Monday, July 25, 2011

The Girls, the Pup, the Kilt, and Two Cheetahs. Eisenhower and Pierce, July 24, 2011.

Crawford Path, Mt. Eisenhower Loop, Edmands Path. 8.1 miles, 3100 feet elevation gain.

Hugh, the girls and I got a late start on this beautiful Sunday morning; the girls and I gave a talk at the Highland Center the night before and returned home fairly late Saturday night (the talk went well -- we met some new hiking families and I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces).

We rolled into the Crawford Path parking lot at about 9am. MadRiver was waiting for us. As always, it was good to see him.

As we geared up, a woman called my name. It was Alison from the Mt. Washington Observatory Forums; she had hiked Mt. Washington the day before and was now back on the trails for Pierce. She graciously offered to take the following picture.

The weather was perfect -- cool, clear, sunny. Up we went.

Alex took care of Max...

...while Hugh hiked with Sage.

We took a few goofy water breaks...

...and eventually reached the Alpine Zone.

We reached treeline in a jiffy -- did I mention the weather was perfect? Cool, clear, sunny -- and the views! We quickly ascended the last couple tenths of a mile to Pierce.

Max on Pierce...

Hugh set a running leg (Cheetah) on the cairn and posed with Sage and Alex. Eisenhower, Washington, and the northern Presidentials are in the background.

Sage's 25th 4k!

After a chocolate mint bread break, our group split up. Sage, MadRiver and I went on to tag Eisenhower while Hugh and Alex stayed behind on Pierce. Alex is in a local kids' production of Macbeth and had a lot of lines to learn before the end of the evening; her job was to stay on Pierce and memorize until we returned from Eisenhower. Hugh stayed with her to assist.


MadRiver and Sage...

Up the summit cone of Ike!

Sage's 26th 4K!

Views from the top.

MadRiver appreciating the gorgeousness of it all.

Sage taking a break.

We ate, drank, and rested for a while, but both Sage and Max continued to look like...well...the above. I therefore made an Executive Decision. I'd take Sage and Max down the Edmands Path instead of doubling back over Pierce; this would shave a mile and a half off our journey. MadRiver agreed to return to Pierce and tell Hugh and Alex to descend without us, then he'd go ahead of them, get his car, and pick up Sage and me at the other trailhead. I knew Hugh would be okay with this, so I gave MadRiver some of my water just in case Hugh needed to top off his own Nalgenes, then Sage, Max and I headed down.

Sage and Max perked up on the descent. Both got their second wind before we even got off the summit cone.

Down, down we went. I took one last look to the north before heading into the trees.

Once in the trees, Sage practically ran down the trail. There were two couples behind us when we started down Eisenhower and they never passed us by. We passed one man who remarked that my daughter was "quite the hiker." I asked Sage to slow down, but she told me she couldn't because, "the trail keeps pulling me downward, I have to hurry." I was never quite sure what that meant, but she was bright and chipper the whole time, so I didn't question it. Max's tail stayed up and wagging; he too seemed to have lost his former sense of fatigue.

Once at the trailhead for Edmands Path, Sage paused long enough for me to take this picture...

...than she began walking down the road toward the Crawford Path parking lot.

We walked for almost a mile before MadRiver arrived and gave us a ride back to our car. Once there, we said farewell to our friend and hiked back up the trail to Pierce for a few tenths of a mile. We waited for Hugh and Alex by a water crossing; they arrived about twenty minutes after Sage and I dipped our toes into the cool, clear water.

It was a lovely day for everyone. Hugh got to hang out with Alex for a couple of hours on Pierce on an absolutely gorgeous day, Sage got two more 4Ks, Max got a great walk and chewed a bunch of sticks (and also got two more 4Ks, but he doesn't care about such things), I got to hike with MadRiver again, and Alex learned all her lines.

'Twas a pleasure seeing Alison again. It was also nice to meet Walter, the nice fellow on Eisenhower, and the friendly couple from New York.

Next week, we'll do an overnight with another family. Should be a blast, I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Highland Center Talk Tonight at 7:30

The girls and I are excited to give our first talk tonight. We'll be at the AMC Highland Center in Bretton Woods, NH (Crawford Notch) at 7:30pm. Hope to see some of you there!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Highpoint: New York. Mt. Marcy (5344 ft). July 16, 2011

Van Hoevenberg Trail, 14.8 miles roundtrip. 3100 ft elevation gain.

Time to highpoint New York!

Our adventure began the evening before our hike at approximately 8:30pm, when the large group of inebriated young adults pulled into the campsite opposite ours. I already had the girls in their sleeping bags, since we needed to get up at 4am in order to reach the trailhead by 5:30. The seven women and three men were probably in their 20s, and they set up their tents in an overly jovial fashion. This was unfortunate (for me), since I was hoping for an early bedtime. However, the group was within their rights, since quiet hours didn't begin until 11pm.

Thankfully, Alex and Sage fell asleep and never heard the group's loud and animated discussions, most of which were inappropriate for the ears of children. I tried to close my eyes and block out the noise, but, in spite of my efforts, I learned all about why Jill was a wicked *expletive* and Nathan was an imbecile, but how JOSH, on the other hand, was as nice as they come. It went on and on and on...and 11:00 came and went.

At 11:30, the host drove by and told them to quiet down...and they did, for about five minutes. Then the party boisterously continued until 3:30am.

At 4:00am, my phone alarm went off...not that it was needed, because I had never fallen asleep.

I am so grateful the girls can sleep through anything! They seemed fairly rested when we reached the trailhead. I, on the other hand, was a rumpled mess.

The first 2.3 miles of this hike is relatively flat and contains a few bridges.

Sage took the lead and clipped right along. Alex followed, holding Max's leash, and I dragged behind, telling myself to get my tookus in gear. Luckily, I'm a Mom, which means I'm used to being extremely sleep-deprived. I willed my body to suck it up and move on, and by the time we arrived at Marcy Dam, the mental cobwebs had cleared.

Marcy Dam was quite a sight...

After taking in the scenery, we continued up the trail...

Indian Ledge was the next landmark destination. Located 4.4 miles from the trailhead, this lovely spot offers wide and flat ledges, a refreshing waterfall, and gorgeous views. The girls and I took a long break here while Max splashed around.

The trail after Indian Falls is smooth at first...

...then it becomes ledgy...

...until it pops you out at a clearing. That's the summit in the background; we're now a little over 1.2 miles away.

Alpine zone!

From this point onward, the hike becomes more of a rock scramble, and that suited the girls just fine. As we began to tackle our first really steep bit, Cumulus arrived!

Cumulus and I first spoke of Mt. Marcy at the AMC awards ceremony back in April. He needed Marcy for his ADK list and we needed it for highpointing, so we decided to join forces. We'd agreed the kids and I should start first, since I never have a real idea of how long it's going to take us to complete an ascent; it's important to go at Sage's pace, whatever that pace may be on that particular day. Therefore, the girls and I started our hike a couple of hours earlier than Cumulus; he caught up with us about half a mile from the summit.

The summit cone...

Fun ledges..

The summit of Mt. Marcy, highpoint #36!

This was Cumulus' 15th ADK (hence the sign). Congrats, Cumulus!

Max's 1st highpoint! Congrats, Max!

The girls celebrated by eating their customary Hershey bars...

...while I snapped some shots of the views.

We lounged around and conversed with Cumulus for a long while; instead of returning to the trailhead, he was going to head in the other direction and bag a few more ADKs before the day was over. I enjoyed our discussions and the girls appreciated his homemade butterscotch oatmeal cookies. Thanks, Cumulus!

We eventually picked ourselves up and headed downward. The descent went well for a couple of miles, but then Sage decided she was done. Her fatigue came on suddenly and in the form of a stomach ache; at first I was worried it was something serious (food poisoning? appendicitis?), but after talking with a passing hiker who happened to be a nurse, I quelled the maternal paranoia and realized it was just a case of I'm-Pooped-Now-Carry-Me-Please.

Alex took Max and I picked up Sage (highpointing rules allow for carrying), whose mood immediately brightened. I carried her off and on until we reached the next stream crossing, then we all dunked our bare feet in the cold rushing water. Sage perked up and hiked the next mile on her own. We proceeded in that fashion: I'd carry Sage, then we'd stick our feet in the next available water, then Sage would walk on her own for a while.

When we got to Marcy Dam, Alex requested another photo op. I obliged her; Sage didn't want to join in on this one.

Here we are at the last intersection, just before reaching the trailhead 0.9 miles away. Sage didn't want to join in on this one, either. She was REALLY ready for the car and didn't want to stop for any more photos.

We made it out just fine, though Sage and I agree that our dayhikes will now be limited to ten miles or less.

I think, overall, the hike went very well. Sage was cheerful and fast on the way up, and she was fine for the first couple of miles on the way down. When she wasn't fine, I picked her up and we descended in a way that worked for her. Alex was fine the entire time; she said the mileage didn't feel like it was too much and that she thought she could go longer without any problems. Max surprised me by going the whole distance on his own fairly easily; I had planned on carrying him some of the way, but that was never needed.

We had beautiful weather and we shared the trail with about two hundred people; there was so much hiker traffic that, from start to finish, we were rarely alone. Among the many we met were Poopsmith and bignslow from VFTT -- it was nice running into the two of you!

So ends the tale of Highpoint #36. We'll hopefully get #37 (Maine) in August, then we'll head west in September and try for #38 (Texas), #39 (New Mexico or Arizona), and #40 (Colorado). That being said, I've no idea if we'll actually summit anything over 9000 feet this summer or fall, since, as of today, we've no experience hiking anything where lack of oxygen could potentially be a problem. We've lots of experienced friends giving us helpful advice, but the September trip will be more of a getting-our-feet-wet venture than a serious grab-those-peaks expedition.

Next highpointing stop: Maine in late August. Until then, see you in the Whites.