle of two huge study-a-thons.  So this was a nice break -- walking through the forest, admiring the leaves, talking about Halloween, movies, books, friends, and whatever else floated into our heads.  Hiking for us has always been about the togetherness as well as the scenery/fitness/adventure.  I treasure my time out there with my always feels like the needed break in what is almost always a hectic week.

There's a viewpoint by a false summit on this side of Tecumseh.  The girls and I checked it out...

From the false summit, it's a bit down, a bit across a ridge, and a bit up to the real summit.

Alex and Sage enjoyed reaching the familiar summit from a different angle.  Also, we noticed that a sign had been erected since our last visit.

The sign is in response to a slew of illegal tree-cutting on the summit.  Some arrogant person decided that he/she wanted a view on Tecumseh, so he/she systematically began chopping down trees a couple of years ago.  While I enjoy a good view just as much as the next hiker, it was not this person's place to hack down a bunch of trees without permission.  There is now a $5000 reward for anyone with information regarding this person's identity.  Someone out there knows who this person is...if you have useful information, then do your part to protect our forests and give the Pemigewasset Ranger District a call.  603-536-6102.

The girls took a seat by the summit cairn and we ate brunch.

Silhouette ladies

Views (due to the illegal cutting of the trees...yes, the views are nice, but still...)

We ate, we drank, we descended.  On the way down, we passed a solo hiker coming up.  I was surprised, since not many people use this trail.

We made it back to the car by 11 and were home in time to resume our busy week.

Hope to see some of you locals at the Fair this weekend.  Hope to see many, many more of you folks somewhere on the Presidentials on Sunday.  Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Overnight Lunar Eclipse Hike, Sept 27-28, Eisenhower and Pierce

We're at an interesting point in our lives.  There have been lots of personal changes due to an unfortunate discovery, which I can't now get into but might in the future, which the girls and I are handling as best we can.  I am the leader and role model of this trio, as I am the mother, so I am doing my best to keep routines going, make sure the schoolwork is on track, and keep the girls' many extracurricular activities balanced.

Both girls took on heavy academic courseloads this year.  They are homeschooled, but the word "homeschooled" doesn't really describe what we do.  Their routines are structured, and the girls take many accredited online courses as well as a few in-person courses taught by PhDs and grad students.  In other words, I'm their educational facilitator, not their personal teacher.  Alex (7th grade by age) is taking three high school courses this year (Algebra 1, Spanish 2, and Biology Honors) along with two 8th grade courses and a 7th grade course, and Sage (5th grade by age) is taking 6th-8th grade courses (6th grade English and social studies, middle school Mandarin, Pre-Algebra, and 8th grade science).  Both girls are ambitious and both are highly involved in five different extracurricular activities.

What this means is that their schedule is crazy this year.  And yet...hiking is important.  It is what we do, it sharpens the mind and brings peace to the soul, it provides fresh air and exercise to the limbs, it immerses us in beautiful Mother Earth.  And so, no matter how overpacked the academic week may be, we always find the time to hike a 4K, even if it is just a fast run up and down Tecumseh.  The hike refreshes the mind and makes it easier for the girls to retain information...and it soothes away the negativity of any recent distasteful event.  In other words, hiking is the best therapy, and it's the best academic boost.

This week's hike was no Tecumseh speed-hike, though...when I realized the lunar eclipse/supermoon/blood moon/harvest moon was going to happen on a night with a clear forecast and low wind speeds, I knew we should witness the event above treeline.  The girls and I have never night-hiked before.  We have started out before sunrise in headlamps, and we've come down after sunset, but we have never purposefully began after sunset and ended before sunrise.  I figured this hike would be the perfect way to bring some novel daring and specific joy into our lives...and we needed that sense of adventure right now.  Yes, we hike 4Ks every week, but an infusion of new-ness into the hiking would be welcome.

I reached out to our friend Samantha to see if she would be able to accompany us.  We enjoy hiking with Samantha and we hadn't seen her in a while, so I was hoping she could go.  She enthusiastically affirmed her attendance and the added attendance of Josh, her boyfriend.

The day of our night-hike arrived.  We were two hours south of Crawford Notch all day long attending a Girl Scout event for both the girls.  The girls attended the event in their hiking clothes and, as soon as the event (which was very enjoyable) was over, we headed north.

The big, beautiful moon was rising in Twin Mountain as we got close to the Crawford Path trailhead.  I'll warn you now -- none of my photos are good. I have yet to learn the art of nighttime photography.  You'll have to go by my verbal descriptions and patiently tolerate my less than ideal images.

Giant full moon rising over Twin Mountain
We arrived at the trailhead for Crawford Path, picked up Samantha and Josh (who left their car at Crawford Path for a car spot), and drove the few miles up the road to the trailhead for Edmands Path.

We hit the trail at 7:25pm.

I anticipated being frightened during our walk up the dark mountain, but I wasn't scared at all.  Neither were the girls.  The company of Samantha and Josh made everything seem safe.  I would like to night-hike with just me and the girls sometime soon to see if I can feel as safe and calm on my own as I did with Samantha and Josh.

My iPhone shadow on Samantha

Heading up!


It's only 2.8 miles to treeline on Edmand's Path, and the climb never becomes steep.  The five of us conversed almost all the way up, enjoying each other's company, and before we knew it we were presented with clear skies and this --

---though of course, the above isn't an accurate representation of the full moon just beginning to be eclipsed.  It's the best I could do with my iPhone.  For a better view, see this photo timelapse, which was taken by the good folks at the Mt. Washington Observatory, only two peaks (about 3 1/2 miles) away from where we were standing).  We arrived at treeline just as the left side of the moon was beginning to go dark.

At the intersection with Mt. Eisenhower Loop

From the intersection at treeline, we made our way up the remaining few tenths of a mile.  We had gorgeous night views of the valleys below, with town lights twinkling in the distance and an increasingly eclipsed moon above us.  Again, absolutely none of my photos are going to do this night justice.

The moon was not shooting rays from its center.
Still, this is a cool photo....
 We reached Eisenhower, layered up, and settled in to watch the rest of the eclipse.

Samantha brought Moon Pies to share.  Excellent!
We watched as the moon was first covered by dark shadow, then a reddish glow (see Mt. Washington OBS time-lapse in the link provided above).  After the moon was completely eclipsed, we moved on -- we were getting cold, in spite of our layers.

The 1.2 mile ridgewalk to Pierce felt strange.  The last few times I've been on this trail, it's been covered in four feet of snow.  Therefore, everything looked and felt different...I kept thinking we had passed the intersection to the summit of Pierce and Samantha kept reassuring me we hadn't.  Eventually, we reached the sign that stands just a tenth of a mile or so from Pierce's summit.

After that, it was a quick tenth of a mile up to the summit cairn.

The official summit marker is close to the cairn.

Josh and Samantha...

Unfortunately, there was a big TENT close to the summit -- right on the fragile alpine vegetation!!! -- the inhabitants had evidently gone to sleep, and we supposed there was no point in waking them up and trying to get them to leave, as we are not forest rangers. Still...we were pretty pissed off that these people point-blank didn't care about the irreversible damage they were doing to our fragile mountaintops.  Grrr.

The reddish glow was beginning to leave the moon when we headed down Crawford Path.  That descent felt like it took forever, though it was only about 3 miles.  We were all was close to midnight when we left the summit of Pierce.  We arrived at the trailhead at 1:30am.

Both girls were very glad they had seen the eclipse from the top of Eisenhower and Pierce.  Alex said it was "her best hike ever."  Sage enjoyed it too, but she was ready for the car when we got down (as was I).  I believe more night hikes are in our future, though probably none will be quite as special as this one.

Happy hiking, everyone.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Hale. September 22, 2015

Hale Brook Trail.  4.4 miles roundtrip, about 2300 hundred feet of elevation gain.

It was a crazy week -- lots of schoolwork, lots of extracurricular activities...and, unfortunately, some horrible news for my daughters...I had to spend tons of time doing damage control on the emotional well-being of my kids.  That's all I'll say -- for now -- about the unfortunate news.  Hopefully, there will never be an occasion to go into it publicly.  If there is a need, then I most definitely will -- loud, clear, and in great detail, and with lots of photos.  I would need to, for the sake of my daughters.  However, let's hope there will never be the need.

The woods are our healing place, so into the woods we went.  Unfortunately, we couldn't spend a lot of time up in the mountains due to the busy schedule, so we had to choose something fairly fast and short.  Hale it was, in all its autumnal glory.

We went the usual way -- Hale Brook Trail -- straight up for 2.2 miles with a few water crossings and some steep terrain in the second half.  I only took four photos; we've done Hale so much that I feel more photos of this mountain on this blog would be overkill.

Someone recently stacked the rocks in an interesting fashion.

We will have some more free time next week -- everything won't feel so rushed, thankfully.  We'll have some time to have FUN (besides mountain fun).  :)

Be safe out there,

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Moosilauke and Mt. Jim (TW72 for Sage) - September 15, 2015

Gorge Brook Trail, Beaver Brook Trail, Asquam Ridge Trail, Al Merrill Loop Trail.  

We originally planned on hiking last Sunday, but Tuesday's forecast was more optimistic, so we delayed.  We are glad we did!  We experienced the most beautiful, albeit windy, day.

We began on Gorge Brook Trail, the relatively easy way up.

At the halfway point

At the halfway point

First view

Almost there

The summit is there in the fog somewhere...


The wind was howling and trying to push us over.  It was fun -- layers were essential, though.

The clouds were rushing at us, then enveloping us, then flying by us.

We took shelter in one of the old stone foundations whenever we wanted to get out of the wind.

The summit sign became visible as the clouds momentarily cleared...

A group of three were celebrating the woman's 48th NH4K.  Her name is Roxanne -- it was lovely to meet her and her crew.

Fun in the wind and clouds
 Eventually, we descended along Beaver Brook Trail toward Asquam Ridge Trail.  We walked through the clouds as they danced around us.  It was beautiful.


A brief, clear moment...

Roxanne had given the girls beautiful pinwheels.  They held them while I took the photograph below.

We bid goodbye to the beautiful sky and reentered the trees.

Entering Asquam Ridge Trail

Sage needed Mt. Jim for her Trailwrights list.  Mt. Jim is on Asquam Ridge Trail, but there is no cairn (that we could see, anyway).  We therefore took a bunch of photos on all the high bits along this portion of the trail.

We did see a herd path that kind of ended on a bump in the woods...maybe this is the true summit?

Then it was down, down, down.  Quite a pleasant walk, actually.

We were back at the car around 12:30.

Good times.