Monday, February 16, 2009

The Moats and NO Badwater


(Photo Courtesy: Dave Dunham)

Sunday, February 15, 2009
Conway, NH
South, Middle and North Moat Mountains
10 Miles = 5 Hours 45 Minutes

I got an e-mail about a week or two ago asking if I'd join my friend Alan on his hiking of the Moat mountains in Conway, NH. This would not be any ordinary hike, Al was finishing hiking a peak-bagging list and it is one I was certain not to miss the celebration for. We all met up at 9am at the Diana's Bath's parking area and then carpooled over to Dugway Rd where our hike would begin. Temps were all ready in the mid to upper 20s at this point in the day and the sun was shining brightly. It had been a long time since I'd hiked with many of these folks who had shown up. Local legend Kevin Tilton, mountain running legend David Dunham, a cast of other characters and Alan himself who was about to finish hiking to the summit of all 176 three-thousand foot peaks in New Hampshire.

Al was getting antsy and ready to roll in the parking lot, our group was all ready behind time wise. The only one with any worry on the time was me, as I had to make it back to Manchester for my mother's birthday party by 5:30. So at some point around 9:15am, we took off into the woods at a brisk pace and climbed towards the ridge line of the Moat Mountains. The trails are hard packed frozen tundra. I'd call it snow but it hardly qualifies anymore. I'd call it sleet... because that's what it looks like but I doubt it qualifies as that either. Its just frozen garbage really. But it was so eloquently shimmering in the days rising sun. As a group we all climbed up the first open patches of of the summit dome of South Moat and soaked in the rays of sun as we negotiated rotting snow. We were afforded with amazing views to the south and east as well as of Mount Chocorua, the most photographed mountain in the world. (I heard this tid bit somewhere)

After taking in the views and the company on the first peak, I was given the job of finding the trail over to the middle and North peaks of our adventure. I'd like to say that the going was easy but it wasn't. Bare rocks made for hell on our snowshoes, and when there was snow, it was heavy, wet, sticky and in some places... deep. I feel into a few spruce traps along the way and the trail was extremely hard to follow in places. But for all the trouble we endured in negotiating the ridge, we were treated with such magnificent views in all directions of the White Mountains. It was a gorgeous day, superb views and a motley crew of hikers.

As we made our way from Middle to North, I enjoyed catching up with Al after not having talked to him in quite some time. We discussed our usual topics and got a few chuckles out of each other. I'm really glad I decided to show up to support him in his quest. As we reached the summit of North Moat, we all wished all a hearty congrats on the finishing of his list. I wanted to stay and celebrate but I needed to boogie down to the car. Time was winding down and we were a bit behind on our hike after having to slosh across the ridge searching for the trail and breaking it out. I shook hands with those I had met and friends of old. Waved good bye to some.. took off my snowshoes and bounded off of the summit in search of the trail. The trail down was a hardened mess of post holes and backcountry ski tracks. It wasn't hard to follow, but it was rather difficult to negotiate. I post holed in a few places, thought I broke my knee in others all the while trying to scurry my best down the trail to the car so as to not be late for tonight's festivities.

As I scurried down the trail I enjoyed some time alone wishy washing through an amazing birch forest. I rubbed my hands across every tree I could touch and smiled at all the rest. I felt great, rejuvenated and as much as I loved hiking with the group, I loved the short time I had alone just as much. I came upon the Diana's Baths area which is now nothing more than frozen waterfalls and the faint gurgle of rippling waters below. It was so cool to see and hear. As I made it back to the car, I hoped in and took off quickly for Manchester
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Happy Birthday Mom!
I had a great time with my family at the Olive Garden in Manchester.
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Badwater
Finally, I found out today that I DID NOT get into Badwater. I am not surprised as I'm sure there were hundreds more qualified runners than myself. It was however fun to have my name and application thrown into the mix. I'm not sure when in the future I'll try, but now it's time to finalize my plans for the year and get going on training for them... more to come in the coming days on my plans for 2009 and my goals!

Onward, upward and forward
SJ