July 14, 2007: The Presidential Dry River Wilderness

From muthaZ: tMail's choice of route was excellent. We took the Crawford Path north from 302 to Lake of the Clouds (hitting Pierce, Eisenhower, Franklin, Nixon, Monroe), then turned south on the Dry River trail and headed down into the Presidential Dry River Wilderness Area. We returned to the car by climbing back up to Mizpah Hut and then down again via the Mizpah Cutoff to the Crawford Path.

Highlights from the trip:

  • We had agreed that it would be a "nice day out" kind of hike. I had on my leathers and was carrying 3L of water. tMail had his trail runners, a set of ramjet engines and a large helium balloon. It was like chasing a dolphin.
  • The weather was extraordinary. There was no noticeable wind and the air was cool and dry on the ridges.
  • As in all wilderness areas, the trail is largely unmaintained except for being beaten down by traffic and cuts made in large fallen trunks. I don't think anyone goes the route we chose, or if they do, it doesn't do it justice to use the word "traffic". A better phrasing would be: "The trail is made visible by the rare footfall of the lost hiker who mistakenly descends into the muddiest, wildest wilderness in the Whites". The descent down the headwall of the gulf was along a brook, amidst moss, slimy/wet rocks, mud and growth that made navigation difficult. Descending into treeline only made it worse as the moss, rocks and mud transitioned into moss, rocks, mud and scrub brush and then finally moss, rocks, mud and impenetrable growth of varying heights.
  • Gear of the day: sunblock and bugspray.
  • The trail parallels the Dry River, which is thusly named because much of the water apparently soaks into the trail leaving the river a mere raging torrent. The woods are so dense that you only hear the river until you have to cross it. The Guide warns against using this trail in wet weather due to mud and challenging river crossing. The fact that we went down there during a break in the wet weather didn't help ameliorate the conditions about which the Guide was warning. tMail eventually adopted the attitude of "fuck it, i don't care. i just don't want to lose my new shoes in this". Seeing him barge through deep, sucking mud and wade across the river without missing a beat was borderline hysterically funny. I took the more conservative approach typical of my character and traded wet/muddy feet for scratches, head bumps and a peculiar, irregular stride that tMail, had he been behind me, would've characterized as "fuck that dry-foot shit".
  • I think this was one of the most interesting hikes I've been on. It's a close competitor to the Six Husbands trail. The headwall is a challenge and the views are grand and sexy. The tromp through the woods isn't tedious like the trail to Owl's Head, although the dense forest kind of limits the view to the mud in the immediate vicinity.
  • I was farting the whole hike up Crawford and then thought I'd shart on the way through the wilderness. I stopped to make a doody at Lake of the Clouds, then in the woods and then again at Mizpah but was disappointed all three times to find my paranoia unfounded. Unluckily for tMail, my ongoing concert was - uh - ongoing. Unfortunately for me, tMail's stealth approach to a similar (but less voluminous) problem left me no bob-and-weave reflex time and resulted in significant damage to my nasal membranes. I eventually attributed my condition to the three large chicken-and-refried-bean burritos I had for dinner Friday night. tMail offered no apologies or explanations.
From tMail: So today's mission/quest/objective was to spend some time just hiking in the good old White Mountains. The meeting point was Iriving Gas Station just west of the Cog Railway Road. We headed due East and parked at a sold out parking lot for the Crawford Path. We decided that we would go right up the gut and tag Pierce, Eisenhower, Nixon and Monroe.

Check off Pierce
Check off Eisenhower

Check off Nixon (you know the 5th Beatle well this is the 49th)

Revist my friend Monroe which I risked having a heart attack to conquer.

Views were fantastic both MZ and I tried to look for the elusive Camel's Hump you actually had to scoot down and look below some of the clouds to try to locate the mountain. We were not able to locate it but we did see some excellent views. To the East there were excellent views of Boot Spur Ridge what we think was Isolation and once on Monroe the clouds had departed and great views of the mountains that make up the Pemi.

We hung out at Lake of the Clouds Hut, had some food and MZ gave me a great lesson on the compass, how the sun moves 15 degrees every hour, your hand stretched out from little finger to thumb is 20 degrees. We talked about our plan to hit the Dry River trail etc...etc. That trail's starting point is very cool right at the back side of Lake Of the Clouds and if you are standing at the right location it looks like the lake goes right off the cliff really cool stuff. The Dry River trail is cool....part trail, part river, part mud bog, part quick sand, part slippery rock...part everything. We navigated the trail easily I thought ending at Mizpah Hut then back on Crawford path to the car. We talked about everything from Hammer Gel to J.R. Tolkien...interesting stuff. We saw magnificient wild life, a mouse.

We also did what is becoming (when the option presents itself) our baptismal dunk at day end in whatever stream or pool we can find.

We had a great day of just hiking in which nobody had the "pre hike shits" due to the fact there was not world record speed to be set, we had real backpacks and actually took pictures and the time to aerobically breath....

See you at Jay

Heard It On The Mountain:
  • Certainly the Forest Service agent on patrol on the ridge deserves the USFSDBOP award ("US Forest Service Douche Bag On Patrol"). His response when we inquired about the condition of the wilderness trail: "that's not my district".
  • mz, characterizing the situation while watching tMail trying to pull his leg out of the thick mud without losing the left unit of his new Vasque Velocity shoes: "boot-sucking mud cunt".
  • tMail, on being passed without a word by a guy speed-hiking in the opposite direction, after being greeted merrily by tMail: "fucker".
  • tMail & mutha, on finding something on the ground that mutha then put in a plastic zip-lock bag but hopes to remember to bring to Jay: "ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... let's bring that back for the Puppet Master... ha ha ha ha!".

1 comment:

  1. Okay this is not about the trip this is about gear....

    MPM and Tmill introduced me to these Injinji socks. At first I was suspect to be honest...but I have tested them for over 36 miles. On each of my last two hikes I did not change socks regardless of how soaked my shoes and socks got. I went through anything that would make my feet soaked. This socks are for real, no hot spots, no blisters, nothing is tender on my feet...very comfortable. There is not much I more I could do to these socks. The debate is now do I wear them for Jay...they do take some time to put on but it may be worth the time to remain comfortable during the race.