Thursday, November 13, 2014

Adams 5 -- Alex's Final Hike of Trailwrights 72 - November 11, 2014

First, I want to say how grateful I am to the Trailwrights 72 Summits Club for the creation of the Trailwrights list -- and for the requirement of trailwork.  This hike marked the end of Alex's quest for the 72 peaks, but she won't be an official part of Trailwrights until she completes her 72 hours of water bar clearing, stone step building, brushing, and/or other trail maintenance tasks.  Sage will join her sister for that trail work, and Sage will probably finish the Trailwrights list herself over the next few years (she accompanied me and Alex on so many of these hikes that she now has only 16 peaks to go).

We loved this list.  LOVED it.  We learned so much during our bushwhacks, and we saw so many beautiful summits and vistas during all four of New Hampshire's wild seasons.  It's been six years and five months since Alex first set foot on her first NH4K summit...Tecumseh in 2008...which, though we didn't know it at the time, also became her first Trailwrights peak.  She's now eleven, which means she's been hiking this list for over half her life.

Second, I want to thank Sage for coming with us on most of these hikes.  She and Alex have long since surpassed me in speed and strength, and there will all too soon come a day when they will hit the trails on their own, without their old, slow mom.  It hasn't been "Trish and Alex" or "Trish and Sage" for at least a year...instead, it's been "Alex and Sage...with their mom trailing behind."

Third, I want to thank Hugh for understanding that we needed to grab this peak without him.  This was the first time he did not accompany us for a list finish.  He understood we needed to get this peak when we had a good weather window, and on a day the girls didn't have any classes or extracurricular activities.  Last Tuesday was warm for this time of year, and the trails weren't yet filled with snow, and the wind speeds were manageable...and the girls didn't have set-in-stone we grabbed the opportunity.  Unfortunately, Hugh was in Las Vegas.  He will celebrate with us tomorrow night, though, with a nice dinner at one of the kids' favorite restaurants.  Hugh also trusted me enough to know that I would turn back if I didn't think my foot could handle the excursion.  As always, I am grateful for his faith in me when it comes to all things concerning the girls.

Last but not least, I'm grateful my foot was healthy enough to manage this hike.  I stepped in a leaf-covered hole coming down Sam Adams last month and have had difficulty walking on my right foot ever since.  Nothing is fractured or torn, it's all just plain sore.  For this hike, I wrapped that foot six ways to Sunday and wedged it into a Sorel.  The girls and I carried overnight gear and deliberately took a route that led us past two shelters, just in case.  I also had a way to contact Hugh, and I know some locals who would have swooped in and retrieved the girls if necessary.  However, I hiked just fine...slowly, at a pace of a mile an hour...but fine.  Now that the hike is over, I'm going to stay off my feet as much as possible until everything is 100% recovered.

Now -- on to the report --

Lowe's Path, Randolph Path, Israel Ridge Trail, Gulfside, rockwhack.
Around ten miles out-and-back with about 3800 feet of elevation gain (note, will double-check that elevation gain tomorrow, on Friday).

We arrived at Lowe's Store off Route 2 at 5:45 am.  No one was there, so I stuck a rolled-up note with parking payment inside the door.  The girls and I crossed the road and reached the trailhead at 6:00 am.

There was just enough light to render headlamps useless, so we saved our batteries and headed into the dim woods.

I was pleased to find that walking on dirt and uneven ground was easier for me than walking on flat pavement.  I had told Hugh that I'd know within the first two miles whether or not I would be able to make it to the summit and back.  The hike was going much easier than I had anticipated, though I had to move more slowly than usual.  I was also happy to see that the trail was relatively snow-free all the way to Log Cabin.

We stopped at Log Cabin so I could do an honest assessment of my foot.  It wasn't hurting, but I still took it extremely slowly and cautiously.  Up we went, turning onto Randolph Path 0.3 miles from Log Cabin.

The snow cover increased, but the depth was never more than an inch and a half or so.  The day was warm, so the snow was soft and offered grip -- we carried microspikes, but never felt the need to wear them.

By the time we neared The Perch (which you can see in an enlarged version of the photo below, center right), my foot was feeling normal and, for the first time, I felt like we were going to make the summit (the girls were mentally prepared to bail, since I had repeatedly told them I'd probably turn us around before treeline).

Up we continued, on Randolph Path, toward treeline.

Taking an eggnog break...

Up up up...

The wind was fierce, but the temperatures were warm and the girls were prepared to crawl if needed.  We layered up and made our way toward Israel Ridge Trail.  Crawling never became necessary, though we did have to lean in quite a bit and grip the sides of boulders from time to time.

Quick photo while taking shelter behind a large cairn.

After we rounded the corner and started heading up Israel Ridge Trail, the wind significantly died down.  It still made its presence known now and then, but we had no trouble walking normally or communicating with one another.

Looking toward Jefferson's Castles...

...and toward Jefferson's summit.

The girls take a break and wait for their mom....

Nearing the intersection with Gulfside, Adams in the background and the side of Sam Adams ahead and to our left.

There are a couple of bumps off Gulfside, and we're not sure which is the official summit of Adams 5 (both have cairns on the top) -- so here's Alex on the northern-most bump.

We climbed the short distance down, then walked along Gulfside to the bump nearest Edmands Col.

This bump seems higher than the other bump, and the cairn is larger, and the views are this is where we officially celebrated and ate Alex's summit cake.  I'm not sure which is the official summit though, so if you are working on Trailwrights, then you may as well climb both bumps for good measure.

Looking at Jefferson...

...and Washington...

We lounged for a while, enjoying the sun and the views, and then, at 11:45am, I insisted we descend.  I knew it would probably take me a while to get down, since I wanted to be extra-careful with my foot.  We said adios to the gorgeous peaks and headed for the trees.

The girls were so patient with me!  I went soooo slowly, taking great care.  Everything was fine and dandy until we reached Log Cabin, and then my foot began letting me know it had not appreciated our adventure.  I rested a bit at the shelter, then I picked myself up and we continued, the girls cheering me on.  We made it back to the trailhead at 3pm.

It was a wonderful finish to a wonderful list.

Mt foot, though it hurt like mad that evening, felt 98% better the next morning.  [I never would have attempted this summit had I fractured something or torn a ligament on the Sam Adams hike -- I had X-rays and MRIs last doc told me I'd just banged up the tissue a bit and that I could hike with the foot hike I did.]  Today, I'm walking without much of a limp.  Still, we'll wait another few weeks before our next hike.

Good times.  Love these mountains, love these trails, love these two girls for putting up with me.