Friday, May 26, 2023

Spring hiking 2023

And just like that, it was spring! Sort of.

April 8th Eric and I ventured to the Franconia area for the weekend to celebrate his birthday (late!) We had procrastinated since we were both sick, and assumed that by this time we would be well over it. 
Ha Ha.
Eric was still suffering from a lingering cough (remember. at this point it had been literal WEEKS since coming down sick. I had taken 6 covid tests by this time, and Eric his fair share as well- all negative. So we were not spreading the plague around.) And while Eric was ill, I won the award by coming down with a gross sinus infection. It was ROUGH. Ellie joined in the fun and got an ear infection, which she was unperturbed by. When we arrived in Lincoln, I assumed I might be spending the whole weekend in the airbnb waiting for the antibiotics to work their magic. 

Well, the good news was that by the next morning my face and tooth pain had subsided, my nose was less stuffy, and the only intense symptom was a continuation of ear blockage (the worst of my life!) All in all, we were on the up and up. 

We met up with Evan for a chilly- but beautiful- climb up Liberty and Flume. We did an out and back of Liberty Springs trail (from the bike path at Flume Gorge.) This trail is lovely in the winter conditions because all the rocks are buried! Despite not being able to hear particularly well, I was feeling well enough to have a great time, as we all did. It was chilly enough for it truly to be winter conditions- some of the best of the year! 

This was a successful trip to claim these peaks for this round of the 48, and for April. 

The following day the weather warmed up a bit, and the wind was forecast to be very minimal so the three of us decided to do Franconia Ridge. 
Last year we did a big traverse from Flume to Lafayette, also in the Spring. While it's a little disappointing to repeat seasons at this point, this is NEVER (on a good day) a disappointing hike- and it WAS a good day so we took advantage of the chance to beat the summer crowds. 

While it got to 50 during the later part of the hike it was pretty solid winter conditions. Spikes to the ridge, bare boots across, and then spikes all the way down. The descent was a combo of pretty bulletproof ice to the hut- and then mashed potatoes in the warming temps. It was a little chilly up high- but another beautiful day and a good chance to get these peaks crossed off the list for this round, and April. 
And yes, I have decided to make bucket hats a thing. I'm sick of my ears getting burned and bucket hats look badass. 
And, unexpectedly, we set a solid PR of something absurd like 45 minutes! 

So the very next weekend, Summer arrived. Full send, 81 degreees, summer. 
We ventured out to visit Madison and Adams since it was supposed to be 47 degrees up high, with very little wind. Basically the best weather one could hope for! 

Well. It turned out to be a heck of a lot warmer than planned. 

It was a hot one. Zero wind. Toasty. We have been up there in july on much colder days. 

Of course- conditions were a mess. Bare boots to 2100' going up, then spikes up the skinny, rotting monorail. Bare boots from Madison Hut to Madison and Adams, and then a disgusting walk down Airline in gross spring conditions. Typical.

All that crap aside, it was a truly stunning day. 

Neither of us had a terrific day- Eric had done a big workout the previous day and was tired. I was a ton better but seemed to be developing a cough (with no "I'm getting sick" feeling symptoms, I did indeed pick up a cough which is still here on April 29th. two more covid tests still say no, so here we are.) Ellie had a great day so that was good. We ran out of water. We had grossly overpacked. Nothing we could not figure out, it was just a VERY long day and the usual reminder that the Northern Presi's are the hard ones. 

It was a very low traffic day, despite the incredible weather so that was nice. 
So this checked both these peaks off for this round and for April. We were glad to get them done, and now can look forward to a Jefferson to Pierce mini Presi once the Jefferson Notch Road is open. 
At a later date, we also discovered that this long day also brought us to the halfway point of this round of the 48. Cha-ching. 

Well. I wrote this weeks ago and forgot about it. So anyway. More to come later. 


Saturday, April 15, 2023

Winter Hiking Wrap Up

After a messy January, we were able to catch some decent weather days for some solid hiking through February and March.

February 11, we snagged a gorgeous day to hike Tecumseh. Interestingly, we hiked Tecumseh almost a year to the day ago, in very similar conditions. It was sunny, relatively mild, lots of hiker traffic and we wore spikes top to bottom. We made short work of this hike and I believe set a PR (I'm too lazy to double check that.) 

February 12, we set out for redemption on Carter Dome. As wise as it is to hit all of the Carters at once, we did not have the time. Conditions were still not great, but snowshoes from top to bottom kept us on our feet. It was a chilly day, especially during the last mile, but we were very lucky with pleasant sunshine and very little wind at the top. No matter what, Carter Dome is one of those hikes that is just a long slog- and it may not be our favorite! (this being said, it was pretty cool to see the summit in winter conditions. HUGE snowdrifts get you up so high, it's a very different landspace from summer!)

February 19, we set off for our first winter trip over the Tripyramids. We had a really great day, and enjoyed an out and back on Pine Bend Brook Trail. There is no doubt that this is a steep, steep hike in many places but we were able to wear spikes the whole time, and it was fast and fun. It was also a beautiful day, and we enjoyed very quiet trails. This is a trail where traction is VERY much needed in winter, and there would be no way to manage the steeps in bare boots (I think bare boots in winter are the equivalent of flip flops in the summer... so...) 

February 20. South and Middle Carter. Getting the rest of these bitch ass Carters done for the season. Blech. We went from Imp trail (not over the imp face) to North Carter Trail and it was as one would expect. Honestly, it was not a terrible day. It was pretty warm, we managed fine in spikes, we only saw 5 people. We bopped down past the Joe Dodge Lodge at the end, and then ran down the road back to our car in the pouring rain, which was extremely unpleasant. Somehow, we took zero photos. 

March 5, it had snowed about a million feet over the course of the week, so we packed the snowshoes and hit Jackson. Thankfully, this is a short (less that 5 mile) hike but despite our misgivings, it was very well packed out. The biggest challenge was the traffic on the trail which was almost summer level. Several large guided groups out and about, and some unguided intrepid barebooters as well, tearing up the trail like a bunch of ass hats. The summit was a shit show of much higher than forecast wind, unconsolidated snow, and horribly bad visibility. We scooted. This was a pretty good time though, and it was incredible how much snow had shown up (at the end of winter..)  Again, no photo evidence. 

March 11, we headed out for our final Winter season hike over the Hancocks. We were greeted with a pretty well established but unconsolidated trail, and opted for snowshoes AGAIN. Honestly, it is kind of nice to have the televators to get up the wicked steep parts, so there's that. This was our first winter trip on this trail and it was a damn good time. Gorgeous weather, beautiful views, trail blazes at ankle height and a crazy wild slide back down added to the adventure. This is a long, but really fun winter hike. I'll take it over the Carters anyway (this might win my award for best Winter hike of 2023.) 

March 25, Isolation, technically in the Spring, and officially our first Spring trip to Iso. Super day for spikes and fast conditions top to bottom. We took Rocky Branch, to the Engine Hill Bushwack, to Iso express and it was in incredible shape. Decent enough weather, and very low hiker traffic. This had the potential to be an amazing day, but sadly, I expect it to win the worst hike for Spring award. I had been dealing with a mild cold for a few days, and was feeling like I was probably not going to get very sick. Unfortunately, I ended up being VERY sick and have never felt so terrible while hiking. I can't really recall anything positive, because I was miserably ill. (and let's see- it is not April 15th and I am still getting over whatever it was. Not Covid. But something horrendous.) Anyway, I don't ever want to do that again, the end. Awful.

So that's a wrap for winter, and the worst hike of the Spring. We just had 3 crazy April days in the 70's and 80's so we have a feeling that things are not going to be very nice on the trails for a bit!

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Fall/early winter hiking recap

I'm running a little behind (and since this is round 3, we probably don't need a full blown report for each peak! (unless something is especially exciting))

My sister visited for Thanksgiving, and (briefly) so did winter! We enjoyed a true winter day on Pierce and had a great time showing her one of our favorite 4000 footers. 

We tagged Waumbek the second weekend of December and there was a noticeable lack of snow for the majority of the hike. Back to fall conditions, frozen ground, ice, kind of junky. I managed to hook my microspike in my boot badly during this hike and I took a fall that left my right hand injured for the winter season (not broken- seems like a tendon was injured and so I have been fighting tenosynovitis since. It's not terribly painful anymore but was an annoying thing to take away from what was a pretty annoying hike!)

We began the winter season on December 27 with Hale. We chose to add the Zealand roadwalk and it was a really enjoyable day. Chilly enough so that the snow was very microspikeable and we made short work of the trail. A good way to start the winter season! It was cold so I took very few pics. 

Later that week we ventured off in hopes to tag both Carter Dome and middle Carter. This turned out to be by FAR the worst hike of the 2022 season. We had a major storm earlier in the week and received some snow, and also insane amounts of rain. Temps were expected to be cool, and the trail report showed that the trails had been well set after the storm. 
What we did NOT expect was a massive temp change (to over 50 degrees) around the half way point on the way up. The snowpack on the trail began to literally collapse around and under us. It was miserable, and unexpected, and we turned back less than a half mile from the summit (and had a dreadful descent. there was nothing that could be done to keep from sinking repeatedly, as the snow was falling into itself. We never have seen anything like it!)
The photo shows the amazing washout at one of the crossings from the rain.

After that debacle, a combination of miserable weather, scheduling issues and other crap kept us out of the mountains for the month of January. 
Stay tuned for the remainder of the winter season recap. 

Saturday, December 3, 2022

And winter returns. #5 Mt. Willey

UGH, after a glorious run, Winter arrived. 

The photo gives it away. We decided to tackle Willey for the Fall season. Last winter we tried to do it from this side and the ladders were an icy death waterfall of doom, so we bailed. They were fine this time, the trail was essentially ok (except for the fact that it's one of those trails that nobody talks about, but a good part of it is a steep little skank.)

The biggest issue with this day was the COLD. Like real full blown winter bullshit. 24 at the base, 17 at the top. Big winds scheduled for the day so we made it a one peak day, and were happy we made that choice. 

Despite the cold, it was very pretty. 

We did not linger long at the Summit. We knew the relative calm wasn't going to last, and we don't want to be anywhere near the summit when the winds start howling (we could hear them in the distance, roaring like a freight train.)

The thing about Willey is that it is quite protected until you reach the summit. On this day, we knew the trail was on the right side of the hill to avoid the better part of the wind, even if it kicked up early. We had considered adding Field as it's awfully easy to scoot over there. But nope, it was an easy choice to bail. With the temp at 17 there was just no margin for error, so away we went. 

Remember just a couple weeks back when we were hiking in tank tops? No more. 

Anyway. We made it down no problem (except my micro spikes keep catching on each other, or on my new boots. So I fell. TWICE and was PISSED.) But then we went to get a hot chocolate to cheer up after the cold cold day. 
We definitely had a conversation about how the weather was exactly what had been forecast, and how it would have been a really lousy day to head above treeline. Unfortunately, not long after we got home we heard word of a missing hiker on Franconia Ridge. Tragically, we all know how that turned out and it certainly is a good reminder to take these mountains very seriously, even it is technically still Fall.


Peaks: 1

Miles: 5.25

Elevation: 2998

Fun: Ugh, it wasn't the most fun but that's life 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

And... We begin again. 1-4 of round 3 of the NH48

Why not jump right back into it??

Eric, Ellie and I spent a fabulous weekend in Lincoln, NH for my early birthday. My only requests were a nice airbnb (check) lots of hiking (check) and a trip to White Mountain Wanderer to buy a couple books (check!)
We also ate some really adequate tacos (I think the place was called Nachos and it had pretty terrible yelp reviews, but we took a chance and it was absolutely fine. NOT special but it was 65 degrees out, we sat outdoors, and enjoyed our overpriced Mexican, hahah.)
We also ate some EXCELLENT coffee and bagels from White Mountain Bagel. Now that was some good stuff. 

Ellie approved of the airbnb was was very sus of the moose decoration on a mantle. Not into it. But she was very into the comfy couch. 

On Friday November 4th we restarted the 48 with a trip up Cannon in summer weather. Blue skies, 60 degrees, and only a handful of other hikers on the trail. (including the most grumpy hiker we have ever met. So grumpy!!)

It was really a glorious hike, and even Eric (who hates Cannon) had to admit that it was a very amazing day. (and it should be noted that we crushed our previous PR by a good amount!) Standard route up and down KRT, which was in the best shape one could ask for. 

The next day it started off "cool" (48) but eventually made it all the way to 66 amazing November degrees. 
It was supposed to be a very windy day up high, so we decided on the Osceolas, since they are pretty well protected and below treeline. Also, once Tripoli Road closes, they are a very long drive from where we live (and only about 20 minutes away from our AirBnb!!)

Loads of people on trail, it was a real summer day according to the crowd levels. 
We expected the crowds to lessen between peaks but it never really happened. This is what you get for picking a very popular route on such a temperate day! 
We finished in a good time, with an automatic PR since we have only done this from Greely Pond, or with the lengthy winter road walk. 

After enjoying the weirdly hot day, and the mostly very cheerful other hikers, we took off back to our temporary home to allow Ellie to spend some time with her arch nemesis, the Moose. Pure Evil.

Day 3 dawned warm. 65 actual degrees when I headed out on a coffee run at 6:30AM. Absolutely unbelievable conditions for November, and we WERE NOT SAD. (and, the clocks changed!)

And where did we go??

Owl's Head. 

Weren't we JUST THERE? 


But, we did not want to be the fools who left it for second to last again. Also, it was a nice fall day and really quite perfect for 16 miles. 
Despite the perfect weather it was definitely a more Fall like hike than last time. No leaves on the trees, everything a bit stark looking overall. 

Not too many others out on this trail, but we saw a handful of people tagging this silly remote peak. We had none of the struggles of traffic on the slide, but were not fast at ALL in this section due to the previous two days. Slow pokes for sure. And unlike last time, it was pretty warm at the summit so we did not have to panic and immediately put on all of our winter kit. Or any of it. 

It was a good hike, the bushwhacks were in fine shape (Brutus was a little weird- lots of blowdowns in the past couple weeks made for some funky re-routes but it all worked out.) We enjoyed the hike and did not PR at all (but we were only like, 7 minutes slower than last time which all in all is acceptable.)

We rolled back along the trail to one more Fall view before winter shows up (it's inevitable)

So Stats for the Weekend:

Peaks: 4

Miles: A little over 28

Elevation: 8466

Fun: TEN A TEN!!! SO FUN!!