Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mount Osceola (4340') and East Osceola (4156')

Chris and I got a later than planned start because someone slept through his alarm clock. We made it to the Tripoli Road trailhead at about 9:00.

We had a perfect day for a hike with clear skies and starting temperature in the high 20's. The trail to the Osceola summit was about 3.2 miles long. It was rocky, but a gradual incline, and it was dry so there was very little ice early on. Toward the summit of the first peak, the rocks had a thick layer of ice which required putting on our microspikes. With the spikes it was very doable. Most people we saw had some kind of traction for their boots; however, we came across a few people without anything and think they must have had a pretty long day.

The Osceola summit had awesome views of Waterville Valley and the Tripyramids (which are high on my to-do list). I enjoyed a peanut butter sandwich with some of the last remaining Wonderbread on the planet.

From the summit of Osceola, the mile long trail to Osceola east was steep and pretty rough. The guidebook indicated that we would come across a trail feature called a "chimney" which we learned was a ~50 foot nearly vertical rock wall to climb down. There were sufficient steps and hand holds to make it safe and it ended up being a cool part of the trail. 

East Osceola's summit didn't have much for views. After making it to the top we pretty quickly started to make our way back toward Osceola, and to climb back up the chimney. After the hike, Chris and I agreed that the 2 miles traveled between the summits were substantially harder than the 6.4 traveled between the base and the first summit. 

From Osceloa we backtracked to the car and caught the first quarter of the Pats game on the radio driving back to Boston. Really nice day trip. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mt. Waumbek (4006')

Chris and I headed up to Hancock Campground on Saturday afternoon. It was shockingly warm for this time of year (close to 70 degrees when we set up our campsite). We saw a number of signs warning hikers about Hurricane Sandy, but they were targeting travelers who would be out until Monday when the weather is supposed to get bad. We watched the Penn State game at the Woodstock Inn and made a good campfire before crashing pretty early. It got down to the high 40's over night but we were both pretty comfortable.

On Sunday we dealt with borderline hurricane conditions (light clouds and a mild breeze). The climb was consistent, but never too steep. We were on the Starr King Trail for the entire hike. All of the downed leaves made parts of the trail a bit slippery but for the most part it was a comfortable walk in the woods. With the trees pretty much bare at this point, visibility and views were improved over mid-summer conditions.

The trail took us over Starr King Mountain (~3,900') which had an outlook toward Mt. Washington and the presidential range. Near the Starr King summit there was a fireplace and chimney, the only remnants of an old cabin, standing in a clearing. It was pretty strange to see near the top of a mountain in the middle of the woods. From there it was about a mile to the summit of Waumbek. The summit was heavily wooded with only limited views to the north. The ridge walk between Starr King and Waumbek was mild and well maintained although the wind had picked up. We got up and down in 4 hrs 30 mins well ahead of book time.

Chris bagged his first 4K and handled it really well.

Pictures below. Left the SLR at home so only some grainy cell phone pictures this time:


Sunday, August 19, 2012

North Hancock (4,420') and South Hancock (4,319)

Drove up to Lincoln on Saturday after getting back from Avalon. Tried to get a site at the Hancock campground but it was full up. The ranger recommended Tripoli Road which is all backcountry camping. I decided to try a commercial place instead since Tripoli would be a good 45 minute drive from the trailhead. I  got the last site at Maple Haven in Woodstock. My site # was D-1 with the "D" standing for "dump station"(Redneck sewage). The attendant told me it'd be totally fine if I left before the RV's did (and he was right).

Got a few beers at the Woodstock Brewery and met a couple of locals who had walked over to the bar from their house. After talking to them for about 20 minutes, they asked where I was staying.  After I told them, they acknowledged that they had seen me setting up my campsite (Cue Dueling Banjos music from Deliverance).  While it was a sort of creepy acknowledgement, they were super nice and didn't try to murder me at all, which was nice.

I slept without the rain fly since it was completely clear but didn't account for the dew (campsite in a grass valley). I managed to stay dry but had a little bit of wet gear.

The goal for this hike was to get a couple of less appealing peaks so as to save the good ones for when I have company. I had heard that the Hancocks were steep and didn't have great views, so they seemed like a good target. I got to the trailhead around 7:30 and started up. The whole hike was just under 10 miles. The trail was lightly used and pretty poorly marked. Some of the back-country camp site trails seemed like part of the Hancock trail which made for some annoying turn-arounds and confusion. For the first 3.6 miles, the trail was remarkably flat. Almost no elevation gain. The last 0.7 to the north peak was brutally steep. No switchbacks, just straight up with no break. Very slow pace to the top. The summit itself has no views but there was a nice overlook nearby. I continued on the Hancock Loop to South Hancock which was an easy and relatively flat walk. The way down from South Hancock is even steeper than the North Peak (which is why they recommend doing South before North in the guidebook... which I ignored). After I got down from the steep part, I did the last 3 miles with a guy named Mark from Bridgewater who had done all the 4K's already (and the hundred highest).  He's working off the really obscure lists now and had a lot of good hiking stories and advice.

I got down a little after 1:00, just under book time of 6 hours 15 minutes.  Overall, a really nice day in the woods.

Pictures here:

Casualties: Made a miraculous catch to keep my droid from dropping off a ridge, but in pinning it to my chest it made contact with a buckle and cracked the screen in half.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

White Oak Canyon, VA

Visiting Jimmy and Christine for the weekend. Jimmy, Tek, and I went out to Shenandoah for a hike. Weather was perfect, low 70's, clear, and dry.  The hike followed a stream from the base parking lot all the way up to the skyline drive on the upper ridge. As a result there were lots of cool overlooks and cascades.

Jimmy's pictures here:

Jimmy let me borrow his Canon xsi for the trip and I spent a lot of it playing with settings which resulted in lots of really terrible pictures.  The few that came out are here:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mt. Jackson (4,052')

Jacqueline and I arrived at Hancock Campground around 5pm to set up shop.  Grabbed dinner at CJ's Penalty Box in Lincoln as a change of pace from the Woodstock Inn. Perfect weather, and slept without the rain fly which was really nice on a clear night.  Got a leisurely start and hit the trail around 10AM.  Warm on the way up and pretty hot by the time we made it to the top. Lots of stream crossings but nothing that required getting wet. Short rock scramble at the top was unexpected but fun.  Jacqueline bagged her second 4K and had a much better time.

Pictures here:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mount Tom (4051'), Mount Field (4340') and Mount Willey (4285')

Camped at Hancock Campground. Hiked 10 mile loop from Crawford Notch at the AMC Lodge. Avalon Trail to A-Z to Tom Spur.  Hiked the ridge to Field and down to Wiley then backtracked to Avalon trail back to the car. 10 miles total.

Pictures here:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mount Pierce (4310')

January 28th, 2012

3rd Winter 4000 footer. Got started with microspikes and no snowshoes. Quickly switched to snowshoes in fresh snow. Pretty well packed down but at least a foot of snow on the ground. Temps in the low 30s, no wind. Clear.