Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hale. July 30, 2015

Hale Brook Trail.  4.4 miles roundtrip with 2300 feet of elevation gain.

Thunderstorms were in the forecast for the afternoon, so we did a quick hike of Hale in the morning.  We didn't get to the trailhead until 8:15am, which is late for us, and it was humid when we started out.  We tend to melt with the heat and humidity, so, though we made good time and were back to the car by 11:10, the trail felt much longer than it usually does.

Starting out (forgive the color skew of the first five iPhone wasn't behaving)...

The trail never gets steep, it stays moderate throughout, but we were ready to dunk our heads in this crossing (at roughly the halfway point) after hiking in the heat.

Up we went, up more moderately-steep stretches and switchbacks...we felt hot and uncomfortable, so we actually drank most of the water we brought (we usually carry way more than we need).


We sat and ate for about twenty minutes, then we headed down.  From the top of the cairn, I could see clouds starting to build...the clouds were far away, but I knew the forecast and predicted the clouds would get darker and closer over the next couple of hours.  I was glad we were heading down...and I was a bit surprised to see two groups (a couple and a trio) heading up.  I didn't mention the storms to them, since I figured these folks knew what they were doing.  Some folks don't mind hiking in storms as long as they aren't exposed (there's no exposure on Hale except for the very top).

We reached the car at 11:10.  A woman and her son were about to head up -- they looked like they were new to hiking, and her question confirmed this...she asked me how long it had taken for us to hike the trail.  I responded by telling her that the girls were experienced and that we had done this trail many times, so our pace might be relatively fast.  When I told her it had taken us three hours, including breaks and time lounging on the summit, she seemed to think that was very slow...which, again, confirmed my suspicion that they were beginning hikers (our pace would be slow for flat ground, but it's decent for steep trails).  I did not mention the probable incoming storms, because I figured they had seen the forecast and would turn around if they weren't moving as fast as they'd hoped.  However, Alex regretted not mentioning the weather probability, and, later, she kept saying we should have warned them.  I have mixed feelings about it -- they were new, yes, but I also feel it can come across as obnoxious to give unsolicited advice...and it's very possible they knew the forecast and figured they'd see how far they could get before realizing they'd have to turn around.  I haven't heard anything about them through the news or through Search-and-Rescue, so I am going to assume they made it down before those storms arrived (and they did indeed arrive, around 2:30)...or that they got rained on, but made it down just fine.

The girls and I will hike next week...hopefully we'll get Huntington Ravine Trail...the weather needs to cooperate on the days we have available to hike.

Osceolas. July 28, 2015

Mt. Osceola Trail.  8.4 miles roundtrip with 2950 feet of elevation gain.

This was another morning where we meant to do Huntington Ravine Trail.  The weather dictated our Plan B, however, which was the Osceolas.  The forecast the previous evening looked like it could go either way, so we went to bed not knowing which trail we'd tackle.  At 4am, I checked the was pouring on Mt. Washington, which meant Huntington Ravine Trail was a no-go for us, since I want those rocks dry when we ascend them.

Back to sleep I went.  An hour later, I roused myself, got the girls, and off we went.  We had boots on trail just before 6am.

Mt. Osceola Trail begins fairly flat and smooth, but soon it becomes rocky and stays that way for the rest of the hike.  The grade is moderate throughout, except for some short, steep sections between the main peak and the East Osceola peak.

We hiked up the 3.2 miles to Osceola's main peak in about an hour and a half.

The day was eventually going to be hot and humid, but because we had hit the trail so early, we felt fairly cool.  That's one advantage of starting soon after heat, little humidity, and no bugs.

Photo of the girls on the summit of Osceola...

Look-out ledges...

View toward the Valley (and Tecumseh's slopes, on the far right)...

East Osceola, which we'd soon visit...

We hung about for fifteen minutes or so, then down we went, toward East Osceola (a mile away).

We took the chimney bypass on the way down...

Viewpoint off a large rock a tenth or so of a mile from East Osceola's summit...

Steep section on the way up to East Osceola...

East Osceola!  This marked Alex's 200th NH4K and Sage's 128th NH4K (not including all the additional 4K peaks they've hiked for the Trailwrights list).

We ate, drank, and talked for a bit, then we headed back to the main peak.  The rocks on the chimney were dry enough for us to ascend, so we bypassed the bypass and climbed straight up.

Once back on the main peak, we lounged some more.  Alex arranged pebbles to form her name, and we had a discussion about trail graffiti...what counts as graffiti and what doesn't.  Up until now, I have allowed the girls to write their names in the snow, or to arrange pebbles such as Alex did on this hike.  However, I have noted hikers complaining about people making decorative cairns (not for navigation) along trails and in water crossings, so I explained to Alex that this should probably be her last name-marking.  Though the pebbles can be easily dispersed and no harm is being done to the trail, marking the summit with your name in any fashion is technically a violation of Leave No Trace.  Therefore, the below is Alex's last pebble-name on any summit.

A kind hiker who is working his way through the 48 took some photos of us on the ledges (thanks, nice fellow!).

We passed many groups (and dogs) on the way down -- they were all coming up while we were descending.  The day was becoming hot as the forecast had promised and everyone looked sweaty...but happy.

Another good day in the woods.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mt. Jackson. July 23, 2015

We wanted to get in a hike this week -- our only option was an afternoon hike after the girls' time at our local summer camp.  We opted for Mt. Jackson, since we can do it quickly and it's not too terribly far from home.  Both girls have now visited this peak seven or eight times, but it's a lovely trek and the summit sports a nice view of the southern Presidentials (and, when it's not in the clouds, Mt. Washington).

We arrived at the trailhead around 2pm.  It was a cool day, so luckily we didn't have to deal with the typical afternoon summer heat.

Jackson is a moderate hike with only a few steep bits.  The trail is full of rocks and roots, which is typical for the Whites.

We made short work of the 1.3 miles to the intersection...

...and we happily covered the remaining 1.2 miles to the summit.

Our favorite part of this hike is, of course, the ledgy scrambles and walk-ups at treeline.

Cairn on top of Jackson (yet not at true summit) --


There was a nice breeze blowing up top, as there usually is on the Presidentials.  We sat and ate homemade Congo bars until we felt like heading back down.

This was a nice, quick hike for us -- we've done Jackson so often this past year that it now feels as familiar to us as the Mt. Tecumseh Trail.

Since we began so late in the day, we saw a lot of people.  Typically, we hike first thing in the morning and are usually off the mountain(s) before the crowds start heading up.  This time around, we were heading up while all the people were coming down.  Everyone we met seemed nice, happy, and like they were having a great time.

We hope to get out there at least twice next week.  If the weather is decent, we will tackle Huntington Ravine Trail.  The girls didn't get to do it as planned last week because of the weather, and they're excited to give it a go.

Happy hiking, and see you on the trails.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wildcats A-D for Seek the Peak 2015 (TW72). July 18, 2015

We had planned a daring ascent of Huntington Ravine Trail, the "most difficult trail in the Whites" according to the White Mountain Guide.  Samantha Brady and I did Huntington on our own a couple of weeks ago, and I felt sure the girls could handle it -- if the slabs were dry and the weather cooperated.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate at all.  The night before our planned hike, the skies dumped water all over the Presidentials (and the rest of the Whites).  Thunderstorms were predicted for Saturday our crew decided to ascend Wildcat A instead of Mt. Washington and, if the clouds looked like they might behave themselves, we'd head over and also get Wildcat D.

Our crew consisted of Samantha and her boyfriend Josh, John Myers, Jeremy Ward, the girls, and Hugh.  The morning of our hike, Samantha texted me to let me know she and Josh would not be coming after all -- they had to run their cat to the emergency vet.  The two of them would catch up with us at the after-party at the base of the Auto Road.

The rest of us met at the 19 Mile Brook Trailhead.  I had never met Jeremy before -- I knew him from Facebook and have always enjoyed his posts.  It was a pleasure getting a chance to hike with him..and, of course, it is always a joy to hike with John.

It rained all over our heads at the beginning...

...but we hiked on.  19 Mile Brook Trail has an easy to moderate grade throughout and the footing is decent (for the Whites).

After 1.9 miles, we took a break (at the intersection with Carter Dome Trail).  The rain had petered out by now and we were left with fairly cool, wet conditions.  I'll take that over hot and humid any day.

Jeremy and John
We then headed another 1.7 miles to Wildcat Ridge Trail.  From there, it was a steep 0.7 miles up to the summit of Wildcat A.

Sage stands on the small slide...
this area can be treacherous during winter.

Alex at the slide.

View from the slide (Cloud!).


Alex, Sage, and Hugh on Wildcat A.

Alex at the viewpoint (Cloud!).

Hanging out, eating food.
I had completely forgotten about our Desserts on the 48 quest while planning this hike; I therefore didn't have any "W" desserts with us.  Jeremy, whose last name is Ward, stepped in and offered us some of his homemade chocolate Oreo truffles.  So we did indeed have a dessert for Wildcat A - Ward's Truffles.  :)  They were soooo good!

Ward's Truffles

Hugh decided to head back to the car -- the rest of us wanted to get Wildcat D (and C, for Sage's Trailwrights list).  Hugh was fine about heading back on his own, and I felt it was safe for him to do so.  19 Mile Brook Trail is well traveled, and there is an AMC hut at one end of it.  He would not be alone in his travels, even if he was not with us.  He offered to drive to the ski area and pick us up after we came down from Wildcat D, so I gave him the car key and we bade him a temporary farewell.

On we went, up and down lots of bumps and, somewhere in there, over the summits of Wildcats B and C.

The summit of Wildcat C?  I have pictures of Sage
on every high bump between A and D,
so I know she got it at some point!

Heading up to Wildcat D.

Happy hiker.

Up up up!

Summit of Wildcat D.

Jeremy on Wildcat D

John on Wildcat D
The sun began battling its way through the clouds as we sat on the summit platform.  On the way down the ski trails, we saw peeks of nearby slopes and summits.

Hugh was waiting for us in the parking lot.  He had enjoyed a safe descent from Wildcat A.

Our group parted ways -- Jeremy and John took advantage of our early afternoon finish and headed home, while Hugh, the girls, and I went to Seek the Peak's after party and met up with Samantha and Jeremy.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in Seek the Peak -- over $230,000 was raised for the Observatory.  Here's the link to Mt. Washington OBS's report.