None of the above (or below). tMail and I are hitting Chocorua from the Piper Trail, hoping to loop over the summit and the Three Sisters, going up the Hammond Trail (from Piper) and down the Carter Ledge trail.

[Update] We'll probably be doing it in the reverse.

Mutha's Trip Report (Pics Here, Video Here):
  • tMail banged the untrodden trail the entire way. Once we left Piper, we were able to follow the actual trail for the most part, with some minor bushwacks. The last bushwack off the Left Sister was kind of harrowing Elev Vs. Time Plot
    because the view from up there was DOWN into a nearly vertical notch over 150' below. It dawned on us that we might not make it back by dark, however the plunge into the thick of it turned out to be only about 15 minutes until we found the trail again.
  • In the Book, the ascent of the Three Sisters carries the warning that in wet or slippery conditions this route is to be avoided. No kidding. We were both missing a few key pieces of gear: gaiters, crampons, axes, helicopter, ladder, flamethrower and pack-mule. On the other hand, the bareboot thing was hysterically fun and sketchy enough to suggest danger.
  • g-$ claimed that his two first attempts to summit this sucka were foiled by conditions. No crap. This mountain in completely unassailable except in Photo Credit: tMail
    exceptional conditions.
  • It took us 3:45 to ascend to summit, and 1:15 to descend to car. On the way down we surprised two snowshoers. We figured they'd hear us (mutha: "we sounded like a herd of elephants", tmail: "we sounded like a herd of angry rhinos"). They didn't. One lady almost fell over from shock. I felt pretty bad because of the horrified look on her face, but we were gone by the time I stopped laughing.
  • All the summits over 4k were totally socked in. We had bluebird skies the whole day.

tMail's Trip Report (Pics Here):

The Gear I had:

1. 3 Hats
2. 1 Pair Heavy Gloves, Liner Gloves, Shell Mittens, OR Mittens
3. Smart Wool
4. Dufold Mid Weight baselayer
5. North Face Cipher
6. Mountain Hardwear Windstopper Vest Photo Credit: Mutha

7. 2 Headlamps
8. Med Kit
9. Bivy Sac
10. Food and 2 Liters
11. A random pair of Injinji socks that must have been stuck to my smartwool
12. My wallet so I could pay for my mountain rescue.

Gear I should have had:

1. Ice Ax 2 of them
2. Crampons
3. Gaiters
4. Plastic Boots
5. Soft Shell Pants

Chocorua is a cool mountain it was pretty gnarly going up via the Sisters there was one time MZ went left I went right and was on snow covered rock slab...MZ said Tmail, "If you fall just yell something" I called his name to test if he would hear me no shot I would have slide to 302.

Off Middle Sister no clue everything seemed like a drop off up there. Once on the ridge to summit either side is a straight drop off to the death.

And file this under technique 137 going up ice next to tree shrubs...get on all fours and get as close to the tree as possible head ram the lowest branch until it breaks off slide on stomach until you can use the tree to push off with your feet.

It was nice to blast down the Piper Trail.

Saturday, 11/29

IT STARTS: tMail started the chatter. it's already Friday and while we've tossed around the idea of going on a hike tomorrow we have yet to enumerate any options. g-$$$ suggested Sunday might be better for him, I think MadDog said he can't do either day, the PM had mentioned a bum knee, and now that I finished my 96 I'm pretty much up for absolutely anything, either day with no obvious preferences. So right now things are kind of floating in the air.

WEATHER: Here's what I know weatherwise: Today in the north-country we're getting a weird little instability that should dump a few inches everywhere. My neighbor's been grooming the x-c trails around here to lay down a firm base (which firmed up nicely with the recent rain and warm weather - promises to be a great xc season) so the added snow means i'm getting out on my skis next week. But that should be done by morning, leaving Saturday with remnants like light blowing snow and clouded summits. Sunday is likely to be the sunnier day if you're looking for a tan, but we have a serious weather system coming in on Sunday night:

It seems unlikely that this would make the drive home from a Sunday adventure hazardous since the expected start time is closer to midnight than noon.

CONDITIONS: So what can we do? Franconia Ridge? F**k that. tMail and the PM were just out on Franconia Ridge last week and as unbelievably cool as it always is I kind of think of that as the hike of last resort. Adams? No way man. I'll do Owl's Head before that slag-heap. So what can we dream up? Well, let's consider the conditions:
  • light snow cover at lower elevations that's gone through some rain/freeze/thaw cycles - not enough to cover the rocks.
  • similar at high elevations, but more snow - although not quite snowshoe worthy and probably not crampon-ready above treeline.
  • temps seems likely to be in the teens with lusty air-blowage above 5,000ft but just lightly breezy below that.
  • with no liquid precip in the forecast, we will be limited to personal moisture control, but with 10lbs of thanksgiving in our bellies, do we really want to race over hill and dale?
ROUTE IDEAS: I'm open to suggestions - certainly anthing that offers a unique perspective on life and the outdoors. Throw out ideas in the comments and I'll post them here. Whatever we don't do we'll keep on file for later - although once MadDog is back on the trail we may end up focussing on the last of his 48.
  • Huntington Ravine (bring crampons and ice axe)
  • Something in the Carters? Well, tMail & the PM are planning something in two weeks.
  • Up Ridge of the Caps, over Jefferson, down 6 husbands, turn around in the Great Gulf and climb up the Sphinx Trail and back to the cars.... or is that what you guys did last summer?
  • Sandwich Dome?
  • xc ski lesson for tMail in Jackson w/ dinner at the fox?



Each day I wake up and perform a little ritual in my mind. Tonight, in anticipation of a great day tomorrow, I want to put some of it in writing and add to it an annual ritual. It's a little list of things for which I'm thankful:

  • I thank the sun in the east for rising to find that once again, by some miracle, I am not dead.
  • I thank my house for shelter.
  • I thank my dogs, cats, chickens, horses and chuck the rabbit for filling my life with the peculiar camaraderie that pets bestow, and the worms for shredding my compost, and the spiders for keeping my world so clean and the birds and bugs and frogs and bees for being such good stewards of the land.
  • I thank the spirits of the earth for giving us the mountains and the water, and the spirits of the air for the wind and weather.
  • I thank my mother and my father for not selling me into slavery or cutting my throat or selling me for cash or whatever they could have done rather than raise me.
  • I thank Garvin, Steve, Tim and Nate, whose stalwart friendship, character, vigor, and love of life and adventure, and in whom I'd trust my life, inspires and amazes me every day.
  • I thank my wife Susan for sharing these things with me and giving me her constant companionship and the gifts of love.


Upcoming Events

tMail and the PM had a spectacular-looking day on Monday. I was a little jealous. But the current forecast for 2000ft and above is for wet snow and high winds for the next several days. This could lay down a significant base for future snow and provide an excellent base for crampons. Whatever goes down over the remainder of Thanksgiving week will be a little snowy. For the last week in November and then for December we're looking at some excellent conditions.


Osceolas & Tecumseh: Plan E

96. Done. Starting on 144.

I got a late start (8:30am) so decided on the following strategy: If I could tag the Osceolas from the Greely Ponds side from the Kanc and get back to the car by 1pm I'd drive down to Waterville Valley and hit Tecumseh. I got back to the car around 1:30 and guessed I could still make twilight. I didn't know how long it would take to get to Tecumseh, but spread all my clothes out in the car and blasted the heat to have dry tops and shell. That worked well.

I hit Tecumseh around 2:15 and was back at the car around 4:30, just at the end of twilight.


  • I didn't bring traction or gaiters. Good choice, although the going was a little slow at times due to all the cascades on the Osceola Trail being frozen solid.
  • A long day out at about 0-5° takes its toll. The rapid transitions from hot/sweaty to cold/chilly are tiring.
  • Gear Note: need to find alternative to Precip shell... something that breathes.
  • Lost a pair of mitten shells w/ liners somewhere... not sure... think at Greely Ponds trailhead during change of gear before heading to Tecumseh.
  • Winds weren't bad - but things were howling in the woods. I've never had such high winds so far below treeline (at least 1,000ft). I think it's the geography of the area. It was pretty intimidating to think that it was only going to escalate at the summit. As it turned out, I never put on goggles and only had to wear my facemask on the East summit to avoid frostbite on my north-facing cheek.
  • Food Note: Osceolas: 1/2L of water, 1 sardine sandwich, 1 bottle boost. In car to Waterville Valley: 1/2L of water, 1 peanut butter sandwich, 1 handful of trail mix. On Tecumseh: 1L of water. On ride home: 3L of liquid, including 1L of chocolate milk, 1 Large coffee w/ milk, 24oz of Sobe peach mango something. Close to 3000 calories of stuff I don't even want to talk about. Basically, high fat, high salt, high carb, high protein, etc. At home: bowl of miso soup w/ noodles (thanks Sue), 1/2 salmon steak w/ capers and lemon, 5 chocolate chip pecan cookies, large piece of candied ginger.
  • Almost nobody was out. Saw nobody on Osceolas, one couple on Tecumseh.
Pics are posted [Here].


Osceolas & Tecumseh w/out Spotting A Car

It's not that hard and it's barely 13 miles. It requires travel by car about 3 miles between hikes on the Tripoli Rd (closed in winter) but basically:

Route Plan: Drive to Waterville Valley and park at the Mt. Osceola Trail Trailhead in Thornton Gap on the Tripoli Road. Hit Osceola and East Osceola from the southeeast and return to car (8.4mi total). Drive back down to Waterville Valley and hit Tecumseh (4.4 mi total). Total miles = 12.8

Alternate Plan w/out driving - adds 2 miles of road walking, eliminates driving: Park at the Mount Tecumseh Trailhead on Tripoli Rd. in Thornton Gap, about 1mi west of the Mt. Osceola Trailhead. Hit the Osceolas, return via foot, walk by car and hit Tecumseh. Return to car. Total miles = 16.6. (Note that parking at the Tecumseh trailhead makes sense because its downhill from the Osceola trail to Tecumseh trail.
If you're wondering why in the second scenario you don't just drive between the trailheads, I don't know ... it just seemed like we should hoof it. We'd save 2 miles if we drove between trailheads.

[Update 11/22] Okay, this is looking a little menacing. Record-breaking cold, winds on Mt. Washington forecasted to peak around 120mph, snowshowers, whiteout, wind-chill advisories, frostbite alerts, etc. Crap, am I really ready for this?

In the clouds w/ snow showers. Blowing snow. Wind chills 40-50 below.
Highs: around 5 below°F
Wind: NW shifting W 75-95 mph decreasing to 60-80 mph w/ higher gusts

For those of you on record watch, our daily record lows to beat are 11 below today and 13 below for tomorrow. Forecast models put us at or below these two temperatures so it looks as though one or two records could be broken or tied over the forecast period. As for winds, the record gust for the month is 163 mph. I do not see us breaking this with the current set up but a peak close to 120 mph seems likely based on past set ups I have seen like this.


Madison Gear Test: Success

We took the magnificent Howker Ridge trail up to what turned out to be very mild conditions on Madison. Things were a little wet and windy but we were all dressed for it and to be honest it seemed like almost a 'nothing' of a hike. Of course 20° colder and we would've been challeged. And now for some trip reports as they trickle in from our correspondents in the field (note to readers: I have edited out a string of expletives from tMail that referenced the thugs who stole MadDog's lunch money and what he thought should happen to them. I don't normally do this, but reading tMail's wrath made my nose bleed and I thought it best to look out for the team).

The reports:

Mutha's Report:
There's a redneck element in Randolph, NH that so surpasses the normal concept of 'redneck' that it makes me appreciate just who McCain and Palin were pandering to. This guy really, truly, actually believes that Obama is going to make us all wear turbans. Literally.

The PM delivered: a new great phrase ("putting on the feathers") and a great new joke ("What's the difference between ... [edited for brevity]... retarded").

tMail lead the charge and reminisced with me on Madison about this.

g-$$$ issued not a single war-whoop. Safety first!

MadDog did his 'yellow comet' routine and disappeared into the mist and driving rain down the Durand ridge. I thought the yellow shading on the map indicated 'above treeline' but actually it's supersonic maddog trails.

Dorigan: good to have him with us. The guy's wheels can churn. My feeling is he'll be moving to the north country within two years. Chickens and bunnies. Good for the soul.

A personal note about me and MadDog: We be an retarded. On the way to Randolph we noted we needed gas. We forgot to get gas. On the way home, we thought that in addition to having his money stolen, the thugs stole his gas. We got gas. Then we forgot we got gas, and thought we should get gas - except the gauge showed we magically had lots of it! The thugs must've stolen the money and bought gas! Then we had dinner at The Miss Lyndonville Diner. I ordered a hot chocolate, which was lukewarm. Sent it back to be reheated. MadDog ordered a hot chocolate, same deal. The thugs must've stolen our heat! Those fuckers.

tMail's Report:
Picked up Dorigan and PM at 5.30am picked up G$$$ around 5.50am. Arrived at the gas station passed the intersection with 302 and 3 and was told about 100 times by the owner "its gonna rain" "its gonna rain" "its comming" "you boys gonna get wet". [Link To tMail's Pics]

  1. Helly Hansen beanie hat awesome hat dried instantly.
  2. Pack cover did the job as well as dry bags.
  3. Only thing that stayed dry...feet...Boots rocked as did darn tough wool socks.
  4. If temperatures dropped we would have been icicles. Photo Credit: tMail
  5. Madison you piece of rock rubble piece of Shit.
  6. Adams save you for another day.
  7. To the guy with the Rifle 6 people 2 of which are 7 feet tall can't fit in 1 car.
  8. Gordon Allen / Allen Gordon which is it....the army can't call you G. Allen why not?
  9. When he said he "has lots of black friends" did he mean black bears?
  10. Any piece of Candy in Lowes store was from the Great Depression
  11. To the pieces of shit that smashed MDs window I will give you $500.00 dollars if you state your name or names on this blog and state the color of the car.
  12. We pumped some black gold in Hookset at $1.99
  13. Great day...get the dates posted for a Winter Traverse...

MadDog's Report:
  1. It was nice to see the gang together and have those familiar experiences for all the senses: smells like garlic moose pepperoni, sounds of people slipping and yelping, and sights like $6.2m in technical apparel.
  2. Great to meet Jeff. Hope we see him again and that Tmail gets a decent bonus this year (Tmail made me say that).
  3. Note to self, if you see a guy in a lineman's weather outfit, and his name is Will “heShootOrNot” Marsden, don't look like you Photo Credit: tMail
    just broke into the vehicle you're standing next to.
  4. Randolph douche bags can kiss my gl-ASS.
  5. It's always an adventure (and entertaining) to do the ride with Mutha to get to the trail head. But sort of impossible to make it on time.
  6. It was a perfectly sized day and hike – distance and time. Kudos to the chief planning commission for today's route selection.
  7. Learning #41 – Morton's fisherman gear does not cross-over (comfortably and not without moisture management issues) into hiking applications. It was like being in a Finnish sauna. Hey, what's wrong with that???
The PM's Report:
A good day to test gear - warm, wet, and windy. Photo Credit: The PM

Les m├ęchants douche pics are posted [Link To PM's Pics]

The douche bags who busted into MadDog's car are... douche bags. They deserve to have their windows smashed in.

It was also great to see ignorance has no bounds or reservation. Having a perfect stranger tell us what "CHANGE" means or that we'll all be wearing turbans soon was certainly a very special end to a special day.

g-$$$'s Report:
For once the weatherman was right...

Hey great time today and it was certainly awesome to reunite the crew
and get to meet and share stories with Jeff. For one thing, I have a
whole lot of reading to catch up on. And I'm going to owe a lot of Photo Credit: The PM

beers/gatorade for leaving half of my gear in tmail's car tonight.

Mad Dog, man tough break with the widow and the swiped pesos. One
thing that came up in our car was that there have been stories of
folks who have their cars broken into but nothing damaged or overtly
taken except a single credit card or the CC numbers copied. One card
missing is not likely to cause someone to immediately think they were
vandalized except in your case the window was smashed but they "could"
have written down your card numbers. So if so inclined, you can speak
with your card companies to either put an alert on the card or ask for
a reissue if you really want to CYA.

Dorigan's Report:
[Link To Dorigan's Pics]
  1. A big thanks to the crew for letting me tag-along. Good group of guys and a good day for getting out there.
  2. It was unseasonably warm and wet in the Whites, which proved to be a gear test largely in the comfort department. The Howker Ridge trail proved to be a nice route up the backside of Madison. A team representative left a dna-marked Cairn as evidence of the successful ascent -- watch your step in the spring...
  3. Note: Next time a new guys comes, wear nametags -- it's hard enough to remember 5 new names, but the nicknames made it 15... I think I called someone "mad mutha puppet...??"
  4. Please send this to Alan Gordon or the guy who pointed his rifle at me. If they can read, perhaps this will help allay their fears: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/25/rednecks-for-obama/
Dorigan's Big Wheel Gear Report:
  1. + Arcteryx Soft-shell pants and jacket: a good choice for the ascent -- great breathability and moisture management. Even in a steady drizzle with high winds, I never overheated, felt soaked, or became chilled during breaks.
  2. + Virgin Arcteryx shell & Moonstone PacLite Goretex pants: bombproof on the descent, though I should have gone with lighter weight long-underwear tops and bottoms.
  3. + Good choice to bring complete change of clothes for rainy day hike (socks included).
  4. - Arcteryx t-shirt instantly retired to be my new car washing shammy. Worst shirt ever.
  5. - New Icebreaker hat merino wool hat: stayed warm when wet, but turned into Dumb-Donald from Fat Albert's hat (see:


Next up: Dorigan, Jeffrey and the wild rainy ride

The forecast for Saturday looks pretty damned wet. Typical November. Whatever Dorigan, Jeffrey has in mind, we better bring a boat. Count me in.

In the meantime, Danville has an inch or two of the white stuff on the ground and tonight it should drop below 20deg. Spanky and I went for a moonlight run last night in the new-fallen snow, cold, crisp air and bright moon and black shadows. I recommend it.

[Update 11/13] It looks like the rain is going to HAMMER us on Saturday. I may wear my mountaineering boots just to keep the weather out. Additional gear: balaclava - a light one (or a light face mask to keep the freezing rain off my nose/face.

[Update 11/14] We're in for the great dramatic outing of 2008. This looks like we'll be referring to it with a long series of nicknames, like:

  • The Time Madison Tried to Kill Us ... AGAIN!
  • The Great Soak
  • The Time We Lost That Guy Jeff What's-His-Name
  • Q. Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road? A. Because it was better than being CRUSHED, KILLED & DESTROYED in the Northern Presi's.
  • Hey, is that an island in middle of Lake Adams?
  • Woah, fish at the hut?
  • I have gills.
  • I'm cold.
  • This isn't fun.
  • I'll fucking wade through it. Who the fuck cares. This is really lame. I'm cold and wet. Shut UP Keith!!!!
  • My balls are peeling


Saturday or Sunday 11/8 or 11/9

I'm still reeling from Obama's win. At 11pm last night, Spanky and I danced in the streets of Danville. We believed that once Obama won, there would be dog-food everywhere ... and THERE WAS! ... Dancing in the street...Just us, but dancing nonetheless.

Saturday looks very rainy, Sunday looks a little better - the next day or two will tell. Here's what we know:

MadDog: probably out of commission on both days, probably drunk as a skunk
tMail: always up for a good time. also may do something with friend w/ sore legs
PM: suggested a VT trek
g-$$$: is free Sunday
mutha: wants Osceolas and Tecumseh in 2008. Aside from that, it doesn't matter.

[Update 11/7, 7:15pm] It's highly unlikely that anything big is going to happen up here. It's looking like two days of rainy weather all over Vermont and New Hampshire. Maybe I'll get some laundry done.