Webster & Jackson The Hard Way

Mutha's Trip Report (Pics Here):  Man, what an epic day out.  Rather than the standard trip report I'll merely go through my day:
  • Got up at 4:30am.  Made breakfast, consisting of a pot of Bob's Red Mill 10-Grain hot cereal made with water with a whole banana blended in it, two tablespoons of peanut butter and 1/4 cup of maple syrup (Goodrich Farm in Marshfield).
  • Sharpened crampons of mountaineering snowshoes.
  • Packed food, including two bagels (Bagel #1:  peanut butter & marmalade made by my brother Matt;  Bagel #1:  Nutella & marmalade).  To keep the stuff from leaking out of the hole in the bagel, used thin sliced of bagel to make a cover for the holes.  Works great.
  • Forecast called for clear skies, summits in the high teens/low 20's.
  • Drove in sleet/freezing rain.  tMail and I met at the AMC Lodge in Crawford Notch.  One of my Tubbs snowshoes busted (the binding) but I improvised a repair w/ some nylon straps.
  • We hit the trail at 9am.  The Webster-Jackson Trail was completely packed out to start.  There had probably been 6 or so snowshoers on it since the big snow and it was packed down between 2 and 3 feet below the top of the snow.  It was real easy going until the junction of the Jackson Branch and the Webster Branch.  The former (heading to the Jackson Summit) was also completely packed out.  The latter (heading to Mt. Webster) hadn't had a foot on it since the snow started falling.  It was completely intimidating.  We took it.
  • The Webster Branch was a brute.  We took turns breaking trail and soon lost the trail completely.  We spent 4 hours working our way through alpine forest of fir that grew ever closer together, fully laden with snow, on 3-6ft of powder.  That 4 hours covered the entire trek up the Webster Branch Trail/Bushwack.  We wrestled our way through spruce traps, over submerged windthrows and into drifts that could swallow a car.  I kept referring to my 'North-South Finder' to keep us on a steady bearing of magnetic south which we knew would get us to the ridge.  We set 1:00 pm as the point at which failure to hit the ridge would require a turnaround and descend.
  • We had a number of challenges in addition to the obvious.  For one, the huge snow bombs falling off the trees were potentially hazardous and required attention and hoods.  Also, the cold weather light clothing conspired with the slow, arduous pace to make moisture management nearly unmanageable.  Additionally, stops were accompanied by a nearly immediate losing of the fingers.  And lastly, the swimming through the snow, the tedious pace, and the ever narrowing spaces between trees were highly psychologically wearing.  (On comment made during the roughest parts was "this would NOT be a good place for somebody with claustrophobia").
  • At 1-something-pm we re-found the Webster Branch Trail (that we has started on.)  By 1:50 we were on the ridge at the Junction with the Webster Cliff Trail.  This trail, which we intended to take to Jackson, was also not packed out and was looking quite challenging.  We decided to head back down, taking the newly found Webster Branch trail back.  The trail breaking, even though it's a steep downhill, was arduous and we had to take turns.
  • At 2:45 we got to the trail junction again for the Webster & Jackson Branch trails having descended about 1,000ft.  We snacked, drank a little water, and decided to make it a big day out.  We made a right and headed up the Jackson Branch Trail to climb the 1300' (-ish) up to the summit.  Tagged it at 3:45, turned right around and were back at the car by 5pm.
Some final notes:
  • Poles were almost useless.  If I put my weight on the pole it would shove down until my arm was in the snow.
  • Taking turns breaking trail is really key.  As in cycling, regular turns prior to damaging fatigue is the best idea.
  • A hood is necessary.
  • These bushwacks are not for the faint-of-heart, but are great practice for being held captive, tortured or being forced to stack stones for a month while handcuffed and wearing cement overshoes.
tMail's Trip Report:  Where there is failure there is success.

  • Webster Cliff Trail first step down to my waist!
  • Webster Cliff Trail 2nd step down to my chest! This will be fun!
  • There is a cascade falls lull in the trail, getting up the other side was what Mutha compared to Hellbrook, I went no where for 5 minutes
  • We were on the trail perfectly, then I don’t know what happened, we missed the turn, it was a 95% degree left that we missed.  I actually bushwhacked parallel to the trail by about 10 feet and said this can’t be it!
  • Lessons learned gore-tex hood jacket essential for bushwhack and gore-tex gloves or over mitten essential
  • It was a tangled web head deep snow, spruce traps, branches, moving trees, breaking branches, clearing snow, wind, cold, branches poking below/above/beneath you, I didn’t know if I was going over wind downs or snow bridges that always gave out.
  • If we saw an opening we went for it.
  • I complete lost my hands everything else was fine at which point I said lets head back down, then the demon of Webster hit, Mutha said let me go to this clearing and it was the f’n trail.  I put on over mittens, ate food and hands came back slowly, if breaking trail I had warmth if not I froze to death.
  • I stayed in the same clothes all day trusted the wool it dried and I stayed warm.
  • The remaining trip up to Webster painfully slow, more trail breaking, DEEP snow.
  • We looked at the sign and turned around and within 45 minutes back to the Jackson / Webster cliff Jct
  • Food / liquid up Jackson very little consideration, we knew we had to go up.
  • I said to myself its only 1.2 miles forget the round trip math let gravity pull me down.
  • Jackson ascent was uneventful we kept marching forward, I generated little heat, I was at exhaustion at this point, was in full shell jacket, gloves and over mittens.
  • Highland Center is becoming like a 2nd home place is crawling with Crawford Notch Tail!
  • 5 hour energy did nothing for drive home
  • Signs of the Apocalypse at the Irving station my bill was $6.66 cents getting gas in Hooksett it was $46.66
  • I randomly took 89N home thinking it was the Hooksett exit I was half asleep pulling a MD, I realized it immediately.
  •  I got up at 4.45am to drive 3 hours, to bushwhack for 4 hours, to get no where, descend all the way down, ascend all the way back up to get Jackson in December not because I want to be an Ironman but because I am a GRIDDER!!!!!


Rescheduled the 12/27 trek for 12/29

Due to conditions (weather and work), tMail and I have scheduled the next hike for Wednesday, 12/29.  The route is TBD (see this previous post for some idea of what's on the table).  If you are interested, email me or leave comments.  For future readers, the weather issue is a big blizzard running up the east cost, dumping a few feet on Boston and about 6 inches here in Danville.


Chiseling North Kinsman

Speicher, Spanky, Lambeau and I tackled North Kinsman (via the Fishin' Jimmy trail).  Highlights (pics here):

  • On 93 the highway was covered in ice and snow.  The falling snow changed to freezing rain and sleet around Littleton but in the notch it was blowing snow/sleet.  I was close to calling off the trek (not dog friendly, no precip jacket) but trusted that higher up the precip would all be frozen.
  • Good stiff winds up high.  Temps were around 20-ish.  Kept us honest.
  • We're approaching the end of bareboot season until spring - snowshoes will be necessary soon.  The snow was only a foot deep on top of established crust/ice and the descent was made easier by not wearing crampons (I wore microspikes).  Crampons would've made sliding and jumping more awkward.
  • My pack was the Gregory Z30 I got from tMail.  The only time I had to go into it was for food.  I could've done this trek with big pockets.
  • We encountered two older gentlemen in snowshoes who had turned back before hitting the steep part of Fishin' Jimmy, warning us that conditions were really tough.  When we found their turnaround point it was clear they were both insane or on crack.  Oddly, they'd turned around on a nearly flat section.
  • The trees were filled with snow - just loaded (see pics).


A Day To Live In Infamy: 12/27/2010

The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let's get together
Before we get much older
I believe that on 12/27 a new dawn will light the skies over New Hampshire.  As a cure for what ails you, as a tonic, as a potion, I propose we get our mountain thing on.  Here are some prescriptions:
  • The Willey Range/Webster-Jackson Loop.  This is a LONG day.  Expect about 14 hours on the trail, and about 6000ft vertical.  Trek starts before sunrise and ends in headlamps and the gradual disassembling of your body until only a little spark in your brain is left to signal you are still in this world.
  • Mt. Isolation via the Rocky Branch Trail from Jericho Road (not Rte 16).  Return via Davis Path & Stairs Col.  Long day, great vistas, weariness and dehydration are only the beginning.
  • Mt. Bond:  The route in is via the North Twin trail, tagging North Twin, South Twin, Mt. Guyot, West Bond, Mt. Bond.  We'll avoid Bondcliff to save our souls, yet find them crushed into dust anyway.
  • Owl's Head via Lincoln Woods Campground:  XC ski in and out or just snowshoe it.  Special consideration will be given to continuing up Lincoln Brook before turning east to explore the north-west flank of the mountain.  Lose your soul to the demons.
  • Carrigain:  Go in via the Carrigain Notch trail, and loop back via Signal Ridge.  Die a slow and painful death.
  • Webster, Jackson, Pierce via Webster Cliffs Trail.  Out and Back.  Prepare to be brutally beaten.
  • Webster, Jackson via:  Webster Cliffs, AT to Mizpah Hut, Mt. Clinton trail into Dry River Wilderness, Dry River Trail to Saco River Trail to cars.  13 miles of death.


Getting Ready for the VT100

The Three Day ramp up to VT100 Training:

  1. Groton State Forest Romp
  2. White Mountain Insanity
  3. Bushwacking Through Space & Time
tMail's Trip Report (pics here):
Groton State Forest Run
  • Mutha, Spanky, Jake and myself rocked for about 1.5 hours through Groton State Forrest and up Devil’s Hill.  We ran and ran it pretty hard in the snow both with mspikes on it was great.
  • Ground cover was slick and probably about 5-6 inches of soft fluffy snow.
  • I made the decision to run in trail runners, Brooks Cascadia
  • A decision I did NOT regret, wool socks and a constant forward motion kept everything warm, yes feet did get wet but nothing new.
  • Brooks are truly an amazing trail running shoe.
  • Mutha and his network of trails, beaver crossings, bogs and hills is amazing in GSF.  It will definitely be a training ground for Vt 100
TFW – Webster
  • Temperature is very interesting we hiked in 0-5 degrees all day and at times could have been in short sleeve
  • The window to stop and stay warm is about 0-5 minutes
  • I hike in my shortly sleeve smartwool with IBEX long sleeve and Arc’teryx shell for a majority of the day
  • We did an awesome job of moisture management
  • I stayed warm all day even hands and feet
  • Webster Cliff Trail is rocking
  • Coming off TFW towards 302 is rocking as well, the Stairway to Heaven section is cool.  I don’t remember this because two winter’s ago I actually boot skied over these ladders there was so much snow!
  • Jackson sucks, but we will conquer it another time.
  • PB&J (6 of them), cookies made from Hardwick was the food of choice.
  • Gel flask of Montana Huckleberry stayed non frozen if kept in interior pocket of pants.
What a rocking day!

Hooker and Mack Mountain
  • We arrived at the Militia Compound to be greeted by DogMan, MadDog, Trudy and Peaches
  • Our destination was Hooker Mountain via bushwhack then Mack Mountain
  • The Militia Compound is awesome, we carried some RPGs in case we got ambushed .
  • The day was awesome, tough little mountains and the push assault up Mack Mountain was heart pounding fun as we just pushed through the snow covered trees
Conversation was some of the best trail convo ever!
  1. Wall Street – MadDog hates it but is heavily invested in Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and Monsanto
  2. Big Business – MadDog hates it
  3. Profit earning companies – MadDog hates them
  4. Bill Gates – MadDog hates him
  5. Warren Buffet – MadDog hates him, but said the guy has been the same for 50+ years.
  6. Andrew Carnegie – MadDog hates him
  7. JD Rockefeller – MadDog hates him
  8. JP Morgan – MadDog hates him
  9. All Kennedy’s – MadDog hates them
  10. John Lennon – MadDog and DogMan both share/agree he was in the right place at the right time, imagine!
  11. Weird Al – MadDog hates him, Mutha said he is a ruthless entrepreneur.
  12. The guy that stood in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square – MadDog loves him, he is my hero.
  13. Gandhi – MadDog loves him
  14. Dali Llama – MadDog loves him
  15. Oprah – Everyone hates her including Trudy and Spanky
  16. Mother Theresa – we were divided here, MadDog likes her Mutha said she is a cheater.
  17. We talked about JC Carpentry Company – that’s right we talked about Jesus Christ and his carpentry business and decided he did not pay enough attention to the business aspect but too much time to Philanthropy and got nailed for it.  We also think he didn’t pay taxes and wrote off the business as loss each year, thieves pay for their actions.
  18. Lance Mackey – gained much respect from the crowd
  19. Lance Armstrong – many said he was a fraud
  20. Bono – fraud
  21. Founding fathers of the United States of America – scum suckers
  22. A hero can not be defined
  • We need to go on another hike to see if what Oprah does is a form of art.
  • I threw it out there based on Tolstoy the Government is a form of art.
  • I need a tin foil hat now that Mutha has a jacket.
What a great day!!!!
MadDogs Trip Report:
10pm the night before. the phone rings: It's the offices of Dewey Screwum and Howe. Hmmm...at 10pm?

MD: "Hello"
DSH: "Maddog, we're going for a WALK tomorrow."
MD: "Great, a pleasant stroll in nature. Where?"
DSH: "Meet us at the militia compound, 10am."
MD: "My knee is not good - I can't do much."
DSH: "Don't worry, just bring a bottle of water and a cracker pack, we'll be out for 2 hrs max."
MD: "Ok, see you then."

...10am the next day...

I arrive at the compound greeted by a friendly centurion and some intimidating K-9s. DSH hasn't arrived yet. So we chat and get prepped for our light, waltz in the woods. Minutes later, two studs arrive at the door decked out and ready for a pitched assault on Hooker. Protective eyewear, armour, axes, knives in their teeth and teeth on their feet. WTF! My mittens and Dockers sneakers were looking kind of lame.
Mutha's Trip Report (pics here):
1.  Groton State Forest Romp
tMail dragged my a$$ all over Groton State Forest today. We did 1.5hrs in microspikes with Jake & Spanky. For those that know the area, we did Devil's Hill from the Peacham side, dropped down to the Jerry Lund road via VAST trails, looped around by Peacham Bog and lollipopped back via Forgotten Notch (between Devil's Hill and Jennison Mt.). All told, about 6 miles.

Jake's a bada$$.

Tomorrow's Beast: Willey Range, Webster & Jackson. He's trying to kill me.

2.  White Mountain Insanity
  • Within  20 minutes of starting out we had our first barrier:  a brook crossing that required ice, not rocks.  We tested up- and down-stream and eventually settled on what looked like good ice development.  It was.  Whew.
  • Snowshoes weren't needed, but this was probably the last weekend for that.  We decided that future hikes would require them - at least carried on the pack.
  • We did most of the hike in microspikes.  This was kind of dumb, but was the point of the challenge.  All over the Willey Range the mspikes were just fine.  But on the descent to the Ethan Pond trail when we hit the 'ladders' it was really time to put on the crampons.  We stayed in the mspikes.  This was a slow, painstaking descent.  We kicked in steps.  The water had flowed over many of the treads to make iced cascades.  We hugged trees.  The steps went on for many flights and it probably took 30 minutes just to descend this one section.  Then it was ice and water and snow for another hour.  You never knew when your foot was going to be on hard ice under snow, water under snow, water under ice, snow under water, rock under snow, scissors paper and stone under fire or WTF.  It was just slow.
  • We crossed 302 in them and half-way up the ascent to the Webster Cliffs, when we were hugging trees and climbing ice cascades, tMail said:  "I'm putting on crampons".  Game changing decision.
  • The Webster Cliffs trail has a lot of exposure and a lot of snow.  It was unbroken and to be honest it was difficult to tell where we were.  By the time we reached the signpost at the Webster Mtn junction where you can head north to Jackson or west to Saco Pond, we thought we might be on Jackson already.  Maddog and I had the same experience:  "Where the F are we?"  After studying the map and our compasses by headlamp light, and getting hit by stiff, 5° breezes, and me losing my fingers, we decided to make a beeline for the car.  Reminder:  1.3 miles of unbroken snowed in trail in the dark is a big number.  Don't do it if your even close to thinking:  "I don't have the heat reserves".  Also don't do it if your estimated time back at the car is 3 hours after your "call mountain rescue" time on your itinerary.
  • It was a great day to follow the Groton State Forest Run.

 3.  Bushwacking Through Space & Time
  • So then the THIRD day, we met up with Dogman and MadDog and Trudy and Spanky and the 6 of us did the great Hooker Mtn -> Mack Mountain bushwack.  This was inexplicably cool.  It was about 6.5 hours of wandering through the hills with trees covered so heavily with snow that the typical sight-line was about 20 feet.  Trail chatter ranged from Mother Theresa to Bill Gates and from profit motive to ruthless capitalist pig-ism. 
  • What a great day.  Spanky at 5 hot dogs.  She emptied her intestine in the yard that night.


Mt. Hancock & Dogs

tMail, Spanky and I hit the Hancocks for a quick 4hr loop.  

Mutha's Trip Report (pics here):  Excellent mild weather - easy brook crossings (frozen over - walked on ice).  On the trail surface it was typically a substantial coating of ice and a few inches of powder.  We took the clockwise route, saving the steep part for the descent.  Oddly, I remembered the north summit ascent as being steeper - I've got all my trails confused.  You'd think I had that all straight.  In general, the footing was fine for the dogs (had to lift Jake up some rocks a few times). South Peak was typically more windblown and snowy and the drop down the chute challenging at high speed - entire trek took about 4hrs which is only 1/2 longer than my 'good weather' time of 3.5 last November. Given that we had stops for dogs & footwear, and an icy descent I'd say that was pretty quick. 

Ran into good friend Robyn on the trail, hiking with a big group. Lots of folks on the trail - lots of dogs too. It was a surprisingly busy place (I guess it was the nice weather).

Heard it on the mountain:

  • Relationships only work if the partner treats you like a real, complete human being.
  • You can defend a bunker better with a shotgun than a handgun, except at close range when long knives are handy.
  • Immediately:  establish food cache, communications and transportation lines.  Head for the hills and only take tactical/functional/survival items (leave books, photos and business records behind).
  • The Canadians will never make it into the rough terrain.  They'll focus on established roads first, giving us time to build an effective resistance.
tMail's Trip Report:  What a great day a little bit of a leg burner as we dropped the hammer going up Hancock and across to South Hancock. I think we went from Hancock to the bottom of South Hancock at the split in 45 minutes.

Trip Report Conversation:
  • Vermont is the ideal location for this group to relocate and form our own militia and become self sustainable.
  • Only gear is that which is tactical for survival would make the trip North. Cross bike important - gas may be too expensive.
  • We would need to arm ourselves, I have a double barrel shotgun and .22 with scope.
  • We would live completely off the gov't grid in Hookersville in DogMan's compound all in camouflage.
  • Wikileaks what a mess this is becoming. Is this Cyberwar?
  • Cheaper to eat unhealthy and become a significant money pit to healthcare system than eat right. Cost of eating healthy out of control.
  • Chapter 11 - United States of America Bernanke has hinted at QE3 another 600 billion.
  • DogMan can you scout high ground something south facing lots of sun we can go solar screw the electric grid, grow our own food. Work on it.
  • If we needed to milita-ize in Hookersville where is our ammunition supply?
  • Bunkers would be huge.
  • Telecommunications hub to transfer money.
Government is crumbling we need to think about this stuff. F the Hancocks!  



 I'll let the trip reports speak for themselves.

 tMail's Report
What an adventure!  This was my third time on the North Slide once in primo winter snow ice crampon / axe conditions, once bombing down it and Saturday Dogtown Day.

  • Weather Reports have been whacked lately, Saturday was suppose to be snow instead sunny weather, decent views.
  • Its an over looked area for hiking but the interconnectivity of Passaconaway, Whiteface, Tri's, Osceola, Tecumseh and Hancocks is worthy of high adventure.
  • Fireworks went off on the North Slide, dangling from trees, traverses that got pucker factor across the slide, bushwhacking both left and right side of slide.
  • Ice axe and traction equipment of the day.
  • Never would I have though I would be pretzel-ed around a tree on the North Slide trying to get 100lbs Trudy through ice, over a tree then DogMan over me while holding Trudy.
  • Trudy is all of 100lbs, 200lbs when she is frozen on the slide collapsed against your left rib cage.
  • DogMan put your axe down the root of the tree, Tmail drive your axe to secure it. Ok I'm in you in? Yes, ok hand me Trudy.
  • We had Dog release rolls, Dog spotter rolls and Dog catcher rolls while handing the dogs off on the slide.
  • Black Diamond gloves continue to reign superior.
  • Ibex liner gloves superior.
  • Wool superior.
  • Looking at Mutha coming down to support the Trudy experiment and seeing Spanky anchored to a tree by either a hiking pole or ice axe.
  • Mutha telling Cody at Dunkin Donuts the size small coffee cups suck and he should fix them, poor Cody.
  • "When were the bagels made?"
  • "Our dogs need food, you have day old food around?" Cody - "yes we have stuff for dogs."
  • DogMan freaking out at Dunkin Donuts saying "this is all fictitious food."
What a great day!
DogMan's Report
Some of my thoughts:
  • The root structure of the tree of life is somewhat implanted in my brain.
  • Sometimes you can go up, but can't go down. And shouldn't think about it.
  • Total body work out. Like no other.
  • Sand in the v*? How about sticks up your ass, literally.
  • I need truly telescoping poles. Who knew that could matter so much.
  • That little "leash" thing on the tree hooker (eh ice ax), good idea.
  • Flashbacks still occurring here. Simple walk in the woods today, slight slip of the foot, brain instantly sends message "you are going to fall 300 feet and die!".
  • Conveying confidence to your dog by forcing it to put all it's weight onto you while perched on a quasi vertical slab of rock ice, held in place with crampons, an ax and pine saplings is weird, but ultimately proved helpful.
  • TMail was a f* marvelous manager and partner at a crucial time. I can't compliment or thank him enough. Neither can Trudy.
  • My brain was completely flushed. Like a big mental stress s*, no room left for the bullshit of everyday life after that.
  • Dunking Donuts is indeed a marvel. A restaurant that does not sell food. But that green thing I had sure tasted good.

Thank guys.

PS - no more of that for the dogs I think. Happy to have got us all through that in one piece. But for me anyway, new rule is if ax required/recommended, it is not a dog friendly scenario.
Mutha's Report
  • This was truly a day of high adventure.  The clear blue skies transitioning in the late day to threatening clouds and then back to clear skies with stars was a complete surprise (based on the forecasted snowy/stormy system spinning to our north).
  • The dog thing was, astonishingly, a surprise.  It may seem like it was a bad idea from the start - and I feel a little bad about labeling it dog-friendly - but my past ascents put it at a workable trek... at the limit, but workable.  As it turned out, it was over the edge.  Live and learn
  • As DogMan said, the day was a complete brain dump.  High levels of focus relieved me of all the outside cares and woes.  The day was about not slipping and moving the dogs in stages.
  • On the plus side, I learned that I could micromanage Spanky. She did fine with it until near the top when each 'staging' would present her with no obvious next move. Then she was clearly not thrilled. But I did learn where her balance point is for a one-hand lift-and-place while feet were anchored and the axe placed for security. Quite a few times I had to secure the axe and do a two-hand lift-and-place to head-level, then retrieve the axe with one hand on the dog. At 50lbs she was a lot easier to manage than Trudy, but my shoulders are still aching.
  • It's amazing how versatile that damned axe is.
  • The microspikes did well on the slide. The lack of toe points requires rethinking body position. The fact that the points are set in, under the foot, also requires careful placement in sketchy conditions but I was determined to test them to the summit. Not bad. Kept them on until we were down from the snow/ice.
  • Tested the Columbia Omni-Max sweater. The inside lining is all shiny - my "Liberace Dinner Jacket". Could only wear it as a summit warmer - too warm to hike in in those conditions.
  • The descent was via the Scaur Ridge Trail (to avoid the South Slide). This trail also required a lot of dog management. It's steep, rocky, icy on that day but with beautiful views north and south. It's razor thin at the saddle near the junction but the surrounding trees make it secure.
  • The day was truly transformative.


Adventure for Saturday

It's time to start thinking about an adventure (above treeline?) for our next trek, scheduled for 12/4.  It's a little to far in the future to have a good read on the weather, but it's looking kind of snowy.  Please mention any trek ideas in the comments and I'll throw them onto this main page.

Mutha's List:
  • Castle Trail to Jefferson and back (from Randolph).  Rating:  Hard.
  • Isolation via Glen Boulder trail.  Rating:  not too bad.
  • Isolation via Rocky Branch Trail in, Davis Path/Stairs Col Trail out.  Rating:  long day, not too bad.
  • Carrigain the long way:  in via Nancy Pond Trail, drop into the Pemi.  Out over Carrigain.  Requires spotting a car or two depending on group size.  Or do the reverse.  Rating:  Huge.
  • Carrigain Loop via Carrigain Notch, return via Signal Ridge.  No car spotting.  Rating:  Big day, not too bad.
tMail's List (concerned about ice above treeline):
  • Passaconaway & Whiteface
  • Cannon, Cannon Balls, Kinsmans


    Tryptophan Dryout Day: November 28, 2010

    It's time to start posting ideas for an outing on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  They should range from 'baby' to 'brutal' so we have some variety from which to choose.  Post your ideas in the comments section and I'll list them here.  Feel free to consider variety, such as:  novelty, adventure, elevation, exposure.  Here are a few ideas to get the juices flowing:

    • If MadDog can make it, how about Adams Slide?  For those that don't know the route, requires getting in to the Great Gulf, making our way to the Buttress Trail and then finding a bushwack to the left that hits Adams.  I propose:  Ridge of the Caps Trail, over Jefferson and down into the Great Gulf.  Return via Adams and Gulfside Trail.  Rating:  Really hard.
    • Isolation via Glen Boulder trail.  Rating:  not too bad.
    • Isolation via Rocky Branch Trail in, Davis Path/Stairs Col Trail out.  Rating:  long day, not too bad.
    • Carrigain the long way:  in via Nancy Pond Trail, drop into the Pemi.  Out over Carrigain.  Requires spotting a car or two depending on group size.  Rating:  Huge.
    • Carrigain Loop via Carrigain Notch, return via Signal Ridge.  No car spotting.  Rating:  Big day, not too bad.
    • Bushwack up or down West Bond via Hellgate or Red Rocks (from tMail) 
     [Update, 11/27, 10pm]  Final destination:  9am, Trailhead for Pierce/Eisenhower

    Trip Report:  Mutha
    • Final body count:  tMail, Buddy Boy Bro, Spanky and Me. 
    • Final Route:  Crawford path to Pierce, Eisenhower, back to Pierce, over to Mizpah Hut, Mizpah Cut-off to the parking lot.
    • A few inches of snow on frozen/slushy ice.  20°-ish with winds calm in the woods and light/breezy on the ridge - maybe gusting in the 20-s.  Barebooting was fine for the whole trek but I had the opportunity on the descent to Mizpah Hut to put on my micro-spikes.  They worked really well in those conditions.
    • The day was really about providing us with about 6 hours out on the snow and mountains as part of gearing up towards full-on winter blow-out, adventures and beat-downs.
    Trip Report:  tMail
    It was a great day of adventure and getting back to the mountains and winter conditions and final gear checks and what works and what doesn’t work and if anything needs to be replaced.
    • Parking lots procedure, have the shell jacket not packed, put it on immediately to keep it warm and then put on my Montbell down jacket over that while we all get ready.  This worked very well I was actually very warm while getting ready.
    • Before taking off take off Montbell and leave in car
    • I have been wearing my shell jacket on the ascents and keeping body moisture control under extreme control hardly any sweating when I do I vent.
    • Patagonia backcountry guide pants still working well, had long underwear on as well the EMS Tech stuff, pretty soon smartwool long underwear will be called on.
    • Plastic boots excellent still, worried about boot liner hope to get another winter out of them.
    • Pace was easy all day we kept it in check for Buddy Boy Bro
    • 4 PB&J wraps worked extremely well, keep them all in one zip lock bag easy to get easy to eat.  Also went through 4 gels kept them in my pockets they stayed perfect.
    • Didn’t pack trail mix or any of that other stuff and I was fine.
    • Drank about 1 liter of water the entire day.
    • Put goggles on just to see how things were working no fog issues and I let the face dry first in the wind before putting them on.
    • Conditions are getting close to winter waiting for the big dumping.
    • Ibex liner gloves and Blackdiamond guide gloves were an excellent combination; I need to pay better attention to hands this year. I had the Blackdiamond Mercury Mittens with me and Alpaca Hat.
    • I have been going on the lighter side of gear in my pack, but what I have been bringing I am using, instead of multiple layers I am accepting putting on my primaloft jacket then shell over it.
    • I still have a bivy, compass, headlamp and med kit with me at all times.
    • As we start getting more exposure or longer outings the sleeping bag will make it back into the pack.
    • Conclusion DogMan needs mountaineering boots by next Friday 12/3/2010


    Finally, Back in the Whites

    After a long hiatus Dogman, The PM, g-$$$, tMail, Spanky, Riley, Trudy and I hit the Whites for a quick up and down on Moosilauke.  We ascended the gorge trail and descended the ridge trail.  Great loop.

    • Dogman made insightful comments on the nature of 'furries'.
    • g-$$$ let out the war-whoop
    • The PM informed us of Johnson Controls' worldwide reach
    • tMail offered details of the 'mystery' that has been haunting MadDog for a few weeks
    • Spanky at two large Mackerel sandwiches and anything anyone else offered
    • Riley demonstrated an even temperament
    • Trudy used the high winds and blowing fog as an excuse to roll around, puppylike, in the snow.

    Great times were had by all.


    Lookout Mtn to Macks Mtn Road!

    Zoomed home after class, grabbed the dogs and burned out to Peacham to fill in another segment of the ridge.  Today I found my way from Lookout Mtn down to Macks Mtn Road.  tMail's familiar with this (he's been on it twice). 

    Dogman is of course intimately familiar with this road. 

    It took me 55 min to get from the car to Macks Mtn. Rd (see map) and 45 min to get back.  The trick was to find the bowl that I descended down into the notch.  A classic profile of the hills around here is a ramp-like ascent from the north and a sometimes horribly steep descent on the south side.  It's from glaciers moving south.  The south sides are usually boulders & rubble dropped by the glaciers that over the years have filled in with soil.  At the bottom, the small pond visible on the map is part of two ponds, one dug by the property owners, and includes a mowed area with a fire pit and some chairs.  It's a great spot.  The trek finished down a rutted road to the main road.


    Unnamed Mountain Has Fallen

    It's now official:  We can do the bushwack from Devil's Hill, over Jennison Mtn and over Unnamed Mtn (I have not been able to find an historical name for it yet) to Jerry Lund Mtn.

    Today's adventure w/ Spanky & Jake involved taking a forest road to the notch between Devil's Hill and Jennison, then heading southeast over the two hills and down to Jeremiah Lund Road (my name for a forest road that climbs part way up Jerry Lund Mtn).  In the map shown here the known forest roads are in pale brown and today's route in pink (out) and blue (back).  If you click on the map to zoom you can see that the route back included a side trip west that dropped down into the great valley of Peacham Bog.  It can be seen on careful inspection that it hits a low bowl with a few beaver ponds.  For a future date, get to the other side of the bowl, climb a small rise and look out over the bog.

    The only remaining legs of this chain of hills is to hit Lookout Mtn heading north, and then hit Rte 2 heading north from Cow Hill.


    Lookout Mtn Has Fallen

    In the ongoing quest to tackle all the minor summits in the area, I knocked off one named (and one unnamed) hill.  The purple route show on the attached map was today's trek, topping out at just a little over 2,450'.  The woods were bright and open and the snow about shoe deep (the soft leaves underfoot made it seem deeper).

    Not much evidence of human industry except the general look of having been completely logged out in the recent past.

    Found an outstanding outcrop w/ large fir trees that make a terrific campsite and location for the new fort (that will one day be built).

    Lookout mountain has no outlook that earns it that name.  I'd like to rename it "Can't See Sh*t Mountain".

    Also on the map:
    brown arrows:  we've done those routes
    green loop:  "The Homewrecker".  Starts/Ends at Dogman's house.  Hits Hooker Mtn, Macks Mtn, Lookout Mtn, Cow Hill and then back.
        the goal:  sub 4 hours.


    Backcountry Wanderings in Groton State Forest

    This summer I spent quite a few hours both w/ DogMan, Trudy, Spanky & Jake and just w/ Spanky & Jake exploring all over the eastern section of Groton State Forest.  It lacks much in the way of a trail system, unlike the western side.  The map at the right is a not too accurate accounting of some of the bushwacks I've logged.  Regrettably, without a GPS trace, these are no more than rough guesses as to where we were.

    The routes are a combination of old forest roads, VAST trails, raw bushwacks, beaver dams and what-the-heck-is-this-we're-on???

    Part of the goal is to simply explore.  This is, after all, my back yard (so to speak).  Another part is to seek out good xc ski routes for this winter.  Lastly, is the desire to trek all over the long ridgeline that bisects this image.  We've got much of it from Cow Hill south to Jeremiah Lund Mountain.  bit by bit as I learn my way through those woods I've got routes now that can get me to the little bumps to the south.

    One of these days we're going to tackle north of Cow Hill (which seems to be just a straightforward bushwack down to Rte 2) and the summit to the south of Cow Hill (Lookout Mtn.).

    In the meantime, we've logged some outstanding xc ski routes.  This promises to be a great winter.


    Now, About Those NH 4000 Footers

    had to go to littleton on an errand today.  the sun was shining so i brought jake and spanky and did a quick toodle up to the top of Cannon via the Lonesome Lake and Kinsman Ridge trails (up the back of Cannon).

    it's a great little quick hike.  including lunch, photographs, checking out the vistas from that lower trail that has the stone 'bench' things, chatting w/ folks who were riding up the lift for foliage tours, etc. it only took 2:50 total round-trip.

    we pushed pretty hard (about 80% max) on the ascent.  rough times were:
    car to lonesome lake:  under 30 minutes
    lonesome lake to kinsman ridge trail:  about 15minutes
    kinsman ridge trail to summit:  about 20 minutes

    pwning the mountain

    i think to get from the car to the top of the observation tower was about 1:15.

    it's a great route for dogs.  plenty of water (the trail up the back of the summit has a lot of water running down it).  on the way up, hit a spot where i had to lift jake.  spanky scrambled it after decided to try it on her own (she was getting ready for me to lift her, then decided she had a plan).  i had to push her butt for it to work, but it did.  on the way down, had to lift jake off boulders in about 5 spots.


    Dogs, Man & DogMan!

    DogMan:  Hey mutha, want to go for a quick trot in the woods?  I'm feeling a little off today, so it won't be much.  I want to get Trudy out too.

    Mutha:  Yeah, Jake & Spanky could use some trail time.  Sounds great.  I'm still in recovery from Friday so let's do a little trot.  I'll pick you up at 2:30.

    Three and a half hours later I walk in the door and Sue says:  Hey, glad you're back.  We ate - I was beginning to wonder where you were.

    Yeah, DogMan, where the hell were we?  We hit Little Deer Mtn, Big Deer Mtn, Osmore Pond, Up, Down, All Around.  Holy hell.  And DogMan was freaking possessed.  It was like chasing a Przewalski’s Gazelle (not to be confused w/ a Przewalski's Wild Horse, also named after the Russian colonel Nikolai Przhevalsky (1839–1888) - Przewalski being the Polish spelling).

    What a great run. 

    [Disclaimer:  the map below is where I kind of think we were.  Close enough, man.]


    Ewell Pond/Oneida Loop

    I put the old leggy-weggies to work just now and tried running my 12.3 mile loop from my house.  it's about 5 miles or so on pavement and the rest on dirt.  It's not too hilly - the profile shown is a little deceptive because of the vertical exaggeration, but it's got a few steep sections that I bike in my smallest gear.  The total elevation gain is about 1200'.  I wasn't out to break any records but I did break my PR accidentally, hitting the driveway at 1:41 (beating my previous PR of 1:45).  The goal was actually to see if I could run for that many miles.  Even though I've been running and/or biking pretty regularly, I haven't been pushing things and haven't really run very far.  DogMan and I did a few big outings (I think we did a 16 miler a week ago) but we haven't been breaking any speed records.

    Anyway, I've been whining about quite a few physical aches and pains and wasn't even sure I could run the loop.  In fact I was pretty aggravated for the first half of the run until I realized I was making good time and pushed a little harder at the end.  If I'd pushed harder from the start I could've knocked another minute or two off.

    Of course the thought of tMail running all these Ironman races and the trail marathon and it's a little embarrassing to be chatting up this much for a freaking 12 mile run, but hey - we can't all be superman.

    This was really the test for the VT50.  I can confirm that my left hamstring is screaming at me, so it's probably going to be a no-go for that monster, but I feel pretty good otherwise.


    Franconia Ridge Loop: Break 2:30?

    Nope.  Not even close.  Today's ascent was a record-breaker at 1:07 from the trailhead to the trail junction on Little Haystack.  But while conditions were pretty good low down, I got hammered on the summit.  The entire ridge was socked in down to maybe 50ft visibility with temps in the low 60's and winds between nothing and probably 30mph or so.  The incredible humidity was rough, but the worst part was that I was wearing glasses and had to clear them every 2 or 3 minutes.  Lafayette was the worst.  I actually had water  collecting on the bottom edge of the lenses.  I was completely soaked - saturated through to my underwear.   Descending required that I look down, which made the water on my lenses form little mini-lenses like an old window - everything rippled.  That slowed me waaaay down.

    I carried 16 oz of water and drank 12, and ate a Hammer Gel on Haystack.  I was wearing a wicking tank top, running shorts and Darn Tough socks in Vasque trail runners.

    Trailhead to Haystack trail junction:  1:07 (good time)
    Little Haystack to Lafayette:  30 (slowing a little - maybe 3 minutes behind schedule.)
    Lafayette to parking lot:  1:18 (oy.  should've been done in 1 hour.)
    Total trail time:  2:55


    August 21-23: Big Adventures For All

    The August 21-23 timeframe was big adventures for us all:
    G-$$$, DogMan, Mutha:  The D2R2
    tMail:  The Timberman Half-Ironman

    The PuppetMaster & Treadmill:  Lily Elizabeth's first marathon

    Email exchanges covered most of the excitement but for archival purposes some of it is pasted back here:

    Lily Elizabeth Strong:  8lbs 5 oz.

    tMail's Ironman Report:  Well 70.3 miles is under the belt.

    Several months ago I decided to sign up for the 1/2 Ironman with full knowledge of what I'm was getting myself into from a mental and physical stand point. Training wise 6 days a week a training day was between 2-4 hours - 20+ hours a week. Big commitment.

    Swim - a weakness of mine in the past I need to work on it. I followed a 3 - 4x a week training program building up my swim and loading 3 weeks before. The last couple of weeks I was swimming 7500 - 10,000 yards a week. I was getting better and comfortable. Yesterday it paid off did the swim in 32 minutes which equates to 1 one minute and 43 second repeat 100s.  I went out hard in my wave separated myself and found some guys feet and stayed on them and drafted. The water was choppy with waves coming up over you when breathing. I sucked up stragglers from waves ahead of me as I was passing lots of different color caps.  I was feeling good and comfortable in the water and had a straight line.

    T1 - Off came suit on went sunglasses, helmet, two gel flasks back pockets tri jersey, race #, grab bike and go. I had a 1 minute run from my area to bike start.

    Bike - Once on bike took in some gel / liquid right away. Did a full body analysis on bike legs felt good, HR good, overall felt comfortable. First 10 miles climb then relatively downhill to 28 miles I stayed in my zone on bike not pushing too hard but steady pushing when I could. Kept hydrating kept fueling at the turnaround felt good and pushing the next 28 back in heavy rain and head wind. Started catching people on climbs and tricky sections was feeling really good was having doubts if I went out too slow. Lots of crashes course was wet, I did let it rip on some of the return ascents as conditions were getting worse. As I approached T2 started thinking about run got last of my liquids and food in me.

    T2 - Dismount run to rack, rack bike off came helmet, on went socks, sneakers, hat, got a 16oz of water down and off I went.

    Run - Immediately did body scan legs good, HR good, felt nutritionally fine.  Cold and rain at this point still feeling good small rolling hills course already could see walkers. I felt good aid stations every mile. It was two laps out and back. Kept taking on water and food. Felt good kept pace steady. If you notice I ran one mile 8.46 about 13-15 seconds slower than all other miles I had to piss so bad I tried urinating while running but needed to pull it out but with 2700 people and families I didn't I ran into one of many port a-johns on course and pissed and pissed and pissed finally I cut myself off and let dribble drabble in my shorts. Continued feeling really good, passing lots of people, lots of walkers now people cramping if it was HOT it would have been a sea of carnage.

    Finish line cool, Wellington handing out metals.

    Overall highly organized, too many people, run course blah they could have killed people made them run up Gunstock which I suggested but I think some would have shriveled up and died. At least it would cut down on # of entrants.

    Triathletes - I'm one like being one. Perception some are egotistical maniacs.  Its an individual sport you race against a clock and your age group.  My age group wow, I must have not got enough breast milk b/c everyone is 6'2 and 145lbs. I think one guy in my group finished top 10 and beat pros.  Mental standpoint I think they would melt down in non triathlon events. Half of them don't know how to pump own tires, I helped, one kid couldn't decide amber or clear lenses, one kid had his gf pump his bike tires, one kid said we are two far away from the bike start, one kid measures his food, one kid was complaining that the water was rough, one complained that transition wasn't carpeted, MENTAL!

    Anyway I had fun doing the 70.3 miles, had more fun training looking back I know where I can approve.

    Again, thanks to all those who trained with me, (Gannett counts) - (cycling in NH / Vt, Blue Hills / Wrentham trail running, dirt road cycling, Vt trail running and listening to me, couldn't have done it without you guys.
    The D2R2:  112 - 127 miles, 15k - 16k vertical (it all depends on whose GPS you trust).
    1. What a great job you three guys did! Congratulations on the accomplishment. I am in awe, truly. My legs and lungs have never been called upon in such a way. It was hard, real hard.

    2. I have two views of g-$ and DM from the day. That was about 40yards behind them on the way out to Stillwater, g-$ was riding no hands and combing his hair having a casual summer stroll (or something like that) and DM was spitting chewing tobacco lugies, while chatting up his wingman.

    3. I didn't know there are Jewish angels. And further, that mother is one of them. He hanging with me and looking for the  yellow summer squash to come rolling up the hills...thanks a ton Mutha.

    4. I exhausted more energy yesterday in some many wrong places...it amazes even me. Even still, I tried to apply g-$ coaching from years past  - e.g. keep the upper body loose, loose grip when possible etc. Still - the T-52s gearing was chore to get me into granny, the clipless pedals turned out to be a task, and the seat was disaster from my 1.6.

    5. HOB (heard on the bike) on the start of one of the big climbs, with a 30 yd lead on me and with a great sense of hear in the woods..."Get it low gear, LOW GEAR." Christ! He knew and it was true...made me think of the day on Cathedral gully with Mutha on the point.

    6. For the first time, I really had GI/nausea/intestinal issues. Not sure why - yet. But it was a downward spiral and I could see it and the clock working against me. I could only get one bottle of my electro mix in my the whole day. And was eating only a couple of eggs and bananas for the whole day. Nothing else could go in. I couldn't even eat the trusty PB crackers. I knew this was not good.

    7. I surprised myself...I only looked (hoped/went clicking for) an additional lower gear ~9 times the whole day.

    8. Leyden police babes, are cute AND down to earth.

    9. The two most OK (obnoxious knuckle-head) guys I met were from NY and MA. And that did not surprise me.

    10. The gayest riders were also from MA, Boston.  Mutha has their lines down pat.

    12. I didn't really know how bad it was (because I was thinking that since I'm not a real rider I should be feeling beat up)...then some guy who was/is real strong and I remember from earlier in the day...is trying to catch his buds after Alexander...cruises up to me and confides he too has tanked. Later I began to try and correlate what the marathoner's mile 21 was in this thing. I didn't answer it...probably because some f'in hill had just presented itself to me.

    13. After the sweep truck passed me and pulled over at 85...my heart sank. I was committed to get to the end - but we chatted and chatted and the sweep guy provided a healthy sanity check on not having water (for which I only had a bottle from him) and still facing the two steepest ridges of that stage. His estimates and my own were that it would be much later than the cutoff allowed and could instead join a different route...So it was. I was happy with how the decision was made, but of course, not the outcome. But remembering our collective wisdom...the mountain will always be there - and the guy's final assertion to me "you have nothing to prove to anyone, what's it worth to risk the Patten downhill, or need support and not have it?"

    14. Surprisingly today (the day after), nothing in the wheels is hurting or strained. Only the butt is feeling the affects of coping with the grundel grinding.

    15. Doctor Strong's compression wrap recommendation was the gear solution of the day. Not a problem with what has been a persistent and consistent issue.

    16. This was my second ever cycling event. I thoroughly enjoyed the format and the event production. It was mellow and low key - just my style. Very different from the pump-you-up music blasting RD announcements that are often seen at events.

    Thanks again: g-$ for expanding our horizons into randonees, DM for the constant support and confidence, Mutha for the Jewish angeling and chauffeuring.

    g-$$$:  Made it home without a cup of joe....just 1 Diet Coke and 2 hours of swatting flies.  Thanks again for what may have been the toughest thing I have ever done athletically...on par with our failed summit day on Gannett and our encounter(s) with Bonney Pass and our Jay Adventure race many moons ago.  It was definitely the toughest thing I've ever done on a bike.
    • Cheers to MuthaZ for picking up my race packet
    • Cheers to Dogman for being my wingman for the day.....anytime buddy
    • Cheers to Dogman for finding great lines through the washboard and rutted descents
    • Cheers to Maddog for riding that course on the rolling kennel of cast iron
    • Cheers to the organizers and volunteers of a really great event
    • Cheers to Patten Hill and Patten Hill views
    • Jeers to breaking spokes
    • Jeers to pedal cleats coming undone
    • Jeers to forgetting your gloves
    • Jeers for not having a better than 1:1 bailout gear ratio
    • Jeers to South Heath Rd
    • Jeers to the hundreds of folks faster and stronger than me
    • Jeers to the "5mi optional loop"
    • Jeers to the 100 or so horseflies that decided to take refuge in my truck as I changed out of my cycling gear

    I am going to strongly consider doing this ride again next year.....I'm definitely going to train for it and I learned a whole helluva a lot about gearing, food, hydration, cue sheet/map managment....if tmail does it I'm gonna recruit maddog to ride the tandem with me so we can destroy him.

    DogMan:  Awesome! G$$ you were an amazing engine in the stretch and an awesome navigator. Left to myself I would have curled up on the road side and waited for nightfall to succumb.

    Way to go Mutha, whole new level and dimension. Chamberlain will go clean the next time you ride it. And from then on no looking back. 10 hours or less for you next year.

    MadDog incredible. And yes, I think after lofting that heap of iron over those hills, you can rightfully characterize many of the other "cyclists" as "gay".

    1) MuthaZ should by HyperZ. Mutha finishes "early", having done the last leg about 20 minutes faster than G$$ or I, starts taking nitrous shots from the whip cream and is generally bouncing of the walls of the tent and later room like he just had a pot of coffee and maybe needs some exercise for the day. WTF, did you ride this thing? Meanwhile MadDog and I are about to spoon each other on the blanket in the dirt under the table. We are comatose.

    2)  Grocery check out girl to Mutha (in his five fingers): "What kind of shoes are those?". Mutha response: "I don't know, what kind of shows are those?". Meanwhile 15 year cutie [...edited for brevity...] is lingering in the aisle behind us, wearing blue slippers. There was a weird shoe vibe in Brattleboro, among other things.

    3) G$$ somehow or another turns bottles of Coke into diesel fuel. Nice call on the Colrain stop. The "finisher", stay on his wheel over the 2nd half, you will get home.

    4) I thought it was just my chip on the shoulder, but I was truly annoyed by all the Connecticut boys on their titanium bikes talking about owning their second houses in Vermont, etc, etc. I DID NOT want to ride with these f*s. I was so happy to be a "native" Vermonter.  And to part ways with them. And to have G$$ as wingman. And then MD shares the "gay" observation. What beautiful validation.

    Great ride and experience. Thanks guys! Can't wait to do it again.
    Mutha:  maddog!  what a fun trip report.  read it out loud to sue.  she wants to know how down-to-earth the Leyden police babes really are.  i assured her they're not THAT down to earth.

    hanging together was fun.  sorry for the shouting "SMALL GEAR!  LOW GEAR MADDOG!" but from my vantage point a few feet in front of you i could see these walls coming like a wave that's about the crest.  the sound of your chain tapping lightly against your derailleur would send me into a tailspin thinking that you'd be climbing on your middle ring and i'd be in my little guy and you'd probably pass me and say "ahhh, i couldn't get it into low gear so i'm just going to do this the hard way ... pussy."

    the GI problem was insolvable and the downward spiral nothing but misery.  without a magic wand all i could do was say things like "try not to shit your pants" or "if you puke up into your mouth, spit, don't swallow".  i once had to go to a business meeting when i had food poisoning.  that was bad.  you made it like 85 miles or something.  that's unbelievable.

    today:  got home, ate 2 pieces of homemade pizza and two hot dogs.  yeah, i know.  mckenzie hot dogs.  they were out, hot and sue and the kids were going to finish them if i didn't.  i started putting away gear (found my missing glove), took a nap.

    supper:  i grilled scallops in white wine, butter and lemon juice with apple-wood smoking on the grill.  we ate that on what we call 'big salads' - where we load plates with all sorts of fun stuff, like lettuce, avocado slices, chevre, capers, cheddar, apple slices, palm hearts, fresh pickles, slasa verde (thanks to dogman for the tomatillas!), etc. - w/ the scallops and sauce on the top.  in terms of cubic feet of food, this was nearly a record.  then we took the dogs out for creamies (soft serve ice cream, for you non-vermonters).

    not sure if we burned 11,000 calories yesterday or 11,000,000 but i'm almost done making that up in fat, carbs, more fat and more carbs.  almost there ...


    Stillwater Junction Overnight

    Chris, Spanky, Jake & I headed up the Nancy Pond Trail to Stillwater Junction, where we camped near the east branch of the Pemi river.  We exited via the Desolation Trail over Carrigain to a car we spotted on Sawyer River Rd.  9-ish miles the first day, 8-ish the second.  Camping at Stillwater is incredible.  Aside from making sure to stay the appropriate distance from brooks/water, there is little to interfere with finding incredibly excellent camping sites.  The area is covered with thick organic material making for soft tenting/bivy action everywhere.


    Gannett 2010

     Gannett via the Glacier Trail (SummitPost link to Trail Description):  The hike starts outside of DuBois, Wyoming and bangs south to Gannett for 22 miles (to summit camp) and then another 3 to the summit for a round-trip total of 50 miles.  The elevation change is from about 7400' (trailhead) to 13804 (summit) for a net gain of about 6400' - however the total ascent is around 10000' due to several substantial climbs (Arrow Pass ascent, for example) and descents.

    g-$$$'s Trip Report (pics here):
    Quick thoughts and a short message courtesy of the scheduling genius of American Airlines.

    Thanks fellas....for yet another trip of (tip of hat to muthaz on Gannett 08) unexpected consequenses.  I know the goal was getting me to the summit.  I am humbled and extremely greatful to have such an awesome group of peers/friends to share with,  lean on, listen to, talk to, and learn from.....oh yea....and to exploit. Despite the sores, blisters, and thoughts of replacing well worn gear, I still can't believe it's over and done.

    Just a few highlights until I can assemble my random thoughts after such a huge high!
    • Team Bare Bait adventure with the juvenile Griz in hunt for tmail
    • Tmail is a terrible negotiator...all decisions are final when he is strongarmed and end of discussion isn't always so definitive.
    • Carl is the man...we all need to send a message to the NFS to give him props.  If all civil servants shared the same passion, knowledge, and willingness to serve...imagine how much greater this country would be.
    • No Atomic Burger but the Cowboy Cafe still is the classic post- expedition feed zone and a standalone highlight of Dubois.
    • 50 plus miles with 50 plus packs.
    • Muthaz...no shortage of thoughts, opinions, and good stories.
    • Tmail...a born leader.  Strong like an ox, speed like a goat, and heart of a lion.
    • Wildman...the silent warrior.  Your calm demeanor belies your wisdom and determination.  Thanks for defending the uphill afterguard with me!
    • Supporting crew...you were missed but not forgotten:
    • Pm...you couldn't make it but we were incredibly glad your gear did.   we were lucky to have it.  You were missed but your spirit was with us....every step.
    • Maddog....the dried goodies were so awesome...every piece of granite talus evoked the though of having you there
    • Dogman...many adventures to come.  We need a newbie to continue to pass the wisdom and frivolity to!
    • Highpoint 48.....wow...Denali 2015?
    • Free airline tickets are anything but free.
    Lots of pictures and lucid thoughts after some quality time with EZ-E, the missus, and a backlog of work that is gonna cripple me to my knees.  Looking forward to Puppetmaster Challenge 2011. 
    2 words PM....Grand Teton.

    Incredibly great fun and great times with great peeps.  Memories to last 10 lifetimes.

    Thanks so much guys!!!
    tMail's Trip Report (pics here):
    What I learned in the past and applied to the trip.  The success of the trip was not based on one but on all of us and what we have learned and applied to ourselves from each of our unique characteristics.
    • PM – His leadership skills and ability to analyze and always think ahead for the better of the group.
    • G$$$ - His patience, knowledge, thoughtfulness and determination.
    • Wildman – His cool collective calmness that no matter what always gives the sense everything is ok.
    • MadDog – His ability to always push forward and be the supportive voice we always need to hear to make things seem easier than they really are.
    • Mutha – His ability to get that little bit more out of you when you think there isn’t anymore to give, his jovial attitude and ability to always get you to smile, laugh and know you have someone who is right there with you.
    • DogMan - His free spirit and ability to enjoy the moment as much as possible.
    As you will all hear, the summit almost didn’t happen for Tmail, but the encouraging words of one and the desire to do what others would do overcame the fears and anxiety.

    “You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself.”
    Mutha's Trip Report (pics here):

    I have only a few specific things to add that can't be gleaned from the astounding pictures we're posting:
    • This trek was a huge achievement for me and I have to thank the greatest team.  This includes the ghost of DogMan, identified as "the guy who we had to drag out here next time"; the PuppetMaster whose enthusiasm and power filled us all in absentia; MadDog, whose tagline and Chinese Laborer photo became the mantra of the ascent; and our spouses and family who enthusiastically (if somewhat nervously) embrace our adventures.
    • The sense of vertigo and vastness of the great ranges of Wyoming as viewed from the ridge trail are completely indescribable and not adequately communicated by the pictures.  I'm embedding an image of the final ascent along the ridge, shot last summer by hiker Redwic and found on SummitPost.org.  It gives a sense of the narrowness of the trail and the conditions to either side.  What is doesn't show is the 3000' drop to either side.
    • The trek in was overlaid by the thoughts of the ridge traverse.  The trek out was overlaid by the distinct possibility that we'd come face-to-face with a 'sub-adult' grizzly reported to have encountered hikers and a horses in the days before out exit.  That's a lot of mulling over things like personal challenges, death & carnage.
    • The Glacier Trail is not a straight shot.  There are interesting sections throughout, including brook crossings, rushing glacier melt, switchbacks, long-haul ascents, boulder fields and of course glacier/snow travel.
    Wildman's Trip Report (pics here):
    A long a dusty trial at times trail from DuBoys. Amazing how different this approach was compared to Pinedale. Steepness and at times dryness comes to mind. The glacier runoff was beautiful, but didn't provide many fishing opportunities, oh well. Day one over Arrow Pass was a gut check, I wasn't sure it was ever going to end. Thirt
    y switchbacks, really, definitely possible. Our down day above the Tarns provided a day a rest and hours and hours of of summit route discusion.

    • Tmail remembering the tent poles
    • Next time lets not start anything with "when Bob is getting mauled"
    • Deciding who's tent we should pour Jelly on
    • Mutha pumping water by the gallon
    • 1 jar peanut butter 1 bottle jelly 4 people 3 lunches got it
    • Instant Banana Pudding rules, sorry Tmail Chocolate is no match
    • NOLS clearly delirious after 20 days, maybe they didn't know which way they went
    • A so so day can make for a great summit day
    • G$$$ you've got the dinners dialed in (as well as the route finding), I can't wait until next year
    • Mountain Goats, rock hopping wonders
    • Blasting out the last day 10.5 miles in 5.5 hours leaves it's mark on you feet
    • Tmail remembering all of the details from 2008, despite the Altitude issues
    • 57lbs without water I gotta leave more stuff behind or pack it in other packs


    Looking forward to doing if again next year. The possibilities are endless


    The Great NEK Cyclo-Madness

    Today, the day of the great event (start time 9am) I get an email from MadDog:  "What are we doing?  Do I need an ice axe or a bike?  A bike?  Okay, road or mtb.  Mtb?  Okay, I only have a road bike...".  MADDOG! 

    Dogman is leading the pack (w/ MadDog, BH and myself in tow).  We'll decide the exact route on the ride, but it'll be sufferfest for sure.   The graph the elevation profile of the  route is shown here (the "Shark's Tooth").  MapMyRide route and profile is here.

    Maddog's Trip Report:

        I guess I should have checked this route profile beforehand. Wait a minute, that's not a route. You can't fool me, that's the profile from the jaw of a tiger.

        And so the story starts...

        1. Brian couldn't make it, but his friend Howie does. So Howie and I share the ride to the tiger den.

        2. We're slightly early - 45mins to be exact. And DogMan is nowhere to be found. But Al is. So we hang and chat with Al while waiting for Mutha - tour the gardens, socialize with Trudy. Nice.

        3. My bike (the metal interconnected tubes and two tires is DOA. Both stems on the tube and tires non-functional. And my spare tube had been slashed. Howie threatens to kill me for not having a backup strategy. Somewhere there's a pic of my equipment only while my body is being searched for. Fortunately, I am grateful that Mutha's IT training has reinforced the concept of fully redundant (everything). He rolls in with a spare riding resource.

        4. After a 48 second comfortable descent, the teeth of the tiger began to bite, and hard. My mind (and biking) were wanting to climb, but the engine-room was maxed out (on the first hill) - I knew it would be long and painful day (I wouldn't have wanted it any other way).

        5. Apparently one of the design parameters for today was that we could not spend more than 3 minutes on the travel surface, if the road name did not have the word "Hill" in it.

        5. Cabot, Calais, Woodbury, and whereever we else were just gorgeous. Theatres, Sinister Brooks, hills that never end, sheep, and great landscapers.

        6. Sorry to admit it, but RedBull & Woodchuck Cider get an MD endorsement. Gatorade does not.

        7. Woodbury has much more interesting geology than Cabot, et al.

        8. Thanks for sharing the ride today for those who showed (Al, Howie, Mutha). Where DogMan, Steve, and Brian were, who knows.

        I will definitely be counting my sheep tonight.
    Mutha's Trip Report:
    Just a few elaborations on MadDog's report:
    • Howie is the EverReady Bunny - UNSTOPPABLE!
    • MadDog is a sandbagger - OUTSTANDING!
    • Al is the Terminator - UNTIRING!
    • The weather was gorgeous - INSPIRING!
    • Minister Brook Rd. was heartwarming - OVERJOYED!
    Thanks to all for financing the expedition and to the great job done on the last climb up Danville Hill.
    DogMan's Trip Report:
        Return To Minister Brook

        This is why one lives in Vermont!

        Awesome weather, awesome venue, awesome company (sorry Mutha but I can still use awesome right?).

        Howie gets top kudos for never cracking, even after the up hill spill on Chartier and the whole drag back through Woodbury and up Danville Hill. It isn't always easy to crash going up hill, and even harder to then get back on your bike, tackle the "wall of chartier hill", "sears truck pathway", "wall of woodbury", "bothfield bonk" and then hit danville hill.

    •     If MD had an appropriate bike and rode more than once a year, he would bury us all.
    •     Mutha is nipping at my heels, and doesn't even look tired.
    •     The sheep were good (not in that way).
    •     The pizza was good, not sure why no one else had the sense to get some.
    •     The garden tours were good.
    •     The red bull was good.
    •     The woodchuck was good. 


    The Storm Before The Calm

    The last hill has been climbed, the last mile run... sort of.  Friday, Saturday & Sunday of this weekend were awesome outstanding.  Highlights:

    Mutha's Trip Reports:
    Friday:  tMail, DogMan & I rode a 72 miler through the Northeast Kingdom, departing from my house (due to Dogman's strict rule that you don't drive to a ride).
    • Mile 35:  Parker Pie at the top of the climb up Bean Road in West Glover
    • Pizza and cokes and an hour of leisurely chit-chat
    • Mile 37:  Bread & Puppet Theater Museum.  DogMan's head didn't explode.  tMail felt the pressure building.
    Saturday:  g-$$$, MadDog, tMail, Spanky The Wonder Dog and I on a relatively casually-paced 12 miler from Lincoln to the App Gap along the spine of the Green Mountains.
    • Got to see both sides of both gaps.
    • Was astounded to discover that not all reasonable people consider the same side to be the 'hard' side.
    • Encountered a couple doing the 6-Gaps ride.  They were on gap 4 (at 5pm).
    • Topics covered:  love, life, death, bike components, 1-Acre intensive farming, jets, planes, gannett, sheep, goats, fencing, bikes, relationships, money, fuel, bikes, tires, bikes, troubleshooting bike problems, bikes, ... um, etc.
    Sunday:  tMail and I cranked out the Burke Mtn Auto Road while DogMan cranked the 'Maple Corners' loop by bike.  Arrived at the top of Burke Mtn (2000' ascent) about a minute apart (w/ tMail running like a gazelle on a casual tour, and me tromping like a rhino in labor).  We did it in 33 and 34 min respectively, but tMail could easily hit 30 min if he pushed like I did.  We got back to Danville, loaded up the dogs, and took a 1:26 run through the Danville Town Forest, up and over Pumpkin Hill, up and over the next hill, took the LVRT for a mile, then Pumpkin Hill Road up a steep ascent, then back up the unnamed hill and back and over Pumpkin hill.  Huh?  Let's put it this way:  nothing but hills the whole time.  Mileage?  Unknown.  Maybe 6.

    Final damage:
    • Bodies everywhere
    • Broke DogMan (joke)
    • Broke Jake & Spanky
    • Broke tMail's tent
    • I thought I was going to crash hard on Sunday, but took a long shower to get the accumulated sweat/salt off.  Felt better.  Took care of some chores around the house and pounded in a few cedar posts.
    • tMail is gentleman:  bought pizza for everyone (in Danville) and financed the food supply for treks.
    • DogMan is a gentleman:  picked up the tab at Parker Pie.
    • Mutha is a mooch:  accepted the favors graciously, ate his fill, and shook some hands.
    Now to chill for a few days and prepare for Gannett.
    tMail's Trip Reports:
    I arrived in Danville on Thursday and was immediately transported to the CSA to pick the Mutha Share of food. I met Mimi who is a smoking chick who owns the farm and would probably beat all of us arm wrestling. She said I can come to the farm anytime and she would put me to "work". I accepted maybe fall time. 

    I was then transported back to Mutha training facility and into a truck with Shirley the chicken, Sue and Jill for the next 2 hours.  I was taken to a farm and met Ann Mary who raises Jacobs sheep and has built a compound that David Koresh would be proud of. I then had a double date with Sue and Jill at Positive Pie.

    Thursday night we planned a ride to ride (DogMan, Mutha and me) north to Glover and stop at Parker Pie and pick up chicks with the Glover edge! We also sat next to the band R.E.M.

    Then my Jedi training really began as I had to use Jedi mind tricks at the Bread and Puppet Theater which is a walk back in time to the 60s and 70s or the land of Oz take your pick. My favorite puppet was the giant silver face looked like the Tin Man that represented an Atomic Bomb and a sign that said "Shoot them". Honey's everywhere and they invited the three of us dressed in spandex costume cycling outfits to a party at 8.30pm.

    Mutha is a machine on a bike and DogMan is like Cancellera during Paris Roubouix I had to time trial for about 10k at 35mph to catch but he freaked out Sunday saying he needs to ride more and didn't come with us to Burke.  After the ride we went to the DogMan system and had some Sierra Nevada's, talked about farming. If the CIA, FBI, KGB or KKK is ever after you hide out at DogMans 100 acres of coolness!

    Saturday was our Green Mountain assault from Lincoln to App Gap (G$$$, DogMan, Buttercup, Mutha and me). They took me via car after the hike on the Gaps and apparently MadDog aka Buttercup is going to do a 6 Gaps ride and be done with training for D2R2. Hike was great I could not name one peak except there was a hot blonde on one summit and teenager on another with pink shorts that were painted on her. Vermont Girls!

    Sunday we tried talking DogMan into not doing his Maple Corners ride but coming with us to sacrifice ones self on the run up Burke Mtn, DogMan retreated and Mutha and I forged forward. Burke Mtn auto road is a beast but can be dissected and destroyed for under 30 minutes. Mutha is a machine!

    When you thought it was over we ran for 1 hour 20 minutes through the Florida everglades in Danville it was awesome!

    Things learned:

    Molly the goat is an alien or yoda
    DogMan does not drive to bike starts
    Meth users work at Marty's
    Parker Pie and Positive Pie are far out.
    Mutha is a machine similar to energizer bunny but better.
    DogMan can be brainwashed.
    G$$$ nobody works and plays harder.
    MadDog's training method train around your weaknesses in that case everyone sit on your couch and don't move!
    Jake the Dog had his heart ripped out him.
    Spanky the Wonder Dog was sacked like Napoleon's army.

    If you want to get in shape in 72 hours go to the Mutha's Jedi Camp.
    Sue is a saint and she gave me a Sue Zucker original painting that is VERY cool.

    Close to 100 miles covered all weekend on bike and foot.

    Mutha thanks for everything next stop Gannett!


    July 4th

    At some point that weekend (July 4th) tmail is coming for a fun-filled adventure-fest:  a road bike ride (40-70 miles) followed by a hike the next day.

    We don't have a fixed schedule yet, but hopefully one or more of you can make one or more of those days.  at this point we're pretty flexible and don't have a specific route planned for bike or hike.  I understand that the weekend of the 4th is a big family holiday and it's not likely anyone can make it, but just in case you have one day free, consider joining forces.

    It's also not clear how my ankle will hold up on a ride, let alone ride and hike.  The doc asked me not to stress it by 'clipping out' for another week yet.  I've also done one road bike ride this year:  35 miles.  so i'll be at the back watching the road for stuff you guys may have dropped.

    Possible rides: 

    • hardwick - craftsbury - irasburg - barton - greensboro - hardwick
    • something involving burke and island pond.
    • double gap ride going over - um - two gaps.  probably app gap is one (heading east toward waitsfield).
    • single gap ride, starting in champlain valley, riding around, climbing the app gap, turning around and going back to car by a different route (i gotta get new brake pads)
    • waterbury to stowe to cambridge via smuggler's notch.  return via pleasant valley.
    • something involving woodbury, morrisville and hyde park
    • danville - groton - groton state forest - danville
    • something involving rte 5 south of st. j. through barnet, mcindoe falls, monroe, woodsville and other connecticut valley destinations.
    Possible hikes:
    • green mountain madness:  a long trek (spotting a car) from the top of smuggler's notch taking the Long Trail north to camel's hump, the bamforth ridge and river road in jonesville/bolton.
    • green mountain madness:  a longer trek starting at the Lincoln Gap north on the LT to Camel's Hump and ending up descending the bamforth ridge in jonesville.
    • something in the whites


    Garfield-Galehead Loop

    tMail, Jake & Spanky and I tackled Garfield & Galehead.  tMail and I carried 40lb packs (more or less) in anticipation of our Wyoming trek.  We parked at the trailhead for the Gale River Trail and walked the 1.6 miles along the loop road to the Garfield Trail.  Roughly 16 miles and some four thousands of feet later returned successfully to the car - about 8hrs.

    Mutha's Trip Report (pics here):
    • Jake really proved himself on this one.  Both dogs were outstanding performers of course but for a Jack Russell sprinter, this long mileage and elevation gain showed stamina that really was the payoff of two years of training.  When we got back to the house Travis noticed how pumped up his muscles were - he looked like a wrestler or body-builder.
    • For meals, I packed 5 full soft tortillas w/ mackeral & mayo for the dogs.  This fueled much of the trek in addition to some home-made bicuits, trail-mix and water.
    • Following tMail, the Iron-Man machine, was like paddling a canoe in the wake of a speedboat.  Incredible.
    • About 4 hours in, dropped to the ground in flames as the right ankle completely exploded in a tendon-wrenching hyperextension.  It was pretty bad and currently am following the R.I.C.E. therapy w/ 800mg of Ibuprofen, a beer and a glass of bourbon.  This won't end well.
    • Galehead Hut was calm, cool and collected.  The hut cougars were absent, as were the crazies, loons and freaks.  I think the mid-week timing had something to do with it.  We encountered about 4 groups on the trail - and a few solos - most of whom were out for at least two nights.  It was pretty impressive.  One young man was just poking around, heading up to the Twinway to find a spot anywhere and just have a great night out.
    • We met a young woman on Garfield who works for the AMC taking school groups on hikes.  She was out for some time to herself and was taking an arbitrary number of days/nights out.  She seemed completely at ease with taking another day, two or three.  She was eating peanut-butter out of a jar with a knife and had a jar of Frito-Lay cheese sauce.  I got zits just watching her down this stuff with a knife, but it was clearly fueling her adventures.  Good for her.
    tMail's Trip Report (pics here):
    What a great day, we took one from the weather gods!
    • Performance of the day goes to Jake, known for his short bursts of speed, princess like charm and now his ability to strap a set on and actually be a man and smash out Garfield and Galehole! I have been to Muthaville enough and spent countless hours with Jake in my lap to know he can be a total whimp, but I give the little SOB credit.
    • Garfield Trail, I was thinking it was going to be some hard ass trail, not sure why, but it was pretty nice and I thought the ascent was gradual, I never felt like it got steep at all. I also thought we made very good time, 3 hours to the trail junction with the Garfield Ridge Trail.
    • Gregory Palisades Pack was awesome, it was my first time using it and I thought it was awesome, I had no issues latching stuff or find places for things to go. It carried extremely well.
    • Bear Gryls Pants from Craghoppers pants I thought were awesome, breath really well, fit well, served their purpose. I order them on the assumption lets see how this guy designed a pair of pants and the quality, the passed.
    • La Sportiva Trango, no issues until the very end but that could have been because it was a 16 mile day with 40lbs, paws were a little sore but they were awesome.
    • Food consumed, 3 power bars, 3 mojo bars, 2 PB&J, all Wyoming food and I did really good had good energy levels
    • For those curious in the Pack, the only thing I really left off the pack was sleeping pad.
    1. REI Sleeping Bag, Kilo
    2. BD Mirage tent, with poles, fly and stakes
    3. Wyoming Rope (Both)
    4. Med Kit
    5. MH Primaloft Jacket
    6. Marmot Precip Orange Jacket
    7. BD gloves
    8. Ragged Mountain over mittens
    9. Wyoming hat
    10. Alpaca Winter hat
    11. Glacier glasses
    12. Jet boil
    13. Crampons
    14. Harness
    15. Climbing Helmet
    16. Compass
    17. Headlamp
    • Mutha you need to work on the war whoop, louder, higher pitch, pretend the goats just horned you in the nuts
    • I learned a lot about Pumpkins, Asparagus, strawberries, beans, crab apples, blocking weeds, raspberries, rhubarb, goats and bees
    • Two years from now we will probably be hiking with a male goat could be interesting, I think it would be great to bring the goat to Galehole Hut.
    • Quebec smoke still lingered in the air.
    • MadDog discovered a peach tree that grows in the Vermont environment.
    • Mountain water tasted better than ever!
    • Post hike recovery, normal nothing feels sore.
    • Lincoln, NH is a ghost town at 5.45pm on a Wednesday


    Norcross Pond Camping

    Finally got a chance to try out the tent I got from the PM.  Took Jake & Spanky w/ me on their first backpack overnight.  We didn't hit the trail until 3pm yesterday, so we hiked in 2.5 hours to where Norcross Pond dumps over the cascades down toward Carrigain Notch.  We camped in a sweet spot in the fir trees.  It dropped to about 45° - easily manageable, but it meant packing up in the morning at 6am wearing fleece, wool tights under pants and a hat.  Then disrobing in stages - eventually in shorts in t-shirt by 8am.  Pictures Here.

    Notes for the future Mutha:

    1. The lid on the jetboil has a purpose.  It keeps all that sputtering of rapidly boiling water from shooting out all over the place.  Use it for that.
    2. A little LED light hung from the dome destroys night-vision and in the middle of the night, is a mistake to suddenly turn on to figure out why the hell Spanky is sleeping on your head.  Put red taillight-repair tape over it before the next outing.
    3. Only bring mess-kit gear that matches the menu.  A corollary to this rule is:  almost everything can be eaten out of a mug.
    4. Okay, I see why my old sleeping bag (my first, from back in '81) sucks.  It's warm - that's fine - but it has never been washed.  It weighs about 5 lbs (maybe 4) and compressed down to the size of a motorcycle helmet (w/ visor).  If it weren't for my support of Leave-No-Trace I would've left the thing in the woods.
    5. Do a gear check PRIOR to leaving.  Did you really need 500' of paracord?  Can't that med-kit be trimmed a little (50 ibuprofen?  really?  If MadDog's not along for the pain-train, skip all the extras)
    6. Only bring strike-anywhere matches if you also bring the strike-strip from the box.  They suck really bad on rough stone.  Glad I had a flint stick AND a lighter.
    7. The vaseline/cotton fire starter is THE BALLS!  One freaking spark and WHOOOOSH!
    8. A nearly bald Jack Russell can be warmed in front of a campfire.  Consider camping only in places that allow campfires, like last night.  It made a little cold dog veeerrrrry happy.
    9. Backpacker's Pantry brand dehydrated meals aren't bad, but eating Kung Pow Chicken 2 years after the expiration date wasn't smart.  Taste wise, I would've gotten the same thing by dumping a handful of peanuts in Ramen Noodles.
    10. Consider Ramen when camping.  I wonder if it's possible to get some kind of dehydrated beans for flavor/interest.