Quick picture-only post (for now). I did a fast solo hike of Tecumseh this morning. Will fill in the details late tomorrow evening. Can't write more at the moment, for the Christmas holiday week continues and my family is telling me to get off the computer. :)
***EDIT, December 28, 2013:
It's been a busy few days! Alex is now eleven. She's growing up -- an official tween. Wow.
Back to Tecumseh. Up until now, this blog has focused on the girls' hiking. Now, however, I think I'll start throwing in some of my solo ventures. I hike, on average, twice a week...once with the girls and once on my own. Every blue moon I'll hike with a group, but I usually prefer to be by myself. I'm an introvert, and the solo hikes recharge my batteries. The hikes also serve as more advanced self-training opportunities. When I don't have the girls with me, I can move into more extreme weather and more remote territory. I enjoy testing my limits and learning more about myself and what I can and cannot handle. (This doesn't mean I'm foolhardy; I never mind turning back if the situation calls for retreat.)
Also....I MIGHT pursue the NH48-in-a-single-winter quest this season. My success in that venture would entirely depend on what kind of weather the girls and I have on their once-a-week hiking days. The girls can handle most anything during spring, summer, and fall, but the Whites often have some of the most extreme winter weather in the nation (above-treeline windchills are often lower than -30 degrees Fahrenheit, white-outs are common, and wind speeds are often above 40 mph). I will only take the girls above treeline on perfect-weather days (windchills no less than -5 degrees Fahrenheit with speeds no more than 25mph, and no storms in the forecast for at least 36 hours). The trail conditions have to be just so (not too much "boilerplate" ice, not too much unbroken snow). Everyone has to be healthy. Etc. So...IF the weather and trail conditions work out on the days the girls hike, then I have a good shot at getting all 48 before March 21. All I have to do is hike twice a week, with a couple of extra hiking days thrown in during late winter.
If I am able to get all 48 peaks before March 21, then Jackson on December 23 was this season's 4K#1. Tecumseh was 4K #2.
Tecumseh's my favorite 4K. It's a sentimental thing -- this was Alex and Sage's first 4K, it was my first 4K, and it was my dog's first 4K. The trailhead is fifteen minutes from my home, and I can be up and down the mountain in three hours. It's my little "exercise mountain," and I've visited the peak at least 14 times over the past five and a half years. I enjoy this mountain each time I ascend it, though the last mile on the ski side can be a bit monotonous (lots of "stairmaster" sections).
Unfortunately, on the morning of my hike (26th), most of the snowpack had been washed away by recent rain. There was a lot of ice to navigate...I wore microspikes, but Hillsound Pros would have worked much better. There wasn't enough snow for snowshoes; my MSRs stayed on my pack (I should have left them in the car).
White flakes fell as I made my way up the trail. I love hiking in a gentle snowfall. There's a peace that comes with making your way through a winter wonderland.
As I neared the summit, a kind fellow caught up with me. It was Jim Towle, a well-known, extremely accomplished White Mountain hiker. I'd only met Jim once before, four years ago on the Kinsman Ridge Trail, in -20 degree F temperatures. It was a pleasure seeing him again. He graciously agreed to take my photo at the summit (below), then we shared our hike down the mountain.
As always, it was wonderful to get out into the woods. The hike up the mountain was straightforward and peaceful (though rather icy), and I greatly enjoyed my conversations with Jim on the descent. Looking forward to getting back out there. The girls are skiing with Hugh early next week...I'll get out on my own while they're on the slopes, then the girls and I will hike something together on Friday (weather permitting).
Will post again soon. It'll be interesting to see how far I can get with this single-season thing this year. If the weather cooperates on the girls' hiking days, then I should be able to do it. If not, then there's always next winter.