Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Backpacking The Whites - Part 4

Day 4
Wednesday, September 26, 2009
MRL to Beaver Brook Shelter

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I woke up with the rest of the class on Wednesday morning. It was hard to continue sleeping given all the noise they were making in their scurry to finish packing up. I made my way out the door and headed for the main lodge where I enjoyed the use of the facilities. I made my way up to my car where I threw everything I wasn't going to need back into my car. I loaded up my pack with new supplies, gear and food and met back up with the class. When they were ready, we did a morning stretch, slung on our packs and headed towards the top of the Moose.

We played a variety of guessing games along the way to the top of the mountain. One of the young leaders was trying to stress to the group the necessity in drinking an excessive amount of water. I finally had had enough of this and explained how too much water can cause brain swelling.. even death. The conversation revolving around drink drink drink quickly came to a close. As we made our way to tree line we noticed the cloud quickly moving in over the summit, which was no longer visible. We had a gorgeous bright morning, and now we wallowed in a pit of wet pea soup. The winds picked up and remained fierce from the west. We hiked higher up the slope and into the cloud bank. Everyone bundled up and hung on as we topped out at the summit sign.

The wind whipped and howled across the ridge. We stopped only long enough to take a group photo before the class left me laying down behind a wall made of summit stones. "Are you really going to stay right here Sherpa?" "Yeah why?" "Because its hellacious up here!" "It is?.. Hmm" I of course smiled as the clouds raced across the summit. It was chilly but I was warm. My new sunglasses on, the sun was out where I was and thats all that mattered to me. The class took their leave and I sat huddled beneath the rocks waiting for the next class to arrive.

After while I realized that I was getting a bit chilly. The winds gradually continued to pick up. So I stood up and walked straight into the wind on the southwest side of the mountain. I couldn't hear myself think as the wind rushed the breath from my mouth. I headed for treeline quickly then over to where the Glencliff trail meets up with the carriage rd. I put my pack down and enjoyed the silence as the wind rushed overhead now as it raced across the small space of atmosphere above the summit. I took the shrt walk to the top of South Moosilauke where the wind hardly blew there as well. There was no view, just grey, emptiness. I could hear only my breath.. and I returned to the junction. Here I settled down into a ball behind my pack and under a fir stand, I fell asleep and enjoyed a needed nap.

A group of students came hiking up from the Glencliff Trail. I asked what college the were from, but the name escapes me. I think it was Williams College. I only asked because their level of maturity was atoricious. They all made comments about the "dead guy" laying in the woods as they chuckled on by. Half of them hiked up in tennis shoes, shirtless and I was frigid with the thoughts of them carrying on to the summit. They returned quickly stating that they had lost the trail on their way to the top and they were now heading back down. And as soon as they left, the 3rd group of UNH students I was to meet showed up.

I arose from my slumber and shook hands with those I knew. We immediately started hiking towards the summit and I warned those in the group who looked underdressed that a jacket may be better suited for the conditions. Anthony forgot his hiking pole so he had to return to the junction and while he was gone I made sure to catch and learn everyones name. Upon Anthony's return we continued on our way, climbing the rocky slope to the top of Moosilauke... again... where I took a few summit photos of the group.. again.. and then we continued down the other side of the mountain.



As we left the summit of the mountain the wind whipped hard out of the west north west. A cold stiff wind hammered against us and shoved droplets of rain into our skin like needles. We all dawned our hoods and leaned into the wind, not being able to totally see where we were going. As we made our way into the trees, the turbulance died and so did our concerns. We all looked up, wide eyed, red, and soaked. I enjoyed conversing with this rag tag group of students as we worked our way into camp. As we got there, they set about setting up their camp while I nestled back into the confines of the Shelter for one more night away from home.

Anthony and Bryan made one hell of a Thanksgiving Dinner which I was lucky enough to taste. Me? I had chili and once again it was something that was difficult to clean out. As the sun began to set, we watched the alpin-glow against the Franconia Ridge to the North. As it darkened, we all settled into the shelter where in a circle, we welcome to Thru-hikers to enjoy the history lesson. For the final night I gave my lesson about the Helicopter dropping human waste into Kinsman Pond, The Jeep driving to the top of Moosilauke, The first dowhill ski championship, Guy Waterman, Serman Adams and JE Henry, The Dartmouth Races, The Waternomee Bomber Crash, The creation of Kinsman Ridge and the first paid AMC Trail Crew, and finally The Prospect House. The pictures were much like the ones I had seen all week and so were their made-up stories about what they represented. It was education for me as much as it was them and all group offered much feedback; this alone made the entire journey a success for me.

So after the lesson we ate S'Mores together finishing off the supplies. My bag was finally empty and lighter. I nestled into my corner of the shelter for one more night outside. The thru-hikers set their tents up inside the shelter for added protection from a frigid wind that was filtering in from the north now. Anthony and I bundled up and huddled under our respective sleeping bags. I was frozen, tired... yet exhausted. Despite having the protection from the wind, the temps still dropped to near 30 on this night... perfect sleep weather... for those who didn't shiver.

Day 5
Thursday, September, 27, 2009
Beaver Brook Shelter to MRL

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I woke up in the morning and enjoyed one last breakfast. Anthony and Bryan made cinnamon buns which I enjoyed a few tastes of. Holy cow was it exceptional and a real waker upper. We quickly packed up our things and had a class meeting about the possibility of one of their own coming down a shorter way with me, arriving at the lodge sooner. This student wasn't feeling well and I observed some pity on her. We were shot down and I decided to hike with the class instead. As we made our way back up the mountain, we stopped and I took a few of them with me over to Mt Blue where I signed into the register again as did the rest of us. They had completed a bushwhack and we all very stoked.

As we made our way out of the trees we marvelled at the 360 degree views from the top. We could see all the way to the Adirondacks, towards Canada, Mount Washington, Maine, The Lakes Regions... everything. I smiled from ear to ear as I hurried ahead to get a few action shots of the class with my camera. When we reached the summit, we took a more appropriate group photo and then I proceeded to name all of the peaks one could see from the summit. I found a watch and asked the time.. it was time for me to go. I laughed as I realized then that I had gone all week without a watch on me. I cared not abut time. The sun rose... the sun set.. I slung my pack on and hurried down the mountain back to Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. At the lodge, I ducked inside to take a shower. I cleaned up, dressed up like a guy ready for work at EMS and thats where I headed. Back to reality... my 5 day journey had ended.


I really enjoyed my time in the mountains. The time spent alone and with the classes gave me an opportunity to mix it up a bit. The moments alone were essential, and the moments with the group educational. It was interesting to me to see how throwing a new comer into a well formed group is like throwing a wrench at a ceiling fan. Every group reacted differently to this prospect. It was the first class which made me feel most welcome.. with the final class being a close second. I guess in the end, my week was perfect from beginning to end.. thanks to them and their attention.

Backpacking The Whites - Part 3

Day 3
Tuesday, September 25, 2009
Kinsman Shelter to Lafayette Place
and An Evening at MRL

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(Good Morning Kinsman Pond)

I woke up around 6 am with the rest of the well rested campers. It was hard to fall asleep last night given all of the "Yale-ing" going on from across camp. The air was crisp but the clouds had finally departed. I was very happy to finally see a day where I knew I was going to be able to dry my clothing and gear. Especially knowing that tonight I'd be sleeping in a cabin at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. I walked off the tent platform and headed for the pond to get a glimpse of the crystal clear deep blue skies. The sun was shining brightly against the mountains all ready as the air was quickly warming. I grabbed my breakfast on the way back to camp and quickly packed up.

After breakfast, we headed up the trail to the top of North Kinsman. As we made it to the junction with Fishin Jimmy and the Ridge Trail, I dropped my pack in the woods resolved in knowing I'd be coming back this way soon. On top of the mountain I challenged the students to name as many peaks as they could... they actually got up to maybe 4 or 5 while I entertained them with naming the others. While they proceeded to participate in a morning yoga session, I headed down through the brush to take a seat on the top of the lower ledges high up on North Kinsman. I enjoyed sopme more time alone taking various pictures of the views toward Franconia Ridge and beyond. After yoga we played games and as the group began to contemplate moving on, I took off down the trail.
(Franconia Ridge)

I headed solo towards South Kinsman, wanting to bag the peak while up there. I ran down off of North, across the col and up to the top of South. I had forgot how steep and tough a climb the way up to South Twin can be when you're speed hiking. As I neared the top I saw my friends from Yale hanging out in the bright beautiful morning sun, soaking in what the earth has to offer. I walked over and talked with them about the rest of their adventure. They offered me cheese and peanuut butter to which I gleefully accepted. After talking with them awhile and cracking jokes, I made my leave and headed back for North. Not long into my run back I ran past my UNH bretheren and thanked them for a wonderful stay. I was on my own again... and heading for town once more.
(Yale on South Kinsman)

I picked up my pack and started hiking with Magic, a thru-hiker from Virginia who avoided working in the coal mines (a family tradition) to become an environmental scientist. I enjoyed some great conversation about his journey through life and the trail and what brought him here. We together enjoyed watching the water continue to gush down the Fishin Jimmy trail.. no way to avoid it as we got a little wet. Then, at the hut, I lost him.
(Magic on F'In Jimmy)

(Here I come!)

At Lonesome Lake I stopped to take in the views of Franconia Ridge from the waters edge. I overheard a mother telling her daughters what they were looking at, except she was terribly wrong in pointing out the peaks. So, I took the moment to interject and edjucate them a little better. They were extremely thankful and the mother asked if I had ever hiked over there. We got into a conversation about how her interpretation of what the Garfield Ridge was going to be like is vastly different from reality. I shared with her history of the building of Greenleaf Hut on the slopes of Lafayette, the existence of a hotel on the mountain summit and the unrelenting rugged terrain of the ridge over to Galehead. I enjoyed the conversation much, soaking in the sun, staying warm and actually thinking of going for a swim.
(Franconia Ridge From Lonesome Lake)

(Hello There)

I needed to carry on however so I took off and quickly hiked down the rest of the way to the valley below. I loaded everything back into my car and headed for town, stopping at the Basin along the way to look for Pocoloco. I had seen him again while hiking and once again offered him a ride to which he said he'd accept. I had stopped to talk to people for so long that by the time I found him, he was walking on route 3 just a few miles from downtown Woodstock. A ride was not necessary anymore yet I still ushered him into my car and I drove him to Chip's Hostel. After dropping him off I headed into town and bought a pair of Peppers Sunglasses I had been eyeballing a few days prior. I was happy doing this for myself, then headed for the grocery store to resupply some needs.

At the store I bought a huge tub of ice cream and some cones as well as extra S'more materials for my last night in the mountains. I then made my way back through town and head up route 112 towards Kinsman Notch and then over to Ravine Lodge Road. At the top fo the road, I parked my car, exited and went looking for the class.m I checked in at the front desk of the lodge and found members of the class in the cabin all ready. Turns out an injury to one of the students had them here a day earlier where they enjoyed much downtime. I went back to my car where I sprawled out my soaking wet clothes and gear about my car and carried the more expensive items to the clothesline near the cabin. So happy to be dry again. I made my way inside where I grabbed a hot shower, cleaned everything and jumped into some clean and dry clothing. I was comfy once more.
(Class During Sunset)

Dinner was great, served family style in the lodge. In order to see who got dessert, the entire room played a round of the price is right. We had to guess the price of various items on display thanks to the kitchen staff. Guess what? Our table won! It was great, we took photos of our excitment before munching down on pumpkin cake. I invited all of the guests of the lodge outside to enjoy my history lesson, we only welcomed two extra guests, both ladies from New York City. They all sat outside along the hillside above the leachfield while I have the lesson, they also drew on the blank canvas and internalized their journey here.
(Dessert Winners!)

We returned inside to the confines of the library where the class debriefed their day and previewed tomorrow. While this went on I browsed the various books and journals lining the walls of the library. So much history here, such a wonderful place to visit while the smell of aging books wafts through the air. After ther meeting concluded I walked intot he room with the tub of ice cream and the box of cones as I watched 10 faces light up like this would be the best meal they'd had in days. We sat around licking smiles onto our faces. I sat off in the corner alone, and just enjoyed watching the smiles grow and the tummies fill with delight. Then, we turned to the cabin, where I slept soundly in a bunk, on a mattress, with a pillow under my head and a blanket wrapped around my body. I'm rested again and ready for tomorrows adventure on high.
(Good Night Moon)

(To Be Continued)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Backpacking The Whites - Part 2

Day 2 - Section 2
Monday, August 24, 2009
Lafayette Place to Kinsman Pond Shelter

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I drove my new thru-hiking friend, who's name I missed, down into Lincoln and dropped him off at the Laundromat and Grocery store. I made my way over to McDonalds for a little lunch where I waited and waited and waited for my order to be handed to be as is the norm at the Lincoln Edition of the Golden Arches. As I sat in my car I was soaked from head to toe still. Yesterday's rain coupled with this mornings drizzle didn't do me well at all. All of my gear was soaked through, except for what I had in my back wrapped in plastic. Thankfully I had packed a few extra items in my car which stayed dry over night and I was able to pack some warm dry clothes for tonights destination.

I drove up to Lafayette Place where I parked my car, repacked my bags, flung them on my back and started up the trail at a quick pace. I was thinking how lucky the students in the classes were. As the week wore on their packs got lighter. But mine? Mine always seemed to stay the same weight. I resupplied every day and then I carried extra gear back down. My shoulders and back all ready hurt as did my injured forearm and knee. But I sucked it up as best I could and hiked briskly up the lower sections of the Lonesome Lake Trail. I met up with a couple from New York City who I found out through conversation were also Part Time Homesteaders in the Berkshires. I entertained them with my historical perspectives on the whites while they entertained me with their thoughts, quizical looks and questions.

Coming down the trail was a couple of children really enjoying their time in the woods. I had flashbacks to my childhood, hiking with my dad (whom they were as well) and simply bounding down the trail without a care. It was those early trips to the Whites that I could argue set my gears in motion into becomming a trail runner as I seemed to have a way with descending like floating over the rocks. And then I met their father, Jim Graham, who had written an article about me for the UNH Notebook. A publication designed to give some inspiration to potential incoming students to UNH. I stopped and chatted with Jim about some of his upcoming goals, a huts traverse, before heading on back up the trail in quick chase of that couple I was with earlier.

Lonesome Lake comes up on you quickly as you top out over the height of land on the Cannon Ridge. As I step to the bog bridges, the wind shifts and a cloud engulfs the lake. Cannon Mountain all but disappears and a quick gusty downpour ensues. I don't even bother to put my rain gear on. It's humid and muggy and I'm drenched all ready from the hike up. This would mark the 2nd day in a row that my clothes would stay soaked. I head into the hut to sign into the register, I walk out and hand the couple my contact info of which I hope they'll eventually use. I head back outside and start up the Fishin' Jimmy Trail when I run into a fellow student of the UNH OE Program who had no idea any other UNHers were even out here. We shared friendly conversation has he just spent the spring semester in India. I said good bye and headed up ole Jimmy.
(Cannon in The Clouds above Lonesome Lake)

It is quite discouraging to see the amount of damage done to the forest in and around the Lonesome Lake Hut Area. The forest has been picked clean of debris and blowdown, probably for the hut croos to burn in the inside wood stoves. Just up the Fishin Jimmy Trail a ways is a clearing where thru-hikers and others are forced to tent in the event of a full hut. This area alone is badly in need of revegetation assistance. I find it necessary for the AMC to review its policies on impact in the areas around the hut, especially here as I tread lightly by.

I was missing Sarah, so I took out my phone and gave her a call at work. As I walked along the trail, I held my cell phone out in front of me with the speaker phone on. This gave Sarah and opportunity to share the woods with me even if through electronic means. She heard the blowing of the wind, the rushing of the waters under foot and the songs of a few near0by sparrows and finch. As thru-hikers walked on by they each gave me the stink-eye and as I understood their displeasure, I sadly hung up and carried on up the trail in silence. The water was really rushing down off the mountains after 2 days of sporadic rain, and as I reached the "falls" I could see I was bound to get even wetter without the ability to avoid such occurance.
(Water Rushing Down)

I scrambled up the various steep rock slabs that lead the way up and along the mountainside. It is no wonder there is rumor of this trail being relocated in the future. Given the terrain it covers, the way the water flows down it, and the lazy hikers impact upon avoidance, it is very much necessary. I soon reached the height of land at the Kinsman Ridge trail where I made my way over to the care-takers shelter. I said hello to a fine young lady who is in charge of minding the campers. She of course also collects the $8 fee for the AMC. As I meander on my way I come to a group of loud hikers. I was warned by the caretaker that the Yale Kids were the loud ones. I knew it was them and I jokingly asked if they were from Harvard.

The laughs abounded through the woods and we broke into light conversation. One of the kids noticed my Peak.com hat and asked if I had ever done the Death Race. I told him I had tried it two years previous and I also help put the races on. The rest of his classmates were surprised in hearing this as when he told the story of such a Death Race they thought he was full of crap. Now it was verified by a stranger. He then asked me if I knew Sherpa John.. to which I smiled and politely introduced myself. This group of Yale students was out on their Freshman Orientation trip. They had no idea where they were, where they had been. No idea of what time it was, no idea where they were going... nothing. I loved it, and I invited them over for my lesson later.
(The Yale Students)

I finally made my way to the UNH group I was here to meet. As I arrived at their tent platform I was greeted by awkward silence. Come to find out later, the group had no idea that today was the day I was to arrive. They thought I was meeting them on Thursday at a different location. Seeing how the group dynamic changed as I, "The Wrench," was thrown into the mix was interesting yet educational. Still, I set my bag down, made myself at home and settled right into their folly. Although, I'll admit now I was most uncomfortable and longing for home.
(UNH Trying To Stay Warm)

We played games and then made our way down to Kinsman Pond at which point young Liam gave his weather lesson. Following this lesson we enjoyed some time for personal reflection along the waters edge. The group then returned to the tent platform to prepare dinner. I made myself some beef ravioli which I had no idea would create such a problem in the realm of cleaning up. After dinner I walked back down to the pond to enjoy some more personal reflection. I enjoy the time alone. As much as I like being with these groups, the whole idea can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. I realize still how much I enjoy the company of others, but I also understand my life quandry as I suffer with knowing I love alone time just as much.
(Quiet Reflection at Kinsman Pond)

After the cleaning was done and things settled down, I invited the UNH campers and the Yale campers over to the newly constructed Kinsman Shelter. This afforded us the perfect sized amphitheatre for me to gather up the students and enlighten them with some White Mountain History. I passed around historicly relevant pictures and asked them to create their own ideas of what they were. Then, as I weaved my story around the truth, connecting each picture to the next, they sat quietly, mezmerized by words doodling franticly upon a blank canvas. And as the event wore down, I sent the Yale students to camp, and shared S'Mores I had also brought up for my UNH brethern. And as the marshmallows finished melting, we all returned to the platform one last time to rest our weary heads.
(S'Mores!)

(To Be Continued)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Backpacking The Whites - Part 1

Day 1
Sunday, August 23, 2009
NH112 Kinsman Notch to Beaver Brook Shelter
Add On's: Mt. Jim, Mt. Blue, Mt. Moosilaukee

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I woke up Sunday from my slumber at one of the local Lincoln Motels and headed deeper into town to get some food and to help Annie Resupply for her Appalachian trail Adventure. I waited about 25 minutes for 2 Dunkin' Donuts and a chocolate Milk. I couldn't stand the mobs anymore so I headed up town to check out LaHout's and see how the summer sale was going. After strolling around, Lahout's and Annie getting her Fuel, I brought her back to The Basin where she was to reconnect with the trail on her long journey south. Myself? I headed for NH 112 and Kinsman Notch, where I'd park my car and start hiking to the nights shelter.

The purpose of this vacation was to enjoy some much needed time alone in the outdoors, but to also share the outdoors with the New Students in UNH's Outdoor Education Program. More on this later, but basically, these students were all taking the backpacking class I took last summer, and I felt like I had something to offer their own journey through the whites. So with a pack stuffed to the brim and gear clipped on and tied down in every which fashion, I stepped foot onto the Appalachian Trail and headed south up the flanks of Mount Moosilaukee.

As I enter the woods I pass a beer can sitting on top of a rock. Rubber banded to the can is a bag of M&M's and a note for Mats Roing and MEB. These two were hiking the diretisima, all 48 Four-Thousand foot peaks in NH without using assistance or a car spot. A daunting task Mats had accomplished the summer before and now trying to replicate. It was funny to see a can of Dale's Pale Ale from Colorado and a bag of M&M's.. though I never saw the gang only to find out earlier they bailed from the adventure with 4 peaks left. A magnificent try none-the-less.
(Dales Pale Ale)

I continued on up the Beaver Brook Trail slowly from stone step to stone step. The trail obviously parallels the Beaver Brook up the side of the mountain. A variety of waterfalls cascades towards the valley below in a veil of rushing white and clear. It's humid, not really hot, but opressive weather wise. Not long into the hike I was soaked with sweat and gasping for air, not used to carrying the heavy bag. The weather looks so inviting. I stop and take in the natural beauty of the waterfalls before carrying on. Not much farther up the trail I spotted a place to drop my bag, drop down to my shorts and stand under the falling water. It was breathtakingly cold yet refreshing and my damp shorts would keep me cool the rest of the day.
(The Backpacker)

(Baptised)

After playing in the water I made my way into The Beaver Brook Shelter Area. When I arrived I was alone. Not a voice in sight, just the rustling of leaves and the light falling of drizzle from the cloud that enshrouded the mountainside. I decided to leave the wet shorts on, layer up on the top and set up my tent on one of the open platforms. I wandered around the shelter and scoped out where the water was, the privy and what was laying around in the shelter. The quiet was deafening and it was definately time to wander off on a mission.

I left the comfy confines of the shelter with no shirt and no water.. no nothing. Just me heading up the mountain to explore. At the first junction I took a right on the Ridge Loop and made my way to Mount Jim. Once there I was pleased to know I had completed the connection of this location to the ridge, a place I had turned away from once previously. I made my way back to the junction and headed for Mount Blue. The rain came and went in short bursts of intermitent downpours. I was cold if I stopped so resolved to keep moving. I was wearing nothing more than shorts, socks, shoes and a hat. The whole time I wondered when I should turn back, but I continued to move forward, daring the mountain to challenge me.

I came to the herd path where one travels off to the top of Mount Blue. As I made my way through the whack, the tight grip of the woods scratched and scraped at my body leaving tiny bloody opennings. I winced and itched and felt uncomfortable until I reached the top. I openned the new summit jar and signed into the new book. Then I searched for my old entry which was almost 2 years previously. I had no idea time fly by so fast. I restuffed the contents into the jar and headed back to the mian trail. On my way back I heard voices afar and decided to keep going up. Not long after I ran into the first UNH Group. Brent Bell and Megan Jeffs were teaching a wonderful group of kids whom were excited about their educational experience. I said hello and asked how far to the Benton Juntion, "Not Far." and I decided to carry on. Brent asked where my pack was and I told him back at camp... oh how his risk management mind must have been turning.

I hurried up the trail and picked up a light trot comign to the junction of the Benton Trail. I stopepd only long enough to see the summit was all of .4 miles ahead. I had come this far, I needed to continue. As I stepped out from the shelter of the trees, I realized that the weather up high was windy yet warmer than it is down below. The inversion warmed my soul as I cruised across the Alpine fields to the sign up high. Mount Moosilaukee... and in all the times I've been to this peak, this was the first time I'd been here all alone. I stopped and sat down on the rocks and glanced out into the clouds. When they'd break I'd catch glimpses of the valley below only to watch as the clouds swallowed the earth once again. A spiritual moment that ended all too soon as it was time to head back down.

I bounded down the trail eventually meeting up with the class. I enjoyed conversation with the various students, and enjoyed observing their abilities and level of comfort in the woods. They were an intelligent group, patient and steadfast. I enjoyed being in their company as we headed into camp. Brent thanked me for setting up my tent to save them a spot... funny, I had set up my tent for ME. But I understood, took it down and was welcomed into the shelter for the night. After the group retrieved water, set up shelter and got themselves settled in. I listenned to a weather lesson and proceeded to cook dinner along side the class. After dinner I gave my first of 4 White Mountain History Lessons explaining the finner times on Mount Moosilaukee and the Kinsman Ridge. No other hikers made it into camp that night and as the lights went low, I fell sound asleep as rain fell lightly on the top of the tin roof shelter. Brent snored and his insulin pumped beeped insesantly. I put ear plugs in and slept finally like a baby.
(The First Class)

Day 2
Monday, August 24, 2009 - Section 1
Beaver Brook Shelter to NH 112 Kinsman Notch

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I woke up at 6am to hear the rain absolutely crashing down from the heavens. It rained so hard upon the tin roof that I woke up thinking I was sleeping under one of the waterfalls. It was an incredible display of natures force. Once the rain stopped, the campers roused from their bags and set about making breakfast. I slowly packed up my things and got ready for the hike out all the while munching on a pop-tart and a nutri-grain bar. Once everyone was ready to go, I joined the group for their hike down to NH112.

On the way down the steep trail we carefully placed our feet along the stone steps, the wooden blocks cemented into the mountain side and the long stretches of rebar set out for hand placement. The group moved slower than I'm accustomed to hiking and it rather frustrated me. I patiently waited my turn to move in the back. And then, at one point.. it happened. My foot caught on a rock and then as I went to bend my knee, my leg was stuck on the inner lining of my rain pants. Long story short, I began to fall and it all happened so quickly. I did all I could do to make my body go limp and to allow my pack to take the brunt of the fall. As I turned I landed on my forearm first, my right knee second and did a foreward summersault down a step section of rock steps, rolling about 10 feet down. I was stunned, picked myself up, brushed off and was immediately helped by Megan and Brent. "I'm an EMT, are you in need of assitance?" "Not unless you can heal my pride.." I was banged up pretty bad, shaken and had just experienced the hardest fall I've ever had in my life.. but luckily came out of it with a huge bruise on my forearm and a bloody knick in my knee.
(Megan and Brent)

I continue down the slope slowly. My pride crushed and my knee in some serious pain. Every time I put weight down on my leg, my knee goes numb and I get the wind knocked out of me. Not much further down the trail, the class wanted to stop.. again.. and I couldn't take it anymore. I excused myself from the group and bounded down the trail, off to my car, to prepare my own resupply for the next destination. As I near the end of the woods, I find a mushroom and write a message on it for my professor, John Dewey 4 Life was etched into the 'shroom and left on the final bridge over Beaver Brook. I emerged from the woods and immediately began ripping my bag apart. I gathered my trash and prepared to take the trash from the class. I refilled my pack with a new set of supplies for the rest of the day, night and first part of tomorrow. The class emerged from the woods and I marched over to gather their trash in a bag. I also took any unwanted gear and packed it all into my trunk. I offered a Thru-Hiker (Poco loco) a ride into town, to which he declined. A few moments later, a different hiker came walking towards me looking for a ride into town himself. I obliged, pilled him in with my gear and the class's trash and headed for town. Part one of my adventure had ended.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Wapack 17.5 Mile Trail Race

Sunday, September 6, 2009
Ipswich, NH - Windblown Ski Area
Wapack Trail Race - 17.5 Miles

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(Me In The Back)

I woke up just as the sun was rising over the ocean here on the States Seacoast anticipating the long drive over towards Keene. As I drove my car across the state, I couldn't help but reminisce about this same race a year ago. Visions of clambering up hill sides less than 2 miles into the race, leaning and hang onto tree's gasping for air, wondering what was wrong with me. My heart racing, short of breathe, dying... eyes bugging out of my skull and finding myself at the back of the pack. I pushed on to finish the race last year in a stifling 4 Hours 13 Minutes. I was saddened by my performance, embarrassed and searching for answers. An emergency visit to the doctors and I found out I was anemic. As I drove across New Hampshire this year, the anemia and it's cause had been taken care of and gone, yet not scratched from memory. As has been the motto for this year thus far, the time for excuses is gone, there is no tomorrow, only today.

I signed up when I arrived at the race site. I forked over my $25 and went back to my car to get my gear on. It was a chilly morning in Western NH with temps hovering in the upper 40's. Its been a cold and wet summer thus far; thankfully the sun was out today. None of my usual friends were at the race this year. I saw some familiar ultra-folk, shook hands with some guys I'd never met before and prepared myself on the starting line. The race director gave us a the pre-race speech which consisted of him telling us that the rocks and roots make the course "dangerous." Really? I gave myself a little chuckle, turned and awaited the yell to start. "GO!"

As the field made its way up the hill right at the start, I found myself latching on to some of the faster runners. I never run hills, I'm not used to this. I didn't want to walk either though, so I just hung on for dear life as long as I could. By the time we crested the hill, I felt myself slipping back through the pack and struggling. My mind surged to a dark place, "Why this time... what is wrong with me?!" I get angry with myself and start talking myself through the process. My main thought became the usual.. I knew a bunch of the folks ahead of me were first timers on this course... and they would eventually be stunned by the torture the hills put on those who try to run them all. I decided to settle in, walk the ups when I needed to.. and run the rest as I could.

I settled in behind a female runner from Maine who had rode down with Bob Dunfey. Her name escapes me. I guess I met her at the VT100 and her name escaped me after that as well. She provided good conversation as we made our way over the countless steep climbs, over the confusing peaks, and down the quad pounding downhills. We made our past the mid course aid station without even stopping for so much as a treat. We continued on talking with and leap frogging Reji James. Soon we heard the voices of many people. We had reached the top of the last peak which was being climbed by a large number of weekend warriors, as we crested the summit I headed down the other side. I'm usually pretty good on the downhills and today was no different. As i made my descent I was forced to weave in and out of the crowds making their way towards up high. It was quite an adventure and they were all very accommodating and supportive. I made my way to the gate where the aid station crew had set up for us in a parking lot. I stopped for a bio-break, ate some fruit and refilled my bottles. I sucked down a gel and watched as runners came in and quickly left... now I had numbers to catch. I started thinking strategy for the way back.

I quickly caught most of the people I saw come in and out of the station quickly, I scorched past them on the way back up the mountain. A few I could see but couldn't catch but I tried like hell. One the top of the peak there was a huge commotion. The people on top seemed to have tripled in numbers, mostly kids yelling and screaming and pointing us in the right direction.. or were they. I followed one child's directions and found myself still looking for the trail. Once located, I quickly bounded down the trail, poised to enjoy the miles ahead playing my favorite home stretch game... PAC MAN!

I put my head down and finally got into a groove. I always hate how in these shorter races, it takes me 3/4 of the race to find my groove and settle in. But once I finally do.. things really start to click. The miles really start flowing under my feet and I continue to pick people off one by one though slowly at first. I saw Tom Parent at the turn around as he was leaving, I never thought I'd see him again but then I caught him at the mid-way aid station. "Whats goin on Tom?!" "Oh you know.. out of shape." I doubted that but I continued on along the beaver swamps right behind him. Tom took off and I had a hard time catching him again, until I saw him sitting on a log. His shoelace had broke and he was trying to fix it (I hate those solomon shoes). I carried on past him and as I started to climb one of the final hills, I looked up to see another runner. I made it my goal to catch him so I kicked the power hiking into gear. As I got closer to the runner, I looked up and saw another right ahead of him.. it was on now. As I noticed those two runners walking, I started to run. When they saw me running, they ran as far as they could. The running of the early miles paid their toll on these guys as they didn't seem to get far. I past them and Reji and the woman I ran with earlier... I crested the final peak and then bombed down onto the dirt road which leads down the finish line.

As I crossed the line I looked at the clock. I took account of myself and how I was feeling. I was breathing normal, sweating just right and I felt like I could have kept going. I turned in my bib stub and walked on over to the food tables to pick at the fruit, brownies and pizza. It was a great day to be alive and even better day to be racing. I got my redemption from last year, and I was proud to have done so systematically.

Results:
Time: 3:36
33rd out of 87 Finishers

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On The Trailwrights 72

Tuesday, August 19, 2009
Adams 4 - Presidential Range
Trailwrights 72 Completion
Youngest Finisher Of List

----------------------------

Over the many years I've been hiking, I had no idea where my journey was going to take me. I started way back in 1990-whatever and continued to hike through my teens and early twenties. I finished the AMC's 48 Four Thousand Footers (48), even made a movie about it and then I, like thousands of others, began to think about what was next. I became a trail runner and a long distance runner, and as I began to run ridges and tackle the tops of various peaks over the course of a day, I began to examine other peak-bagging lists. Many others before me moved on to hiking the New England 4000 Footers and/or the ADK 46. But one list stuck out to me and it was the Trailwrights 72(TW72).

Maybe it was the rules of the list that stuck out at me from the beginning. Similar to the list of 48, each peak on the list was 4,000 feet in elevation or higher. Also similar to the 48, it had a col rule which states that every peak on the list must rise "x" number of feet above the col of it's highest neighbor. The 48 list has a 300 foot col rule, eliminating a large number of peaks. But with a col rule of only 100 feet, those peaks all find themselves on the TW72. In fact, I think every single 4000' bump in the state of NH is on the TW72. But the big difference is that with the 48 you can count as many peaks in a day as you can summit. On the TW72, you can only count one peak per hike. I took this rule to the extreme, only counting one peak per day where-as it's relatively easy for me to arrange multiple "hike's" in a day. The final rule of the TW72 is that one must perform 72 Hours of Trail Work Volunteerism, 16 of which must be with the Trailwrights group themselves. If a rule like this was installed to the 48, I very much imagine that the number of finishers seeking a patch and/or scroll would drastically decline.

So I started to take a look at all of my days in the mountains and began to piece together the list of the TW72 (in spreadsheet format of course) and the dates in which I had climbed each peak. For each hike/run that I had travelled across an entire ridge, I would only count one peak. No date was every duplicated on the list and I soon realized that I didn't have far to go. This was of course back in 2005. It was August of 2007 when I climbed to the top of Mount Blue on the Moosilaukee massif and only had 6 peaks remaining. Given conflicting life schedules, rediculous gas prices and a host of other issues, I never thought in 2005 that I'd finish the TW72 almost exactly 2 years later. But that taught me something..

I began to see pictures of who had actually finished this list and realized that not many of them were very young. I did some research, asked around and found out that if I finished the list any time in the next 20 years.. I'd be the youngest. I knew what my goal would be and I tried like hell to achieve it. New Hampshire is a funny place. The weather has played a pivitol role in the delay of my finish. For instance, I rescheduled my final climb on two separate ocassions. The final peak alone and the list in general became my white whale. It haunted me as I thought about it often. But I also began to think about how it affected ME.. deep down..

I have a really deep feeling that the whole idea behind the creation of the TW72 list was to get hikers to slow down. To not treat peak-bagging as a game of sorts but rather as a long journey. If you will for a moment think about why it is that we embark on adventure, you may find out that the journey is a part of a process to self discovery. I always treated the "48" like a game, trying to determine how many peaks I could bag in a day.. and then I set out to bag those testy bushwhacks on the Trailwrights list. Slowing down for me is hard to do.. and my patience was most certainly tested. The bushwhacks were interesting, intriguing.. and some more time consuming than others.

The final years of reaching to finish the TW72 affected me in ways that the 48 never did. And one hike in general helped reshape my view of wilderness, peakbagging and exploration; and that would be the trip up South West Twin in August 2007. To this day that remains one of the most difficult days of hiking in my life. 3+ hours to travel .30 Yes.. Three Tenths of a mile through spruce and fir so thick that I couldn't see my feet, couldn't see left, right or ahead... I couldn't even see a view in places. I was completely consumed by the forest, completely consumed by the mountain and even though I was with my good friend Adam; I had no choice but to internalize the journey. It was there that I stood quietly, looking at nothing but green and inhaling the beauty around me that I realized that my journey's are only just beginning and that this list was slowly changing my life.

Over the next two years I slowly found my way to the final peaks. No bushwhack as tough or as adventurous as that whack of South West Twin, but fun never-the-less. I really felt a sort of kinship with the mountains, a hidden relation that I didn't yet know of. I signed my name into a few other cannisters and observed the names of the others who had been there as well. I went back up to ridges I'd been on what felt like a million times just to hit another peak once again so it would count on a different day and in the end, I finally made it to that final day.

On Tuesday, August 19, 2009 I stood on top of Adams 4. Adam and I were running the Presi-traverse and it was calling to me. We diverted from our plans and decided to grab it. Not just "bag the peak" but to visit it. To see it, to touch it, to smell it.. to be it. I stopped on top of the jagged pile of rocks about 3 feet to the left of Lowe's Path and took in the entire scene; the scene for it's beauty inside and out. It's hard to not internalize during these moments. To reflect and offer yourself some introspection on the journey you just completed and to think about what is to come. After finishing the TW72 I can honestly say that I don't care what is next so long as my journey continues to to feed my curiosity for those lesser visited wild places. Keeping in mind that those wild places aren't necessarily out of doors, they reside in our soul as well.

Huge thanks to Hal Graham who was the creator of this list and the first person to finish it. Hal confirmed for me that I am indeed the youngest to complete the list of peaks, now all I need to do is 16 more hours of trail work, all with the Trailwrights Club.

TrailWrights 72 Summit List
Mountain Elevation Date
  1. Cannon - 4080 - 5/24/92
  2. Lafayette - 5240 - 6/28/92
  3. Tecumseh - 4003 - 7/4/93
  4. Eisenhower - 4760 - 7/5/94
  5. Lincoln - 5089 - 8/10/96
  6. Flume - 4328 - 6/28/97
  7. Field - 4320- 6/30/97
  8. Hale - 4054 - 7/17/97
  9. Washington - 6288 - 7/28/97
  10. Monroe - 5374 - 7/16/98
  11. Osceola - 4315 - 5/18/03
  12. Galehead - 4024 - 8/3/03
  13. Waumbek - 4006 - 5/23/04
  14. Cabot - 4160 - 5/30/04
  15. Passaconaway - 4043 - 6/4/04
  16. Garfield - 4480 - 6/13/04
  17. Moosilauke - 4802 - 6/20/04
  18. Isolation - 4004 - 6/27/04
  19. Jackson - 4052 - 7/3/04
  20. Wildcat "C" - 4298 - 7/10/04
  21. Moriah -4049 - 7/12/04
  22. Owl's Head - 4025 - 7/14/04
  23. No. Hancock -4400 - 7/18/04
  24. Carter Dome -4832 - 7/25/04
  25. No. Kinsman -4293 - 8/1/04
  26. Jefferson -5712 - 8/8/04
  27. Zealand -4240 - 8/21/04
  28. So. Twin -4902 - 8/24/04
  29. No. Tripyramid- 4160 - 8/29/04
  30. Carrigain - 4680 - 9/4/04
  31. Madison - 5367 - 9/5/04
  32. Little Haystack - 4760 - 2/5/05
  33. Mt. Tom - 4051 - 2/19/05
  34. East Osceola - 4156 - 3/6/05
  35. Liberty -4459 - 3/26/05
  36. So. Kinsman -4358 - 4/17/05
  37. Whiteface -4000 - 5/8/05
  38. No. Twin -4761 - 5/14/05
  39. West Bond -4520 - 5/21/05
  40. Adams - 5774 - 5/30/05
  41. Adams 5 - 5266 - 6/5/05
  42. Lethe - 4584 - 6/10/05
  43. So. Moosilauke - 4523 - 6/11/05
  44. So. Hancock - 4319 - 6/19/05
  45. Boott Spur - 5492 - 7/2/05
  46. Bond - 4698 - 7/4/05
  47. Clinton (Pierce) - 4310 - 7/5/05
  48. Willey - 4285 - 7/30/05
  49. No. Carter - 4520 - 8/6/05
  50. Guyot - 4580- 8/27/05
  51. Bondcliff - 4265 - 9/11/05
  52. N. Lincoln - 5000 - 9/13/05
  53. So. Tripyramid -4080 - 9/18/05
  54. Franklin -4904 - 10/22/05
  55. Mi. Tripyramid - 4120 - 12/20/05
  56. So. Carter -4420 - 2/2/06
  57. John Q. Adams -5394 - 2/22/06
  58. Hight -4675 -6/10/06
  59. Clay -5531- 6/17/06
  60. Middle Carter - 4600- 11/12/06
  61. Gulf (Slide) Peak -4760 - 5/26/07
  62. Wildcat "D" - 4060 - 5/28/07
  63. No. Isolation -4293 - 7/7/07
  64. Sam Adams - 5551 - 8/11/07
  65. SW Twin (BW) -4357 - 8/12/07
  66. Blue -4529 -8/19/07
  67. Middle Osceola - 4200 - 8/29/07
  68. Wildcat "A" -4422 - 5/24/08
  69. Jim - 4172 - 5/26/08
  70. NW Hancock -4020 - 6/1/08
  71. West Osceola - 4114 - 6/26/09
  72. Adams 4 - 5348 - 8/19/09

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Presidential Traverse

It's been a few years since I last completed a Presidential Traverse. For those who don't know, the "Presi-Traverse" is any configuration of peakbagging along the Presidential Range in New Hampshire's White Mountains. There are several variations of said traverse, with the most basic covering from Madison to Pierce bagging each bump along the way. The original plan for the day was to finally tackle the Huts Traverse. But unfortunately, Adam and I's planning skills was lacking a bit. So we opted for a presi-traverse with Isolation... and this is what happened.

We started at around 8:15am from the Appalachia Parking lot on US Route 2. The typical starting location for this adventure. Adam and I started up the Valley way and had some conversation about ducking off of Valley Way and heading up Watson Path at around 3,000'. Taking this route makes for a more direct ascent of Mount Madison and negates an out and back from the Madison Springs Hut. We took the Watson Path and made our way above tree line anjoying the magnificent views from all around. The sky was a gorgeous blue, the wind whipped in from the West North West and a chill was abound. In the valley below we knew it was going to reach 90 today, but up high we were freezing!
(Heading Up Madison's Summit Cone)

As we reached the top of Madison, Adam and I topped out on the Osgood trail at which point we were greeted by a few folks obviously up from the AMC Hut. They first looked at Adam's Gaitors and the Crimson red color matched with his red Brooks Cascadias set them off into a few moments of laughter. Then I topped out and i overheard the oldest woman of the group say, "Oh my god they're wearing sneakers.." and the chuckling became an all out belly filled laugh. I was instantly irritated and then they asked.. "Where you guys headed?" The answer was simple... "Crawford Notch before dinner." The faces dropped, the chuckling ended and the questions came out... especially after they spotted my one day 100 miles tattoo on my right leg.. "Are you a cyclist?" I'm asked this often to which I respond.. "Do you see a bicycle in the tat?"
(The View of Washington From The Top Of Madison)

After teasing their brains with some "It's really not that crazy..." banter, we left them and headed down off Madison. We made our way to Madison Hut where we stepped inside for a refill of our bottles and a quick bite to eat. As we stepped outside Adam wanted to take the Star Lake Trail up Adams to which I kindly disagreed and we set off up on the Gulfside Trail for Thunderstorm Junction. The rocks along the Gulfside Trail skirting the flanks of Mount Adams are "paved" in a way. Years of meticulous trail work saw the trail builders moving and meuvering rocks so that they lay flat. We made pretty good time getting to the junction where a group of backpackers asked us if we were running the ridge. Finally.. someone who spoke our language.
(Running Along The Gulfside Trail)

We picked our way through the rock garden to the top of Adams where we soaked in some more wind and views. The wind blowing so hard that it was rather tough to hear each other talk. As we turned around and headed back down to the Junction, I glanced across at Adams 4, my final peak on the Trailwrights 72... I also looked down at the thousands of rocks strewn about and chuckled myself. Chuckled at my ultra-running brethern who think that rocks only exist on Massanutten Mountain. It was here in the Northen Presi's a few years ago that my good friend and Massanutten Veteran Hans Bauer told me that I should run Massanutten given my ability to really move along the rocks like it's some kind of ballet.
(The Top of Adams - Washington in the distance)

(The Rock Garden of Adams)

Back at T-Storm junction I told Adam, "Lets do it.. it's right here." We headed down off of the ridge and over to Adams 4. We climbed to the top of the tiny bump along Lowes Path. As I neared the top, I took a deep breath, stopped on the tippy top and soaked in the views. Here I was... 17 years of hiking... and I was now the youngest person to ever complete the TW72 Peak-bagging List. My white whale has been slayed. I soaked in as much of the view and the moment as I could. I shot pictures and video.. and just really enjoyed it. I originally wanted a large group of friends to join me on the final peak.. but this would do just fine.
(Thunderstorm Junction)

(Trailwrights 72 Finish - Adams 4)

(Madison (L) John Quincy Adams (M) and Adams (R))

(Personal Reflection at Adams 4 looking at Adams)

(Trailwrights 72 Video)

We left the summit of Adams 4, tracked back to the Gulfside Trail and started making our way over to Jefferson. All the while we watched as the clouds began to thicken and lower and the winds continued to pick up. This is afterall home of the worlds worst weather, and it does indeed change on a dime. I expected Thunderstorms today... Adam expected a beautiful day. We carried on along the ridge and into the Col between Adams and Jefferson. We began to climb up the steep slope of Jefferson where just ahead we spotted an AT Thru-Hiker. She wore short shorts and a set of headphones (shirt, socks, boots and all the rest as well). but it more stunned us at how hard we needed to work to make our way to her... she was kickin some serious butt on these climbs. We made our way past her, then headed to the top of Jefferson. We touched the top and then enjoyed lunch next to the 10 foot cairn just below the rocky crag.
(Jefferson (R) and Washington (L))

After a bit of a break and listenning in to the conversations of other peak-baggers, we continued on our way South. We lowered ourselves into the Monticello Lawn where the winds continued to rustle the tall alpine grasses. We made our way over Clay and I stopped in what I call "The Tunnel" for some video of the wind.
(Clay and Washington From The Monticello Lawn)

(Video Of The Wind)

We left Clay and continued to climb Washington. From afar we spotted one of the Cog Railway trains climbing the mountain side. The original Little Engine Who Could. Much scrutiny over the years about the Coal Burning and associated below of smoke rising from its Stack. The railroad now runs on Bio-diesel engines and the quick to gripe hikers now remain silent and nowhere do you hear them hailing the transformation as quite the accomplishment. Rubbish to hikers! It's amazing to watch the railroad climb and descend the mountain, quietly, without leaving a black scar across the mountain side.
(I Think I Can, I Think I Can)

(The Cog Tracks)

(Cog Railway Video - Check out the "Tourons")

We reached the top of Washington and was immediately overwhelmed with the amount of tourist activity. I had to get my picture taken with the new summit sign and of course, I didn't disappoint. Adam and I started to head for the inside of the summit building for a break when we spotted that female thru-hiker. "Hey! They got Pizza and soda inside!" She replied, "I don't believe it." I invited her in to sit with us and she followed us to a table. We dropped our packs and headed for the food line. I had forgotten my wallet in the car, but money-bags and home employed Adam had his. He bought me a Klondike Bar.. how nice. We all Sat at the table and enjoyed some well deserved food and some top notch people watching.
(Summit Sign)

(What Would YOU Do For A Klondike Bar?)

We found out here that our new friend Annie is hiking the Appalachian Trail.. South-Bound. She dropped out of college in 2007. When I asked where she went she told me UNH. When I asked what program, she told me Outdoor Education. We hit it off in discovering that we had quite a repertoir of mutual friends. We exchanged phone numbers and I promised Annie some trail magic in a few days while she was in town Lincoln as I returned for some backpacking of my own. It was a deal.. and we went our separate ways.
(The Southern Presi's From Washington)

As Adam and I began to descend Mount Washington we watched as we could see a storm approaching from the West North West. I could see strands of rain falling from the sky. As we approached the connector trails over to Isolation, I looked back and saw Washington Engulfed in clouds. "Hey Adam, you really wanna go to Isolation?" "Nah... maybe next time." I agreed and we moved along to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut. The next stop along the traverse. We walked in, signed the guest log, used the potty and stole some yummy snacks. The place was mobbed, as is the norm on a gorgeous day, with travellers from the top of Washington. We left as soon as we could before we got lost in the mix..
(Lakes Of The Clouds Hut)

From here we made our way to the top of Monroe where we stopped to sit amongst the rocky perch's up high. We glanced back at Washington and down into the Dry River Wilderness. The clouds and sun were playing lighting tricks now, as various mountains in the distance seemed to jump out at us. The views off into the distant valleys were breathtaking and I took in as much of it as I could while hanging out on Monroe, one of my favorite peaks. We then got up and carried on down the Crawford Path, we made our way over South Monore, across the Franklin Fields and down into Edmunds Col below the summit of Eisenhower (Ike). As we made our way into the low spot, the wind stayed steady and a light rain began to fall. We spotted a large group hiking together begin to make their way down Edmunds Path. As I peered off into the distance, I could see the black storm clouds really rolling in now. The wind was dying off and things started to get eerily quiet. As I looked back at Washington, it was now fully encased in a black ominous cloud. We started to climb Eisenhower amongst the well trodden Crawford Path, that AMC trail crews had done quite a bit of work in to help prevent future erosion. New water bars, run offs, stepping and even ladders on the other side of the peak. At the top of the mountain we were treated to the rebuilding of the summit cairn whihc is often times dismantled by hikers looking to rest their backs, and the scree walls are 6" high now, made from piles of loose rock (aka. Scree). These walls are vital to the health of the Alpine Zone, harnessing hikers to the trails.
(On Top Of Monroe)

(Chillin')

(Running Along Franklin)

(Eisenhower Work)

Adam was running well ahead of me during the earlier parts of the day. It takes me a while to get warmed up. Now, I watched as he sucked down some GU Packets and started to bonk a bit. Now I was in the lead and taking us to the top of Pierce. The storm was really getting close now, I don't mind getting wet, but as we sat on the summit of Pierce, the decision had to be made... "Adam.. so which way do you wanna go? Jackson or down from here." And just then, a loud rumble of thunder carried on across the mountain tops. "Well... I guess that answers that!" We agreed that rain doesn't bother us too much.. but thunder and lightning might be a different story, especially at 4,000.' We ducked off of the ridge and quickly carried on the rest of the way down the Crawford Path. The thunder rumbled again and the woods grew increasingly dark. At 4:30pm it was now as dark as 9:30pm. The rain rolled in as Adam and I bled elevation back down into the valley. The rain stopped as quickly as it started. We heard no more thunder, the wind died and so did the rain.
(The Storm Rolls In)

(What Do Ya Wanna Do Adam?)

(RUN!!)

(Darkness)

We only saw one other group of hikers on the way down. For a mid week hike, the Northern Presi's were pretty crowded, and the southern presi's were rather tranquil. Probably a testament to the time of day and the threatenning weather. Either way, it was rather enjoyable. We popped back out onto US 302 hence wnding our great traverse. 9 Hours and 30 Minutes, a new perosnal best for the traverse. Not bad for a side peak and a couple of sight-seers. And yeah.. I finished the Trailwrights 72.. more on this later...

I need to take a moment to thank my good friend Adam Wilcox (Adamiata) for helping me over these last few years on my quest to complete the Trailwrights 72. It was August 2007 when I still had 6 peaks to go, and those peaks were far from easy. From that time on, anytime I desired company on my quest to complete these peaks, Adam was there. Northwest Hancock, West Osceola... and South West Twin... some rather easy.. and one being the roughest toughest whack in the Whites. Adam was always there, fearless, steadfast and supportive. So to him I thank you.

I also would be remiss if I failed to thank Sarah for her patience and understanding on my quest to complete this list. Her support is important above all else. So thank you Sarah!

Happy Trails
SJ