... And Bamforth Loses! Epic FAIL!

Bamforth did not disappoint (Pics HERE). Indeed, this trail in late winter is nothing less than arduous. 6.x miles in 6.x hours - what kind of pace is that? For those who have tried this ascent up Camel's Hump in the winter, it's a well known struggle. For those who have not yet had the pleasure, here are some of the features of today's trek:

  • It's over six miles to the summit of Camel's Hump from the trailhead, and well over 3000ft of elevation gain. The trail leaps up and down so frequently that there aren't any 'flat' spots. Every 100 yards is a challenge - except for the first mile, which is frequently hiked in the winter.
  • Nobody seems to try to hit the summit - or at least so few that there was no trace of anyone in the snow. There was no treadway under the snow and no evidence that anyone had ever passed that way. Ever.
  • The trail is on the lee side of the mountain and the woods were full of snow, in deep and rolling drifts. We were high in the treetops - certainly as high as 10ft at times.
  • The woods vary from open deciduous glades to dense alpine conifers. It's extraordinarily beautiful.
  • Oh yeh, and it's steep.
We descended via the Monroe Trail. More on that later.

[Update 3/1 after a good night's sleep]

Some of the difficulties of route finding on this trail are due to the tortured terrain. The photos I took don't show any of that. The route is filled with steep-walled, forested gullies and this time of year, massive drifts, slides and bulges of snow that deceive the eyes and the sense of direction.

We were fortunate in that we had bright sun, easily located most of the time. On some open knobs we were able to locate the summit relative to the sun and in the deep woods just kept on that bearing.

Also interesting was our 'Plan C' choice of descent route. MadDog was suffering from a wave of incoming chest-cold and by the time we came down from the summit to the little glade on the 'shoulder' of the Hump (about 3pm), knew we needed to reconsider the return plan. Heading back via the Long Trail would've meant coming out of the woods close to 9pm. I was already out of water and food, MadDog was getting sick, and the trail down is filled with so much elevation gain that we opted instead for descending the Monroe Trail - a mere 1:30 bang on a much trekked trail. Mrs. MadDog graciously picked us up and drove us back to our cars. Luckily the MadDogs live in the area and the entire rescue didn't take more than an hour.

I got home to find that Sue and Travis (home for winter break) had made pizza w/ fresh dough - still hot from the oven.


Bamforth Beckons

Once again, we're shooting for Camel's Hump via Bamforth. The trail that has thwarted us twice in the past is getting another chance. All signs point to FAIL. MadDog has the flu, the rain is pouring down and we're both going with heavy packs. Who's idea was this????


Franconia Ridge In The Mist

Thursday was an amazing day on Franconia Ridge. There was NOBODY there. Not a soul. Nobody in parking lot when I left, and nobody in the parking lot when I got back.

The drifts are kind of deep in spots but there's wind-crust in most places. Lots of snow.

There was no wind on the ascent or the descent. The ridge was a little breezy, but no face mask was required. Goggles were needed only because of the uniform glare. The flat light made it difficult to see drifts. It was not uncommon to plunge down a foot on the other side of a drift because there were no visible edges.

Pics are HERE.


Weekend of 2/21 - 2/22

We've got a winter storm watch in effect here in the north country for Wednesday night into Thursday evening. We won't have a good idea of storm totals, but it looks like the main problem may be a mix of rain and snow - which for me is just dandy. The crust in Danville is so beautiful that Spanky and I could xc-ski today anywhere on my skinny skis without even breaking through. But it's also not icy - is a great crunchy crust coating with light, blown snow, like skiing on, um, something firm, crunchy on top, that doesn't collapse w/ skis or snowshoes.

If this storm dumps on top, it'll move around on the summits but it's real excellent for (excluding MadDog's remaining 48):

  1. Lincoln's Backbone
  2. Long weighted pack trek into Zealand Notch (Thoreau Falls)
  3. Ski-Trek into Zealand Notch
  4. ...
The Katahdin trek departs Friday on the tail of a big snow - Good Luck to the hardy adventurers. Results of that trek will be posted as news arrives.

[Update 2/22] Wyoming Bob Brings 'em There And Back Again!
Pics From The Puppet Master HERE. Pics from tMail HERE.
PM's Trip Report:
Great weekend and adventure. Some high points:
  • 8 cars off the icy roads in Portsmouth
  • Meeting Bob's neigbor Keith while he was plowing, saying "Hi" and getting the Mainer "Uh-yuh" in response!
  • Spicy pasta and chicken
  • "Margaret, don't go that way" at 2am
  • The ride into Abol
  • Looking up Abol Slide and thinking "Yep, that's steep."
  • Looking in my pack at the ridge and realizing my extra warm layer was back at the camp (oops!), forcing me to stick with the same base layer all day!
  • Walking onto the ridge, checking the "N/S finder" for the E/W line
  • G$ eating up cairns like a pac man - to the summit and back
  • Walking "drunk" and feeling as though my pack was a dead monkey swinging on my back (thank you 50lbs and 20mph winds!)
  • The American flag
  • Wands good
  • On the descent, stopping to take in the break in the weather and watching the blue skies open above us... except over the ridge and summit!
  • The sunset through the trees
  • Getting passed on the ride out by snowmobilers going 70mph+
  • Chili, beer, sake, and cookies... mmmmmmm
Again, great time and thanks to Bob for the invite and hospitality. Look forward to the next adventure.

tMail's Trip Report:
  • Drive up to Millinocket (Longhorns, Maine High School Basketball, Methane)
  • Wildman’s Cabin
  • Chicken Pasta and Fra Divalo
  • The train coming into the station at 4am…walking out to the outhouse no head lamp, no toilet paper
  • The ride to Abol camp
  • Nascar Nate “EEEEEEEE Yeah”
  • Packing out the trail
  • Abol slide is one relentless son of a bitch
  • Poking my head on the ridge and see nothing
  • Planting wands along the way
  • G$$$ was like a bloodhound to the summit
  • Old Glory on the Summit
  • The 10 minute descent back to the slide
  • Completely loosing all feeling in both hands
  • LL Bean Chem warmers (note to self wear liners)
  • Screaming across the lake on snow machine and going through water…HUH?!?!
  • Chili, Sake, more Sake
  • Sunday around 2am getting up kneeling on side of bed…peeing in the piss bottle
  • Breakfast…..Chili again!
  • La Casa De Fiesta. Address: Rte. 157, P.O. Box 699, Millinocket, ME
Wildman thanks for the invite….if you build it they will come….great times and good fun!!! PM thanks for the ride and the pizza Thursday night!!!

Valentine's Day Weekend

The year of the ox was given a celebration that make it seem more like the year of the pig.

Bataan beckons, but we're getting a ton of rain and if this chills up it will make for great playing in Tuckerman and/or neighboring ravines. There's so much fun to be had I can't decide. Pack in to Thoreau Falls to watch the surging water crash and boil, or play on steep terrain...? Decisions, decisions...

[Update 2/12] Well, it looks like we're going our own ways again this weekend. I'm going skiing w/ a group from school on Sunday and staying close to home on Saturday. The PM is heading to Vermont for a family weekend, MadDog is NOT driving to New Hampshire and g-$$$ is keeping the love fires burning. Next weekend, let's anticipate an epic adventure (if I recover from the flu, from which I am currently suffering).

[Update 2/17]

tMail's Trip Report:

6 hour day 30 minutes of it praying for sky to open up never did. I tagged Pierce...Eisenhower is another story the winds from yesterday destroyed trails. I couldn't make heads tails anything. There was so much friggen snow, snow bridges 4 feet high. I was standing over the Pearce Cairn.

Anyway the somber news is when I was hiking this morning heard helicopters and saw search rescue combing the place. They asked me for conditions above I said pea soup. Couple from Montreal story is trying do a Presi missing since Thursday is what they said. I decided hit Jacksom as well ran into more S and R they said they may have found them in the Dry River Wilderness. Makes sense if they wanted get out of hurricane force winds out of Northwest.

The sound of helicopter all day at least 5+ hours made it very mellow.

Here are the 8 pictures I took all day...i stayed pretty much on the move all day...two things i did:

1. Set the timer on my watch ever 45 minutes to drink and snack2. Stopped for 30 minutes to test my Montbell Down jacket about 100 feet below treeline

Check out the picture I took of the Pierce summit Cairn I was standing over it and almost didn't even see it...the winds from Saturday contributed to massive amounts of snowloading in spots... http://picasaweb.google.com/TimFinocchio/PierceJackson#

Now check out the real size of it in [the pic at right]. I was thinking of Eisenhower but I couldn't make heads or tails of anything...I was alone so I did the safe thing. I heard a couple people back in the parking lot talking about how they turned around couldn't identify the trail. That was my third strike on Eisenhower 1. Lighting2. Froze to death3. No Trail

Weekend of March 21/22

As the weekend approaches it's time to start planning yet again. I lost momentum after BB09 and am determined to get it back. tMails valiant effort to hit Eisenhower was motivating and still lurking in the wings are the following destinations (aside from MadDog's remaining summits):

  1. Lincoln's Backbone Bushwack
  2. Ravines on the BB (maybe later in the spring)
  3. A weighted backpack trek to Thoreau Falls (and back again)
  4. ...


Feb 7/8 - or 14/15

Off we go. What's next on our list.

  • We've got MadDog's remaining summits, but he's started the new job in NH so we'll have to wait to hear how that's going.
  • We've got a pre-Bataan heavy load slog (to Thoreau Falls and out again - either one or two-car)
  • Lincoln's Backbone beckons
  • ...???

[Update 2/3/09] Whoops, thanks tMail for pointing out that Feb 7, 2009 is the annual celebration of the chinese new year. We may have to change this by a week.


Bad Boy 2009

Oh yeh! Everyone hit the summit and there were no injuries. The weather was gorgeous, conditions were pretty tame and a great time was had by all. A note on conditions: the summit was enshrouded with blowing snow and temps were hoving around the -5F mark (winds rising from the 20s to the high 40s by the time we left). By midnight last night, long after we were off the mountain, temps had dropped to -15F and winds around 90mph, gusting close to 100. We enjoyed the company of 'newbie' Al, who we expect to see more of.

But let's get right to business. If you post a trip report in the comments I'll copy it to this main page, as usual. Until my computer is repaired I won't be posting pictures, but I'll post links to everyone's picture galleries. And now the trip reports:

The Puppet Master's Report:
Great day out. 15-0... incredible that we all got up and down considering the visibility issues!

  1. Roland made a man puke with a fart. McLovin... is that one name?!
  2. Ray G almost killed a man this weekend with his farts and would given Roland a run for his money!
  3. "Bro, old buddy boy" is looking and acting more and more like a mountain man. Careful what you throw away (those weren't hops!)
  4. McGowan and Alan - the two ligthning triathletes. Where did they shoot off to, a swim meet or something?!
  5. Johnny B... thank God for those size 15 wheels breaking trail during the day and the J-Dizzle persona surfacing at night! Love the Johhny B jabs, jokes and sarcasm!
  6. Rainbow... We almost sent him to Lake of the Clouds to barehand catch a trout for the summit!
  7. Spungie... redeems himself with the return of the cairn rocks to the mountain. Thanks for sending me down the snowfield first, into the jaws of the hell tiger!
  8. Chip (aka Norwegian Cowboy or Indiana Sven)... great persistence at your own pace. The crotch will never beat you, especially with that sweater and hat.
  9. Lil Richie... size doesn't matter, no matter what the cougars say. Keep rocking the "vesticle."
  10. MuthaZ... Yes, my mother-in-law and father-in-law are married. Quit trying those Jedi mind tricks on me!
  11. TMail... Two beers and a "facebook hookup". You are working for the trophy!
  12. MadDog... I am not NACHO TACO, I am Nacho Nacho!
  13. G$... the confident climber. Good ups and good downs. Must be the North/South finder?!
Finally, thanks to all for the BB nomination. I'm treating the award like the Stanley Cup - bringing it to the local restaurants for picture taking, filling it with beer and drinking out of it (don't ask how), eating spaghetti off it, etc.

And thanks for the open ears and understanding regarding my buddy Kermit (and why the Old Man was a no show this year.) I am not the most eloquent man, especially after a few cocktails, but hopefully I was able to convey that Kermit lived life with a mountain of spirit. I was looking forward to this weekend to reflect on his passing and be around great people who carry the same type of big spirit.

Let the planning begin for 2010 - The Year of The Coug.

Pics posted HERE
Mad Dog's Report:
well put PM, well put. Just a couple more sights, sounds, and experiences to add:

  1. my amazement (or maybe not) at the possibility that we had lost 1 of the 15 before we ever put a foot down on the trail.
  2. while i thoroughly enjoy everyone's trail company, i had some quiet time on the way up - and it really was special. no people, just wind, snow, trees and the sound of snowshoes.
  3. following behind PM on the ascent of Heather's is surreal. watching him bounding up as if we were on the flats.
  4. the first time seeing wildlife above treeline and having it be a red fox the size of a 70lb dog cross the trail and duck into Tuckermans.
  5. johnny b., being scolded for bladder relief on the ranger's front lawn.
  6. watching the slingshot twins (tmail and mutha) leapfrog like we were standing still. shake and bake!
  7. roland - thank you for all the logistics work. it's a function that should be rotated year to year so we all get to experience the joys :-)
  8. mama and papa tmail - thanks for preparing and delivering some tasty calories to da hood (it was the real thing), and the tops.
  9. does Marvel Comics know that spiderman had a weekend furlough? and did you ever notice that he and mutha have never been seen in the same place at the same time.
  10. bob - thanks for the 29GB gift...so what exactly am i to do with it?
Wyoming Bob's Report:
Once again an excellant time on the mountain. Thanks to those who broke the trail on the way up and kept us pretty much on course. As the conditions got worse we tighten into two groups and made a safe decent, some on trail some blazing a new.

T-Mail - I used 3 googles, 2 hats, 1 facemask etc....

Congratulations to the newest earner of the Bad Boy trophy, well done and well deserved!

Here are the pictures, there are also a few from the pre hike in another album, you're all clever you'll find them!
tMail's Report:
  1. We killed 3/4 of the ozone layer in Jackson with the Methane produced.
  2. Bunk bed antics are good pre, midnight and post sleep.
  3. Can't wait to see Johnny B after marriage he will probably be packing a glock.
  4. Ro Ro keep the movies coming...great job on the house...t-shirt of the year McLovin.
  5. Ray = gas mask
  6. Buddy Boy...Bro...what can be said we gave him insulin on Lions Head and he made Summit
  7. Rainbow cool calm and collective.
  8. Spungie inspires us all...working on a newbie for 2010 with requirements of new gear 1 year age or less priced over $1000.00
  9. Chip you are the steal horse we all ride.
  10. Team McGowan there in and there out...POW POW
  11. MD thanks for the midnight symphony
  12. Lil Richie and the Brazilian the spider man dismounts from the top bunk with hunt me for life.
  13. Mutha's famous words "we will find him in the spring time during the thaw"
  14. G-$$$ new ride, pimped out, and in love with cat crap
  15. PM...what can be said 2009 Bad Boy Recipent!!!
  16. We got kicked out of a bar before getting out of the car.
  17. 16 guys in black tights Saturday morning...doesn't get any better for the eyes
  18. Have 16 guys summit and safely return
  19. To all of you thanks for a great weekend when I look back on the year and forward to the next this weekend is always tops on the list...here is to many more Bad Boy Weekends to come...its more than a climb its about family...
Mutha's Report:
  • Heather's was so filled in with snow that there was no real challenging scramble on the Lion's Head winter route ascent. In fact several of us barebooted the descent, and a few did the glissade w/ crampons on.
  • After much discussion w/ tMail over the last year or two, my clothing has gotten quite reduced on the ascents. Just a thin Ibex base-layer w/ a wicking T-shirt on top and my winter shell.
  • I underestimated the wind on my face and for some reason was showing a nice big white patch. I was in the process of pointing out the same thing to Chip when the PM saw it on me. We'll see how it evolves.
  • Chip, Part I: Chip hurls his chem warmers on Lion's Head and I launch into something that sounds like "You @#$%, I can't believe you trash this beautiful place. How'd you like it if I took a s**t on your car, you @#$%^@#$!!".
  • Chip, Part II: As I'm yelling at Chip, MadDog says quietyly "mutha..." and holds up his hands to suggest "uh, okay, you made your point." Now that's what I call fun.
  • Blouin steps out of the alcove to take a summit piss and observatory employee Diane comes out and berates him for pissing on her front porch.
  • tMail and I lead the Gang of Five onto the Eastern Snowfields (even though I can't stop calling them the Western Snowfields). MadDog falls 1,000ft into hell and Chaos ensues. Click on the picture at right to see what I think was the route we took, eventually backtracking and joining the others (red trail on picture).
  • Higgins ignores all warnings and takes the low road around an outcrop instead of sticking with the group. tMail and I watch his head moving (his body is hidden by rocks). His head suddenly drops down out of sight and we hear the Higgins War Whoop: "Yahhhh, Arrrhhhhh...".
  • Maddog, falling asleep, refers to the PM as "taco nacho".

[Additional Trip Reports As They Arrive]: