Sunday, March 27, 2022

Jackson (Webster and Pierce) #15 of round 2 of the NH 48

Only 8 short days went by in between hikes this time. Amazing!!

It was a cold morning on February 20th (14 degrees and windless at the start, 27 with 25MPH winds at the finish)

We were lucky enough to have Evan up for the weekend, and armed with a large number of brownies and slabs of pizza and lemon pepper tuna and fig newtons, off to hike we went. 

Despite the cold, it was a busy morning in the notch but were found a nice place to park on the road, not terribly far from the trailhead. 

We had a pretty flexible plan. We knew we would summit Webster and Jackson for sure- and then weather depending head over to Pierce. The walk to Pierce is nice unless the weather isn't- and then it is just an awful time. 

Anyway, off we went into the cold. We had done Jackson and Webster twice before- August of '18 and December of '19. We have also done Pierce about 27 times at this point. So, only Jackson would count for anything on this particular day, but 3 peaks would be a nice addition to our goal of 62 peaks in 22 (a goal that is beginning to look terribly unreachable, as we continue to suffer winter's wrath...)

ANYWAY. Off we went. 

Uneventful (steep) hike to Webster, where it became ridiculously cold. 

As we made our way towards Jackson, it was pretty unanimous that we would head down from there. 

And when we arrived, it was much warmer, a really lovely day, so we forged on. 

The walk to Pierce was very enjoyable, and we enjoyed a windless snack break at the hut before tackling the steep section. 

After summiting Pierce for the 9,621st time, we made short work of the return trip as the winds picked up and got pretty crazy.

Another fun day in the hills- Checking off Jackson for 48 round 2, and logging another couple peaks for our overly ambitions 62 peaks in '22 goal. 

Miles: 9.1

Elevation: 3267

Time: 4:32:03

Fun: 7.5- the company was a 10, but we got pretty chilly for a few! 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Tecumseh: #14 of round 2 of the NH 48

Our first hike of 2022 did not happen until February 12th. 

This was pretty disappointing for a few reasons- we have a goal of summiting 62 peaks in 2022, finishing round 2 of the 48, AND we wanted to do a ton of winter hiking (we loved it last year, we want to work on the winter list, and we were excited to get back into great shape!)

However, life had different plans for us. (also FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS! WHAAA, I don't get to walk up a hill on my DAY OFF WHAAAAAHHHH!)

First of all, poor Ellie had some health problems in early January which led to surgery that laid her up for a few weeks. Thankfully, she is fine, and other than giving us a terrible scare, none of us are any the worse for this event. 

The second issue was (and continues to be) the incredibly uncooperative winter weather. January was COLD. SERIOUSLY COLD. Every weekend it was COLD. (February, and now into March are also having their share of issues. Many storm issues, wind issues, temp issues. We just don't plan to be part of a S&R soooooo, stuck at home many weekends.)

We had intended January to be this amazingly virtuous month, daily exercise, no spending on things that are not needed, and no drinking! Such little angels, are we. WELL, thanks to Ellen's 6K medical event, no spend January went to hell in a hand basket. I also managed to hurt my shoulder in this time, which morphed into a full blown 4 week sufferfest of horribleness. UGH. 
Somehow, we did manage to include daily activity and complete sobriety into our lifestyles, rendering us broke, boring, old and injured. OMG. 

THANK THE LORD, we finally broke the dry spell on the nicest day of the winter. 50 degrees, no wind, and GLORY meant we hit the road for the hill half way between us and Evan (reunited, YAY!!)

Tecumseh was Ellie's FIRST 4K when she was a bebe, and I'm sure she was very excited to be back! We had previously done this hill in May of '19, and in the Spring Waterville Valley is a ghost town. Of course, a ski mountain is NOT going to be quiet and empty on the most beautiful Saturday of the winter. We did have to park down the road a ways, but it was no big deal. It's a short hike so an extra half mile or so is NBD. (we did not get there until 11- so it was HOPPING! Long drive plus short hike equals late start.)

Conditions could not have been better. Spikes from top to bottom, with the sticky snow getting a little more fluffy in the last quarter mile or so. 

We had a great time catching up, chatting, laughing and being silly. There is no denying that this trail has a steep section, but on such a nice day we did not mind (this is an "easy" 4K because it is short in distance, is well protected, and popular. That being said, it is not a flat stroll. We got a little winded here and there!)

We popped to the top and snagged a quick pic. 

And then things got ridiculous, who knows why. 

We made swift work of the descent, and made it down quickly after a super fun day. 
We stopped to watch the skiers fly down the trails, (ski, not hiking...) which proved to us that this is a much more fun mountain in the winter months. We really enjoyed it!! We also smashed our PR by like, 40 minutes or something absurd. Whoops. 

This checked Tecumseh off for February, for Winter, and for this round of the 48.

Miles 5.8 (roadwalk included)

Elevation: 2500

Time: 2:29:58

Fun: 10!!! SO FUN!!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Moriah: #13 of round 2 of the NH 48

This is the episode where I make my grand return to chasing round 2 of the 48 after surgery. 

I wish now that I had thought too write these in real time, but thankfully not too many days have passed so I haven't forgotten how I was feeling. 

In late November, we had attempted Pierce to keep the streak of "Pierce in All 12 Months" alive. We didn't have high hopes, and that was good because we only made it half way. There was no denying that it was one of the toughest hikes I had ever had, and it was good that we called it a day. Thankfully, no ill effects. I just could not handle the strain on my body that the hills provided, and that was to be expected. 

We waited another month to try again, and what a huge difference that made. We managed Pierce just fine the day after Christmas (it is tradition to hike Pierce on Boxing Day!) I felt cautions, but good, and was delighted to be back on my feet. And with ZERO pee stops!!

So off we went on New Years Eve to visit Moriah. We have been up Moriah twice before, in May of '19 and April of '21. We were happy to catch a beautiful day for a winter season effort! 

Clocking in at just a hair over 9 miles, I was hoping the distance wouldn't do me in. 

There were several cars at the "parking lot" so we parked by the power lines. We always feel weird parking at the trailhead because it is somebodies back yard. 

Anyway. Spikes on from the get go and off we went. The sun was shining, the conditions were as good as they could be, and we actually made very short work of this one. The steep sections were quite easy in the conditions, as micro spikes made for speedy and safe travel. We found that we prefer this trail in winter conditions!

We got some lovely views from the overlook that I believe is Mt Surprise. 

It truly was a picture perfect winter day. We definitely reflected on the overall great conditions we had ion 2021. From the start (Pierce and Eisenhower on NY Day 2021, where it was a bluebird day with NO wind) to this day, we experienced more good days than we could have hoped for. 
Not to mention the fact that we finished the 48 this year, saw some new peaks, we were able to see and hike with friends again, with a better feeling of safety (from covid. at least for a few months since omicron came rolling in. good timing though, omicron was going super strong while we were mostly off the grid while I recovered.) 

At the summit it inexplicably got cloudy and cold, but that's the way it goes!!

We made great time on the way down, and managed to chase down and pass some smokers that we met on the way up as they descended. We made sure to call Evan and let him know we had seen Darlene (only he knows what this means, but it will make Eric laugh when he reads it...)

somehow, we managed to PR this mountain by 19 minutes despite my relative lack of fitness! 

I would definitely credit the super conditions for this, perhaps more than my sneaky super speed. 
So, we checked Moriah off for December, for Winter, and for this round of the 48. 

Overall a very fun day. Moriah, traditionally, is not my favorite (the last mile goes ON and ON and ON) but this was a great day for it, and we enjoyed our final hike of 2021 tremendously. We grabbed a hot chocolate for the ride home, and moseyed off into 2022. 

Miles: 9.2 

Elevation: 3809

Time: 4:21:27

Fun: 8.5

Saturday, March 12, 2022

North & South Hancock, #11&12 of round 2 of the NH48

One might think that the Hancock mountains would fall on my "dislike" list, since we checked them off so early on. But one would be wrong. I really enjoy the Hancocks, and had a great time hiking them when we did them last.

We headed out the morning on October 24th in some chilly conditions. For the first time of the season, we had tucked micro-spikes into our packs. Better to have them and not need them, especially with the steep sections that these mountains have. (spoiler: we did not need them.)

For anyone who has not done this trail before, it goes a little something like this:
-Enjoy a lovely walk along the Hancock Notch trail, in the Fall it is nice and quiet and peaceful (in the summer it is a zoo.) It is also pretty flat. Plenty of little brook crossing.
-Bang a left onto Cedar Brook Trail, also not horribly uphill, although you will gain some elevation. If you have been walking shoulder to shoulder with people casually stretching their legs, you will begin to lose them here. You'll also have more water to deal with! (the water was basically IN the trail last fall)
-Arrive at the Hancock Loop Trail, and choose which way you want to do it (we have gone both counter, and clockwise. We prefer clockwise. But it is 6 of one.... 
(if you go to the North Peak first, the trail sneakily dips for a moment before the climb begins. It's only about 0.7 miles- but you gain some serious vert!)
-GO UP UP UP UP!!! From either side you have over half a mile of serious, non relenting climbing. Not too many big rocks, but plenty of roots and crappy footing to contend with. Very critical to have traction through here if it is even remotely slick. 
.....And then......
-Get a great view

After catching your breath for a moment, enjoy the walk to South Peak. It's about 1.4 miles of pretty easy terrain with a few pointless ups and downs. 

The overlook at South Peak can either be terribly windy, or is where you will find shelter. In this day, it was "warm" and windless, and we were able to take in another lovely view. 

We had the place to ourselves, which certainly is the upside of non summer season hiking. We found that after mid October, the crowds lessened significantly. (that being said- the leaf peepers were out in FORCE, and parking at the lot for this hike was tricky. We happened across a spot when some backpackers came off the hill in a large group.)

We took a few minutes to soak it in. We knew that this was going to be the final hike before my surgery, and we didn't have any idea when I would feel up to getting back out on the hill again. 

This was a really fantastic hike to bring us to the end of October. Unlike some of the extremely long haul days we had recently had, this one felt easy and fun. The weather was on our side, and both of us were feeling the positive effects of a season of hiking. The only issue I was still dealing with at that point (other than a 6 pound fibroid) was some residual foot pain that had plagued me all month. I hoped that would vanish while I was forced to rest during November. 

It was days like this that had caused me to put off surgery for so long. The days where I felt crappy were relatively few, and I was so accustomed to the side effects of the fibroid (needing to pee constantly, heaviness, period problems, etc) that I hardly thought of it anymore. On this particular day, I definitely hoped that I would find myself back on my feet and in good form ASAP, and with no ill effects of complications. 

So on this day we checked these peaks off for October, for Fall, and for round 2 of the 48. A successful day!!

Miles: 9.8

Elevation: 2855

Time: 4:34:08

Fun: 9

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Galehead, and the Twins, 8,9,10 of Round 2 of the NH48

This past fall season really reads like a book of "get your least favorite peaks out of the way STAT! And do a lot of them at a time, to make it even better!"

Weirdly, and inexplicably, we have done the Twins twice (while still in round one of the 48... and BOTH ion August, ugh) Both times, not good. Terrible weather the first time, for sure. The second time was better (and we logged Galehead that time as well) but there's just something about the North Twin trail that I don't care for. I will say that I do enjoy the hike between the Twins, despite the soul sucking mud. 

On this particular day, October 10, 2021, we approached the whole shebang from the Gale River Trail. MUCH BETTER. I was quite fond of that trail and it struck me as significantly more pleasant than North Twin. 

I'm also going to be 100% honest here. On this particular day, I was kind of having a life struggle. I deal with generalized anxiety and a panic disorder (as many do!) I'm fine and live a very high quality life, medication free, about 99% of the time. The other 1% is a little more difficult. My whole week leading up to this hike had been heavily saturated in pre surgical appointments and organization. I actually had felt pretty mentally healthy about the whole situation. However, on this particular morning things crashed down and I had an absolutely crippling panic attack. Not good. It was rough on me, and we almost bailed and headed home. The thing about having dealt with this for 20 years is that I know what I'm dealing with. I know with a little Ativan and a little time, it passes. Thankfully, it did and that was it for pre surgical panic attacks. 
So, on with our hike. 

Up the Gale River Trail we went. 

Last time we summited Galehead it was pouring thunderstorm rain, like buckets and buckets of it. We were thankful that it was much drier on this particular day. Galehead is NOT a good summit at all, because it is simply a pile of rocks under a tree. 

We do always enjoy the Hut, and the view there. I enjoy the huts because I get soup, and the soup is always good. On this day it was kind of cold soup but I prefer it that way. Love hut soup. 

From Galehead, there is quite the lengthy and steep hike up the Twinway to South Twin. 

This was the best day we have had up there, and I have to admit that the south summit is impressive. Plenty of views on this particular day! The fall colors were starting to pass, but it was still possible to see some good colors. 

The trek across the North Twin Spur was pretty uneventful, and no muddier than usual. The summit of North Twin is another pile of rocks under a tree, but if you take a short walk past the summit there is another view worth seeing. 

From there, we retraced our steps back to the car, where we had jet boil quesadillas, and Eric and Ellen spent some time in contemplation. We definitely could feel some real Fall in the air this day, and we began to think about winter on the horizon. 

Overall- this was definitely our best and most enjoyable trip up these 3 peaks. I actually look forward to doing them again, using this route. 
We were able to check all three off for this round of the 48, for October, and for Fall. A good day!!

Mileage: 14.25

Elevation: 4509

Time: 7:32:26

Fun: 7.5 (except the panic attack which was ZERO fun.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Pierce #7 of Round 2 of the NH48

We got to know Pierce well in 2021 as we hiked it 12 times (and summited 11 because I had surgery in November.)

Fun fact: Pierce was also #7 from round one. 

So we snagged this one after work on September 28th. Basically, we had run out of time to get this hike in, and had to get it done. 

We were the only ones on the hill, because it was night and there had been an afternoon storm. 

Ummm, it was dark!!!

We did have a good time. We know the trail so well that it was not terribly difficult to do it in the dark. 
It was a bit slow going, as there was fog in addition to the dark which made headlamp visibility tricky!

We love Pierce, we can't get enough of it, and we enjoyed the whole evening! (getting home at 1AM, not so good!!)

We were happy because we checked off Pierce for September,  and for this round of the 48! 

Miles: 6.2

Elevation: 2560

Time: 2:58:07

Fun: 9.5 (really a 10, but getting home so late is a drag!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Carters, and Cats #2,3,4,5,6 for Round 2 of the NH48

Let's just call this post "kill me now"!!!! 

We decided to knock out ALL the Carters and ALL the Cats in one day on September 19th 2021. 
We were in peak shape, the days were still pretty long, and were just wanted to get this motherfucker done. 

We had done all peaks previously, of course, but in a much less strenuous way. And we had never gone down in to the middle of the earth, 7th circle of hell Carter Notch. 

ANYWAY. We began bright and early. We had to do some faddling around since it was a point to point with a 5 mile road walk in between. No thanks. So Eric dropped Ellie and me off at the trailhead, and he drove the car to Wildcat and then rode his bike back down to us. It was cold AF (like 49...) but other than that, this worked fine. 

We went on up the Imp Trail, which of course took us over the Imp Face. This is a hard enough hike in and of itself (and is on 52 with a view, so this totally was a 6 peak hike.) The Imp face is a beautiful place, very very lovely. 

From there we walked about 348 more miles to Middle Carter, and onwards to the South Peak. Honestly, it's not really as far or as dire as I make it sound, it's just a grind of ups and downs (as one would expect.....) 

We detoured to Mt. Hight which you really just have to do (so... this was a SEVEN peaker??) Yes, it's slightly more elevation than just getting over to Carter Dome, but there just is no reason to skip this stellar peak. (and it truly was a stellar day- and was turning into a hot one)

From Hight it's really only a skip and a jump to Dome, where we took a pretty legit 20 minute break because we got talking to a few people. You also can't do a long haul hike like this without stopping for food and stuff a couple times. 

From there..... It is literally DOWN over 1,000 feet to Carter Notch where the hut is. It is STEEP AF towards the end, and you seriously feel like you are never going to finish going down. 
It is pretty. And pretty STUPID having to go back up, hahaha..

Anyway- we did need to stop again for a few minutes to refill waters and use the restroom before the final push over the Cats. 

And what a push it is. 

The climb out of the notch is just a beast, especially when you have mileage and vert already in your legs. OOOF. UGH. 

We complained a lot while climbing to Wildcat A which is pretty much one of the worst summits a person could ask for. (I don't have a lot off love for the Cats.) (and it is not THAT bad but it is VERY hidden)

I won't go into the details of the final few miles. We did make it to the D peak. Obviously. 

We took the ski trails down. It was hot as shit. We were kind of over it. There was not a ton of morale. It happens, not every hike is a good one. *it WAS pretty*

When we got back to the car for the FIRST time ever I was so tired that I didn't even want to eat (I did, and then I felt a lot better. )

Bottom line, we were glad to get this one over and done with. Got all the peaks checked off for September (we already had them cleared off the summer list- and are going to try not to have too many repeats but it happens and good weather means long hikes even if we repeat a season!)

Here's the thing. This hike is very impressive, very beautiful, rugged and long. It is VERY good to do when you are in peak shape, but perhaps NOT so great to do when you are only like, 6 days recovered a Bonds-Zealand Traverse. I'm pretty sure my attitude was lousy because I was tired (and honestly, TMI, but I was really suffering massive discomfort from the fibroid I had. It was a pretty miserable hike for me because of that....)

Miles 14.75

Elevation: 6500

Time: 8:26:53 oooffffff

Fun: 3 (Sara) OK it wasn't that bad. maybe a 5

Monday, March 7, 2022

Zealand: #1 for round 2 of the NH48, and completing round one

On September 11th, 2021 Eric, Ellie and I wrapped up round one of the NH48 by summiting Bondcliff, Bond and West Bond. 
The timing of this fell on a day that still holds a lot of sadness and meaning 20 years later, and we appreciated the "flags on the 48" remembrance. 

Evan joined in for this adventure (he was there when we did our first of the 48 back in 2018, which was Jefferson. And this was going before we had any idea that there were "lists!")

The whole day began early and with several doses of absurdity. Somehow, in the car at 4AM Eric began to invent a mountain race called "hamboned hiking." If I remember correctly, the intent and purpose of this race was to get your blood alcohol level as high as possibly and to also get as high as possible on the said mountain before puking or passing out. (like I said- ridiculous!) At 4AM the thought of getting wasted made me want to puke (and heavy drinking is really not our thing. A beer, yes. wasted- I can't even remember the last time!) So: I would NOT win hamboned hiking. 

THEN we got to the Zealand Trailhead and met Marlene. She was our shuttle driver to Lincoln woods and was LITERALLY everything we could have imagined. The weirdest part- we had talked about what sort of person she would be on the ride over. And somehow NAILED it. Off on the right foot!!

Anyway. It promised to be a gorgeous day and we set a brisk pace on the flats of Lincoln Woods. 
It's a long walk to Bondcliff, but a nice walk with breaks between the steep areas, and plenty of beautiful woods too admire. 

Bondcliff- and the Bonds in general rank very high on my list. Save them for a beautiful day, because they are truly stunning. Seeing the flags was special, and the views were astonishing. 

We made short work between Bondcliff and Bond, even though it's a decent uphill grind. And then it felt like just a short walk (with a few downs and ups, and a big up the final ascent) to West Bond. 

We took a few minutes to soak up the views and celebrate our 48th peak. 
We were so happy that we saved these for last, there was something special about the solitude and the space that made for a unique experience. 

Most people chose the Zealand-Bondcliff route, but we did it the other way for a very specific reason. 

And that reason was to begin the list for a second time, on the same day. 

It was. pretty hefty walk from West Bond to Zealand, traveling over Guyote which is an unlisted and underrated peak (views for MILES!!) 

The trail was often very rocky (as trails often are in these parts.) Overall, it is a long and challenging hike, and also an awesome one to do on strong legs on a beautiful day. (I can pretty much 10/10 NOT recommend this one for weak legs or a gross day, haha.)

Finally, we made it to Zealand and celebrated A NEW START!!!!

We hiked briskly to the Zealand Hut to refill our waters, and once we got there I managed to fall down like a tree in front of about 50 people, Ellie decided to fight a dog, and it was basically a mess. And we were too tired to deal with it!!!

Somehow (don't ask me how) we managed too run a little on the pretty flat final few miles. We must have been in amazing shape..... 

We celebrated the return to our car with some jet boil quesadillas and lots of recapping of an amazing day. We had some SUPER hikes in 2021- but this one was the top dog. 

Peaks: 4
Number 46,47,48/48 AND 1/48
Distance: 19.24 miles
Elevation: 4817
Fun level: 10 

Checking in after like, a year

I'm not technically back... 
Know blogs aren't a thing anymore, and that this is basically my online diary. That being said, there is nothing wrong with an online diary!!

So last summer went off the rails more or less. Not in a bad way- we all stayed healthy, business was good. Just any plans I had for running/racing/etc went to crap. After June, I did not run more than a random trail mile here and there until THIS week. My fibroid (which I had removed- along with a hysterectomy on November 1st) was making things miserable. I could not run at all without needing too pee many, many MANY times (like, 3 stops for a 3 miler. at least. not cool.) That, plus the pressure and THEN a month of fall foot pain made me quit. 

I let both my trail race and Boston dreams go when my running was not up to par. I would have gone to shuffle Boston- but it was 2 weeks before my surgery and there was NO way I was going to risk getting Covid. 

So long story short. 

A lot of things that were good happened last Summer. We hiked and worked and played with our dog. We made funny memories that are only funny to us and Evan, like Marlene, Parkour and Sustainable Goat Hiking. I finally had that surgery and it went just about as well as I could have hoped for. I had some anxiety leading up to it- fear of the unknown will do that to a person, but I'm happy to say that I'm feeling better than ever at this point. Like, really. No lie. 
I did manage to hurt my shoulder/back in January and am JUST getting pain free from that. That issue was almost as annoying than being on post op rest....

Plus, finally managed to run 3 miles yesterday (yes, at a 10:57 pace but I do not care! I'm just happy to be out there!)

Now that we have completed our first round of the NH 48, I am going to try to report in about our second round. 
If this was 10 years ago this would probably mean a name change for this blog, but I'm not going to go to any great lengths. :-)