Falling Behind … Apparently!

Well, that’s a shocker – last post is a month ago?!   Where oh where has the time gone?  It certainly has been an adventure filled month, that’s for sure!  Last post was after our trip to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Since then I have:

  • Spent 3 days in Acadia working, hiking and kayaking
  • Followed by 4 days of camping bliss at my beloved Mooselookmeguntic
  • Had my 32nd birthday
  • Did a Franconia Ridge Traverse (deets to follow)
  • Spent a weekend in Eustis, ME camping and doing a Bigelow Range Traverse
  • Broke a toe
  • Knit 5 hats
  • Knit a sweater
  • Started a new quilt
  • Got a new sewing machine
  • Visited with my long lost friend back east from CA
  • Continued to harvest large quantities of tomatoes, basil and cukes from the garden
  • Oh yeah, and did manage to breathe in there somewhere…

So each of those bullets could be their own blog post.  To follow, at some point SOON will be more on the Acadia/Mooselook/birthday trip, Franconia Ridge Traverse, Bigelow Range Traverse and the current sewing & knitting projects. And photos of course.

Meanwhile, I am still befuddled at the fact that a month has passed.  Just. Like. That.

Summer in New England

It’s good living in New England, I must say.  Especially this summer.  Everyone, I mean EVERYONE, is happy right now.  We have had an amazingly wonderful summer thus far weather- wise.  And I don’t think I can jinx it at this point.  We deserve it.  It’s been so spectacularly gorgeous, and hard not to take full advantage of it. So, Alex and I have been playing to our heart’s content.  Weekdays consist of running, mountain biking and cruiser rides downtown for a beer looking over the river.  And weekends are spent outside – it’s mandatory.  I still sneak in an hour or more a day of some sort of fiber project – how can I not!  Like this weekend – I made myself a hat on the drive up for around the campfire on our amazing weekend at Kingdom Trails.  We drove up Friday night, in time for dinner at the Tamarack Grill, margaritas & burgers on the deck after setting up the tents and back to the campsite for a late night fire and conversation.  Up early on Saturday – breakfast burritos & coffee camp style, sandwiches made and loaded in the Camelbak and off to the trails for an epic day of riding.  A good 20+ mile day of singletrack, gorgeous Vermont landscapes and epic trails.

Alex fixing his bike as we get ready for departure.

Riding toward the sugar shack on the Darling Hill side of KT:

Picking the mandatory blackberries, that bottle is full to the top with blackberries!!! MMMM!

And Day 2 was supposed to be a short ride, but ended up equally as epic.  From one end of the riding area to the other, ending up back at the Tamaracks for margs on the deck before hitting the road back home.

Views from the Chapel – feet from a hilltop trailside cafe where we had a delicious lunch surrounded by gorgeous views.

Ahhhh…. the good life.  Smile.  I think I will sleep well tonight.  It’s going to be hard to go back to work tomorrow!  But, as I like to say… if you’re tired on Monday it means you had a good weekend.  🙂  And that, I did.  And I hope you all did too!

On the Job

A perk of my job is getting to explore the nearly 14,000 acres of land we protect as an organization, & subsequently myself & one other person is in charge of managing. Today I spent the day in the field, a gorgeous, breezy sunshiney day, 80 degrees. It is what makes me fall in love with New England over and over. Tree lined paths, freshly hayed fields, swampy meadows, huge oaks, blueberries, granite cliffs, salt marsh, beaches- all within miles if each other. I feel so lucky that I am so connected to the outdoors in my job. There is also the mosquitoes, poison ivy & mud, but that’s all part of the adventure that keeps me returning for more. Have a great weekend!

Trip Report – Pemi Traverse July 23, 2010

After the Presi Traverse in all of it’s success and glory, my sweet, not-competitive-at-all Alex got the idea in his head to try doing a traverse of the Pemigewasset Wilderness (otherwise known as ‘The Pemi’).  The Pemi is located between 93 and Route 302 (which is where we ended up on the Presi Traverse).  The Pemi Wilderness is, like it’s name, quite wild.  If you are a 4000 footer peak bagger then you know of the elusive Owls Head that looms almost in the center of the wilderness.  There are many 4000 footers that are tough to bag in this part of the White’s.  So, for bragging rights and purely out of curiosity and the desire to suffer through another 12+ hour day of hiking, the Pemi Traverse idea was hatched and put into action.  The plan: camp at Lafayette campground.  Depart from campground, hike up to Greenleaf Hut over Lafayette, over to Garfield, across Garfield Ridge to Galehead hut, up South Twin, over to Zealand, Z Cliffs and Zealand Hut and out to the Highland center on 302.  For a grand total of 23 + miles.  No biggie, right?  We got a great group together for the trip: me, Alex, Jen, Mel and Dennis.  Strong crew with good humor and similar desires for suffering.  Cars were dropped, one for a bailout at Zealand Road and one at the Highland center (both loaded with beer for the finish).  The weather was a little iffy, with a 20% chance of showers in the afternoon, but there wasn’t a threat of thunderstorms so we were a go.  We were up at 4:30 AM, and had a much more successful morning rally than the presi traverse.  We were on the trail by 5:45AM.  The terrain on the Old Bridal path started out similarly to the Presi traverse, rugged, wet, wooded.  Soon we were rewarded with great views, just as the sun started peaking out above the mountains.  We had some pretty early AM spectacular views into the wilderness.  Very different from the Presi’s – very wooded, rugged and remote.  You could just barely make out the antennas on the top of Mount Washington in the very far distance.  Oh, I should mention the SCHEDULE!  Alex worked his butt off to keep us on track for this hike.  We realized that we really needed to keep moving on this hike after our experience in the Presi’s, so Alex put together a map, and broke down the hike into very doable sections with target times and distances – with the plan to hike 25% faster than book time.

We made it to Greenleaf Hut about a half hour earlier than the schedule.  We quickly departed after filling water and visiting the bathrooms, and set out for a first summit of the day – Lafayette.  We didn’t realize at the time, but this was most definitely the nicest section of trail summit that we would do for the remainder of the day.  Our spirits were high, being well- ahead of schedule, and set out for Mt. Garfield along the Garfield Ridge trail.  The terrain definitely worsened and became steep, wet and tricky.  We descended forever between Lafayette and Garfield, and our pace slowed with the more technical terrain.  I managed to twist my ankle – so that definitely made me pretty cautious!  We were still ahead of schedule on Garfield, but our pace had slowed.

The next target: Galehead Hut.  The Garfield Ridge trail continued it’s relentless beauty – all of us either fell, slipped or twisted something on that trail.  But we made it to the hut only 20 minutes behind schedule.  The AMC crew said it was smooth sailing from there, so with high spirits and still feeling fresh, we set out to summit South Twin.  You could see the trail from the Garfield Ridge – and it literally goes straight up the mountain.  We were at our halfway point on the summit of South Twin, and definitely at the low point.  We all ate, enjoyed the views (some of the last for the day) and got ready for the 2nd half. So far the weather was holding – no rain, but the clouds had rolled in.  We were hoping the 2nd half of the Pemi traverse would be easier like it was on the presi traverse, but no luck there.  The terrain continued to be wet, steep and technical as we made our way to Guyot on the Twinway.

We did get some nice views on our way to Guyot, but because of those unusual views, we ended up setting off on the Bondcliff trail, so went a little out of our way, setting us back again (since we did manage to make up lost time on the traverse between South Twin and Guyot). Up and over Guyot, we set out for the viewless Mount Zealand.  For Alex and I, getting to that point felt like we were close because 2 winters ago, we had hiked from the Highland Center and on the AZ trail and stayed 2 nights at Zealand Hut, summiting Zealand during that time.  It felt like an obtainable goal at that point.  But we did remind ourselves that on that winter hike, we had a tough time finding the AZ trail due to what we thought at the time was the immense snow fall.  Later we found out otherwise… more on that.  Jen, Mel and Dennis hiked the extra .1 miles to the viewless Zealand summit to give it some love and check it off their list.  Alex and I didn’t feel like we needed to see that summit again, so we hung out and chatted with a couple of thru-hikers on the AT.  We were moving pretty fast – I think we were pretty much the fastest hikers out there, and were sticking to the schedule almost to a T.  It was nice to have mini goals for ourselves on this hike – in the Presi’s you were constantly rewarded with spectacular views and you could see where you were going above treeline, but that was not always the case on this hike, so the schedule really helped keep us motivated.  That and the cooler full of beer that at that point we were all drooling over and contemplating whether we just wanted to hike out to Zealand Road and bail or continue on the AZ trail.  From the summit of Zealand, it’s a steep and long descent to Zealand Hut, with the Z cliffs along the way.  We stopped and enjoyed the views and had another food break.

At the hut, we knew we had 5.5 miles left to go, mostly all on the AZ trail.  I have to say, it felt like we were done.  It’s like that feeling on a normal day hike when you realize you only have 1 mile to go out of 8.  With us, 5 miles out of 24 seems not too bad.  But the reality was – we still had about 1/5 of the hike to do in those 5 miles.  And the AZ trail was a mud fest.  It was moose territory, wet, muddy and low.  Beautiful woods, but the trail clearly wasn’t a popular choice and was overgrown and muddy.  It felt like forever to reach the Mt. Tom spur trail and at that point, we were ready to be done.  But we laughed up until and through the end of the hike.  Great company makes hiking, no matter the terrain, a blast.  We made it out by 7:30, only 20 minutes behind schedule.  The beer was still cold and everyone survived.

We even made it to dinner at Fabyan’s where we got our celebratory burger and beer.  And we even managed to have a fire at camp before the rain started and sent all of us packing in for the night.  We all woke up the next morning with legs like lead, but well worth it.  I don’t think we really need to do that hike again, but it was certainly a good day.

Trip Report – Presi Traverse June 2010

The plan was hatched on our annual Katahdin trip in 2009, as a group of us were making our way up Pamola Peak.  Alex is a ‘big picture’ guy, with a ‘bigger, better, longer, faster’ mentality that made the trip a reality.  Alex and I couldn’t resist the fact that the summer solstice in 2010 was only days away from the full moon.  We were psyched because that meant even if we had to hike in the dark, we’d have the light of the moon.  Plus, the photo ops!  And, to make sure the trails weren’t too insanely busy, we scheduled it mid-week.  We gave ourselves a 2-day window for weather and got it on the calendar for June 24 or 25.  As the date approached, it became clear that the weather was looking better for Friday the 25th.  On Thursday, Alex and I drove up and set up camp at Dolly Copp campground off Route 16.  The weather was totally unpredictable, and heavy showers were rolling through all day.  We could only hope that the weather would clear up for our hike, as predicted.

The group was 6 people: me, Alex, Jen, Doug, James and Rich. We dropped the cars at the Cog Railway (bailout car) and at the Highland Center, our destination.  The weather cleared in time for us to have a dinner around a nice campfire as we chatted about the day that lay ahead.  The plan was a 4:30 AM wakeup, and it would only take us a 1/2 hour to get ready, right?!  We were off to bed, and 4:30 came very quickly.  We made coffee, ate bagels, and filled our water bottles and we set out to the trailhead around 5:45.  So much for a 5AM start!  It always takes longer to get ready than you think.  We hit the Daniel Webster trail at 6AM on the nose.  And that started the day.  It was a pretty mellow ascent below treeline over some rocky, rooty terrain.  After about an hour and a half, we broke treeline and began the scramble up to the ridge where we would be for the rest of the day.  The views were amazing, without a cloud in the sky.  As we approached the ridge, we were rewarded with spectacular views of Mount Washington and the auto road, and of course our first peak of the day, Mount Madison.  We took the Gulfside Trail up to Madison, first peak of the day at 8:30.  Madison is no joke, and is by far the hardest peak we summited over the course of the day.

We scrambled down to Madison Hut, for 2nd breakfast and a water refill.  I had already guzzled my 3 liters!  After a sandwich break, we set out for peak 2, Mount Adams.  Another tough ascent, but under clear skies and with unencumbered views, there were no complaints.  We were moving quickly, but definitely stopping lots to enjoy the views and photo ops, so time was passing quickly.  We came off Adams and rejoined the Gulfside Trail.  Next up, Jefferson.  We had a chance to play in the remains of the snow between Adams and Jefferson.  The terrain was tough, lots of ups and downs and jagged rocks, but we could keep a decent pace, while we were moving.  Which, we were beginning to realize, we needed to have more moving and less stopping.  Time was ticking.  Jefferson was a great peak, which allowed for amazing views in every direction.  It was pretty cool to look back and see Adams and Madison, which we had passed over already, and it wasn’t even noon!

The plan was lunch at Mt. Washington, but we were not keeping on that schedule.  We hit Clay next, and made it to our halfway point at 2PM – Mt. Washington.  A long stop here, we were having a major low point.  Everyone was hungry, sore, tired – contemplating the fact that it was 2PM and we were just reaching halfway.  Jen’s knee was bothering her, so we loaded her up with 800 mg of Advil, and we all enjoyed about 800 calories in ice cream treats.  Spirits were up and we set out on Crawford Path with a faster pace for the next stop – Lake of the Clouds, and then Mount Monroe.  Fortunately the terrain eased and we were able to maintain a quick pace from Washington on.  The skies were still clear, it was breezy, so I was comfortable in a long sleeve shirt for most of the day.  At Lake of the Clouds, we had the option to bail out, or keep going.  We all agreed to keep going, with the knowledge that we needed to stop less if we were going to get out in the daylight. Hiking after dark above treeline didn’t sound ideal to any of us, so we all picked up the pace.  Me, James and Alex hiked out in front, and Crawford Path became a good friend.  The terrain evened out significantly and we hit  Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower and Pierce pretty painlessly.

By the time we got to Eisenhower (which was a good push up), the terrain was like a super highway.  Hard pack trails made for fast hiking.  Last peak of the day Pierce, was pretty uneventful, not much in the way of views, considering what we had been seeing all day.  We basically ran the last 3 miles to the car, finishing around 7PM.  We were all very happy for those warm beers in the cooler at the end of the hike.

We made our way to the Moat after picking up the bailout car and swimming in Ammonoosuc Ravine Falls.  Ahhh, very refreshing.  And the Moat was AWESOME!  Good food and beer.  Off to camp for a fire, and then sleep.  Alex and I hit the Red Tail Trail on our way home the next day.  Legs were barely even sore!

Overall, the hike was pretty perfect – we got the hardest terrain over with early on, and had wide open views to keep us motivated the entire day.  We all had a pretty great day, and we’d certainly do that hike again.  You can see photos from the hike here:

Presi Traverse Pictures on Facebook