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!