Four hours of hard XC skiing today, mostly along the LVRT (Lamoille Valley Rail Trail).   Ice Falls on LVRT

The rail bed is being converted to 4-season recreation use. The rails/ties were pulled up and the surface is still rough but in winter it is used by snowmobiles and x-c skiers.

I followed it for a few miles in the fresh snow and then headed off into the hills and fields. Caledonia County is characterized by rolling hills and valleys with forest and fields. There are numerous farm roads and access roads for sugaring, as well as almost impenetrable woods. In classic northern style, the woods include birch, balsam, red & white pine, ash, maple and more. It's a great area to ski on marked trails and roads, but also to take off across fields and head into woods. The entire trip was four hours, and I was trashed.

Unfortunately I came back to a snow-filled driveway, and to clear and prepare for the coming snow tomorrow, it took 2 hours of snowblowing and shoveling. Now I'm really trashed. Also, while clearing the driveway, the cold front came through with intense winds and (of course) blowing snow.

Skiing on a rail-bed is pretty easy when the snow is fresh and deep - the only work is breaking the trail. When snowmobiles come through, it becomes a little more challenging due to the irregular patterns they carve. Regardless, I had a chance to   Rolling Hills of Danville

pack food, water, some light gear and set out for a half-day of snowy, winter fun.

Included in this post are a few pics from the trip. Of course I'll be posting all of them in a gallery as I usually do, but the day was so beautiful with snow showers and deep snow that I figured I'd post one or two here on the blog.

In a few minutes Sue and I are heading out for some final groceries for tonight. I'm sure I'll be asleep well before midnight.

Click on a picture to zoom to a larger view.


Mt. Carrigain on Monday, 12/31

The forecast for tonight and monday is for snow. 2-5 inches by monday night in the valley (North Conway forecast). That means we'll be hiking while it's snowing. The mount washington observatory is forecasting low winds with snow accumulating until evening when it starts blowing around like crazy and visibility drops to zero. Most of the snow is supposed to be falling during the night tonight and the first part of the day tomorrow during our ascent. SPUNGIE & MADDOG ON FRANCONIA RIDGE

I don't mind hiking in the falling snow, but (just to state the obvious) it means having to

1 - park and prep while it's snowing
2 - hike in clothes that are relatively good at shedding snow (rarely breathable enough to permit a fast pace)
3 - follow the ridgeline in poor visibility (but good communications conditions)
4 - unpack/change/depart/drive home in snowy conditions

Because this is not a high-wind event during the day, just steady falling snow, it sounds like a lovely hike to be honest (even the slog up the sawyer river road).

One other consideration: The unplowed road represents a high entry-fee to many hikers which suggests that the trail could be poorly tracked (although the road itself could be packed from xc-skiers and snowmobilers). The last VFTT entry mentioning Carrigain was 11/22 when the road was still driveable. I'll be wearing snowshoes.

[Major Update 12/30]: Plan Aborted Due To Weather
All agents are advised to report to command headquarters for further orders.


Mt. Hale

I'm cooking my cereal now, getting ready to tackle Mt. Hale w/ tMail: 2.5 mile slog to the Hale Brook trail, 2.2 up to the summit. The fresh snow is pretty heavy, and we'll be breaking trail through it... maybe 5 inches in Danville. Crampons? Ropes? Harness? Helicopter? How big is that damned summit? Anybody know what's going on? Hello? Bueller?


[Update 12/28]
Hale is down, 8 more to go on tMail's list. The long slog in to the trail wasn't bad. Good company, good weather and a good opportunity for tMail to transition from Bangalore to The Whites. More pics later.

We're forecasted for another 6 inches tonight in Danville. At this rate, we won't see dirt until July. Sweet Jebus. When tMail pics up his xc skis we'll have to schedule a serious weekend of that fun thang.

Oh yeh, and I got a 'talking to' by the guy who owns the Trading Post in Twin Mountain, NH. Apparently I parked my car in a bad spot. Ooops.

[Update 12/29]
Mutha's (and some of tMail's) Pics posted here
tMail's Picasa photo gallery of the trip is here


Franconia Ridge

 Southeast View
I was concerned about cloud cover in Vermont today, so I headed to Franconia Notch to do the usual Falling Waters -> Bridal Path loop. The day did not disappoint.

I took a light pack and no snowshoes. I used crampons on the ascent, barebooted the ridge and put on crampons again on the descent.

Temps on the ridge were barely below freezing - maybe 25°F. By the time I got back to the car around 1pm it was surely in the high 30's in the valley. Winds were around 20mph on Lafayette but things were so calm and sunny I was only in my base layer with the sleeves rolled up and no hat from just below the summit until the car. It was actually a leisurely hike (5.25 hrs) with lots of time for photos and sitting around looking off into the distance.

Photos posted here.

I didn't encounter another hiker until Lafayette and had lunch on the Pemi side of the summit, under blue skies, in the sun (tMail, it was the exact same spot we ate the last time we were up there). Today was NOT a good test of winter gear. It was similar to a warm day in late April and had all the promise of spring.


Upcoming Plans

[Updated 12/25, 8pm. Edits are in this color]
With vacations and such, there is ample opportunity for adventure in the coming weeks. If you haven't checked it out yet, the avi risks are LOW in Tuckerman's and the Lion's Head Winter Route is open already. conditions on the mountains are pretty icy after all the rain and freezing, so crampons and axes will be more important than ever regardless of where we roam.

MD and I have a tentative plan for xc skiing next Saturday (12/29) up in Craftsbury, Vermont. All are welcome.

The weather forecast looks a little unsettled for the next week, but no major storms. We are in a pretty short-daylight situation, but so what. tMail, what else is on your list other than Adams, Cabot and Waumbek? I've been on every freakin' peak with you it seems. Tripyramids? Didn't we do those? Or was it the Hancocks. This would be a GREAT time for steep terrain. Let's do the Tri's on Friday.

Possible adventures (with special emphasis on tMail getting his 48):

  • Adams (that little fucker). Let's do Castle Ridge, Jefferson and Adams and Edmands Col! That would rock to do those again.
  • Hillman's/Dodge's Drop (sorry tMail, not a 48 but a rare opportunity this time of year)
  • Bamforth Ridge (sorry again tMail, not a 48 but should be fast in icy conditions)
  • Tripyramids??
  • Hale
  • Carrigain (not bad, but I think more fun in the summer)
  • Bonds/Bondcliff (nahhh, save for summer)
Whatever we do, I think our crampon blades will be singing in the hard crust/ice. Post ideas in the comments and I'll add them to the list. I'm vaguely adding to my "Winter 48" list, but I don't care if it takes me 10 years.

Adams, Carrigain or Hale would be good. Hale requires that we walk up the Zealand road (unplowed). I had a fantasy about doing a loop this summer of: Hale, Zealand, The Bonds, return via the Thoreau Falls trail and Ethan Pond Trail. It's maybe 30 miles or so. It would be a great day hike in mid-summer.

From what I recall others saying about their schedules, it'll just be me and tMail on Friday. tMail, we should do a warmup winter hike to get you back into the winter gear mode. Adams is a huge drive for you, but at some point I want to do the Edmands Col thing. Carrigain (via Signal Ridge, round trip) sounds fun and has nice exposure near the top. You've got the farthest to drive so you pick it. I'd even do Liberty/Lafayette again.

The current forecast for Friday is for shitty weather to come through at the end of the day so we can expect limited visibility on the summits and the need to get off the mountain.


New Mutha Z logo

As you may have noticed, the title-bar banner on this blog has changed. The panorama is obviously from Sandwich Dome looking north, but what is that image? It's a mashup of a drawing from Vesalius, a 16th cent. anatomist. The image to the right is a variation on the logo image that I'm working on. Note the left index finger pointing to a secret code. Click image to zoom. If I can't make myself a logo, then, as they say on the intertubes, "whiskey tango foxtrot!".

The original image can be viewed here.

I needed more mountains in the background and had to remove the reference numbers to make it less like an anotomical drawing. I also added the "48" to make it personal. This site has most of the images available.


Hell Brook: Promises And Delivers

The hike up Hell Brook was an amazing success. A tiring, seeming unending struggle that only took three hours. Trip reports and pics will follow. The pics included in this post (click them to zoom) are

  • A Google Earth view of the route
  • Mad Dog in the krumholz in Eagle Pass, in the clouds w/ filtered sun. Google Earth View of The Route
  • Mad Dog & The Puppet Master as seen from my position just above in the main gulley of Hell Brook on the waterfalls.
  • The Puppet Master on the cascades of hell Brook.
Update 12/23 8:45am: Pics are now online. Amazing.

Update 12/23 8:48am: PM Trip Report:
Holy hell. The Eagle is back... we will need that rhino dart!

G$, Life IS crap! Thanks for the insight on life and on buying skis.

MD and MZ,
* Up Hell Brook, or whatever trail it was we followed, was incredible. Steep may be the preferred description of the route but with the snow and endless amounts of effort it took to go 10ft at times, I'd say "relentless" may be a better description!
* Glad that MZ lent me his poles and that MD was able to enjoy mine. How MZ went up with only an ice axe that looked like it belonged to a 6yr old is still baffling me!
* How MD comes off the couch, and hammers up a route like Hell Brook also baffles me! You animal...
* Wish I took more pics but when you have to concentrate on where your 15th plant will be to go the next 12 inches, the camera is the last thing in the mind!
* It was a near perfect day in regards to temp, wind, and the like. Visibility was what it needed to be. It was REALLY cool on top of the ridge where the snow blowing and the tree top snowmen were dancing in the wind and sun.
* Burgers and beer at the Shed were a fine end to a day of hard work.
* Thanks for the great adventure. I'll be thinking about you guys from the relative warmth of GA over the next week. Have fun and be safe if you get out and up.
Update 12/23, 10:30am: Mutha's Trip Report:
* The Hell Brook Trail stays to climber's right of the brook, rarely in view of it. We stayed to the left, and slogged up along the hillside, working our way through the woods and hitting the brook after half of the elevation gain. There were no hiker tracks because the trail is mainly used by skiers/snowboarders descending the steep ravine... in fact it looked like nobody had hiked up there all winter.
* We tried barebooting it, but within 100ft, gave up entirely. I retrieved snowshoes for me and MD from the car (the PM had wisely brought his) and before long were on our way... slowly ... ever slower ... even stopped dead in our tracks. The snow was soft everywhere, and ever deeper as we got higher. A common problem was the difficulty in packing down a 'step' that would hold weight - and the frequent plunging of arms, poles, axes, etc. into the snow. It gave a weird look that we were periodically groping for a lost watch or hunting for clams or something.
* How MD managed to get off the operating table and slog up that monster is beyond me. But he did. And the PM is running in a 5k today? Holy crap. These guys are ANIMALS.
* The Eagle Pass traverse was otherworldly (see photo above/right and pics in gallery). As the PM says, it was perfect. I took the time to put on a facemask and goggles, but they were off within 5 minutes as the conditions were quite bearable and extremely stylin'.
* 3 hours up, but it didn't take us long to descend - maybe an hour. Great hike, great company, and great food/beer afterwards.
Update 12/23, 2pm: Mad Dog's Trip Report:
* Yep, another fine group outing...my baskets were nowhere to be found so PM unselfishly lent me his poles at the start. I'm grateful because without it, I would have been toast and not able to do the route. Lots of amazing stuff...it was three hours of a total body workout. Until we finally the reached the actual trail, it was taking anywhere from 6 to 12 front kick/plants to move 1 leg. Really awesome, as PM said, was Mutha pounding a path for us all the way up - essentially all leg strength with the occasional aid of his axe.
* A couple of notables...while waiting for Mutha to return with the shoes, with our backs turned some a-hole skier threaded a very fine needle between PM and me. While the ski skills for the guy are to be acknowledged, he clearly demonstrated a lack of brains and common sense. The second notable was that in any context, with this crowd, one should never the use phrase "Don't worry I'll get you off." I paid dearly for letting that slip out :-)

Thanks for a great time!!!


Hell Brook: I'm Not Kidding

Depending on who's available, I'm heading up to Hell Brook. I keep saying that, but this time I mean it. Last Saturday's trek up Sandwich Dome reminded me I need to get in snowshoe shape for ... uh ... Hell Brook, I guess. How better to train! If the snowboarders and skiers have packed out trails then it can be done in crampons but we won't know until we get there.

School's out this week, so I have 3 weeks where I can do stuff mid-week, which will include skiing where there are lifts. I don't mind hiking up with my skis, but climbing 1,800ft and skiing down is pretty much it. I may do some backcountry exploring on skis if anyone is interested, but bear in mind I keep it pretty low-key.

The forecast for Sunday is freezing rain so I'd like to get out Saturday. Thursday (12/19) we're forecast for 3-8in around here, up to 10 or more in central NH.

[Update 12/21: Final Plan]
We're heading up Hell Brook on Saturday (12/22) and coming down the LT. So far, it's MD, the PM and me. Conditions: unknown. Equipment: unknown. Likelihood of failure: unknown.


Sandwich Dome Video

The unofficial video of the Sandwich Dome hike has been posted to YouTube. It's only 1:17 so don't be cheap. [Link]


Sandwich Dome

Lovely day out. Pics to be published tomorrow (Sunday) [Update 12/16: Pics are now posted]. A day w/out MadDog and tMail - heartbreaking - but we muddled through. The above panorama is a 2048x518 low-res version I made this morning from 4 hi-res images. The view (click pic to zoom) is from Sandwich Dome centered almost due north and spans from Franconia Ridge on the left to Mt. Washington on the right. It includes Tecumseh in the left foreground, most of the summits of the Pemi (the southern border is easier to make out with the Hancocks & Carrigain). One day I'll make a labeled version. An intriguing artifact of the panorama stitching process is that the two foreground trees on the left are actually the same tree. I took the Franconia Ridge photo before the other three on the right and moved around. This morning I noticed that I could tack on the Franconia Ridge image to make a wider view but the shift in perspective would double that tree. Another annoying problems was that I didn't notice the exposure difference on the Mt. Washington section until after I built the pano. Oh well. Curious.

From The PM (click pic of the lovely couple to zoom - hi res version available):

Too bad nobody got a pic of the G$ driving school demonstration!
Great day out. Cold, not so windy, and it was nice to have some sunshine.
New/fairly new gear analysis...
  • Softshell rocked
  • LL Bean pack rocked
  • Mountain Rescue hat... rocked, despite not having to svae any of the MTI Outing Club!

That coffee afterwards hit the spot!
2 beers and a burger - time to veg!
Next adventure targeted for Dec 21 or 22 in VT.
From g-$$$:
Thanks all for sharing your trail. Glad the M-Z got to exercise the 10.1 , PM didn't have to do any Mountain Rescue, and Treadmill was able to make the summit even though I forgot to bring her crampons.

Sorry....I don't get the driving school reference. You'll have to explain that one to me.
From mutha:
A terrific day (I got to use my tow strap). The temperature was around 0°F and the air was calm. Invigorating and great company. [N.B.: The coffee aftewards was from the Mad River cafe, located just off the Waterville Valley exit off rte 93. It's between the Mobil and Citgo stations.]


Praise Allah: My Camera Arrived

Oh baby. My new camera arrived today. a 10.1 Mp Casio Exilim. Papa's got a new toy. Let's hope this sucker performs in the cold weather. Click on pic to zoom to see the fantastic detail... and this is a downgraded image I uploaded. In the original, you can count my blood vessels in my eyeball.

In other gear news, Sue got ahold of a Patagonia Synchilla vest for me. It's a women's XL, which means it fits beautifully. I've been wearing it over my light yellow windbreaker and have tested it down to 8°F in over an hour of x-c skiing. I love it. Above 15-20° and it'll be too warm if I'm working hard in the snow, but no biggie - I'm taking it with me everywhere I go from now on.

[Update 12/14] The votes are in: Sandwich Dome and possibly Black Mtn. Decision on ascent route to be made in parking lot at trailhead. Up one and down the other?

Meeting Place: Coffee Shop between Mobil and Citgo at Waterville Valley exit off 93.
Meeting Time: 8:30am

Weather Note: In addition to the point made by the PM in the comments, the wind is howling already here in Danville (elev. 1,400') but the temps haven't started to plummet yet. Winds are up to 80 steady on the Bad Boy. I'm bringin' my winter shell and goggles. May do the snowshoe thing (heavy duty Tubbs, not MSR) instead of crampons.


An Additional 6-12 Inches Coming

More snow! By this weekend, at least in Danville, we'll be knee deep in the stuff. As it is, the x-c skiing is terrific. Jay Peak has been dumped on with a base that is between 2 and 4ft deep. Whatever happens this weekend, it'll involve snow! Bamforth anyone? Hell Brook? All those great snowy routes that are avi-stable are aching to be trekked.

Things have been slow around Thanksgiving, but I expect them to pick up around Christmas. I never put on a pair of snowshoes last winter, but if the current accumulation rate is any indication I'll be wearing them soon.

Just a reminder: The pic on the right is the TOP of MadDog's head coming up Hell Brook w/out snowshoes only 9.5 short months ago. He's not lying down, either. That is one BADASS trail (click on the pic to zoom). Other Hell Brook pics here (w/ maddog jan '07) and here (solo from march '05).

[Update 12/12] The cold front will be blowing through the north country tonight will drop temps into the low single digits and will be around for a few days. The weekend is looking like highs in the teens in the valleys, lows below 10°. Two days of this will keep the powder dry and firm up the ice on the stream crossings.

[Update 12/13] We now have a Nor'easter forecasted for Sunday. 6+ inches. It looks like Saturday will be the day to ramble. I'm hoping that in the lead-up to the storm we'll have broad isobars. This cold-cold weather doesn't lend itself to roaring winds. tMail & Mutha on Madison! Yeow! Just thinking about it makes me hold onto my chair. Between the snow down south today and the steady accumulations up north, this is promising to be a great winter.... until the January thaw of course...


12/8/07: The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

The PM has voiced an interest. Waiting for ideas... waiting...waiting...

[Update 12/7]
The PM has a stomach virus. I'm getting a christmas tree on saturday with the wife and kids and going solo on Sunday. I'll have to borrow a digital camera or (\\gasp!//) go without one. No plans yet.

Also, Spanky is getting spayed and will be unavailable for x-c skiing for a while. Poor Spanky.

[Update 12/8]
Spanky is home and a little wiped out. We got a nice 10ft tree from some folks in Danville down past Greenbank Hollow. I'll trim it down to about 8ft tomorrow evening. The field it was growing in wasn't too far from the car (about 75 yards) and of course I got to be the saw boy as well as the mule to drag it to the car while Sue and the kids drank hot chocolate and cheered me on and Jill hit me with a soft snowball. Luckily the snow wasn't too deep and the sun was still out before the squalls blew through - although hauling a tree through blinding snow would've been kind of fun.

It looks like the hike of choice is Mt. Chocorua. Yes indeedy. I've never been there, but I've seen it from Passaconaway and heard about several successful and failed attempts. (I believe the pic on the right taken by the PM from Passaconaway is Chocorua). It looks like tomorrow will be cold and windy. Full report to follow.

[Update 12/9]
Harrumph. Pulled a g-$$$ and slept until 8:30 (was up past midnight grading exams). Just went for 12mi run instead. Oh well.

Frozen Elephant

I'm posting this is to see how an embedded YouTube video looks on this blog scaled down to a postage stamp size. For those who haven't seen it, it's of Treadmill (Mrs. Puppet Master) being subjected to the equalizing forces of nature.

Update 12/7: It turns out that embedding the video in this page causes excessive bandwidth absorption. I've nuked the embedded video, but this [LINK] will take you there.


New Game: Flat Light

Spanky and I went out x-c skiing this afternoon. In the fresh powder (boot-deep, about 8" on top of a 4" more-or-less frozen, crusty base) we worked hard making new tracks even though the terrain is gently rolling in Danville. The snow in the woods was deep enough to cover sticks and roots (4-6") and in the meadows was deep enough to cover the grasses left over from summer's end. Lots of white. We waited for the forecasted lull, which came as scheduled, but it started snowing pretty hard towards the end of our trek. We got back around 3pm, drenched in sweat.

The sky was heavily overcast and it was snowing pretty hard, although there was no wind. Visibility was not bad, maybe 1/4 mile, but in the very flat grey twilight of the afternoon and with the snow falling steadily, open rolling meadows had no visual cues other than grey. The map at right is about 2mi square (click pic to zoom). On the way back (see the light green route) we had trouble seeing what was up and what was down, so we played a game I now call "Flat Light" - which downhill skiers are familiar with (skiing in flat-grey light where you can't see bumps or contours and everything is a surprise). We worked our way back and across the meadows sometimes being pulled downhill by gravity and other times climbing little knolls but really having no clue what was coming. It was a good time.

Before The Camera Died ...

I managed to get a photo and some brief footage (20sec YouTube clip). [Link]

Update 12/7: The embedded video was causing excessive bandwidth absorption and has been nuked. See link above.


Coming Up: Preparing For Winter

This weekend's weather will be a big determinant in the 'plan', but as long as nobody destroys one of my cars this week I'm good to go. After all that static w/ the PM about hiking in Vermont, it got me yearning to head back to the Green Mountains. Unless somebody pipes up, it'll be a Green Mountain trek for sure.

[Update 12/2/07, 4pm] Green Mountains for sure ... that is, unless it's in the Whites, which it was. I was encouraged by the Mt. Washington forecast: clear air, cloud deck around 7-8k ft, winds hovering around 10-20mph, temps around 0-10°F. The proverbial 'calm before the storm' (6-14" forecast for Danville). Franconia Ridge Ahoy! Because I'm always the first to put on crampons and the last to take them off, I figured I'd bare-boot it all day. The trail was well packed, so except for a few icy spots it's wasn't a bad choice. Because of the low wind I hiked in my black top w/ light patagonia for layer=1. That, a beanie and wind gloves was it for the entire hike. Just before ascending to Lafayette's summit, in the little col with short trees, I put on my precip jacket in case the wind was roaring and in anticipation of the extensive exposure descending the Bridal Path. As it turned out, I wore the precip jacket for about 20 min total. Other discoveries:

* I went almost to my knees in water twice. The water crossings on Falling Waters were treacherous, especially w/ no traction. No snow, just ice and high water. I discovered that my standard outfit is waterproof.

* On the ascent of Falling Waters, at the big upper falls, there's a big step up - a big rock with a crack in it on the left hand side and a big tree trunk laying across the slab. The rock forms a step of about 4-5ft, and in summer we normally go up the crack on the left. w/out crampons it posed a challenge. I had my left toe in the crack and had just reached out w/ my right hand for some root of the exposed fallen trunk. My right leg was up on the rock. Suddenly my left toe levered out of the rock and my pack almost flipped me on my back. I held on w/ my right hand as my body swung around, and even though my feet ended up dangling only about a foot or so above the ground, I had painfully rolled on my upper thigh (over the edge of the rock) and couldn't see what was below my feet. That was awkward. I couldn't get my feet to stick anywhere so I let go and landed okay... a little slippy, but nothing remarkable happened. It took a while to get over that icy step.

* Other than one guy who I passed on Falling Waters, I didn't see a single person - even from a distance on the ridge. Finally on the way down the Bridal Path there were 8 pairs of hikers.
From Lafayette I could see 47 of the 4k-ers. I could clearly see Waumbek and probably Cabot but I wasn't sure. I could make out all the ski slopes on Mansfield with ease and *all* the summit detail on Washington. Everything was looming large, like through a magnifying glass (a common effect of a high pressure system). At one point I thought I was looking at Greenleaf Hut, but it looked all wrong. When I had a clear view I could see it was the summit structures on Cannon. If there had been somebody there reading a newspaper, I could probably have been able to tell which paper.

* Bad News: my camera is hosed. I got a few shots early on, then the motor refused to open the shutter. Crap.

A great day. 5hrs exactly.


Thanksgiving Slosh

Friday or Saturday is a good bet for more solid footing on the summits... maybe solid ice. If that's the case, crampons and gaiters will be the gear du jour. Westy may join us (see pics from Galehead/Twins for glossies) - although I forgot to ask him how he's set up for winter gear. What are our options? Saturday, roughly speaking, appears to be the break between fronts. Friday's freeze should make everything really icy. What I'm not into is banging around on rocks with crampons all day so it may take a little creative thinking to come up with a great plan.

Here are one or two ideas:

  • Chocorua. I know The PM and g-$$$ just tried it this week, but we could make another attack at that bad little boy. Just a suggestion.
  • Sandwich Dome & Black Mtn via Drakes Brook and the Algonquin Trail. Ever since g-$$$ brought up the idea of Sandwich Dome I keep staring at it on the map.
  • The Tripyramids. What? How dumb is that!?! Well, admittedly it's more fun when loaded with snow, but there's something appealing about the north slide when it's coated with ice. I'll bring two axes.
  • ... add ideas to the comments section. I have to go carry a new toilet upstairs.
[Update 11/22] I'm so full. I can't move. I went upstairs and felt my belly wiggle back and forth. I have a headache. I have to lie down. Based on the PM's proximity here in VT, our likely targets on Saturday will be:
  • Mt. Mansfield
  • Camel's Hump
  • Mt. Hunger
It's been raining nonstop and the cold front comes through tonight. This is going to make a mess of things.

[Update 11/23, 11am]: Blustery weather ahead. It's already damned chilly out here in Danville. In spite of all the rain, the ground is freezing up hard and the drizzle has changed to flurries. The MWO has posted a wind chill advisory for tonight and tomorrow: -30 to -40°F. Whatever we do on Mansfield/Camel's Hump the weather should be exciting and bitter cold. I'm all for it. My votes (I'm split):
  • Mansfield: Hell Brook Trail up to the Chin, descend via LT.
  • Camel's Hump: Ascend via Monroe, to Dean, to LT north to Hump. Descend via LT North to either Monroe or continue on LT to "Alpine Trail" (bad weather cutoff), and loop back to Monroe. Click schematic Hump Trails map on right to zoom.
My guess for the trail conditions above 2,500ft: 2-6 inches of crunchy and hard-pack & ice with 0-4inches of dusty powder on top (drifts near summit could be knee deep, but rare). Barebooting possible though crampons will be handy on the steepest surfaces. Snowshoes won't be missed. Footing will be varied, consistent w/ early winter conditions. Krummholz will be iced up and dusted with powder.


In Da Shit

The weather is looking kind of mixed up for the next week. Rain, snow, wind, calm, more snow, clouds, etc. At this point (Wed, 11/14) it's not clear what the forecast is for next Sat/Sun, but I'm kind of interested in some full-winter training and wouldn't mind taking an excursion into the shit. To be honest, it might be better at high elevation and might guarantee staying out of the rain. We'll have to see how the forecast develops.

Adams? Jefferson again over the Castles? Tecumseh? Hmmmmmmm.

[Update 11/14, 11pm]
As of this writing, the forecast for the next 24 hours includes heavy rains and flood watches all over Carol and Coos counties in NH (and beyond). Rain and floods. It looks like all the snow will fall between the 'Dacks and the Connecticut River valley and points north.

[Update 11/18, noon]
We got 4 inches of snow in Danville.... but nothing going on this weekend after all. I took some time off and baked bread, made a gallon of soy milk, did some chores and will go for a run. I went to bed at 8pm last night (actually just crashed after getting out of the hot tub) and got up at 4am to get my gear together. Then I made a cup of coffee, read The New Yorker, had breakfast, did some laundry, ... and the rest is history. Ahhhh.... not every day is a record breaker. Gooooooood coooofffffeeeeeeee.....

And if you haven't seen it yet, check out tMail's Picasa pics of his Kevari Half Marathon. 1:44! Rocket on, tMail.

By the way, Spanky and I did get out for a run in the snow (her first snow adventure). Good Dog. Of course all the pics of her and Jake during our run are here.


Rocky Branch/Isolation Loop Elevation vs. Time Profile

I've corrected for barometric shifts & calibration errors. What would really be informative is to compare profiles for several different hikes. Maybe sometime next week. In the meantime, here it is (click image to zoom):


Rocky Branch/Isolation/Davis Path Loop

Out of control! tMail, I know you need Isolation and I'll go back with you, but I was passing by it so no point in pretending I didn't stop and say 'hi'.

From the Jericho Rd Trailhead to Isolation Summit: 9.6mi, 5hr. (1.9 mi/hr)
From Isolation Summit back to Jericho Rd (via Davis Path/Stairs Col): 10.5mi, 3.5hr (3 mi/hr)

Why the big difference if the first 6 miles or so of the Rocky Branch trail is so damned flat? It's not because of ascent vs. descent. It's those brook crossings I was warned about in The Book; holy crap. The rocks were all iced over and even if they weren't, finding a crossing meant wandering up and down the banks looking for a place. I avoided two of them by taking the most ferocious bushwack ever. Not sure which was worse.

I will say that I didn't see another person until about 2 hrs before getting back to the car (a group of 4 through-hikers coming from Stairs Mtn on the Davis Path). Until I saw them, I didn't even see a human footprint!

The weather was great and it was fun to be in the snow. Pics are posted here.


  • Temperatures were in the high 20's lower down, and in the teens up top - but the winds were never above 5mph. I put on my yellow wind-breaker on Isolation after most of the pics but before eating my sandwich. The sun helped.
  • Crossing the brook meant, in all cases, a full two-feet-landing jump over fast water. The pools were as much as 4 or 5 ft deep and the water between boulders was voluminous. The complication, once you found a route and ignored the rushing water, was that the rocks were iced over where the water splashed. Once tested with the pole tip, the risk was not slipping, it was landing on a rock and finding that the other side was iced so you can't get to the next rock and you can't get back because the landing site on the rock you launched from was iced. Amazingly, the only time I got a submerged boot was on a tributary crossing over 5inch deep water when a 'stable' rock flipped over.
  • The bushwack: oh my. Because of the rugged nature of the narrow valley, I didn't want to get trapped between cliff and brook, so I worked my way up. The gain in elevation was on a steep, eroded hillside that had exceeded it's angle of repose. It was also covered in thick balsam, prickers, saplings and downed trees from the collapsing earth. It was not a good place if you are either afraid of heights, claustrophobic (pulling you and your pack vertically up through branches that are dense enough to almost hold you in place while your feet feel like they're dangling in space) or generally disturbed by whole trunks giving way, slope collapsing under your feet and sending rocks, trees, branches and dirt down in showers of mini-slides. I'm really glad I did the loop 'clockwise'. Hitting those brooks/bushwack in the gloaming with plummeting temps would suck. Interestingly, the gain in elevation wasn't wasted effort. I only lost about 1/3 of it after joining up with the brook again.
  • Bear Print! Oh yeh. I got pics.
  • The lack of evidence of humans and the palpable feeling of remoteness lead to a profound sense of isolation. Somehow the transitions of the Rocky Branch trail - which starts as an actual, working, high-quality logging road and ends in snow-covered, confusing, narrow alpine terrain where it joins the Isolation Trail, enhances that experience. In spite of my multiple forays into the heart of the Pemi, this was in another league entirely. I don't think a summer loop would be anything like it.
  • The Stairs Col trail looks like it was just built and has never been used. No erosion, no signs of other feet, and completely undisturbed beds of leaves in the birch groves. I had the 'where the hell is everybody???' experience.
  • No Mount Davis. I never saw a sign or a side trail. Nothing.


The Torture Test

So, I doubt anybody would be up for this, but I'm kinda thinkin' of kicking up the Rocky Branch trail to Isolation and back down the Montalban Ridge to Stairs col. It's about 20 miles and includes what the book describes as 4 major brook crossings that result in 'wading' unless the water is low. The water isn't low. There are one or two bushwacks described to avoid water crossings. The Rocky Branch trail is rocky, overgrown and slow going (I hear). This would be a huge day out. Anyone? Hello? Bueller?


A Google Earth View of the Davis Path Hike

Last weekend's hike (Click on picture to zoom)


A New View North

One consequence of our trek yesterday was a damned interesting perspective from Mt. Crawford. It's a view I've never seen before. In one sweep you can see, from a little south of west to north: Carrigain, The Bonds (w/ Lafayette peeking over), The Twins, Crawford Notch, the southern Presi's to Washington, right up Oakes Gulf. The panorama I constructed here is from Crawford Notch to Mt. Washington. I didn't have enough overlap to stich the three pics well, but that's a minor technical problem. The view makes the point. Click the picture to zoom. (Resolution is the hump disappearing off the right edge, rising in front of Mt. Stairs ... I think).
[Update 11/5]: Pics are now posted. [Link]


Terrific Day on the Davis Path

No tMail, no Maddog, but we sucked it up and had a great day on the Davis Path. Mtns Crawford, Resolution & Stair are off the list. More will be posted later and when I get the PM's pics we'll get them all cranked up as usual. I have to shower and change for a party.

Some Notes:

  • It was beautiful weather. The rain never came and the front blew some beautiful chilly air in along with some fast clouds.
  • The Davis Path is very easy footing, although the initial ascent is steep.
  • The PM created a cairn made of the fermented remnants of Friday night's revelry. g-$$$ and I just stayed up-wind and pretended to ignore the screaming. But how can you ignore "Ahhhhrrrrg! Damn You IPA... aaaarrrhhhh, my colon!"
  • This hike opened up a number of possibilities for future treks, like the entire Montalban Ridge from 302 to The Bad Boy and then back down the Crawford Path to the AMC hut. Or for some new challenges, at Lake of the Clouds drop down into the Dry River Wilderness where tMail and I explored last summer.
  • Another terrific looking speed loop would be at the end of Jericho Road, taking the Rocky Branch Trail north to the Isolation Trail, then back down the Davis Path for the entire Montalban back to Stairs Mtn. Col, etc. Just under 20 miles including the side trail to Mt. Davis.


Nov 3rd: The Plot Thickens

It looks like the PM and I are staring at the maps. Naturally I've been on a kick to do new things and check out new trails. Sometimes there will be overlap, but here are a few trails for fun and frolic:

  1. Beaver Brook Trail up to Asquam Ridge (to Moosilauke) - features handholds and/or ladders I think.
  2. Davis Path to Mtns Crawford, Resolution & Stairs.
  3. Israel Ridge Path up to Edmands Col. (Up the Castellated Ridge, Down Israel Ridge?)
  4. Up Wildcat Ridge Trail to Carter Notch Hut, return to 2nd car at Hall's Ledge Trail by taking Wildcat River Trail south to Carter Notch Road, right on road a bit, then Hall's Ledge Trail back to Rte 16.
  5. Downes Brook Trail south to Kate Sleeper Trail, hit East/West Sleeper, return via Sabbaday Brook Trail (hitting South/Middle Tri and avoiding The Fool Killer).
  6. Sandwich Dome & Black Mountain (via Sandwich Mtn & Algonquin trails, return via Algonquin & Drake's Brook).
  7. Chocorua - any of it. The closest I've been is Wonalancet. Maybe up Champney Falls Tr, then across the Bee Line Tr., Lawrence Tr. and pick up the Oliverian Brook Trail in Paugus Pass?
[Update 10/31: Happy Holloween]
It looks like trip #2 is the choice du jour. And for the icing on the proverbial cake, g-$$$ may be filling in for the long-lost tMail who will be taking off in a few days for the other side of the planet. The weather is looking fine, although it will likely be a chilly start to a bright, sunny day. The leaves are off most of the trees so the woods should be bright and the views tremendous with the clear, dry air. I can't wait.

[Update 11/2: Uh Oh]
Rain's a comin'. From the National Weather Service for Lincoln, NH:


At Last: The Long Awaited Plot

Time profile of hike last weekend to Stillwater Junction. For those of you who thought this was a level-trail, feast your eyeballs on this baby..... although an interesting characteristic of the profile is that my ascent and descent rates are pretty uniform in terms of vertical feet per minute (I slow down on steeper parts).

[Update 10/28/07]
Well, the winds are touching 100mph on the summit of Mt. Washington. The heavy rains have let up and the temperatures are dropping. I'm caulking, insulating and scraping today (no big adventure) but while breakfast is settling thought I'd post a hike analysis. I'm trying to combine distance, elevation and time in an informative display and chose the image posted at right. The symmetry is, of course, due to the fact that the return trip from Stillwater Junction was via the same route (up and over the notch where Nancy and Norcross Ponds are). I've divided the hike into three stages and posted the times and average pace for each section. The middle 'flat' section by itself was close to 4mph (about a 15min pace) but I liked the idea of including the entire section from Norcross Pond to Stillwater Jct and back. If you go there, you'll see why - the terrain in and out of the valley is different from the ascent from 302.

The times are total hiking time (including stops for pictures, lunch, etc.).

Oh yeh, Summit of Mt. Washington at 2pm: 18°F, 75mph winds, -10° wind chill, and the pic at right shows the observation deck.

[Minor Update 10/28, 8pm]
I harvested all my remaining hot peppers and made the last batches of my annual 'hot sauce'. It's pretty hot - although what was interesting was not that the sauce was so hot, but that handling and cooking the peppers nearly destroyed everything near and dear to me, including my nasal mucosa. The normal precautions of wearing a respirator and latex gloves are for people who learn their lessons easily. This is the fourth time I've made pepper sauce and the fourth time I've declined to wear protection. Next time I'll do it, I swear. One quick anecdote: I dried about 60 peppers earlier in the season and spent about 20 minutes picking them out of a paper back, cutting the stems off with scissors and tossing them in an otherwise empty pot. Merely handling the dried peppers caused all sorts of full-body reactions (including sweating and other symptoms that pepper-eaters get to know). Now I've got lots of pepper sauce.


Plans for Saturday

I've got a company party Saturday (actually my wife's employer, but it'll be a rocking good time) but that's not until 5pm or thereabouts in Montpelier. I just need enough time to get home, get showered and changed and be fashionably late. The PM's on the road I think, but he's got a hankerin' for a day out in the wilds. tMail is packing his bags, g-$$$ is training Evan for olympics, Spanky hasn't been tested on more than a few level miles and Maddog is getting outfitted with bionic legs to replace his bionic legs. I just spend two days putting away about 200 bales of hay so I don't feel like doing anything, especially if it involves hay.

PM, if you're still up for an adventure, post some ideas.

[Update 10/25 11:30am]
The forecast for Saturday is for heavy rain - Sunday is looking better.

[Update 10/26 5pm]
Did I say heavy rain? I meant very heavy rain... tonight, all Saturday, into Saturday night and rain mixed w/ snow on Sunday. This isn't looking good. Maybe it's time I repainted the dining room ceiling where the upstairs radiator leaked last spring.


Countdown To Bangalore

Things are quieting down this weekend as we prep for Banglore, travel to Maine, attend Company dinners, watch movies and ride out the rains and storms.

It's good to have a weekend off from time to time, even though if the rains subside I'll probably head out anyway. In the warm fall weather I want to test my new light day-pack (I returned the LaFuma I wrote about a week ago).

While tMail heads to bangalore in a week or so I may do some more exploring. I had such a great time on Kinsman Ridge that I'm still enthusiastic about exploring more in the Whites without hitting the high summits. It's a little wet out there, but nothing a pair of gaiters can't handle.

[Update 10/21 5:30pm]
What a day! I didn't stress my credit card but man, my first metatarsal is aching! Just about 18 miles today but the trails were much easier than the Carter Traverse. tMail and I took about 13 hours to do about 18 miles. I did the same distance (+/- 0.5 miles) and it took exactly 7 hours. I did Nancy Pond trail to Carrigain Notch to Stillwater Junction and then back again by the same route. The weather was outstanding and the route was highly scenic. Once again I've reinforced the idea (for myself) that there are some gorgeous trails in the Whites that don't hit the 4k-ers. The Nancy Pond Trail starts off like the Tuckerman Ravine trail, but not as steep. It then transitions into Falling Water, except a LOT more water coming down the falls. At the top are two ponds: Nancy Pond and Norcross Pond, which appear to drain in opposite directions. Because of all the heavy rains lately, things were mighty wet - in fact the trail around the ponds was completely submerged in spots. Brook crossings were mostly manageable except for one over Norcross Brook, which required that I take my boots off and cross barefoot. It was pretty refreshing and never over my knees. The brook was only about 25ft across. The weather was so nice I actually walked about 200 yards barefoot - enjoying the soft earth and sunshine.

I met one group on the way in, around Nancy Pond, and two couples heading up to Nancy Pond on my way down. The Pemi was entirely quiet, except for the wind in the trees and the sound of rushing water.

Heard it on the mountain - Special Edition (featuring muthaZ's trail induced hypnosis and inability to carry on a conversation):

A group of overnight hikers approached. One guy asked "are the brooks still as hard to cross?". I should've said "How the fuck would I know. It's not like I cross them twice a fucking day every day of the week!". What I said was "... uh, I guess...".

A couple approached on my way down from Nancy Pond. The guy was topless. He said "wow, it's too hot out for my blood!". I should've said "maybe that's because you're a douche-bag.". What I said was "yeh, it's a nice day."

Another couple approached about a mile below Nancy Pond, on the steep ascent up above Nancy Cascade. The wife asks "How much longer to Nancy Pond?". I should've said "yeh, because I have a video camera with a gps and speedometer jammed up your ass and because I have nothing better to do I've been measuring your pace for the last 4 hours, and frankly, I don't think you or your pale-blue boyfriend are going to make it. you better kill yourselves right now." What I said was "...uh, I don't know...". She replied "oh, this doesn't go to Nancy's Pond?". I should've said "no, you stupid cow, it comes FROM Nancy's Pond." What I said was "...uh, yeh, it does... I just haven't been paying attention to the time... maybe another hour...".

Unbelievable foliage pics - posted later tonight or tomorrow. Pic at right was from Nancy Pond Trail.


3-Stooges Pic #2: Sunrise Through My Neighbor's Yard

My driveway points east across the Danville-Peacham road, toward the driveway of my neighbor Frank.

I went out to bring in my miniature roses because of the impending hard frost tonight and saw the sun rising through the fog (the valleys up here are pretty foggy in the fall mornings). I ran back up to the office deck in my 3-Stooges pants to snap this shot through the power/phone lines, looking down on Frank's car.

I don't know what the light vertical banding is.


Thoughts on The Great Traverse (See previous post)

(Note: This blog started getting spammed by a company called nzsearchengine.com, so I had to turn off allowing 'anonymous' commenting. You have to have a Blogger account to post a comment now.)

And for your viewing pleasure, the photo at right: "Morning in Danville: Views From My Driveway In My 3-Stooges Pajamas, Part 1".

From tMail:
Going into this I knew it would be very long day. Getting up at 4am driving up to Gorham from Boston hiking 18+ miles then driving home.

Right out of the gate Wildcat bites you in the ass...tough climb you just bite your teeth and push up. What I remember next is looking down to Carter Hut and making the descent slow...and then reaching the hut for a little break. The Hut curse hit me again...I didn't come out of the hut feet blazing...the Carter Dome climb was tough for me it took me a while to get going again, similiar to the first time I went up South Twin out of Garfield hut. After Carter Dome I got my second wind and felt good for the rest of the hike. I was looking forward to the night hiking and we did alot of it. I really enjoyed it, it is what I remember most about the hike. The climb up to Moriah seemed endless as well as the descent down into Gorham. I think at this time of year almost mid October with good weather big hikes like this can be done, but something like a frost over the night can really slow things down and change times significantly. The Mountains are a cool place every hike has it's own story...this is one of those hikes when you kind of say "Shit" that was a big day...

From mutha:
The view from Mt. Hight was tremendous. The ice on the trees shone in the sun like diamonds and the blazing foliage in the valley stretched out like a colorful blanket across the mountains. We had to deal with ice on the trail for anything above, say, 3,000ft - and ice in the trees that melted and fell from above when we grabbed out for support on the steep descents (which was much of the time). The ice was small, like sleet, not dangerous.

There were a few really profound visual memories with me as well.

  • We took a side trip to the Imp Shelter so I could say 'hi' to a student of mine who was camping with a school group. Evening twilight was coming on (less than an hour before we needed headlamps) and the dim, damp, mossy forest was dark green and grey and the air was getting very cold.
  • The ascent up Moriah did take a long time - 1.3 miles from the Imp trail junction, but we got disoriented in the crazy world of headlamp hiking and because it was starting to rain (and transitioning to snowing) and felt that we were up to 2mi without seeing the summit. We had to cross open rock faces with trail turns and false cairns which also lead to an odd sense of the high probability of getting off course.
  • The 4.5 mile descent from Moriah in the dark involved what seemed like endless butt-sliding down icy, wet, and just plain slippery open slabs of rock. It was really the 2 miles to Mt. Surprise that was the hardest. It was a weird ongoing pattern of trying to walk, having our feet slip out, and trying to sit fast and control the slipping. In the morning I found that my shell-pants, gloves and pack were covered in mud.
  • The 2.5 miles from Mt. Surprise was pretty fast, but with the headlamps we had the weird experience of staring unblinking into a patch of light that illuminated the fresh fallen leaf-litter - a highly technicolor patchwork of yellows, reds and browns that streamed by like watching M&Ms or something on a conveyor belt. It became both hypnotic, tiring and just plain difficult because the thick bed of leaves hid roots and stones and we were moving fast.
  • Lastly, Sue and I have an agreement that she is to wait 3 hours after the time I say we'll be down, and then call the local/state police and ask them to cruise by the trailhead to see if the car is still there. This was the first time she had to do it, and she did it. I had told her 5-6pm. At 9pm she made the call. We drove into Gorham so I could phone her (and so she could call Dao) and the local cops pulled in just after we hung up. The cop was pretty nice about it, mostly because there was no issue and also because it was clear we had a 'protocol' and were just being safe. It's amazing how relieved law-enforcement folks are when they don't have to deal with rednecks with guns and booze.
13 hours. What a day. To quote tMail: "epic!".


The Great 2007 Carter Traverse Trip Report

It's 1:30am on Sunday, 10/14. I just got out of the shower and am going to bed. tMail is on his way to Boston and will, hopefully, stop at a motel if things get tough. We'll post pics and highlights in the next day or two.

Preview: Photo at right: looking down on the lights of Gorham from the ascent up Moriah as evening and the rain and snow approach and the brilliant foliage fades to deep shades of ashes and wine and seven miles to go. (Click image to zoom.)

Here are a few tidbits while I'm still conscious:

Route: Wildcat Ridge North to Carter Moriah Trail, ending in Gorham.
4k summits: Wildcat D, WildCat, Carter Dome, Middle Carter, Moriah ... only five?
Miles: Approx 18.
Time: Approx 13 hours.
Team Members: tMail, mutha (alas, the PM was not able to make it - nor was Spungie, Maddog, g-$$$ or any of the other team irregulars).

Highlights: freezing rain from friday night made going a challenge above 3,000ft. Weather was clear blue skies under a dry October high pressure system. Temperatures were below freezing above 4,000ft.

By the time we put on headlamps (north of Imp Shelter on the ascent to Moriah), it began to rain - and then as we hit the higher elevations, snow lightly. We hit the summit in total darkness and hurried on. The snow was brief (accumulating about 1/8" on raised undergrowth). We ended at about 9:30pm after more than 3hours of headlamp hiking, failed MSR pump, a few other snafu's, but generally a perfect hike. This one is going in the books as one of the best.

Most commonly heard exclamation: woah - holy shit - wow - damn - etc. (on looking out onto valley views). Visibility was greater than 75 miles until the front of the low pressure system came in at sunset.

Oh yeh, and dig the "time profile" on the right (click to zoom). When I plotted this I realized that Bangor road is 1,000ft below the Wildcat Ridge Trail trailhead on 16. No kidding. Check The Book.

[Update 10/14, 7:04pm]
tMail's pics are available online on his Picasa site [Link]
mutha's pics are available online on his gallery site, including his favorites of tmail's [Link]

The 30sec video seen here is a 270° view from Mt. Hight. Peak foliage, high summits and clear blue skies!


The Great 2007 Carter Traverse

tMail the Tornado is going after the Carters. The PM and I will tag along (apparently), with details to follow as they develop. I have only one request: let's tag Mt. Hight.

tMail writes:
The plan for Saturday is to do the Moriah / Carter Range. Looking at the map and doing some reading today the distance from Bangor Road to Mt Hight is 11.8 miles (page 362 in WM Guide book). Now from Mt. Hight to Wildcat Ridge Trail parking lot is 6.8 miles. We are looking at 18.6 miles, big fucking day but can be done. We all have the fitness to do this but some factors:


Logistics: I think the best thing to do would be to go from North to Southwest, MPM and I will be in one car. I was thinking we can meet MZ at Wildcat and continue to Bangor Road for the start of this adventure MZ what time did you hit the trail on Sunday you stated 20 miles in 9:32. I was looking at the pictures didn't notice you with a headlamp but I am not sure when your last picture was from when you actually finished.

From MZ: I hiked from 7:30 to 5pm. No Headlamp.
Time: What do you guys think, we average for speed on this adventure? Do you think we can get this done in under 12 hours? I would assume we are going to be in headlamps, except MPM. I am not looking for land speed records, I would like to move along I would imagine Hut to Hut pace maybe a little faster?
From MZ: Hitting Crawford Notch late in the hike takes its toll. South->North might be less punishing.
Weather: I don't care unless there is a total downpour.

Gear: I will be using a new pack as long as it arrives this week, food will be powerbars, sandwiches and miscellaneous. I will be in my Vasques. For my legs I am thinking shorts with leg warmers or long underwear under shorts depending on temps. For my top I will be in long sleeve Patagona shirt which I just got is high quality. Poles, med kit, 2 headlamps, bivy emergency bag....depending on weather forecasts rain gear. I will have a hat and liner gloves as well and changes for tops and stuff to keep me warm.

There does not appear to be many streams on the map I would imagine 3+L of water until we get to the Hut?

I have 33 peaks in the bag this trip will put me at 39 my goal before India was 35, I would be really pumped if we could can do this and appreciate you guys coming on this trip with me.

I am excited about this hike as I am all of them but this could be one of my last hikes before India although there is the potential to get up and blast Hale maybe Carrigan as well.

I am open to some feedback regarding the Moriah / Carter Traverse.

I also extended an invite to Spungie he told me to keep him in the loop when we have big hikes.


October 6/7 Mixed Bag

We're splitting up the weekend to attack different parts of the Whites and make them pay dearly for giving us two freak shows at Galehead Hut. tMail and the PM are hitting Hale and the Willey Range on Saturday. I'm undecided but may check out Mt. Wolf via the Gordon Pond trail outside of Lincoln.

[Update 10/7, 5am] Apparently St. Francis has arisen and is pounding out the miles on the Willey Range (pic at right, courtesy of the PM). It looks like the bird in question is a Whiskey Jack. I got close to one on Waumbek as well. See tMail's Picasa Slideshow for more details.

tMail's Trip Report: Great Day up in NH...all walks of life were seen today. We had leafpeppers, elderly, young, dogs and the walking cluless. Puppetmaster and I decide to have a nice easy day and hit TFW we threw out Hale for another day. I will send the pics... The count is 15 left...Puppetmaster mentioned he would be up for a Carter Range Traverse next Saturday....

[Update 10/7, 7pm] Ooh rah! I extended my hike from rte 112 (Kinsman Notch), all along the AT (Kinsman Ridge Trail) to tag South Kinsman and returned the same way (20 miles, 9:32). Now I've been on the entire trail from Kinsman Notch to the tram parking lot. The book refers to this section of the AT as rather rugged. No shit. It's got a section like Falling Water (but prettier); a section like Garfield Ridge (slow, rugged, ups and downs); a section like Tom Wiggin (stone, not loose); a section like nothing I've ever seen going up to the summit of South Kinsman - it's like the section between Willey and the AT - or going up the summit of Madison - this has lots of exposure. It's so steep and there's so much of it that a group of through-hikers stopped about 100 ft (vertically) short of the 'top' to have lunch - they were wiped. There are marshes, brooks, birds, cascades, pools, etc. The day started out in cold, windy rain. It evolved into cold breezy fog with dripping trees and finally ended in bright sun and blue sky. How fun is that! I'm trashed - am heading into the hot tub in a bit. Pics posted some other time.

And for the record: I had a 7:26 start, with only one other car in the lot. I only met two groups on the trail - it was
basically 9.5 hours of solo peak foliage hiking (lots of leaf litter on the ground). Finished at 4:59.)

MZ's Bad Moves:

  • hiking alone
  • not bringing a cell phone
  • starting in the cold rain
  • got to summit, took pics, had a snack, looked around, noticed that it didn't look familiar (been there twice), determined I was on southern false summit. found real summit 3 minutes up the trail.
  • decided that after my 3rd liter of water that it wasn't worth stopping to pump any more. i get trail hypnosis and make dumb decisions like that. i rationed my last liter but there was no need - there are plenty of water sources if you have a filter.
MZ's Good Moves:
  • wore my mid-weight leathers
  • brought my MSR pump filter - worth it's weight in gold. thanks tyler
  • used poles for 2/3 of hike - packed them for the big ascent/descent of Kinsman
  • gear du jour: gaiters. first gaiter hike of the 07/08 season.
  • wore northface light shell pants and ultra light capilene longsleeve patagonia top. never changed. i took my windbreaker off after the rain stopped and the capilene stayed kind of dry and i stayed warm enough. i love that top.
PM's Good Moves:
  • Hiking in the leaves with TMail and Big Boy
  • Getting an early start prior to the rain
  • Packing the spam sandwich
  • Giving the EMS Ridgeline pack a chance to live
  • Opting for leaving Hale out of the mix
  • Wearing Vasques over the GoLites

PM's Bad Moves:

  • Opting for Nalgene Bottles versus the camelback - I found myself swigging on occassion versus sipping constantly
  • Thinking that a pair of REI windblock briefs would create chafing equivalent to being in a knife fight with a midget
  • Hanging out with TMail (aka the "Panther Magnet")
  • Seeing the mass of humanity on the descent of the hike into Crawford Noth and then the Kanc... what a mess!


Galehead & The Twins

tMail the Tornado is at it again, smacking down one after another. Holy crap. His tentative plan for Sunday is to take the Gale River Trail up and the North Twin Trail down. I plan on bagging the Hot Pepper (Leaf Peeper Half Marathon) in favor of this trek, which I'm pretty sure will do less damage. This 12.x mile banger will knock 3 more of his list.

tMtT: name the start time and we'll work backwards for a meeting time and place. We'll drop a car off at the end of Haystack Road (where the North Twin Trail trailhead is) and save about 2.5 miles instead of backtracking from North Twin back to the River Loop Road.... unless you want to do a down-and-back.

[Update 9/29] tMail the Tornado has called it: 8:30 at the Haystack Road parking area where we'll leave a car and shuttle to the starting point on the Gale River Loop Road. It may be pretty chilly in the morning, so Yours Truly will be sporting a big pack with lots of insulation - possibly even a few rolls of R19 pink fiberglass insulation and a can of urethane foam.... oh yeh, and mittens. tMail has also made it official: this is to be a hike, not a run. I'm wearing my leathers to protect my first metatarsal.

[Update 9/30] What a terrific day. Newbie Westie joined tMail and me on the trek and a good time was had by all. Westie's apparent addiction to baseball was overrated - he's not addicted, he just lives it with every breath. The remaining parties to this adventure (The PM, Treadmill, Steph and the Winnipeg Jet) came and went like the fluffy little clouds in the bright blue sky. We met up with them at Galehead and again at the hut, but on South Twin I asked tMail where they were and he said "Mutha, I don't think they're coming." Bummer. We didn't even get a chance to say "goodbye" and we had assumed that the summit of South Twin was where we'd meet The Jet.

On another note, Galehead Hut strikes again, winning another point in its bid for Weirdo Magnet extraordinaire. Recall that on the Hut234 we encounted a pair of lunatic hut panthers. Not to be outdone, another hut freak showed up. This time in the form of a bearded serial killer, but one that suffered the same affliction: An inexperienced hiker who has no clue, but yet has a deeply planted opinion on everything. This time it was on poles ("My dad and his buddies use them - I don't get the point"), fashion ("Do you have the poles because they match your pack?") and footwear ("You shouldn't hike in sneakers"). As Westie pointed out, the problem wasn't that he was new, it was that he wasn't nice about it - how fucking weird is that? (Amber Alert: In the pic above, it's the guy on the left w/ the sunglasses).

tMail has posted his pics [Link] and I've posted mine and a selection of his as well [Link].

[Update 10/1] I created a time profile of the route (Elevation vs. Time). Summits were bagged at 120, 170 & 210 minutes into hike. We made the summit of South Twin only 30 minutes after leaving the hut.


Wonalancet, Hibbard, Passaconaway, Whiteface

Wow, what a beautiful blue sky. It was a terrific day to log a dozen miles or so in the Whites... or more if you don't see trail junctions. Wonalancet was nice - a lovely trail through the woods - and the switchbacks up Hibbard gave us a little variety and a reason to savor the cool, dry breezes above 2,500 ft.

Coming down from Passaconaway, tMail and I burned up the trail at a run and completely missed the junction to Whiteface. While the PM and Treadmill took the easy (ahem, "correct") route to Whiteface, tMail and I dropped almost 2,000 ft of elevation on the Dicey Mill trail and had to crank up the Tom Wiggin trail ("loose, steep and 'not recommended'"). This rarely used trail is also known as "The Fire Escape" due to it's rising over 1,450ft in 1.1 miles. Then we had to hump back to Whiteface up and over the ledges until we met up w/ the PM and TM on their way down. tMail and I tagged Whiteface and turned around asap. Jeezus that was some trail.

Photos coming soon.

Heard it on the mountain:
[On encountering the PM and TM on their way down from Whiteface - they think we went up and over Whiteface and are coming back to meet them]
MZ: We have to tag Whiteface
PM: Huh?
tM: We came up Tom Wiggin.
PM: No way!
MZ: We dropped down Dicey Mill - didn't see the trail junction so we came up Tom Wiggin.
PM: You're shitting me!
tM: No, we're not.
PM: You guys are idiots!



Tmail The Tornado is now cranked up to smack down what's left of his 48. Jeepers. The plan is to hit these two bad boys this coming weekend. What route? What day? What time? So many questions, so few answers. Stay tuned on this channel as the plans are fleshed out.

Interesting trivia note: The PM, g-$$$, Riley and I tagged them for g-$$$'s 48 on 9/9 one year ago - the weekend the 9/11 flags were going up. That same weekend, g-$$$ asked me for the first time how many of my 48 I had left. I admitted I'd never counted or considered tagging them. He asked me again a week later on the Willey Range hike and then finally on November 19th on our way to Mt. Cabot I told him I finally counted (I think it was 36) and I was bitten by the 'bug' and decided to hamma out the last of them - and having to repeat Jefferson & Adams (w/ the PM!) so I could do my 'all in one calendar year' thing.

To this day I blame g-$$$ for infecting me with that dreaded 48 summit virus. Luckily he wasn't urging me to jump off a high bridge w/ a bungee cord wrapped around me cobblers.

[Update 9/22] tMail the Tornado has selected the route, and it's a beauty: Counter-clockwise loop from the Ferncroft parking area, up Wonalancet and back via Blueberry Ledge. We're waiting for the final word from tT on meeting times. I'm shoveling gravel all day (3/4" granite) so I won't be doing any route planning/measuring - and soaking in a hot bath this evening.


And They Said It Couldn't Be Done!

We did it. Chart at right shows elevation as a function of time measured from 5:30am - our official start time at Lafayette Place Campground.

19.5 hours to Crawford Notch. We changed our route due to forecasted cold rain, unbearable pain & elevation gain. Pictures are online now [Link].

Highlights From Mad Dog:

  1. rethinking and doing your pack strategy 4mins before the train leaves the station.
  2. at the start, scratching our heads as to the trailhead from the campground.
  3. cannon sucks
  4. dont trust tmail around pancakes
  5. got a bad knee, take henry's advice.
  6. spearing food containers of canadian tourist, is not a crime against humanity.
  7. tmail revealed a previously held pet name, "booger man"
  8. do not engage in conversation with hut panthers
  9. south twin sucks
  10. AT chicks "don't need no stinkn maps"
  11. mutha is a narco spy
  12. cog
  13. grundels are not well worn jet engine parts
  14. the g-$$$ war whoop should be remixed into a dance track
  15. hut crews rock
  16. before traveling with this minstrel crew, always cut the meniscus and leave it behind....OOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!
  17. (from here forward - the list was lost to the aftermath of snake cairn at basecamp)
Highlights From tMail:
  1. MadDog is my hero
  2. MadPirate.......RRRRRRRRR.......RRRRRRRR.......RRRRRR
  3. Puppetmaster packed more food than I weigh
  4. Puppetmaster has built in night vision
  5. MZ knows every single turn, rock, root, stump in the Whites
  6. MZ works for the CIA, FBI and KGB
  7. Puppetmaster, MadDog, MZ and G-$$$ there is nobody better in the Whites!
  8. I saw the Old Man in the Mountain on Lafayette and Zealand Parking Lot
  9. Fuck my knees I can always get new ones
  10. Galehead Hut can suck my ass, I think that place was a mental institution
  11. Cannon can suck my ass, Garfield can suck my ass, South Twin can suck my ass, Zealand can suck my ass, and Guyot wherever that fucking thing is can....suck my ass
  12. We will be remembered by many in Zealand Hut
Highlights From The Puppet Master:
  1. Bringing so much gear and food that realistically I could have endured a good 30 day adventure, never mind 1.5 days!
  2. Almost having to bust out the North/South finder 2mins into the trek!
  3. The light on top of Cannon is equivalent to the Cog in my mind - fucking stupid.
  4. The hut queens, panthers, cotton swabs, yoga fags, and pancake thieves.
  5. BRAVO TWO ZERO... what the fuck would Andy do?
  6. Zucker and a woman in a cat suit, Tmail fending off the dog, and MadDog in a room of nakedness
  7. 81yrs old and still climbing AND the fact that Amy thought the pic was me in a mask!
  8. The Gimp (aka MadDog) showing us all what pain management is all about. You animal.
  9. G$ and his "lucky 7's", post-bike crash!
  10. Grundel burn - EMS boxer briefs are not meant to ever get damp... great design you a-rods.
  11. The trail allowing for the creative stringing of swear words such as "this trail is a goat fucking whore of a penis fold."
  12. Missing all the flags waving on the summits and being asked if we were "with Mats."
  13. The facial expressions after telling people our planned route!
  14. Zucker trying to comprehend the WMNF map at 12:30am... like asking him to translate Swahili but in Spanish.
  15. The "whimpers." Nightmares or grundel pain? We'll never know but what do you expect after hikng 28 miles?!
What I would have changed...
  1. G$ in attendance
  2. A pack with a backbone - that fucking droopy shit lump gave me back pain but was light!
  3. Light boots vs sneakers
  4. More carrots for everyone, no head lamps!
  5. A different set up for my shorts/briefs. Perhaps I'll just toughen things up by rubbing a cheese grater all over my nether-region prior to the next adventure.
  6. A larger appetite for the Red Fox - that place rocks!
  7. Pack design is in our future
I'm definitely feeling the post-adventure hangover. Work sucks balls and I can't help but think of the great adventures to come... Onwards and upwards you "MIMERS" (mountain, integrity, mind, endurance... courtesy of MuthaZ it was there all the time.)
Highlights From Mutha:
  1. The trail was steep and hot; sweat was dripping from our chins; steam rising from our bodies as we labored up the bent and broken trail. Such tortures as Danté envisioned for the punishment of souls of the damned, we endured. Such agony, as only Goya painted to reflect the victimization of the oppressed and the horrors of war, we endured. What was this place? How did we get here? Damn you, g-$$$ for casting us into this pit of despair. On the other hand, it was a really sweet hike.
  2. tMail will eat anything. Heard it on the mountain:
    . MD: tmail, you've got a big booger.
    . [tMail reaches up and picks it out]
    . PM: now *eat* it!
    . [tMail obliges]
    ALL: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!
  3. MD really is a fucking pirate. He goes 'Arrrgh! alot" If we ever needed to lower a guy into a snake pit to retrieve a pot of gold, while jets of flaming lava are spewing around, and eunuchs with sharp swords are guarding the booty: send in BRAVO MD NINER!
  4. The Puppet Master has a diesel engine with no "stop" setting and it doesn't lose torque on the ascents - even after 23 miles of pounding.
  5. tMail has been muged by four more of the 48: Garfield, South Twin, Guyot & Zealand. His response: "Is that all you got?"
  6. In terms of footing, elevation gain and the feeling at the end, the route we took was harder than the Presi Traverse.
  7. In good weather, the extra 20 miles wouldn't have been out of the question - although i've got afflictions galore that i didn't anticipate - including fucked up rashes on my shoulders where the straps rubbed my sweaty shirt into my skin.
  8. Leather boots have their purpose - and I think a good mid-weight boot would've been really appropriate.
  9. We know a lot about what we want out of backpacks.
  10. The Red Fox 'Jazz Breakfast Buffet' on sundays is worth the $8. Do it. Do it now.
  11. The ascent up South Twin is a good test both to see if you still remember how to breathe and if your heart still works. Failing either of those tests means you don't get to tag Guyot.
  12. It's fucking WILLEY, not WILEY for god's sake. WILEY was a fucking coyote.
  13. There are a lot of old guys, geared up, with determination and the spirit of fun doing solo stuff all over the trails. We ran into Mr. Titanium-Knee on Lafayette in the blowing fog (age 81) not 4 minutes after my anecdote about meeting Mr. Speedy Ascent (age 82) on the same trail. We met numerous guys aged 60-80, alone, w/ packs, on the Garfield Ridge trail, looking like they weren't stopping any time soon. I am inspired.
  14. What's up with chicks at the huts? It's like something in the water turns them into extreme forms of human life - in all different ways - some less tolerable than others. And this isn't just sexist claptrap. It was like the Huts spin a big pointer and it always ends up at: strange bird
  15. It's been a long time since I laughed so hard that I:
    * doubled over
    * nearly puked while gagging
    * had tears streaming out of my eyes