Friday, September 26, 2014

Stairs, Resolution, and Parker (52WAVs). September 23, 2014

How bittersweet!  This was Sage's next-to-last hike for the 52 With a View list.

Sage began hiking this list when she was four years old, back when Alex and I were hiking our first round of the Four Thousand Footers.  I'd hike one weekend with Alex, then I'd take young Sage on one of the easier 52 With a View peaks.  Eventually, Sage decided she wanted to tackle the Four Thousand Footers, so we temporarily abandoned the 52WAV.  She did the 4Ks, and we highpointed most of the USA, and we hiked a bunch of other mountains because we felt like it...and last summer, over two hundred peaks later, we picked up where we left off with this list.  We used most of the remaining peaks to train for our recent John Muir Trail hike and now, finally, we're at the end of the 52.

Sage has grown into an incredibly strong and fast hiker.  She earned the trailname Freeway on the JMT because she zoomed past everyone, and she (and her sister) now outpace me.  When Sage and I began hiking the 52 With a View list, I had to always make sure I was hiking slowly enough for her.  I had to make sure she was warm enough, cool enough, hydrated enough, etc.  Now, at nine years old, she's hiked 44 state highpoints, literally hundreds of mountains here in New Hampshire and around the country, she's completed the 500-mile Camino de Santiago, and she's done the entire John Muir Trail.  She's faster than me, stronger than me, and, quite frankly, more observant than I am on the trail.  All this has happened between the time she hiked her first 52 With a View peak at four years old and now, when she's about to hike her last (Shelburne Moriah, within the next week).  It's been a fun ride.

On to the trip report.

Our friend John came with us on this one.  He graciously ditched work and met us at the Mt. Langdon trailhead at 7am last Tuesday.  We spotted a car and drove to the trailhead for Davis Path.

The girls and I hiked up the Davis Path last winter, when we bagged Mt. Crawford.  It was nice seeing what the bridge and the trail looked like without snow.

Sage noticed the upper portion of this tree.  Fall is here!

The Davis Path is a steady march upward, but the constant climbing is forgotten once you reach the first ledge and see this --

We continued to the intersection with the Crawford summit spur path.

We'd already been to Crawford, so we skipped the spur path and continued onward.  The path became flat-ish and soft.  I enjoyed this section -- we were up high, wandering along a ridge.  The girls and I could walk on ridges for days, with or without trees.  The feeling of being up high makes you...well...high (in the healthiest sense of the word).

We popped out onto a bald area, where I thought I saw Stair Mountain (I was wrong)...

...then we headed back into the woods.

The path leading to Stairs...

Up we go...

The high point of Stairs Mountain is the top of a cliff...there's a huge, sheer drop-off, so be careful if you bring a dog or small child up here!  It would be easy for someone to have a "negative outcome."

We sat, ate, and enjoyed the views.

John offered us some grapes that tasted out-of-this-world.  They had a sweet, melon-ish flavor to them.

After nourishing ourselves, we moved on.  We hiked back down to the intersection, then walked the mile or so to Mt. Resolution.  The trail leads you up and over a main, bare area...turning, we could see Stairs and the cliff on which we had snacked.

Views from Resolution --

Congrats on another 52WAV peak, Sage!
Almost finished!

'Twas a bit windy.

Sage...with something behind the rock...

We continued...

There's a spur path leading south of the trail on the southeastern part of Resolution.  We followed it and found this --  gorgeous!

We had one more peak to bag during today's journey -- Parker, Sage's next-to-last 52WAV mountain.  Down we went, into the woods, along another ridge, and slightly up to Mt. Parker's summit.

Parker's summit area is open, but it's not as large as Resolution's.  We huddled down as we ate our snacks; the wind had picked up and the clouds threatened rain,

Now came the most difficult part of our hike.  Two folks had recently posted online about a yellow jacket nest along the Mt. Parker Trail, close to the intersection with Mt. Langdon Trail.  To mark the danger area, they had placed fallen logs ten+ feet or so before and after the nest.  We hiked downward, keeping a look-out for the placed logs.  John was so nice -- he insisted on going first, so if we accidentally came across the nest, he'd take the hits.  He slowly walked ahead of us, checking trees and holes for nests.

There were many fallen logs on the trail, however, so the danger area wasn't obvious (coming down from Mt. Parker).  About a tenth of a mile from the intersection, we passed a hole in the ground on the right side of the trail (left if you're coming up the trail, and left in the photo below).  John had already walked by I walked by it, I saw same small, black insects swarming up out of it...uh-oh...they didn't look like yellow jackets to me, so I wasn't sure...and then I heard Max, our dog, yelp.  A second later, Sage cried out.

"Run!" I yelled, and run we did.  Sage got tangled up in Max's leash for a moment, but neither she nor Max were stung a second time during the pause in our escape.  Moving only ten feet down the trail did the trick -- the little buggers did not follow us far.

In this photo, the fallen log points almost directly at the hole in the ground
on the left side of the trail.  This is on Mt. Parker Trail, a tenth of a mile (or less)
from the intersection with Mt. Langdon Trail.

Sage takes one for the team.
Alex saw the insects too, and she and I agree they looked nothing like the yellow jackets we've seen before (unfortunately, I've been chased and stung a few times within the past couple of years).  These things looked small and black as they flew.  They didn't look any different than the myriad of small, black, non-stinging insects we see all the time in the spring.  John was able to take Alex's camera, slowly sneak up to the nest, and get a photo.  If you blow up the image, you see a bunch of the buggers resting on the nest within the hole.  There are indeed yellow bits that you can see while the insects are not flying.  So perhaps they're a type of yellow jacket I'm unfamiliar with?

Ground nest with nasty stinging buggers
The trail is well marked with a warning cairn in front of a log on the way UP the trail, by the way.  However, if you're coming down, go slowly and beware of holes on the right side of the trail.  Hopefully, the critters will soon be dead anyway...colder weather is coming.

John gave Sage an after-bite/sting wipe.  Alex put it on her sister (they sure do take care of each other -- that makes me happy) as I tried to inspect Max.  Max wouldn't let me look too closely, but he walked without limping and seemed relatively uninjured.  Sage's pain faded quickly.  We eventually continued the 2.5 miles down the trail toward the car.


One more 52 With a View to go!  I had posted an announcement on Facebook marking our intended finish date, but Sage made me take it down because she doesn't want anyone there besides family (and John, if he's available).  She's an extreme introvert, so I should have known better than to post an announcement without her permission -- my bad.  Anyway, I hope to post about her final 52WAV hike within the week.

After this, and after Alex finishes the TW72 list this season, we are finished with lists!  Well, we do have the highpointing list and our own Terrifying 25, which the girls can't wait to tackle.  We have no interest in other lists, however.  I'm redlining, but that's not really a list, it's an excuse to hike all the trails that exist in the Whites.  The girls now want freedom to re-hike trails they love, to explore whatever we feel like exploring when we get up in the morning, etc.  They're also interested in trying  a Presi Traverse and a one-day Pemi loop...though I think those adventures will have to wait until next year or the year after.

Will hopefully post again soon with our TR of Shelburne-Moriah.

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